Achei muito interessante esse testemunho e quis compartilhar com voces-> Paquistaneses: Terroristas ou Aterrorizados?
Pakistanis: Terrorists or Terrorized?
The night of May 10, 2007, was violently nightmarish for us.
My husband and I were on a yearly trip from our home in New York to visit family and friends in Pakistan. We arrived in Karachi on the night of May 10, 2007. My family met us at the airport and in just 20 minutes of landing, our car, carrying my sister, brother, and myself, rolled up to the front of my parents’ house.
Another car, carrying my husband and father, had left the airport bit sooner. We expected to see them removing the luggage as we pulled up. Instead, I saw my father and husband standing outside their car, encircled by four, young, clean-shaven boys brandishing AK-47 assault rifles.
Before I could comprehend the situation, there was a burst of rifle shots. In utter confusion, my brother threw the car into reverse. The armed men began spraying bullets at us, and we crashed into a lamppost. Wielding their rifles, they surrounded our car, smashing the windows with their guns and forcing us out into the street.
I was convinced that I would not see my loved ones again. My brother was pulled out of the car and beaten up before my eyes, while my husband and father looked on at gunpoint.
Meanwhile, another vehicle pulled alongside our car, yelled something at the armed boys, and they all zoomed off, taking only our luggage. We thanked our stars that it had not been worse.
It was not the first time I came face to face with violence in Pakistan. I was only a small child when I witnessed a 1986 bomb blast in the central business district of Karachi. I recall bright, red blood profusely spurting from torn and mangled limbs.
Today, the grim reality of daily violence is an ever-present concern for millions of Pakistanis. Sadly, fearing for the safety of one’s family is a part of everyday life.
From my perch outside Pakistan, the international discussion often focuses on my homeland as a place for harboring and exporting terrorists. What goes missing is any apparent concern for what is happening to civilian life within the country.
Since 2002, there have been 140 suicide blasts. But the total figures obscure a worrying rising trend: in 2008 alone, 61 suicide bombings killed approximately 889 civilians and injured 2,072.
“When suicide bombs are such a norm, who would cry over kidnappings, robberies, and murders?” said my brother.
The gang robbery we faced was called “political fundraising” by friends accustomed to daily life in Pakistan. Initially, it didn’t make sense to me. But two days later, it all came full circle.
The ruling party had planned a May 12 rally to support (now former) President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to depose Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. That same day, Mr. Chaudhry was scheduled to address bar associations in Karachi as part of his speaking tour across Pakistan.
The two sides had staked out their territory. Opposition parties had organized welcome rallies to support Mr. Chaudhry, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement party (MQM), which claims to represent the middle- and lower-middle class Pakistani citizens—and whose leader lives in exile in London on charges of corruption and murder—planned another rally to support Musharraf’s decision.
It was a sure recipe for conflict. That day, armed supporters of leading political parties fought each other on the streets of Karachi. Approximately 50 civilians lost their lives. From the relative safety of our home, we watched the television as armed men moved freely about the city, blocking roads, burning cars, attacking each other, and damaging public property.
The police and army rangers were silent spectators—as they were on the night of our robbery. The crime against my family, while insignificant perhaps in light of the events two days later, had probably gone to fund the perpetrators of this political carnage.
But the disregard shown by Pakistan’s police force didn’t come as a total shocker—they are notorious for corruption, high-handedness, and brutality.
At the root of the problem are Pakistan’s weak political and legal institutions, and the lack of opportunities for educated and the resourceful youth. As such, those with the means (like myself) look to migrate abroad. Those who don’t have sufficient funds or connections to leave the country often resort to picking up arms—either for corrupt political leaders, on behalf of terrorist organizations, or sometimes just for themselves.
In fact, following a bank robbery in 2004, Pakistani intelligence officials reported that the young boys involved in such crimes represent a new brand of Islamic militants who are more educated, but less established, and thus largely cut off from traditional sources of terror funding, such as private money from rich families and charities in the Middle East.
The lack of economic opportunities for youth combined with religious indoctrination has resulted in a gang mentality, with violent crime as the obvious result. There are more students graduating than there are jobs available, and a lack of technical, professional, and vocational institutions adds to the problem.
In this climate, criminal activities offer a lucrative option, spiced with religious frenzy and anti-American banter that has roots in the U.S.-supported war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in 1979 and that has been re-inflamed by recent events.
If the scourge of terrorism is to be fought and won in that country, the United States will have to ally with local youth (in both Pakistan and Afghanistan) who can be won over by positive economic and social development.
In the past, Pakistanis have responded warmly to American humanitarian efforts. For example, after the United States pledged $510 million for post-earthquake relief efforts in Pakistan in 2005, 78 percent of Pakistanis expressed a more favorable opinion of the United States—with the strongest support among those under 35 years of age. Interestingly, this also resulted in a significant decline in support for Al Qaeda.
But what must come first is support for the rule of law and the rebuilding of a broken police and security apparatus. Until people feel safe at home and have opportunities for education, advancement, and steady employment, the lure of the gun will prove too strong.
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