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Pakistan is Beset by Terror

Updated on April 10, 2020
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MG is a senior air warrior who is an alumnus of the Staff College and a notable writer on military history.

The Beginning

Pakistan is the obverse face of India. However, it is a flawed face as the leadership has been unable to decide which course to take: modernize and go ahead or follow the old pristine Islam. Many people in Pakistan point out that the poet Iqbal, who coined the word Pakistan included the word " Pak", which in Urdu means "pure". These people would like Pakistan to be an Islamic state, replete with adherence to the Sharia.

There is also a modernistic stream which was led by the founder of Pakistan Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who wanted a secular Islamic state. Unfortunately, Jinnah died soon after the creation of Pakistan and the men who came to power began to pander to the Mullahs and the clerics who had their own interpretation of Islam. The next man who appeared on the scene was Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He is the man who gave the present constitution to Pakistan. This constitution guarantees the rights of the minorities in Pakistan and has reserved seats for them in the National Assembly.

One other factor in Pakistan is the Pakistan army. This has been governing the country for almost half of the 72 years of independence. Their love for power started when General Ayub Khan seized power in a military coup in 1958. The army remained in the driver's seat, but it gave up professionalism as it got enmeshed in the nitty-gritty of governing Pakistan. Generals who were better commanding divisions often ended up as chairmen of corporations.

The army was thus an illusion and it suffered a traumatic defeat when the country was split asunder and the new state of Bangladesh was created in 1971. The Pakistan army also suffered as 93000 POWs were captured . This defeat had a salutary effect and the Pak army wanted to get even with India, who they blamed for all the ills of the nation. They forgot that it was their own incompetence that led to the division of their land.

The Rise of Extremism

In the eighties, another Pakistan general, Zia -Ul- Haq seized power. This man had no mass support and he needed to drum up some support for himself. He chose the easy way out and began to pander to the mullah-cleric audience. He brought in some harsh amendments to the Pakistan penal code and removed some offenses like rape, from the purview of the Pakistan Penal Code and brought them under the Sharia. This he carried out by an ordinance called the “Hudood Ordinance".

Also, he realized that the Pak army could not beat India in battle and decided to bleed India with 100 cuts. He started terror camps and began training in the Mujahidin. The purpose was to allow the Mujahidin to infiltrate the line of control(LOC) in Kashmir and carry out terrorist attacks in India. The Pakistan army thought that this was a good tactic and gave them strength in depth Vis a Vis India.

General Zia was assassinated in 1989, but his policy continued. The terror camps continued to flourish in Pakistan. Also, a Taliban government took power in Afghanistan and Pakistan recognized it immediately. This government further trained mujahidin and terrorized the population.

There was no dearth of arms as millions of dollars of arms were left behind by the Americans after the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. However, the Muslim extremists were a double edge sword and many among them thought that they would be better off in case they overthrew the Pakistan government. They planned to usher in a Caliphate with the Sharia as the sole guiding principle in jurisprudence. Thus the Pakistan Taliban and other organizations emerged.

These organizations began to target the Pakistan state itself and thus for the first time Pakistan which had nurtured terror outfits to beat India was itself beset by terror groups. These groups increased in influence and their writ began to run in the entire NW of Pakistan. They also launched attacks in Lahore and Karachi and overall created a terrible situation in Pakistan. In effect, it was the birds coming home to roost as Pakistan had created a Frankenstein and soon the Pakistan state was engulfed in terror activities.

The Road Ahead

Pakistan is now in the grip of feverish terrorist activity. The Islamic groups now fighting the Pakistan state consider the present government blasphemous. The Pakistan army was forced to sit up and realize that terror and Islamic militancy had eaten into the vitals of the state. Reluctantly the army was forced to launch an offensive against these militant groups. The battle is on for over 2 years and the results are not too encouraging.

The terror movement is not crushed and the Mujahidin have now begun to target soft targets like schools and colleges. One of these attacks on the army school at Rawalpindi led to over 160 children being shot dead.

Despite the activities of the extremists the Pakistan government and the army still try and cling to old ideas. Their pathological hatred of a secular India and their crushing defeat in the 1971 war rankles. They still feel there are good and bad terrorists. The good terrorists are those that target India and those that target Pakistan are bad terrorists. The army had not realized that all terrorists have seamless integration and there is nothing like good and bad terrorists.

Pakistan thus still foments terror activities against India from its soil. The latest is the attack on the Pathankot airbase by the Fedayeen who came from Pakistan. Almost simultaneously the bad terrorists stuck at the Bacha Khan University in Peshawar and nearly 30 students were shot dead.

The offensive of the army in the NW appears a halfhearted affair as they still hope that these terrorist groups can be channeled to attack India. The Pakistan army which calls the shots in all matters is against peace with India. However many in Pakistan realize that playing with terror groups is counterproductive. Pakistani is at the crossroads and the next few years may well see a rise in Muslim fundamentalism in Pakistan.

Pakistani must decide once and for all whether it wants to fight terror or go under. There is no other choice, but for this, the Pakistan army must be reined in. That looks impossible.

Last Word

The road ahead looks perilous because we have this sad spectacle of the killer of Daniel Pearl being acquitted of the charge of murder and his death sentence being set aside by the Punjab High Court. Earlier we had the sad spectacle of the terrorist Osama bin Laden being given a haven in Pakistan close to the military academy at Abbottabad, a mere 100miles from the capital. Even now the mastermind of the Mumbai carnage Hafiz Sayed is moving around in Pakistan despite having $1 million bounties on his head.

List of Some Local Terror Groups Fighting Pakistan State

  1. tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan

  2. Sipah-e Muhammad Pakistan

  3. Tehreeek -e- Jaferia Pakistan

  4. Tehreek-e-Nafa-e-Shariat-e- Mohammadi

  5. Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan

  6. Lashkar -e- Jhangvi(LEJ)

  7. Lashkar -e- Omar

  8. Muslim United army

  9. Harkat-ul- Mujahidden

  10. popular Front for Armed Resistance

  11. Jamaat-ul-Fuqra

  12. Nadeem Commando


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