Pakistan : Executions and Goings on for an Islamic State
Pakistan is in the news for the wrong reason. It is not for development or any such activity, but a string of hangings of criminals and terrorists. To date, almost 500 hangings have been carried out in Pakistani Jails and they even outnumber Saudi Arabia during this period. The only saving grace is that these are not beheadings but plain and simple hangings on the scaffold carried out by an executioner.
Pakistan had announced a moratorium on all hangings in 2008 when Asif Zardari was president. Pakistan. Thus it became a singular Islamic country that had stopped executions. A look at the figures will reveal that from 2008 to 1014 only one prisoner was executed. Even the terrorists who had tried to kill General Musharraf were not hanged.
This however changed after the Pakistan terror groups owing allegiance to the Wahhabi concept of Islam attacked a school at Rawalpindi and massacred over 150 children. This was a watershed in Pakistan polity as the policy of nurturing terror groups to fight India and help liberate Kashmir failed miserably. At that time the Pak establishment did not realize that all terrorists have a seamless integration and there is nothing like good and bad terrorism. The Pak army and its arm the shadowy ISI had thought that they could channel the energy of these terrorist groups towards India, but the age-old adage that who rides a tiger is eaten by the tiger.
Striking at Roots of the Pakistan State
The situation is now at its nadir, with terror groups who dream of an Islamic caliphate bent on overthrowing the Pakistan government. These groups have now grown in strength and have infiltrated both the major cities including Lahore and Karachi, as well as entrenched in the mountainous Northwest bordering Afghanistan. The fact is the military establishment gravely miscalculated in its assessment of these terrorist groups and all the 50+ training camps in Kashmir and Punjab run by the army have turned out suicide bombers and Mujahidin who have taken on the government of Pakistan itself.
The army has mounted an operation, but it looks halfhearted as the terrorists still hold sway against a force armed with tanks, field guns, and bombers.
After the attack on the army school, General Raheel Sharif did an in turn and pressurized the government of Nawab Shariff to begin hanging terrorists. Executions were restored and Raheel had his way when the civil government accepted the army plea, to try terrorist’s cases not in a civil court, but by a military court. Parliament rubber-stamped this with an ordinance and thus handed over greater power to the Pak army. This shows the weakness of Shariff who had been earlier put on a weak wicket by a massive agitation led by Canada returned Cleric Qadri and the senior Pak politician Imran Khan. Shariff escaped by the skin of his teeth and the fact that Raheel perhaps under American pressure kept him aloof from the turmoil.
Catching the Tiger
Despite the military courts and the so-called offensive by the army, the terrorists led by the Taliban and Tehreek e insaf have not been defeated. The battle is on and the daily body count of the Pak army soldiers is there for all to see. The fact is that Pakistan dangerously flirted with terror for more than 2 decades, when the military dictator General Zia ul Haq, hit on this plan to set up training camps to train Mujahidin for operation in Kashmir.
The Mujahidin despite an operation lasting 2 decades against the Indian army have totally failed and Kashmir is still part of India. The spillover of this is an attack by these groups to overthrow the Pakistan government and establish a Caliphate where the Sharia will rule. It is a threat to Pak way of life and now one can say the birds have come home to roost. Despite the removal of the moratorium on hanging and executing nearly 500 hardcore killers and terrorists, the result is negligible.
The Pakistan army has its own ax to grind and there are still senior officers in the military establishment who don’t want an all-out assault on the Pak Taliban and similar groups. This is short-sighted policy and Nawaz Sharif the premier has realized the danger. One wonders what will happen next. Until Pakistan gets out of its India obsession and fights the so-called mujahidin, there is little, chance of peace in Pakistan
The Bigger danger
The bigger danger is the support for a pristine Islamic state in the military and the elite Special Forces. This is a serious matter as can be seen by the killing of the Punjab Governor by his own bodyguard. The Punjab governor was thought of wanting to change the blasphemy laws, which have been condemned by all right-thinking people. The future does look bad, but one hopes the political leadership can work out its priorities, rein in the army and confront the Wahhabi groups. There is no other way.
The wheel has turned full circle and Nawaz Sharif is ousted as PM of Pakistan leaving the state rudderless and adrift in the sea.