Every Crisis is an Opportunity

October 21, 2009

Speaking to my grandmother whose in Karachi yesterday morning, she explained my cousins stayed home from elementary school as most schools had shut down this week. Karachi is the the largest, most bustling city in Pakistan, and despite being situated in the south, far removed from the hotbed of militants in northern Waziristan, terrorism has gradually spilled over from Afghanistan, crept into Pakistan and paralyzed the country. My grandmother described a city laden with tension where people live in a constant climate of uncertainty and increasing fear.

It was pressing to hear her tired voice describe the situation with a kind of detachment. Her tone was passive: an indication of hopelessness. And that hopelessness is not in reference to obliterating terrorists, because there’s little speculation on a military capacity to wipe out at most, 10 thousand terrorists. Rather, her passive tone is a worn out sound echoing 62 years of statehood rooted in insecurity.  She’s seen Pakistan through three wars fought with India, including a civil war in the 70’s resulting in a cession of East Pakistan, one of the worlds largest refugee problems in the 1980’s and now the War on Terror fought on home soil. Her passivity is an exhausted acceptance of perpetual political insecurity.

The aforementioned video shows a younger generation, not yet exhausted. They’re shocked, frustrated by what’s happening in their country as they passionately raise their voices in protest against extremist Islamic groups who oppress the country.

Most ironic is that extremist groups bombed the Islamic University in Islamabad where these young men study. Testimony to how grossly extremists propagate an inaccurate view of Islam that terrorizes Muslims everyday.

Which brings me back to how imperative it is that Pakistani and US forces focus on uprooting and not just obliterating terrorists. Pakistan is home to the worlds 6th largest population, and the second largest Muslim country. That’s a strategic demographic in the War on Terror and for future international security. Ensuring terrorism is uprooted in the long term will require a sustained, multifaceted, military and non military approach. Few will argue against the necessity of economic development, the question really is how to pay for it. I’ve mentioned before that the Kerry Lugar bill is a fair, but insufficient attempt at doing this, and ultimately, Pakistan itself must uproot terrorism.

This critical time is an opportunity for Pakistani politicians to take responsibility and bring forth a detailed agenda that rallies current masses. A specific, well publicized plan of action, accepting but not relying on outside assistance is Pakistan’s best hope at engaging its citizens to wipe out terrorism for the long haul. Hopelessness, frustration and desire for Pakistani’s to develop economically and free themselves from terror poses a widespread opportunity to supplement the military offensive with civil support. That support is the capital with which to begin an agenda to uproot terrorism.

Grassroots organizations, women’s and educational groups whose ideologies run counter to extremist groups should be actively highlighted by the media and politicians.

A more proactive approach that is clearly visible works on two levels. One, it aggregates support in the country against extremism setting a future stage for more moderate masses. Secondly, it alleviates international fears of Pakistan becoming a failed state. Because not only do citizens like my grandma need hope, but the international community also watches in concern for Pakistan to define itself in unity and diametrically against extremism.




  1. […] border have gripped the country and sadly had major impact on the lives of innocent civilians. https://zainyjee.wordpress.com/2009/10/21…#mce_temp_url#in the form of suicide attacks on public shopping areas, children’s schools and even […]


  2. […] border have gripped the country and sadly had major impact on the lives of innocent civilians. Brazen, unprecedented violence in the form of suicide attacks on public shopping areas, children’s schools and even Mosques […]


  3. zainab, to perpetuate an agenda of hope inspiration and progress for the younger generation & serve as beacon to the older generation which newer politicians fit the bill? having followed imran khans straight forward approach that seems to be well received by voters who will soon be coming of age, do you think he has a fighting chance to pull the country from the doldrums of despair, heal reigious tensions and make it an economic force consequently earning the respect as a successful state? moreover, whats your opinion in regard to his personal branding? is it in tandem with the political and cultural sensibilities of the youth there?


  4. […] once again CNN for reporting on one of the many persevering stories out of Pakistan during these testing times. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Reflections on art and war—distraction or […]


  5. […] The holes in this work leave us feeling empty as we peer into the darkness and depth of these wounds. Kudos once again CNN for reporting on one of the many persevering stories out of Pakistan during these testing times. […]


  6. nice effort plz keep it up. regards karim


  7. […] of an unnatural flood of arms, and terrorism. To top it off your home turf is off limits because of lacking security and you’re playing cricket on a foreign ground; in a country who ruled you in colonial grip for […]


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