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The roots of extremism

87 11 132

EXTREMIST militants receive considerable support from their apologists who take exception to criticism of religious extremism and claim this is not the only form of extremism. The point is valid though there can be no bar to examining faith-based intolerance alone. A brief inquiry will show that the various forms of extremism have common roots.

For want of a standard definition in the context of Pakistan’s environment, extremism may be defined as irreconcilable hostility to other people’s religion or sect, their culture and customs, rejection of the rights of minority communities and women, and determination to convert them through inducement or intimidation or eliminate them through physical violence, including terrorist acts.

Women constitute the largest single group of people in Pakistan that are victims of extremists’ violence. A recently released report of a survey conducted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in cooperation with the Bureau of Statistics and the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, shows that one-third of women in Punjab, aged 15 to 64, have suffered violence. The situation elsewhere in the country could be only marginally different. Almost every day, the media reports a woman being burnt alive or killed otherwise. The practice of killing women for men’s honour has spread to cities where it was unknown till recently. Women are attacked for choosing their spouses, for failing to meet intermittent dowry demands, and for venturing out wearing clothes and sporting hairstyles tabooed by........

© Dawn