Archive for October, 2012

i joined the protest against shooting Malala on 14/10/12

October 15, 2012

yesterday, sunday 14 october 2012, at 4 pm, i stood at the liberty market roundabout in Lahore, Pakistan, as part of the protest march in favor of Malala Yousafzai holding her picture and placards. the protest was the culminating event of the two day Khudi-Pakistan Festival of Ideas 2012 http://www.khudipakistan.com/

as i stood with the almost 200 other participants and looked at the cars driving past, slowing, looking, some smiling, some waving, some shaking their head at another protest and drive away. i could not help wonder if they (the people in the cars) really had a clue of the trauma, pain, suffering, nightmares, that people who like Malala’s family have had to face in this continuing “war of terror” in silence, and torment.

and i prayed to Allah to have the people of Pakistan, saved so far from this exposure to remain safe and never have to face this.

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7/7 widow training girl suicide bombers

October 11, 2012

madness on the march, as if one was not enough to commit suicide – sadly ominous
http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/4580954/77-widow-training-girl-suicide-bombers.html

My Talk at School of International Law

October 11, 2012

talking to the students at SIL

Talk at School of International Law

(http://sil.edu.pk/) Islamabad

Thursday 04 October 2010. Tahir Wadood Malik, Founding Director Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network

MY TALK “Pakistan, Terrorism/Violent Extremism and Us,” at the School of International Law, thanks to an earlier informal interaction with students arranged by Ms. Nida Tareen, the Director / Principal, attracted a good number of students despite the Semi-finals of the T20 Cricket World Cup between Pakistan and Sri Lanka later that evening.

I STARTED the talk with a reference to how we have become so immune to extremism that we ‘change the TV channel’ when this news comes on. I followed this with how Islam prohibits extremism, and suicide. Then highlighted that this narrative was obviously not working because a number of youth still get radicalized, and vulnerable youth were joining the ranks of the extremists. Which gives rise to the question whether this extremist movement is about religion, or some other cause like political, economic, personal etc., is the motivation? For this I reminded them of the recent ‘lone work terrorist’ and how they had operated in random incidents across the globe.

I GAVE the students the following possibilities/actions to ‘Say No to Terrorism”:

  • Be watchfully alert for radicalized / at-risk / vulnerable youth.
  • Be aware of radicalization trends in youth.
  • Based on what they learn, craft a counter narrative which should include religion, politics, economic, or ideological parameters.
  • As they surf the net, use online social media, or other media channels, be watchful for the media used by these groups and suggest counter media hints.
  • If they learn of any survivor in their environs, connect them to us.
  • Read up on PTSD and understand why some people in their surroundings behave as they and not because of any other (insane) factor!
  • Be politically aware, find out about their legislative representatives and try to reach them through letters and other means to make them aware of the feelings and thoughts of the youth in their constituency.
  • Make efforts to improve their physical strength and stamina so in case they are needed to assist in any area of terrorist action they can do so.
  • Impressed upon them that leaving Pakistan is NOT the solution – even if they can and do, what about the kith and kin that will still remain in Pakistan?
  • They should not fear death – because everybody is going to die one day, remove the fear of death from your heart.

WHAT CAN institutions do?

  • Protect the students and the facility physically.
  • Arrange trainings like first-aid (PRCS) and rescue operations (1122).

–      Training for all – the old, the young, the youth, the ladies the disabled, even the peon, cook, driver and more!

  • Inculcate responsibility about life in students so they:

–      Are alert 24 hours a day.

–      More alert when travelling through crowded places.

–      Inform their family about their whereabouts. Also ask the family to inform you about theirs.

–      Look out for & report suspicious objects, persons & bad elements in the surroundings.

FROM HERE we moved on to watch the Global Survivors Network video “Hear our Voices” which created an impact and many students were moved to tears.

https://vimeo.com/32102588

A QUESTION/ANSWER/SHARING session followed, with students coming up with probing question, sharing experiences, and generally accepting that they did not care about this issue because it seemed so remote.

One of the students then narrated her story of losing her brother in a horrific incident over five years ago, and the trauma that they family had to undergo and still does, every day due to this. Her emotionally charged tearful narrative was straight from the heart, and even I had trouble remaining composed. She had a valid point to make about how some organizations play on the emotions of the survivors by raising funds through musical concerts and such activities which can hurt the emotions of survivors.

Another student remarked that while she felt emotionally involved but this feeling did not last long, and she had ups and down’s and she felt sullied for not doing anything about this due to her short feeling span.

Another student whose family is running a seminary, narrated the experience of how her husband went missing for a few months and returned to tell how he had been kidnapped by some extremist elements who wanted him to be a part of their network.

Other students talked about the role of the seminary system (madrassas), my response to this is that many actual perpetrators were educated city folks, like those in the audience, so putting the blame on seminaries was ‘scapegoating’ these. And this was supported by the lady mentioned in the previous paragraph.

The students were moved by these narratives and some came up to me and thanked me for giving them the chance to speak, and how it had shown the effects of extremism in their midst. Something they would not have known ever.

A SUGGESTED counter narrative was written by a student and given to me (attached).

FINALLY I told them the reason I addressed youth was:

  1. Because youth have unadulterated passion & belief in them, which is a weapon that no act of terror can stand up to
  2. This same unadulterated passion & belief is used by the extremists to recruit youth!
  3. We can no longer afford biased, orthodox ‘adults’ with no regard for new & unconventional ideas to lead the way, we can combat terrorism only if we welcome new ideas and allow the youth to voice their opinions

The students and management decided that we will have another interaction with the students in a months’ time to talk about taking the “Say No to Terrorism” further, and see what the students had done about what we discussed that day.

ENDING ON the Quranic verse, Surely, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change that which is in their hearts (Ch.13 – V 11),I am confident that at SIL we have laid the foundation of a group of young Pakistanis who will be in the forefront to “Say No to Terrorism.”

Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network: http://www.paktsn.webs.com

My blog: http://www.gsntahir.wordpress.com

Global Survivors Network: http://www.globslsn.net

Against Violent Extremism: http://www.againstviolentextremism.org

Peace Direct: http://www.peacedirect.org/

Counter Narrative Comment Written by a Student

The person who is committing suicide – if he knows what is he doing, I think then he is to suffer in his afterlife. But, if the suicide bomber doesn’t know what will be the after effects of his action, in my point of view he is innocent. And only because of one reason that is – he is doing what someone else (that of sound mind and age) wanted him to do. That particular person brainwashing other innocent people to kill themselves and others, do it by getting hold of the emotions and sentimental values of those bombers and terrorists. Only if we get hold of a person’s emotional and sentimental side, we can direct the mind of any person at any point.

All we need to do is to build a bridge, have a heart and show others we have it. I think that is all that matters. This is the counter narrative I have.

PS:

Everyone needs help. Even the terrorists. Because the cycle has been going on – like you said, it has to be stopped. Terrorism comes in many forms … Silence is one of them.

Be patient.