By Rasul Bakhsh Rais
November 17, 2015
The story is no different, whether it is the shameful act of brutality against the citizens of Paris or the massacre of thousands in Pakistan. A radicalised section of the youth, a tiny minority, radical clerics and incompetent, corrupt leaders of Muslim countries have brought the world closer to the next world war. Many Muslim states, in fact, are already at war internally, and some like Afghanistan have been in this state for decades. Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen face similar tragedies. What has gone wrong?
Paris equals Peshawar?
It is estimated that there are around a billion Muslims in the world, who are below the age of 30 — a young population. A significant portion of the Pakistani population consists of the youth. The question we might ask our rulers and their counterparts in other Muslim countries is: what have you done for the youth in Europe countries? Are they educated enough? What kind of education, of what quality, have you given to them? Are they adequately employed? Have they acquired knowledge about modern sciences and technologies, and obtained skills that would help them succeed in a highly competitive world? Do they have the education that will help them grow and live in a civilised world? In most places, and specifically in Pakistan and some parts of the Middle East, there exists a criminal neglect of the youth.
Ignoring the education of the youth means that we are not able to tap into its talent and enormous potential that could contribute to civilisation. Never has education been a top priority for any government, civilian or military. The evidence from history is that no nation in the world has developed without quality public education. The question for Pakistan and the Muslim world is more than just about development — we are faced with a civilisational issue. The present disorder, sectarian hatred, extremism, political violence and militancy are the wages of the sins our rulers have committed against our society. They have pushed a big section of the poor population towards seminaries. The young and impressionable population has been left at the hands of half-literate, sectarian masters. The nurseries they have germinated now present the gravest of existential threats.
There are three actors in the making of the tragedy of the Muslim youth. Firstly, there is the political class of Muslim countries that has plundered valuable resources of society, disorienting traditional, humanistic universal values of integrity and honesty. The endless exploitation of resources and stashing them away in foreign accounts by the elite has left society with little to spend on anything worthwhile. The elite have ruined the lives of hundreds of millions of youth, who are forced to live a life of perpetual poverty and misery.
A good number of the Muslim clergy, from Morocco to Malaysia, and more importantly in the heart of Western countries, has often preached hatred, intolerance and a narrow, self-serving view of Islam. They have enjoyed great freedom in Pakistan and in other badly governed Muslim countries, occupying public places, receiving monies from foreign countries and establishing institutions without any scrutiny of law. Tragically, some governments, including that of Pakistan, have considered them as political allies.
Finally, Western powers cannot escape blame for this tragedy. They have patronised the most corrupt of the leaders in the Muslim world and have taken no effective steps to investigate the wealth they hold in Western countries. A series of shorted-sighted, vengeful invasions, of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and the intervention in Syria, have destroyed the basic structures of society and state in these countries. The monsters we face, of radicalism and the corrupt ruling elite, if not intended, are surely the unintended consequences of the lack of vision and bad policies of many Western powers.
Rasul Bakhsh Rais a professor of political science at LUMS