Whose lost boys?

Mohammed Hanif, the head of BBC Urdu service and the author of “A Case of Exploding Mangoes,” explores the internal crisis in India and Pakistan as an afterthought to recent terror strikes in Mumbai. [cf. The Lost Boys, Tehelka]

He takes on Indian and Pakistani establishments and media agencies asking them not to point to the other country every time there is a terror strike in any one of those, saying (I quote):

This week might have been an opportunity for Pakistan to acknowledge its own internal crisis, to start looking for the lost boys who are destined for very short-lived violent careers on our small screen. For India there was a real opportunity to stop hankering for American-sized victim status and start counting its own lost boys. Instead, it has turned out to be a case of the blind accusing the blinkered and then both walking hand in hand into the smog created by the airwaves pollution.

Among all things said, he touches briefly on what the Pakistan media says about the religion of the strikers (terrorists):

That Kasav boy? That’s not even a Pakistani name. Maybe it’s Kasav? But, hang on, show a close up of his wrist in that picture. He is wearing what those Hindus wear for raakhi bandhan. A boy from Lashkar would never wear that thread. Come to think of it, he would never even dress like that.

Herein lies the entire problem: media, from both sides, claims essentially this: all terrorists from India are Hindus and all of them from Pakistan are Muslims. Now that we know that some Mr. Kasav from Pakistan was one of the criminals (international intelligence agencies, from MI5 to Mossad, agree on his Pakistan links and LeT training), Pakistan media tries to find loopholes in the ‘theory’ based on what Kasav looks like, wears and acts. Since he wore a thread on his wrist, he’s not a Muslim and so he is not a Pakistani. What kind of logic is that? For once, let me concur just for the sake of argument that he’s not a Muslim. Does that mean he is not from Pakistan? Aren’t there Hindus in Pakistan? Aren’t there Muslims in India?

Once again, it is clear that religion is blinding everyone, from governments to media, just like it blinds the terrorists.

The need of hour is not just counting the lost boys and knowing what religion they belong to. It is rather knowing what makes them choose the path. Economics is closer to the center of the problem than Religion. Work on your economy and education more than you work on religions. Why did Kasav and the likes agreed to carry out the attack? Because he was a Muslim and he saw atrocities on other Muslims? Maybe. One can’t be certain on that. But, what one can be certain on is that he quit school after 4th standard and hardly ate all the meals of the day. Yes, there are some who have had best of the education and were born with silver spoons in their mouths, e.g., Bin Laden et al. They are psychopaths. Religion can affect only a fool and it is these people from whom Marx said, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” Religious sentiments take over ones thought process when there is not much to do: the poor and uneducated or riches. Hardly anywhere in the entire world history have the working middle class is seen getting involved in such bigotry. So get you people educated, get them jobs and you’d have solved the problem to a large extent. Then the bigots like Bin Laden, Al Zawahiri, Masood Azhar won’t get those easy recruits.

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