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The News

Published Date: May 22, 2012


Dr Maleeha Aslam, a former researcher of Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and fellow of Cambridge Commonwealth Association, has warned that Jihadist Islamism will grow rapidly as masculinity across the Muslim world and beyond will grow, at times having its political agency co-opted towards or subsumed under terrorism.
Dr Aslam was speaking at the launching of her book ‘Gender-based Explosions: The Nexus between Muslim Masculinities, Jihadist Islamism and Terrorism’, organised by SDPI here on Monday. Ijaz Haider from SDPI conducted the proceedings.
Dr Aslam said that grievances cannot be removed through development initiatives but mainly by stopping violent means of action. In Muslim societies, socio-economic and political oppression on one hand and culturally idealised gender constructs like bravery on the other hand predisposed men towards militant Islamism and terrorism.
She said that the upheaval in Muslim masculinities is exacerbated by militarism-oriented counter-terrorism as Muslim men are brought under surveillance and their honour codes and kinship affiliations stand threatened.
She recommended instituting gender safeguards and gender mainstreaming in counter-terrorism and deradicalisation frameworks.She questioned the impression that martyrdom is considered only of males adding that there is a gender dimension to it. She said that customs like Pakhtunwali become egocentric in case of women and revenge-oriented when issues of men are involved. She said that in Muslim societies, there is hegemonic masculinity and subordinate/complicit masculinity. She said even if you are rich or educated, women feel marginalized.
PPP MNA Dr Nafisa Shah said that the author knows her work very well. She said that she brought the narrative in the centre of perspective. She said masculinity was missing in our literature and the book brings it in limelight. She said that the author says that collective masculinity drives men to violence and jehadis despite their mutual differences. In this context, she said, the author established that even men are victim of jehadism.
Dr Nafisa said that 9/11 rescued women in Afghanistan from atrocities of Jehadis and Taliban but now men are deciding the end-game in Afghanistan and there is a fear that women will again be at losing end. She said that despite gender-sensitive US society, we saw American soldiers treating prisoners badly in Iraq.
Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, in his discussion proposed that deradicalising efforts in Sri Lanka and western Indian hilly state would be an interesting topic of study.He said that militants in Pakistan are of four types: Jehadis-Islamists, disgruntled elements from central government, haves and have-nots (like in Swat) and criminals and thugs. He said that militants in Karachi had equipment to cut ATM machines, which ideological groups do not carry.
He said that we are focusing on domestic to international security at the expense of individual security. He said that characteristics of soldiers anywhere in the world are the same. He said that the book is good in understanding militancy in different religions than on the basis of masculinity and ethnicity. He said that there is a need to go beyond Islam to understand nexus between masculinities, terrorism and religion.
In the question hour, a scholar from KP said that Pakhtunwali is a concept of forgiveness and not of violence. He said that masculinity is particular to subcontinent and not present in other parts of the Islamic world like Iran and Egypt.