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What do Muslims stand to gain from bombings like the one in Lahore?

May 28, 2009

commentary on the bombing via Lebanon’s Daily Star regarding Wuesday’s bombing in Lahore that killed 23 people.

Wednesday’s bombing in Lahore comes as a deadly reminder of the growing threat that Islamist militancy poses to the Pakistani people. Over the last year, the country has been rocked by more than a dozen major attacks that have killed or wounded hundreds of civilians – all in the name of Islam.

The militants often argue that such attacks are aimed at America or the West and therefore serve to restore the shattered honor of the people. But does anyone really believe that Americans in Washington or Britons in London are sitting around talking about how defeated they felt when someone killed a few policemen in Lahore? The only defeat that the militants have dealt is to the Pakistani women and children who will mourn the loss of limbs or loved ones as the result of these attacks.

“Islam” may be the stated purpose of suicide bombers and other attackers who take it upon themselves to engage in violence in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or Pakistan, but it is far too often Muslims who pay the price of such misguided interpretations of jihad.

This begs an obvious question: Where is the Muslim outrage over such senseless killing? Muslims, whether they are conservative or liberal, bearded or clean-shaved, veiled or unveiled, have been coming under attack by forces who are abusing the religion of Islam for their own perverse purposes. Apathy is not the appropriate response to such abhorrent behavior.

What does it say about the state of Muslim societies when the publication of a cartoon can mobilize more outraged demonstrators than the killing of scores of innocent civilians can? Where is the conscience of Muslim men and women when children are being murdered in the name of Islam?

Those who have propagated the view that terrorism is a justified response to the wrongdoings of the West fail to explain how destroying the lives and livelihoods of their own people either advances the cause of Islam or restores any sense of honor or pride to a nation.

If those who take up arms and strap on suicide belts would look around themselves, they would see that scores of their fellow countrymen are undernourished and undereducated, as well as lacking in sanitation, decent living conditions and economic opportunity. Blaming the West for this state of affairs may be justified, but it will not help to resolve any of these issues. And choosing to respond to the status quo by investing scarce resources into acts of violence only exacerbates these problems. Muslims have a religious duty to do much better to ensure the health and wellbeing their own communities.

CC – with each bombing of civilians inside Pakistan (excluding the FATA frontier areas) the public opinion will likely turn against the Taliban and its allies in the border lands. Already there is widespread anger over Taliban-rule in the Swat valley and last week the residents there welcomed Pakistani army troops to come and clear out the Talibs. This may be a repeat of AQI’s failure to establish a caliphat in Iraq after they over played their hand when taking over territory within the Sunni triangle. The first rule of a successful insurgency is gaining the support of the local population over to your cause, which the various Islamist movements have utterly failed at. Ultimately (and fortunately), it may be the case that Taliban and its methodology will be its own worst enemy.

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