Pakistan Observer

Causes of suicide bombings

Shanzeh Iqbal

Saturday, October 16, 2010 - Pakistan has the highest rate of suicide bombings in the world. The spate of such attacks has exceeded than Iraq and Afghanistan and those figures are rising very rapidly. The most likely causes of suicide bombings may account for an unfair system prevalent in the society. It creates disgruntlement among people especially youngsters. Some people are socially isolated. It is easy to play upon their psyche by getting considerate towards their needs and pretending to be their well wishers.

It is a sad fact that the Jihadi slogan is distorted at the hands of these vicious people. Such nefarious persons tell the vulnerable youth that government is supporting the dictates of US. In this way they label the government functionaries to be infidels and brainwash the impressionable youth that it would be correct according to Islamic point of view to kill all the infidels and their supporters which include police and army in the first stride. They woo them to perpetuate this barbarous act and promise them with the heaven which is waiting for them with all its charms.

Peer group pressure may produce dissidents. There are rules dictated by the peers of actual bombers and the people are compelled to go for such acts. Some suicide bombers are highly motivated religious men and women. The individual may be indoctrinated and instilled with the suicide ideology. But the experts say that it is not always religion based only and it can be sometimes considered a strategic political tool. There are victims of wars. It may start a cycle of violence. The dark shadows of war loom high over them and they can be psychologically indisposed. People who undergo traumatic experiences tend to get caught up in a cycle in which they become susceptible to generating evil themselves.

Individual’s social and psychological background counts a lot. Mental diseases may also be one of the causes. Traumatic childhood wreaks havoc on the personality built-up and leads to disastrous results. Abusive children become abusive parents. But not all or even many terrorists are psychopaths. They can be mercenaries just like hirelings who are ready to take the lives of people in return of petty money. Robert Pape who is American political science professor says that at least half of the suicide attacks were not caused by the Muslim fundamentalists during the period 1980-2003 and there were 315 suicide attacks. The overall leader was the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, Pape describes in his book “Dying to win”. Therefore it is disingenuous to say that there is a strong link between Islamic fundamentalism and suicide terrorism. He says that the common factor in all the suicide attacks was a goal to intimidate a particular democratic state to remove the military forces from their country. Whether it is Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Kashmir or Chechnya, the predominant cause is their desire to assert self determination and religion is seldom the prime reason behind.

Farhad Khosrokhavar, an expert on suicide terrorism in Europe says that fundamentalism inhibits radicalism. He argues in his book “Suicide Bombers” that Islamic fundamentalism does not, by itself, push people toward radicalism and suicide attacks. He differentiates between two types of martyrs: those from the developing world, who are away from modern norms; and the radical minority who live in the West. He says that some kinds of fundamentalism are linked with terrorist acts but the other kinds are not. Peter Bergon, a CNN terrorism analyst, gives another view contradictory to above two analysts. He looks for a link between Islamic fundamentalism and suicide terrorism and says in his book “The Osama Bin Laden I Know.” That the main reason for Al-Qaeda terrorist activity against the United States was the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia”. He is of the view that for him “Islam was the motivating force at the back of the suicide attacks in Iraq. As at least 50 percent of the suicide attackers in Iraq are Saudi. But only 9 percent of the suicide attackers there are Iraqi”. Bergon ascribes militant Islamic fundamentalists responsible for suicide operations in Iraq. He condemns the globalized martyrdom strongly motivated by religion. It will be worthwhile to have some view of the history of suicide bombings.

Muslim organizations using the suicide tactics were PELP and Fatah in Palestine. According to some accounts, the Tamil Tigers have carried out at least five times more suicide attacks than other similar organizations put together. In 1991 Tamil Tigers are blamed for the assassination of former Indian Prime Minster Rajiv Gandhi by a female bomber. The wave of suicide bombings in Pakistan started in an intense form in 2002. Between 2002 and 2006, there were 25 suicide attacks across the country. This gained intensity in 2007. Figures show that Pakistan suffered 28 suicide attacks during the first eight months of 2008, killing over 471 people including innocent civilians as well as the armed forces personnel. There were 42 incidents of suicide attacks in Iraq between January 1 and August 31, 2008, claiming 463 lives. In Afghanistan 436 people were killed during the same period.”

How can such attacks be curtailed? There can be many ways. Consistent efforts are required with a due amount of sincerity. The government must work towards improving the conditions of mental asylums and recognize that depression is described as the root cause of most suicide cases. According to one study mental disorders affect 34 percent of our population. Help from certified mental health professionals is usually not sought as most people resort to spiritual healers. There is a need to refurbish our mental health infrastructure. All segments of society have to work together with fortitude to stem this peril. A dispassionate analysis of the root causes should be done. The government must distance itself from USA.

We are no friend of it, we are just the ally. Although the major part has to be played by the government all and sundry of society should also contribute to spread the awareness. Religious scholars must stand united and preach the true Islam which is the religion of peace and altruism which is against all kinds of barbarism, tyranny and prejudices. We are passing through the most critical phase and all kinds of distinctions of creed must be shunned. Media should foster a countrywide campaign to engender harmony and bring the estranged segments of society together. Teachers should tell the students to cleanse their minds from all kinds of bigoted emotions. The lasting solution to tackle all kinds of insurgencies lays in peace talks Otherwise militancy and terrorism would continue to pose still a bigger threat to the salvation of our country.

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