Islam used as smokescreen for greed

There was a short period of time -- for about 10 years or so, after the partition of British India in 1947 and birth of the new state of Pakistan -- when the Pakistani nation was as secular in thought and practice as any advanced secular Muslim country in the world, such as Turkey and formerly Iran.

Those were the glorious years of nationwide industrialization and development in the country under the benign military rule of Field Marshal Ayub Khan, a graduate of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. At that time, it was generally believed Pakistan was poised to become an economic Asian tiger in the region.

Things went awry when corrupt civilian politicians -- in cohort with some crafty Muslim clergy, who in turn were financed and supported by Saudi Arabian petro-dollars and their penchant for establishing thousands of seminaries in Pakistan -- produced brainwashed young men to fight and kill in the name of Islam.

In due course, they resorted to blackmail by suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism, especially against America. In reality, all this was not so much about Islam as about money, power and privilege.

Things became worse when Soviet Russia invaded Afghanistan, and dollars from America and Saudi Arabia started flooding the pockets of Afghan tribal leaders, village mullahs and Pakistani generals in the hope it would help stem the tide of terrorism against our country.

As it turns out, this policy proved counter-productive. Of the $1 billion a year spent on rebuilding Afghanistan, a sizable amount seeps into Pakistan, and has raised the cost of living a thousandfold. The bad guys have discovered how easy it is to milk the American cow by playing the Islamic card.

In their greed for easy money, these guys have sullied national character. The youth of the country is corrupted by the ill-gotten wealth their elders are getting their hands on so easily. They also are corrupted by depraved and proven criminals who have made it big in politics. The younger generation learns from its elders.

It is therefore no surprise when an amateurish young man called Faisal Shahzad -- now known as the "Broadway Bomber," age 30 and a naturalized U.S. citizen coming from an upper-class family in Pakistan, frustrated and broke -- tried to resolve his monetary problems by contacting the global jihadi movement, whose real jihad is for money from the U.S. administration.

Islam is only a smokescreen.

Zia Rehman

Augusta

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