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Pakistan is Beset by Terror
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: modernise 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 assemby.
One other factor in Pakistan is the Pakitsn army. This has been governong the country for almost half of the 67 years of independence. Their love for power started when General Ayub Khan seied power in a military coup in 1958. The army remained in the drivers 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 a illusion and it suffered a traumatic defat when the country was split asunder and the new state of Bangladesh was created in 1971. The Pakistan army also suffered 93000 POWs 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 divsion 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 path and began to pander to the mullah-cleric audience. He brought in some harsh amendments to the Pakistan penal code and ushered in some offences like rape under the Sharia. This he carried out by an ordinance called the “Hudood Ordinance".
In addition he realised that the Pak army could not beat India in battle and decided to bleed India with a 100 cuts. He started terror camps and began a training of the Mujahidin. The purpose was to allow the Mujahidin to infiltrate the line of control 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. In addition 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 organizations like the Tehran e Pakistan emerged.
These organizations began to target the Pakistan state itself and thus for the first time Pakistan which had b 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 over all created a terrible situation in Pakistan. In effect, it was the birds coming home to s roost as Pakistan had created a Frankenstein and soon the Pakistan state was engulphed 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 realise 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 terrorist. The army had not realized that all terrorists have a 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 terrorists 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 cross roads 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.
List of Some Local Terror Groups Fighting Pakistan State
tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan
Sipah-e Muhammad Pakistan
Tehreeek -e- Jaferia Pakistan
Sipah-e Sahaba Pakistan
Lashkar -e- Jhangvi(LEJ)
Lashkar -e- Omar
Muslim United army
popular Front for Armed Resistance