Counter-Terrorism: Alternatives To Extremism


January 7, 2011: Pakistan has had a bad year with Islamic terrorists, suffering over 7,400 people killed in 2010 as a result of Islamic terrorism and religious violence in general. There were very few deaths from non-religious terrorism. This makes it appear that Islamic nations are doomed to end up with religious strife brought on by Islamic radicalism. Not necessarily. Consider another Moslem nation in the region, Bangladesh, with about the same population as Pakistan. Last year, Bangladesh had 99 percent fewer deaths from radical terrorists, and most of those were from Leftists, not Islamic radicals.

This is not to say that Bangladesh has not had problems with Islamic radicalism in the past. For example, last Summer, Bangladesh accused four leaders of the nation's largest Islamic party, of crimes against humanity. The crimes involved responsibility for thousands of murders committed by Islamic radical groups during the 1971 civil war that tore the original Pakistan apart and created what is currently Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan) and Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan). This was before Pakistan adopted Islamic radicalism as a state backed movement. Bangladesh never went that way, and has much fewer problems with Islamic radicals even though, like Pakistan, most of the population is Moslem. But then, Bangladesh does not have a 15 percent minority consisting of Baluch and Pushtun tribesmen. Both countries also have corruption problems and very dirty politics.

The reason why Bangladesh, with 160 million Moslems, generates little Islamic radicalism compared to Pakistan, is all about decisions the national leadership made. In Pakistan, the army and government decided, in the 1970s, to try and "use" Islamic radicalism for their own ends. That did not work out well, and many Pakistani leaders are still looking for a way out the mess their father's generation created. Meanwhile, Bangladesh has plenty of political problems, but nothing like the mess the Pakistanis ended up with. The very bloody mess Pakistan has with Islamic terrorism wasn't inevitable. There were choices, and in Pakistan, the wrong ones were made.



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