In recent times, we are observing an increasing trend of militants that hail not from war zones or the troubled tribal regions, but from the middle class of our society. What is even more problematic is that they are not graduates from religious institutions – which we usually consider to be the prime source of militant’s recruitment – they are the products of public sector varsities. The emergence of this new educated, urban faction of militant mind is debunking the argument that terrorism finds room only in in the lower income class.
The recent attack on Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hasan of Mutthida Qaumi Movement – Pakistan (MQM-P), the Opposition Leader of the Sindh Provincial Assembly, is a testimony to this new trend. The brazen daylight attack on the first day of Eid-ul-Azha was soon followed by a police raid in Karachi’s Kanez Fatima Society, where police claimed to have captured the mastermind of the attack after a fierceg gun-battle.
The detainee – Dr Abdullah Hashmi – is the head of newly-emerged outfit Ansar-ul-Sharia Pakistan (ASP), and according to police officials he is an IT (Information technology) expert and was employed in computer department of NED University. He has received Master’s degree in Applied Physics from the University of Karachi
His case is not first of its kind; Allah Nazar Baloch was once president of the Baloch Students Organization, Saad Aziz, a student of Institute of Business Administration, and Noreen Laghari, an MBBS student. Nor is it limited to Pakistan, Daesh has increasingly targeted and successfully recruited university students across Europe. Considering that effort is already underway to secure our tribal region; and initial steps on seminary oversight and curriculum reform have been taken, albeit not taken properly, we must also focus on the new facet of the extremist threat.
It is unreasonable to assume that the kind of “Daesh inspired” attacks that have taken place in Europe and elsewhere will not take place in Pakistan, as is the belief that these groups can’t penetrate into educational institutes. The state must be vigilant, as must be the educational institutes themselves. Top leadership of major education institution should team up to discuss this issue and agreed to come up with detailed proposals on how to tackle extremism in our campuses. These kinds of initiatives must be encouraged and supported by the state, as this new face of terror will not disappear on its own.