A statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad said that Pakistan is not under consideration for addition to the seven Muslim countries that have been subjected to restrictions, and no changes are being made in America’s visa policy for Pakistan. The spokesman said that visas are being issued to Pakistanis as usual. Pakistan has not been contacted regarding the visa policy; nor has the U.S. administration issued any special instructions relating to Pakistan.
Undoubtedly the issuance of this clarification from the U.S. embassy must have removed numerous fears; however, the storm brewing in Washington these days relating to extremism is cause for concern for the entire Muslim world, including Pakistan. U.S. authorities have indicated that the name of the counterterrorism program is to be changed to that of a counter-Islamic terrorism program, and the requisite steps for enacting this change are being taken. According to Reuters, in the future, under the changed program, fervent white racist and nationalist groups involved in bombings and shooting incidents will no longer be monitored in the United States. Observers see this change as a reflection of Trump’s severe criticism of former President Obama during the course of Trump’s election campaign, in which he criticized what he called weakness shown by President Obama in the war against the Islamic State, and Obama’s hesitation to use the term “fundamental Islam” in this connection.
The director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council said that she was informed by State Department officials that this program would be exclusively focused on Islamic extremism, rather than looking generally at those with violent attitudes. She said that this is an important matter, as the program would target the followers of one particular religion.
Information has also surfaced that Congress has already revoked funding for the current program. Supporters of the proposed changes to the current program maintain that use of the term “fundamental Islam” will prove helpful in efforts to monitor and prevent violent attacks. Those who oppose the changes believe that using the term “Islamic extremism” will cause the more than 3 million Muslims living in the U.S, who observe a peaceful Islam, to feel separated out.
We feel that even on an intellectual or rational basis, there is no justification for the manner in which the Trump administration is hoping to effect changes in the counterterrorism program, in order to proceed with the objective of countering Islamic terrorism. Does this mean that when people of any religion, color or race — other than Muslims — commit acts of terrorism, they should be ignored and no action be taken against them?
At first glance, the situation before us is that the extremist groups just mentioned will not be monitored, and the full focus will be centered on terrorism committed by a Muslim individual or group. We can visualize nothing more ridiculous than the idea that protection should be afforded to non-Muslims when they commit the very same crime that is punishable when committed by a Muslim. This course of action totally violates the very foundation of law, under which categorizing an action as a crime has no bearing on the identity of the person committing the crime; it is a crime regardless of who commits it.
The path on which the Trump administration seems eager to tread is based on the administration’s bias against Muslims. Islam is a religion that has negated terrorism, condemned it and stated clearly that those who kill innocent people have no place or protection therein. Use of the terms “Islamic extremism” and “Islamic terrorism” is simply the result of special and ulterior motives. Terrorism is a crime, just as theft and dacoity are crimes.* No crime can be associated with the followers of any one religion. Can the Trump administration ignore the reality that the Muslim world is itself waging a war against this terrorism, carried out by people who call themselves Muslims? We believe it necessary that this matter be examined from a prejudice-free perspective.
All the countries of the West, including the U.S., need to carry out integrated and joint efforts for ending terrorism. Whomever the terrorist may be, they are an enemy of humanity and should be meted out the treatment they deserve.
*Editor’s note: The term dacoity refers to robbery by dacoits, members of a gang of robbers in India or Myanmar.