Archive for the ‘Summit Against Violent Extremism’ Category

this weeks blog

April 2, 2015

Caught NAP-ping

An All Parties Conference [APC] (APC used to be a pill for headaches and pains or a war machine and these APCs are neither) was called, which constituted a committee to hurriedly take its time to come up with a National Action Plan (acronym NAP), which as the politicians keep dithering, keeps meeting endlessly.

Time wasted and opportunity lost and terrorism continues diverting attention from the task at hand.

Just another case of what was so cynically defined by Sir Barnett Cocks, a clerk in the UK’s House of Commons, as “a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled.”

And in our context is this not just another case of the committee set up by a conference being caught NAP-ping!

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culture of silence – blog post in the newspaper Nation

February 28, 2015

A little over five years ago, I needed to talk to someone, anyone. I needed catharsis to find if the doubts, fears and guilt I faced were mine alone, or I was part of a larger group with similar issues.

And I found myself stonewalled at every step.

No one was ready to listen to me. Every one found sanctuary in an age old cultural and social desire of not discussing any issue that questioned the beliefs and norms – of acquiescing to what is happening – something that is so deeply entrenched in us with years of “teaching.” In plain words, one must accept misfortune in silence in the hope that time will heal wounds.

culture of silence – new blog-post

A Bad Pakistani Musalman

March 8, 2014

On the Fifth of October 2009, I joined the ranks of the ordinary Pakistani on the street.

The Pakistani lost between debates of Islam, the rationale for Pakistan’s existence, two nation or diverse nationalities, deciding who is a Muslim who not; wondering why people in the power corridors are unconcerned about the blood on the streets.

Gone was the pampered Army brat, a crust of upper society, one rubbing shoulders with gentry. All lost in one all leveling bomb blast.

On this day, at about 12:15 PM, a soldier of the Frontier Constabulary walked into the well secured Country Office of the UN World Food Program in Islamabad. He was a suicide bomber dressed in FC uniform and he blew himself up.

Gul Rukh Tahir, Farzana Barkat, Abid Rehman, Muhammad Wahab, and Botan Ahmed Ali Al-Hayawi lost their life in this attack.

Today, four and a half years on, as Pakistan debates the how and why of the F 8 Courts attack with the usual cacophony of apologetic arguments heard again. A feeling of disquiet, a foreboding, a sense of deja vu for the survivors of this attack, and the families who survive those who fell victim to this act surfaces.

I feel revival and flashbacks to the scene outside the WFP premises when I reached there, looking for my wife. Not knowing that Gul Rukh Tahir was a victim of the suicide attack!

Today, as the acts of terrorism continue unabated, and toll of Suicide Bombing Victims reaches 6,053 dead, 15,880 Injured, and continues to rise, I have a sense of despair. Questions arise in my mind for anyone listening. Questions that I have asked on many forums since 10/5, getting blank stares and incredulous looks in response!

Why us?

What have we done to deserve this fate at the hands of self-professed reformers and torch bearers of a faith twisted to suit their concept of a Caliphate over the world?

What have we done to see our rulers vacillate at the altar of expediency for continuation of their rule?

What is the deep dark secret that keeps us from taking steps that will eliminate this menace from amidst us?

Why is Islam being bandied about as the decider in the battle against terrorism?

With thousands dead or wounded, and more thousands surviving the loss of a loved one, can we not see our people – my wife, your son, father, daughter, brother, sister, friend, relative, colleague, Pakistani all, losing their life? Not the American or NATO country populations. So how can we still brazenly ask, “Whose war are we fighting?”

As the uncertainty deepens talk of Good Taliban, and Bad Taliban surfaces. Is it to justify the stand that talks solve all issues, even if the other side has one sided dogmatic stance?

That begs the question, are Taliban justified to differentiate between good musalman, and bad musalman, and kill accordingly?

With strong undercurrents of the sixty five year old debate, was Pakistan created for Islam, or for Musalman’s? Are we Muslim Pakistani’s, or are we Pakistani Muslims? What do we stand for? Or are we destined to be shot wherever someone thinks there is a need to have a religious cleansing?

I grew up with a strong sense of Pakistan, my father being an Army man, we never had any doubt that Pakistan was where muslamans lived, not that Muslims make Pakistan. Then as a soldier defending the country pre and post 1971, there never was a question of identity. So why now?

Where did we go wrong?

Why is 1979 touted as the turning point for us, while Afghanistan stood the acid test, and the USSR lost? Why does Iraq, Saudia Arabia, Syria over 2600 km away impact what we do in Pakistan? And why is the US considered the mother of all evils in Pakistan?

So do these musings make thinking Pakistanis bad Musalmans?

If yes, then we should not ask for whom the bell tolls, for surely it tolls for us!

March 08, 2014
5:15 pm

written on the wall

February 14, 2014

0As the much hyped government Taliban negotiations, make headline news, allegations, counter allegations, conditions and counter conditions, go on, the people are left in a state of disbelief, for talks and bombing, killing, goes on in parallel.

Do the dead and wounded and those who survive care for the outcome, or want as decisive an action as the extremists undertake?

 take a breath

deep if you can

or even shallow

as you always do,

feel the pain

the scathing burning

acrid taste of burning

tearing down your throat

smell of flesh, clothes and wood

tinged with explosives

even as you look away

and cover your nose

the throat tells you, you have

just been exposed to

a bomb blast.

and as you run

you stumble and fall

shocked to see

beneath your feet

shattered humanity

bleeding, torn, incinerated

and you stand in shock

and one thought

why us? rises

above all in your mind

and you wonder if the

negotiations touted as the

mother of all talks

will have any effect?

and even if they do

will the result of these

bring back the humanity

you just stepped on

back to life

forgetting

forgiving

reliving life

being able to love

once again?

and you can see the

writing on the wall

seen by all

but those who matter

confused and unsure between

containment,

elimination,

conciliation,

oblivious to the pain,

loss, suffering and feelings

for they have not suffered

hiding behind their high walls

long convoys in duplicates

moving along different routes

jammers, rerouting traffic

and all spent on the

alter of expediency, the

dead, maimed and wounded

unseen, unsung, unheard.

change, for the sake of your people

your mindset, and realize

and eye for an eye

was written for such as these!

February 13, 2014

8:16 pm

Voice of Kashmir FM Radio talk show

July 8, 2013

Voice of Kashmir FM Radio talk show

i was a guest on the Voice of Kashmir FM radio talk show on June 21, 2013, the topic was role models in our life.

the talk is in urdu, and starts at 23 minutes, the delay due to technical reasons during which the audience had to hear music.

update – September 11, 2013: the item has been de-linked by the radio station, i will try to get a new link or a mp3 file to upload here.

UN WFP suicide bombing handlers set free

November 25, 2012

hard facts of life – times like this we want revenge not forgiveness!

the suspects of the UN WFP October 05, 2009, let off for lack of evidence.

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/islamabad/19-Sep-2012/terror-suspects-released-for-lack-of-evidence

Behtar Pakistan TV Episode with me on the panel

November 21, 2012

i was on the panel in azm e alishan behtar Pakistan episode 6 telecast on november 17, and 18, the link to the episode:

https://vimeo.com/53916659

comments welcome. please circulate widely to give voice to our anti-terror crusade.

Behtar Pakistan an Azm e Alishan presentation

November 4, 2012

please click for the latest episodes, i will be a panelist on the program on 17 Nov 2012

http://www.azmealishan.com/behtar-pakistan-season-2-episode/episode/2

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.

Orphaned by Extremism

September 8, 2012

my article on the lifeafterhate site.

—————————————————-

No child is immune to the traumatic effects of terrorism, whether they are in New York, Bosnia, Israel, Palestine, Iraq, London, Lebanon, Rwanda, Kashmir, Darfur, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or elsewhere. And while many children are resilient after traumatic experiences, many develop a variety of emotional and behavioral symptoms that can be severe and long-lasting.

http://lifeafterhate.org/2012/09/orphaned-by-extremism/