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Although the war the US is fighting in the Middle East is referred to as "The War in Afghanistan," many experts say its neighboring country, Pakistan, is as much of a concern, if not more. This week, Missouri State University hosted a visiting lecturer from Pakistan. Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy is a professor of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, and his lecture was titled “Defeating Religious Terrorism: What Will it Take?” He joined KSMU's Jennifer Moore by phone.
“Religious terrorism is to be distinguished between state terrorism. States also exercise terror; they kill non-combatants. But when the motivation comes not from the reason that you want to fight another state, but because you want to fight people who are not like you, people who belong to a different religion, then that becomes religious terrorism,” Hoodbhoy said.
He also said that today, religious terrorism is not something that is directed primarily toward the West; it is leading to a deep internal division between Muslims.
“I know and I see that the bulk of victims of terrorists who claim to be Muslims, are Muslims themselves,” he said.
“First of all, I think Pakistan needs clarity, which it does not have,” he said.
He said the bulk of the Army sees India as the enemy, not extremists in Pakistan.
“What I also see is the mullahs and the fanatical elements in society are not being stopped by the state. The state is very weak. And the state is very fragmented. And it’s not just the state, but also the Pakistan Army, which is a part of that state—which still hasn’t got its act together. It’s only when it identifies the enemy that we’ll be able to make significant gains against them,” he said.
He said Pakistan needs a national philosophy that rejects extremism and embraces the idea of pluralism—the idea that different groups, religions, and sects can live together.
We asked Hoodbhoy whether he’s concerned about what might happen to him as a result of speaking so critically of the Pakistani government and Army.
“Let’s put it this way: we have only one life, and we’d better speak the truth while we are around. I am telling you all this here in America, but when I’m on television in Pakistan I say these things, in Urdu to a wider audience, and it makes you somewhat unpopular. But you’ve got to do it,” he said.