Pakistan’s Deep Divide

Most Pakistanis Shun Anti-U.S. Activities

The average Pakistani sees little of the violent, anti-U.S. Muslim rallies that have become commonplace on American TV screens.

On 60 Minutes, Christiane Amanpour speaks to moderate Pakistanis who call themselves the silent majority and who worry that the vocal, and often violent, minority of extremists are growing in numbers - with no end in sight to the poverty that breeds them.

Amanpour interviews furniture designer Seema Iftihar in Pakistan.

“I’m so angry because this is not the only Pakistan. There is a normal Pakistan, working people who aren’t rabid about anything,” she tells Amanpour. “It’s just a few people who make a lot of noise.”

The war on terrorism has caused a slowdown in the economy of an already poor Pakistan, which could turn the few into many if the crisis deepens, says educator Tamkinet Karim.

“They are worried about their livelihoods. [The economy is] going to get worse…and in those situations, these fundamentalists have a chance…to swing this mainstream moderate opinion,” says Karim, who runs school programs in poor neighborhoods. “This is what my fear is,” she tells Amanpour. “To make a democratic system workable…you need people who can think…question. It is very easy to manipulate illiterate, powerless people.”

Many poor people in Pakistan have little choice but to send their children to Madrassas, religious schools that offer little education but provide food, shelter and, in many cases, exposure to Islamic extremism. At one such school, Amanpour observes a 6-year-old beating straw figures meant to represent President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Pakistani writer Tehmina Durani has long fought against that kind of extremism and uses a Web site to express her views, sometimes drawing telephone threats to her Internet provider.

She believes it’s more crucial than ever to keep speaking out. “This is the time to mobilize the silent majority…for the silent majority to express itself very openly…to defend the religion of Islam,” she tells Amanpour. “If we keep allowing the…very vocal minority to speak and we have nothing to say, then I think that this minority is going to grow.”


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