Archive for April, 2011

دہشت گردی کا شکار ہمیشہ ہمیشہ دوسرے نہیں ہوتے – از طاہر ودود ملک

April 30, 2011

my Common Ground News article in urdu.
the news letter is available in Bhasha Indonesia, Arabic, English, Urdu and Hebrew languages, links on top of page

دہشت گردی کا شکار ہمیشہ ہمیشہ دوسرے نہیں ہوتے
از طاہر ودود ملک

A terrorist victim isn’t always someone else

April 27, 2011

A terrorist victim isn’t always someone else
by Tahir Wadood Malik
26 April 2011

Islamabad – Terrorism was something that happened to others.

Upon seeing news of another terrorist attack, I would simply change the channel. That is, until 5 October 2009, when I received a phone call that would change my life forever. The caller said that there had been a bomb blast in the office of the UN agency in Islamabad where my wife Gul Rukh worked.

I do not remember whether I drove, or how I reached the office. All I know is that somehow I got there. But there was nothing to see, and no one to meet.

Someone told me that Gul Rukh had been taken to the medical centre. Driving there in a daze, I began asking myself the eternal question people in such situations ask: “Why us?”

My name is Tahir Wadood Malik, a retired Major in the Pakistan Army. My career provided me with a comfortable lifestyle, and I considered myself to be part of Pakistan’s “privileged” society. In many ways I felt aloof from many of the everyday people of Pakistan.

Upon reaching the medical centre, I stood surrounded by chaos, until a doctor took me to a gurney covered in a white sheet. Lifting it, I saw the face of Gul Rukh, drawn of all colour, lifeless.

As I stood there, numb and glued to the floor, I heard a scuffle. Looking up, I saw a hospital staff member pushing a television camera man away from near where I was standing. He’d been filming the chaos in the hospital as well as my reaction, and I realised that I had become the nameless, unknown face on the television that was shocked and stunned from the carnage of a terrorist attack. I was that “common” Pakistani no one really wanted to see.

Before midnight, the burial was done and people had dispersed. I was left alone to brood and to feel angry, depressed and drained, unable to think clearly about what had happened.

As days went by, I felt increasingly alone. There was no one to talk to. For many in Pakistan, grieving is a silent, personal matter, and most people are resigned to loss being the will of God. However, while people’s responses to loss may seem similar, there is no typical response to loss, maybe because there is no typical loss. Our grieving is as individual as our lives.

In the days that followed, there were more terrorist attacks and I felt myself drawn to these places. Talking with the survivors made me realise that we could empathise with each other because we shared a loss that others could not identify with.

What could be done for others who’d suffered so gravely? I had the opportunity to meet other survivors of terrorism from across the globe in Amman, Jordan when I was invited to attend the opening of a park dedicated to the memory of the 2005 hotel bombings there, which led to the deaths of 60 people and injured 115 others.

This collaboration of terror attack victims from around the globe gave me the direction I needed to channel my frustration and helplessness into helping my fellow Pakistanis. Upon my return to Pakistan, I started talking to more survivors and victims, and gave presentations to college and university students to raise awareness about what happens to family and friends in the aftermath of such attacks. We then founded the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network to help victims and survivors of terrorism, and let them interact, console and empathise with each other.

In talking with others, I learnt that while forgetting is impossible, we can all learn to forgive. I ask others in my situation to make an effort to do so too.

But if I ever had the chance to encounter someone who was considering becoming a suicide bomber, I would ask them just a few questions: have you actually read what the Qur’an says about such actions, or are you just listening to an ideologue? Do you know that the Prophet Muhammad abhorred violence? And, finally, how can you reconcile the fact that, one day, someone else may commit the same kind of attack, leaving your family member injured or dead?

We victims and survivors are certainly not “common”. We have suffered through a loss so traumatic that many others will hopefully never have to understand or share. I hope our voices speak loud enough to resonate with young, confused extremists and their sympathisers, impressing upon them that their actions will not achieve anything except pain, loss and destruction.


* Tahir Wadood Malik is Founder of the Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network, which aims to provide terrorist attack survivors and victims’ families the support they need to express their grief, share the burden of loss and know they are not alone. This article is part of a series on the consequences of terrorism written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 26 April 2011,
Copyright permission is granted for publication.

Pakistan related material on The United States Institute of Peace (USIP)

April 21, 2011

The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) provides the analysis, training and tools to help to prevent, manage and end violent international conflicts, promote stability and professionalize the field of peace building.
Lot of material on Pakistan is available on their site, which maybe interesting or not, depending on your world view.

BBC: Pakistan: Teenager tells of failed suicide bomb mission

April 18, 2011

18 April 2011 Last updated at 11:35 GMT

Pakistan: Teenager tells of failed suicide bomb mission

love i said

April 10, 2011

love i said
is not physical
nor is it
but a feeling
to be felt
and continually felt
absence, presence
mattering not
but an all-pervasive
ever present
ever there
ever felt
but then how
can you feel love
unless you have known
and the feeling
associated with it
dispensation of His will
like a hand on our back
propelling us further
into a headless
deeply felt
of belonging.

January 05, 2011
15:41 hours

Google-CFR – Summit Against Violent Extremism, Dublin June 2011

April 2, 2011

seems an interesting summit opportunity

wonder how many from Pakistan will be invited and / or make it?

interactive slide show council on foreign relations, crisis guide: pakistan

April 2, 2011

absolutely worth the time spent on this.

council on foreign relations, crisis guide: pakistan

Executive Summary

Pakistan represents one of the world’s most troubling states in crisis. It is home to an array of terrorist groups that pose threats to international security and, increasingly, to Pakistan itself. It possesses a nuclear arsenal of about seventy to ninety weapons that is rapidly growing, and in the wake of growing instability, could become vulnerable to militants. Bordering a conflict-ridden Afghanistan and poised on a seemingly permanent war footing against India, what happens inside Pakistan’s borders matters deeply to the region and the wider world.

The considerable global efforts to pacify and stabilize Afghanistan ultimately rely on Pakistan’s cooperation. Its tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan serve as safe havens for militants battling U.S. and international troops across the border. In the 1980s, along with the United States and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s army and its military intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), helped foster many of these groups in the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan. But following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. targets carried out by al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan vowed to sever ties with these groups and support the U.S.-led war effort in Afghanistan. However, experts say some of these relationships remain alive as Pakistan plans for the day when the U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan go home. Pakistan’s army and intelligence services are also expected to play an important mediating role in any political settlement between the Afghan government and insurgent leaders.

The scope of internal terrorism and the influence of Pakistan’s violent Islamic fringe have surged during the past decade. The state—weighed down by internal rivalries, a fragile economy, and large swathes of territory outside its control—struggles to meet the militant challenge. Worse, some analysts say, the country’s most cohesive institution—the army—seems unwilling to tackle militant groups it has cultivated as strategic assets in its fight against India and its quest to retain influence in Afghanistan. Today, Pakistan, a country of 180 million people, is rapidly growing, with nearly 60 percent of the population under the age of twenty-four. High illiteracy rates, poor access to education and healthcare, shortage of resources such as water and electricity, and widening gender and socioeconomic gaps add to the state’s challenges. Political institutions remain underdeveloped and corrupt, dominated by feudal elites. The constant tussle for power between a powerful army and a weak civilian government has impeded social development and democracy.

The state is also beset by ethnic tensions, sectarian violence, and deep divisions over the role of Islam in society. Created as a home for Muslims of British-ruled India in 1947, Pakistan continues to grapple with the question of its identity—whether to be a secular democratic country for Muslims and other religious minorities, or an Islamic state. In many ways, Pakistan was almost an unintended country; it was not until 1930 that a separate country for Muslims in India was proposed by the Punjabi poet-politician Mohammed Iqbal. Even the name Pakistan was derived in a somewhat ad-hoc fashion, first put forth in 1933 by a group of Indian Muslim students at Cambridge University, England, as a rough acronym for Muslim-majority provinces in British-ruled India—Punjab, North-West Frontier (Afghan), Kashmir, Sindh, and Balochistan—that they hoped would make up the new state of Pakistan.