Is Jihad knocking at your door too? - By Jaffer Rizvi Back   Home  
An uncountable number of Jihadi activists, spread all over the megapolis, have once again boosted their campaign to motivate the youth of this city to enlist for Jihad. Boys and men, primarily in beards and typical outfits, have started knocking at the doors of people all over Pakistan since the advent of the holy month of Ramazan, revealed surveys and interviews with residents and activists conducted by The News.

The drive, to motivate the youth, was being carried out specifically in Eastern, Central and Western city districts, commonly inhabited by middle income families like bankers, businessmen, stock market dealers, salaried class executives of private firms and shopkeepers. Clearly, these volunteers of a couple of religious and Jihadi organisations have their focus on the youth in their teens, especially college students.

Walls of the city can also be found etched with anti-US and pro-Taliban graffiti. Social analysts, who were also monitoring the situation closely, were of the view that the global socio-political changes and the conflicting role of the media were bolstering up the campaign of the Jihadis. Social problems like joblessness, poverty, injustice, corruption, price-hike and other factors only contributed to the success of the drive.

"Situation prevailing over the borders and neighboring countries of Afghanistan, US-led international coalition's strikes against Taliban militia regime and the role of media which was presenting Osama bin Laden as an ideal hero are the root causes," said a social scientist requesting anonymity.

"Unemployment and other problems of social and economic nature have also contributed to a growing sense of deprivation and alienation, which was leading the youth to find out the exits and exhaust points of their frustration, so that most of them turned towards religious preachings. While some of them were just joining the Jihadi outfits without knowing the facts, religious affairs and other matters of importance," she added.

"And now these frustrated, helpless and in some cases depressed young, restless men have been turned into ideal candidates, considering martyrdom as a solution to their all problems," she explained.

"Though, today, they once again came to us as Ramazan has begun, actually the exercise of motivating the youth had initiated following the US-led attacks," a shopkeeper Rehman of Nazimabad vicinity of Central claimed on Saturday.

"Groups of bearded men were contacting us after every prayer session to inquire about those who would be willing to participate in the Jihad in Afghanistan," he said. Various interviews with residents revealed that hundreds of youths have started joining religious organisations and leaving homes for the Jihad.

The city of Karachi, which has received some corpses of youth of its own origin, who embraced martyrdom while fighting the US-led international coalition in Afghanistan and the Indian within the held Valley of Kashmir, seems about to receive even more corpses.

"I know, some of my comrades would not be able to return home alive. But they will be better then us who are not following the actual religious preaching," Khadim Ali, an activist of a Jihadi organisation told The News during a discussion outside a mosque in North Nazimabad.

But some of the residents were not convinced by these arguments. "Even if this was a holy war, each individual has the right to decide whether or not to participate," stated Jamal Ali of Paposh Nagar near Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

"They (the Jihadi activists or campaigners) have no right to push people into war," Shadaba a young housewife told The News. Shadaba revealed that the campaigners for religious organisations had been visiting her home also and were asking about her young brothers, one studying in a college and another in the University.

"They had come asking for my brothers but, I was so scared, oh God, that I lied to them and said that they were not home," she said while a wry smile on her face but concern in her words.

Qayyum, a teenage boy, however was willing to join the Jihadis. "I am willing to go to Afghanistan and join the Jihad against the Americans and their allies, but I am still looking for the right people for my earliest recruitment," he said with excitement writ large on his face.

Irteza, a young employee of a bank, and a resident of Landhi, stated his different views while travelling in a bus with this reporter.

"Attacking American installation was a wrongful act but the American aggression was an even wrongful act. I want to say that both the sides are not following the right paths and are mixing things wrongly," he said.

"Jihad was not allowing you to kill innocent people working inside their offices in New York or anywhere else. But without concrete evidence, the US strikes were also baseless, wrong and unjustified," he said.

"Islam, or any other religion was not instigating people to kill people in the name of Allah," Irteza concluded before alighting from the bus near Lighthouse.

Muneer, a resident of Landhi, who was busy repairing his vehicle outside a shop downtown, was also angry. "The Jihadis were knocking on people's doors, asking them to take steps against forces who were committing atrocities against the Muslims," he said.

"And I say that if this was indeed a holy war, why were not the religious and politico-religious leaders opting to go themselves first? We are certainly not ready to sacrifice our lives upon their slogans."

Muneer further said that, at times, squads of these Jihadis were causing violation of the privacy of the residents resting at home. "Without considering anything, they knock the doors of our houses. There could be patients, elders, minor children, but they do not care..." Muneer complained.

"Sure, the cities of Kabul and Kandahar are facing war, but these teams for recruiting youth for Jihad were basically disturbing those resting at home. If they want to launch war against what they claimed 'crusade' of the Western alliance out there in Kabul and Kandahar or anywhere else, they are most welcome to go there. They are free to go there but they don't have any right to violate the privacy of peaceful citizens," Muneer stated.

On the other hand, activists of these religious groups and Jihadi outfits were not disheartened with the views of Muneer and other residents.

"Hundreds of youths have gone to participate in the Jihad in neighbouring Afghanistan and Kashmir and this exercise would continue until and unless the goals and targets of Jihad were achieved," Umer Abdullah, a volunteering worker of a Jihadi organisation said, requesting that his organisation's name should not be mentioned. "We do not need your publicity. We do not want to come in the limelight. We are not fighting for publication of our pictures in newspapers. We are fighting for Almighty Allah, and He will give us the return for what we are doing the way He would deem.

"People are themselves motivated witnessing, hearing and watching atrocities being committed against the Muslim Ummah all around the world, through the media. They can also very easily understand the negative role of the Western media," Umer added.

"Don't you think that their media was fighting like their war weapon. They are painting as suppressed those who are suppressing Muslims, they were painting those as innocent those who were committing genocide against innocent Muslims. This time is neither for resting, nor for sleeping. This is the time to go out and fight against these forces, trying to eliminate Muslims," said Umer, clearly trying to suppress his extreme anger.

Khan Gul Afridi, another activist of a Jihadi organisation, also agreed with Umer. "Those fighting against the anti-Muslim forces all around the world were actually doing their duty, for it is their religious duty now," Afridi said at Banaras roundabout. "Allah will himself ask them about their duties and rights. And when Allah would be asking on the Day, He would not be accepting any of these lame excuses, and those who are just being rhetoric right now will have to answer Allah Almighty," Afridi said.

"This is the duty of religious leaders and Ulema," started Shawaiz Khan a teenage resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, while talking to The News at a cyber cafe. "They are bound to explain and teach the actual facts. Fighting against these forces by crossing the borders of the country, legally or illegally, is it Jihad or not? Do these sorts of fighting have any holy worthiness or not? The religious leadership has to explain us clearly." But if it has its holy worthiness, then the Ulema will have to go there first and only then they should call us there," Shawaiz concluded. But the citizens in general were claiming that the youth were now willing to go out for Jihad and the craze for Jihad was heightening among the youth.
This article was publised in Pakistan newspaper, Jung.