Abbas Nasir, a former editor of Dawn, writes about the accused in the Safoora Goth Ismaili Shia massacre. They are all from the well-off, well-educated segment of Pakistani society.
Radicalism in Pakistan and elsewhere in the Muslim world isn’t necessarily a function of deprivation and poverty alone.
Deprivation, poverty and outright ignorance are undoubtedly exploited heavily by those who brainwash young (mostly) men often into picking up arms and even agreeing to become suicide bombers.
But if you examine, for example, the profiles of the 9/11 hijackers whose mass murder led to victims in excess of 3,000 on a single day, it wouldn’t be difficult to reach the conclusion that want had nothing to do with what they did. They were fed on an ideology of hate and bought into it so totally.
That most of them belonged to far from poverty-stricken Saudi families and had the means to be getting an education or pilots’ licences at US institutions substantiate the suggestion that their radicalisation was engineered by manipulating an ideology rather than anything else.
Omar Saeed Shaikh, a Briton of Pakistani origin and a graduate of the reputed London School of Economics, is currently in prison awaiting execution for his involvement in the beheading of the US Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi.
Then there was Faisal Shahzad, the US-based son of a senior Pakistan Air Force officer, who was convicted of trying to explode a vehicle bomb during rush hour in Manhattan, New York and is currently serving a life sentence in the States.
There is a long list of apparently ‘normal’ (read recipients of a Western-style education) Pakistanis such as doctors, engineers, even some who reportedly worked on the country’s nuclear programme, having been seduced by a radical ideology.
There is no point listing these facts apart from underlining the challenge Pakistan is facing today.