Terrorists out of compulsion, not choice

Published: October 13, 2012
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People here have nowhere to go for fun. Maybe if an 8-year-old resident went to an amusement park with his family every now and then, he would grow up to be more open-minded. PHOTO: REUTERS

There is no family recreation, amusement or opportunities to have fun in the lives of the people residing in Dera Ismail Khan and the surrounding areas.  PHOTO: QAMBER ALI They want to go to places where they can enjoy meals, take photos, and above all, be in an environment where they can experience what the world is like outside their villages. PHOTO: QAMBER ALI Male children who grow up in the mountains of K-P often don’t have access to education; they grow up believing that their mothers and sisters have no right to enjoy life and turn to radical practices. PHOTO: QAMBER ALI People here have nowhere to go for fun. Maybe if an 8-year-old resident went to an amusement park with his family every now and then, he would grow up to be more open-minded. PHOTO: REUTERS

As I hail from Dera Ismail Khan, with the recent peace rally by PTI, I have rediscovered my home town’s importance in terms of trying to convince people to shy away from extremist activity.

Dera Ismail Khan was basically a Saraiki majority area but the very generous dwellers of this district have humbly welcomed terrorism affected migrants from almost all the adjoining tribal areas, to the extent that Saraiki speakers are now a minority.

Without going further into the issues related to the city, I would talk about the problems of people living in the city. There is no family recreation, amusement or opportunities to have fun in the lives of the people residing in Dera Ismail Khan and the surrounding areas. People from Wana, Taank, Bannu, Razmak, Daraban, and other federally administrated areas frequently visit Dera Ismail Khan, as it serves as the nearest peaceful district where they can shop, take walks in the parks and go to ice cream parlours with their family.

I recently found out that a small fast food restaurant by the name of “Mr Chicky” made its launch in Dera Ismail Khan. At the launch, there were lots of people sitting with their families and having a good time while the children played in the play area. It’s a lot like McDonald’s. The visitors comprised mainly people from adjoining areas. I was glad to find out that Dera Ismail Khan serves as a recreational place for these people whose areas are deprived of such facilities.

My cousin, who lives there, related stories of joy from the opening of this little restaurant. I could feel the glee in his voice from the way he went on about it. He seemed to be feeling very fortunate and satisfied as he showed me photos of this launch, because he no longer had to visit Karachi to have some fun.

Among these photos was also a picture of my teacher from primary school. He had told me that watching cartoons was a sin. In this picture, he stood with his son next to a poster of the film The Lion King. I was amazed to see that along with other developments in the area, the mindsets of people had changed, too. They were opening up to a new world!

We often associate the Pashtuns of rural Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) with terrorism and extremism. We fail to ─ or don’t want to ─ see the other side of the coin. These people are full of life. They love music and celebrate by performing many kinds of folk dances. My personal favourite is the ‘Attan’ dance.

Being such a lively lot, they too feel the need to take their families out for recreational activities just like people in the big cities do. They want to go to places where they can enjoy meals, take photos, and above all, be in an environment where they can experience what the world is like outside their villages.

If we want to counter a suicide bomber, we must first understand that a suicide bomber does not have the life to live for. We have failed in terms of  introducing life to citizens of this country which is why they resort to becoming suicide bombers. Maybe if they knew how beautiful life can be, they would treasure it more and refuse to give up on it like many have.

If you travel from Dera Ismail Khan to Peshawar, before and after the Kohat tunnel, you will see what a miserable life people are living in the hills and mountains.

I would like to suggest that NGOs and donor agencies working in these areas introduce amusement parks, fast food restaurants and public recreation places to Dera Ismail Khan and other districts like it. Building these will work as a catalyst for culture development and modernisation; it will give people something to do and will give them a reason to live. While we’re thinking of ways to eliminate terrorism, maybe we should find its root causes and initiate projects that bear the fruit of optimism.

Male children who grow up in the mountains of K-P often don’t have access to education; they grow up believing that their mothers and sisters have no right to enjoy life and turn to radical practices. Maybe if an 8-year-old Pashtun boy went to an amusement park with his family once in a while, and saw other people smiling and having fun, he would have an open-minded, kinder conduct towards people.

Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if these young minds bloomed on a green patch in a flower garden, and not in the bullet craters of a battlefield?

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Qamber Awan

Qamber Awan

The author a social critic and a contributor of Express Tribune.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Absolutely spot on, you have explained it simply and clearly.
    You have so correctly said ‘ we have failed in introducing ‘life’ to this country which is why we resort to becoming suicide bombers’…………….and this is done in the name of religion.Recommend

  • Sinclair

    Come on! How can anyone be forced to become suicide bombers out of boredom? Movies came to India in 1940s. What do you think the average Indian used to do before that for entertainment? Go to England? If you want to be entertained, there are plenty of ways to do it with your compatriots. Tribes come up with songs, dances etc. just for this, as you yourself state in this blog.

    There is a way to live life decently. And then there is the opposite way. The choice of which way you go is entirely yours to make. This decision is definitely not influenced by entertainment. I do accept that a complete absence of access to even basic resources can make a person angry, it can make him a rebel. But becoming a terrorist is a big leap. Please dont bring the barrier down so much, because others will have to pay the price for it.Recommend

  • Mastishhk

    This article is the lamest excuse in support of a suicide bomber !Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    Dear Author so with your prognosis I can sum up that Indians of the Socialist India era (1950’s thru 1990) should have been all terrorists! I dont recall India having any amusement Parks before 1985 (Delhi) and 1990 (Mumbai).

    May I please be harsh, Sir? *Stop wearing religion on your sleeves and start compulsory education. *Recommend

  • Zalim Singh

    what crapRecommend

  • De

    @Bruised Indian
    It’s our religion which orders us to get education. It’s our religion that orders us to investigate the secrets of this universe. Please stop blaming religion for the problems when clearly NOBODY is following the religion properly. The best thing you can come up with is that all problems are because of religion. Come on! When Muslims were following their religion properly and were just, they were very successful! It’s only when they went away from their religion and started running behind materialism and being unjust, they became weak and powerless! Knowledge and justice is what a Muslim should be after. Not power and money! The people who become terrorists are so brainwashed because they themselves aren’t knowledgeable about their own religion which is why a moron comes and teaches them the wrong stuff! Recommend

  • Insaan

    Suicide bomber is a job that pays thousands of dollars for one day of work. Fringe benefits include 72 virgins. Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    @De: Most respectfully, please read my comment again. I did not demean your faith nor did I remotely have the intention to insult your belief, perhaps you read it with a closed mind.Recommend

  • kamran lakhani
  • Sam

    @BRUISED INDIAN: yes we can see why Daud Ibrahim and his likes are ruling India and controlling everything.Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    @Sam: A. He is no longer in India, does not control like he used to and he was never a terrorist before 1990. Just a small time dock thief who got lucky by landing himself some mota maal.

    B. Care to check Clifton and Kashif Crown Buildings in Karachi?
    C. Musharraf thinks very highly of Dawood; stopped short of granting him asylum!
    D. Dawood’s links and limbs are on ventilators in India
    E. And it was after he was Found in Pakistan that the international community labelled him a terrorist. Recommend

  • Sam

    @BRUISED INDIAN:
    you are really bruised indian…we do not care who international community declares terrorist or a simple dock thief…we just are concerned about our citizens and their well being without the discrimination of who is what…Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    @Sam: Cant even stick to one point in an argument and you go about jumping fences! Seriously, teens like you shouldnt be allowed to post!!! Recommend

  • Taimoor

    Why the heck are indians comparing KP to india its apples and oranges. Today missiles are being fired at them, no one knows where they may land. No place in India has ever been used and abused as the people there have been. Their blood was spilled to fight the Soviets and afterward they were abandoned. Bruised Indian don’t act as if India is some superior place where everyone is striving to be. Your sly comment does not fool anyone. Read your own freakin comment before telling others.Recommend

  • dew droo

    wat a peice of crap..i never knew ppl get into suicide bombing out of boredom..Recommend

  • BRUISED INDIAN

    @Taimoor: Atleast direct the comment at me by adding “@”, dont chicken out!
    The comparison was simply to drive home the utter BS logic used by the Author Amusement Parks waala. Yes!! I agree that comparing the two nations is like apples to oranges or more like really expensive grapefruits.

    No ones acting nothing Taimoor; the facade of the nudge and wink game is clearer than ever before. Why is it that every single problem created by Pakistan has to be met with denial and excuses?

    Their blood was ‘spilled’?? Blood was ‘used’ would be apt! Recommend

  • abhi

    The root cause of problem is the forced merger of KPK into Pakistan. Pak establishment specifically targetted peace loving pakhtuns (who were supported of Gaffar Khan) and encouraged hardliner and miscrents to keep the patkhtuns nationalism down. Later pak have used the tribals for the war against Soviets to please USA and line their pocket.Recommend

  • mateen

    Amusement parks are good to create new employment opportunities, prosperity but cant help to bring down terrorism. Terrorism is by-product of drug money long used by Jehadis for a noble cause, now their noble cause has bounced back and we are reaping fruits of this ugly noble cause. Recommend

  • cut

    This kind of logic is working in North Korea.
    Pakistan can really replicate the North Korean model,as they are best friends.
    North Koreans have no food to eat,good schools,public facilities like potable drinking water,good roads and transport service.But you can find gigantic amusement parks…….
    Deviating from Saudi based developmental model is one way but adopting North Korean model is really disgusting.Pakistan really likes to swing between two extremes…..Recommend