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Root Causes of Voilence in Pakistani Society

  • Date Submitted: 01/05/2011 12:13 AM
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Roots of violence in Pakistani society |
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By Eqbal Ahmad

Eqbal Ahmad (1932-1999) died a few months back. His was a major presence in the progressive and secular movement in the Subcontinent. We are publishing here an article he wrote in 1998, which forms the opening chapter of the book 'Making Enemies, Creating Conflict: Pakistan's Crises of State and Society', Edited by Zia Mian and Iftikhar Ahmad.

Proliferation of violence has become the most serious social problem in Pakistan today. Not a week, often not a day, goes by without some terrible act of violence shaking public confidence in the state’s ability to protect citizens, and reminding us that a serious decline in civility has occurred in this country. Officials announce ever stronger measures as the cure while citizens wonder over the causes which underlie our descent into insensate savagery such as the recent massacre of mourners in a Lahore cemetery. This essay is but one man’s perspectives on the roots of contemporary violence in Pakistan.
I should begin with five simple observations: One, apart from war and aggression as defined under international law, nine forms of violence may be identified as among the most commonly observed world wide. The degree of their incidence differs in place and time. They are: domestic, criminal, official, ethnic, chiliastic, political (protest oriented), religious-sectarian, terrorist, and revolutionary violence. Often these forms overlap. For example, official violence can be as terroristic in nature as revolutionary and criminal violence. Officially sponsored death squads and foreign covert operations are examples. Similarly sectarian violence frequently takes terrorist forms as Pakistan has been witnessing with some frequency. And revolutionary violence nearly always involves a combination of protest, terrorism, and warfare.
Two, of these forms of violence only one, the revolutionary type is not currently in evidence in Pakistan. Typically,...

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