The Threat to Pakistan from the Wahabbi Islamic Groups
Pakistan is beset by Terror. On 27 March a suicide bomber targeted a children’s park on the day of Easter and exploded a number of bombs. This resulted in over 65 persons being killed and over 300 injured. This has not been the only attack and some gruesome attacks have taken place in the last few months. There was the attack on the PAF base followed by a massacre of 160 children of the Army Public school in Peshawar.
One fact that has emerged is that the terror groups cannot be kept on a leash and the Pakistan policy in combating them has boomeranged. The fact is that more militant and ruthless Jihadist groups have emerged in Pakistan, who wishes to overthrow the Pakistan government and establish an Islamic caliphate based on the Sharia
The Pakistan policy of running with the hare and hunting with the hound has badly backfired. The Wahhabi groups led by the Pakistan Taliban and Tehreek e Insaf have launched a violent struggle against Pakistan. The Jihadists fueled by the dream of a militant Islamic state, have been attacking airports and Pakistan army posts all over Pakistan. The Fedayeen attack on Karachi airport which left 37 dead is a pointer. Despite the base being heavily defended, its security was breached.
The Mountainous North West is the Center of Terror
The North West of Pakistan that includes Waziristan and FATA (Federal Administered Territory) is highly inhospitable land. Spread over inaccessible mountains, this area for centuries has always defied authority. Even the British hold over this area was at best tenuous. Now this mountainous area on the edge of Pakistan and Afghanistan is the epicenter of the Jihadi movement. Fighters from this area infiltrate to all parts of Pakistan and wreak uncontrollable destruction with Fedayeen attacks and suicide bombers.
In this fight against terror, the US is urging the Pakistan army to fight and destroy the movement in the mountains. This is easier said than done as the lower ranks of the Pakistan army and the Police have their sympathies with the so-called Mujahideen.
The police and even the elite forces are suspect as was seen from the fact that the Punjab governor a liberal man who was against the blasphemy law was shot dead by his own bodyguard. Worse common citizens supported the killer. He was hanged a few days back, but it led to unprecedented agitation against his hanging. Even in the Pakistan army in one of the recent operations against the Pakistan Taliban, soldiers questioned why they were fighting the Mujahidin when the real enemy was Hindu India.
The brazen attacks by the Wahhabi groups have shaken the foundations of the Pakistan state. The Government has asked the army to move against the militants in the tribal areas. The army has launched an operation, but it is 10 years too late.These wasted years will take a heavy toll on the Pakistan state. Even now, there seems to be a move among some sections of the army to distinguish between good and bad terrorism.
Why did not the Pakistan army launch an operation earlier and snuff out the Taliban when they were relatively weak. This is because a section of the Military and civil establishment thought that the Jihadi groups would give the Pakistan army “strategic depth” to fight India. It was the silliest notion, but it was championed by some powerful generals and the ISI. They never realized that the terror movement they were nurturing in their backyard would try and devour the Pakistan state itself.
The Road Ahead
A realization has, at last, dawned on the military and political establishment in Pakistan that the bigger danger is from the west. That is the reason that almost 70000, troops have been withdrawn from the Eastern border with India to fight the jihadi movement in the west. It’s a tossup as to what will be the result. The Pakistan army may not win a decisive victory, which eluded even the Americans and earlier the British, who fought in these areas in the 19th century. Despite a years-long operation, the Pakistan army is nowhere in defeating the Mujahidin.
Pakistan started a systematic hanging of all terrorists and killers and as per reports nearly 500 have been hanged to death, but it has not had the desired effect. It has only steeled the resolve of the Mujahadin to attack the Pakistan state.
The only course is to make peace with India and concentrate on the movement that wishes to destroy Pakistan. It requires a complete change of strategy and thought, but it’s unlikely that Pakistan can get away from its India obsession.