After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Pakistan’s decision to join the U.S led global war on terror provided it with an opportunity and chance to address militancy and religious extremism is the country. Terrorism as it has been defined since 9/11 has so far taken a death toll of thousands of people, mostly in Iraq followed by Afghanistan and Pakistan. This version of war against terrorism has increased not only terrorists but it has perished almost 4,000 innocent people in Pakistan only.

Genesis Of Terrorism: There appear two main events that brought terrorism and intolerance to Pakistan on religious grounds. Prior to 1980, religion was not a controversial issue is Pakistan. However the sectarian anti-Shiite militant groups like the Sipah-e-Sahaba, were preaching hatred against the Shiite Muslims. This sectarian violence came to Pakistan only after the 1979 revolution in Iran, which transformed the nature and magnitude of sectarian violence in Pakistan. This was further aggravated when a sunni-dominated Iraq with the backing of USA and Saudi Arabia which waged a war upon Shiite dominated Iran. These sectarian organizations were instrumental in the transformation of Pakistan into a secondary battlefield which in turn is a major cause of rise in religious extremism and intolerance in Pakistani Society.

A large group of self-styled Islamic scholars t0day in Punjab who belonged to hard line Salafi tradition of Islam, do openly approve of suicide bombing. The followers of this group believe in waging jihad against The Jews and The Shias and have shown in democracy. The group leaders have preached that jihad should be waged until ‘Islam’ becomes the dominant force in the world. It is totally in conflict with the ideology on which Quid-e-Azam premised his struggle for Pakistan. He did not win Pakistan by waging a bloody Jihad but brought it into being by waging democratic struggle against the British and the Hindus. The Muslims of undivided India voted massively for a separate land where they would not be marginalized by a non-Muslim majority.

The soviet Afghanistan war was the most critical event responsible for spreading militancy and intolerance in Pakistan. A fundamental change that altered the very character of Pakistani society occurred after establishment of the soviet backed communist regime in Afghanistan. The aftermath of the soviet withdrawal exposed the damage, transformation of violence and weaponisation into Pakistani society. It ultimately plagued Pakistan with a new trend commonly referred as “Kalanshinkov Culture” and “Talibaizetion”. Taliban terrorism is different from lashkar terrorism of Punjab. Pakistan has never had any problem with the way the tribals lived their lives. The government of Pakistan had never interfered with their rituals which they called “Shariat”. However when Nato and U.S troops, in the wake of 9/11, occupied Afghanistan, the tribal on the Pakistani side of the DL(Durand Line) as has been their wont for centuries came to the help of their kinsman across the border fighting the occupying troops in the same way as they did when Afghanistan was being occupied by the Soviet troops.

Today terrorism is threatening the very roots and fabric of Pakistan’s nationhood. More tragically, terrorism in Pakistan draws its justification from the very faith which provides the country its ideological mornings.

How Can The Challenges Be Met: In case of lashkars, the Pakistani establishment needs to go to its basics crises. The self-styled and misguided ‘Islamic scholars’ preaching Jihad, the government should cut all the help. Pakistan’s biggest province-Punjab is recruiting ‘Mujahidin’ from among the poorest of poor people. The poverty of these regions should be eradicated on emergency grounds so that the poor masses get awareness about the these misguided “Mullahs”.

Negotiations with them, start building physical paraphernalia including roads, schools, hospitals, bridges and manufacturing units under, the so called reconstruction opportunity zones.

  • Preventing and resolving conflicts with Talibans and other religious groups.
  • Strengthening the protection of vulnerable targets.
  • A fully demarcated border with Afghanistan which will prevent the foreign intrusion in the country. Specially, the role of RAW and Mosad. It will also sooth the feelings of American troops in Afghanistan which always blows the old trumpet of “Do More”.
  • The government should enter into serious negotiations with Washington on the issues of drone attacks so that our sovereignty should be preserved as we reserve the right to undertake actions on our own land.
  • A concrete time-table of withdrawal from Afghanistan needs to be announced by the U.S led forces.
  • This trauma also needs better intelligence and sophisticated assessment such as threat Assessment Modeling, Artificial Neural Networks and there dimensional modeling in virtual operations centre.

To conclude that a devastating and diabolical ideology which has manifested itself time and again is both sectarian and non-sectarian bloodshed before and after the 9/11 incidents, would hardly die if Pakistan were to close its alliance with U.S. So the remedy lies in countering poverty, unemployment, backwardness and illiteracy. Attention should also be given to monitoring the activities and curricula of the Madressah- the breeding ground of extremism and intolerance. Moreover Terrorism will not disappear through military operations. It is a perverse mindset that needs to be treated like a disease.

January 24, 2010 | Afifa Gillani | 5 Comments | 26 views