11
April

The Ugly, the Bad, the Worst

Written By: Amir Zia

This high-profile arrest has provided a rare opportunity to Pakistan to turn and counter the Indian propaganda tide. India’s state-sponsored terrorism should be presented in its historical context – starting from its illegal occupation and oppression of the Himalayan region of Kashmir and direct involvement in the tragic events of the former East Pakistan in 1970-71. All these decades, India continues to support and sponsor terrorism in one form or the other in various parts of Pakistan. Yes, Yadav and likes him have been igniting violence and terrorism for a long time.

 

New Delhi has already officially acknowledged that Yadav was linked to its armed forces, though it claims that he was an ex- Indian Navy officer and has nothing to do with the RAW. The Indian story of feigning ignorance about the reason of Yadav’s presence in Pakistan does not hold ground in the wake of its demand of counselor access to him.

 

The recent arrest of an Indian Research & Analysis Wing’s (RAW) agent from Balochistan reminded me of an insightful discussion I had with the late veteran Baloch nationalist leader Abdul Razik Bugti on January 20, 2005.


“The 1970s Balochistan insurgency was leftwing-inspired, which had foreign connections,” Bugti said on that cold, quiet evening in Quetta when asked to explain the difference between the guerrilla fighters of yesteryears and of today. “The current wave of militancy is narrow nationalist and mainly driven by foreign sponsors.”


Bugti – a middle class politician – knew the inside-out of the Baloch nationalist movement. He became part of it in the early 1970s as a young, idealistic youngster and suffered torture, jail and many years exile in Afghanistan because of his political beliefs. On return to Pakistan in 1988, Bugti joined the mainstream politics and emerged as a powerful critic of the oppressive tribal system, highlighting the rights of the downtrodden and the oppressed.


“The militants of 1970s usually fought with old, outdated or crude weapons and almost without money. Yet, their outlook was broad and they weren’t narrow-minded nationalists. Many non-Baloch Marxists were part of that insurgency, which had pockets in almost all the ethnic groups of Pakistan,” said Bugti, who at the time of this interview was the spokesperson of Balochistan provincial government.


“But the narrow-nationalist militants of today are a different breed,” he said. “Their agenda is sabotage for the sake of sabotage at the behest of handful of tribal chiefs and their foreign sponsors. They have no dearth of money and modern weapons and are paid monthly salaries often in foreign currency…. They even have carpets and (power) generators in their camps – a thing unheard of in any guerrilla struggle.”

 

theuglythe.jpgThose were the times when the then military-led government of President Pervez Musharraf had been moving full-steam for the completion of Gwadar Port and had allocated massive development funds for Balochistan – Pakistan’s largest but most under developed province. It was also the time when many regional and international players resumed efforts to destabilize Balochistan with the help of a few disgruntled tribal chiefs, who always saw education, development and progress working against their vested interests.


These foreign-sponsored insurgents initially targeted security forces, government installations, power supply grid and the natural gas installations in a sporadic manner. But soon they upped the ante and tried to take out the high-value targets. A crucial blow came when three Chinese engineers, working on Gwadar Port, were killed in a bomb explosion in May 2004.


By early 2005, militants were firing rockets at Pakistan’s largest Sui Gas Field on almost a daily basis. They also slammed rockets at nearby smaller gas fields and tried to destroy the natural gas pipelines and wellheads by detonating explosives. Dera Bugti District and its nearby Mari area became the most volatile parts of the province that finally led to a sustained operation against insurgents for the restoration of peace and order in the province.


Bugti had been challenging powerful tribal chiefs, including Nawab Akbar Bugti and Nawab Kheir Bux Marri, since he returned to Pakistan. He also supported the military action against foreign-sponsored insurgents, saying that only development could weaken the “oppressive tribal system and help modernize the society.”


No wonder that this passionate critic of the archaic tribal system and opponent of narrow-nationalism was martyred by terrorists on July 27, 2007 – barely 200 metres from the Chief Minister’s House in Quetta. The tribal chief-dominated Balochistan Assembly – unofficially called the House of Lords because of the dominance of chieftains – refused to offer condolence prayers for Bugti, who despite being in the government, was never accepted by the provincial ruling elite because he belonged to the middle class. However, Bugti’s analysis still hits the bull’s eyes nearly a decade after his assassination, which was claimed by the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).


Since 2005, the foreign-sponsored acts of terrorism remain part-and-parcel of the security challenge emitting from Balochistan. The Afghan territory is increasingly being used by all shades of militants – from religious extremists, including the so-called Pakistani Taliban and Al-Qaeda and its foreign and local affiliates, to the secular anti-Pakistan nationalist element.


While many foreign countries sponsor proxies and small shadowy terror groups, the Indian footprint remains the strongest among them. According to the Pakistani security agencies, two Indian consulates – Kandahar and Jalalabad – are working overtime to foment violence and instability in Pakistan. A section in the Afghan government – especially during the days of former Afghan president Hamid Karzai – facilitated Indian intelligence and also directly harboured anti-Pakistan terrorist groups. This practice continues even now.


After the surge of terrorism in Balochistan in the last decade or so, our security forces have successfully contained the situation in recent years. But when the epicenter of terrorism and militancy remains across the Pak-Afghan border and is financed, fomented and sponsored by India, it remains a challenging task to root-out this monster for good.


Therefore, the arrest of Kulbhushan Yadav, an in-service officer of the Indian Navy and a RAW agent, should not come as a surprise. The Indians have a long history of sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan and disclosures made by the Indian agent – whose arrest was disclosed on March 24 – only proves what our security forces have been saying for years. Yadav wasn’t just on an espionage mission but orchestrating terror activities through proxies in the nationalist, ethnic and sectarian terror networks operating in Balochistan and Karachi.


His arrest is a huge success for Pakistan, which despite being the victim of terrorism from across the border, is being accused by India of fomenting violence. In fact, India exploited the post 9/11 war on terrorism though an organized propaganda campaign as it attempted to sideline the core disputes between the two countries, including the thorny Jammu & Kashmir conflict, and to give centrality to the issue of terrorism in a skewed manner.


India, while accusing Pakistani non-state actors for the alleged terrorist activities on its soil, is trying to isolate Pakistan internationally. The hardline Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi only escalated these efforts as it attempts to mislead and rally Washington and other important international players against Pakistan.


In contrast to the aggressive Indian propaganda, Pakistan so far has not been able to effectively present its case before the international community that focuses on the price which it paid fighting the homegrown extremists and terrorists on the one hand and those sponsored by neighbouring countries – especially India – on the other.


Will the arrest of RAW’s terror mastermind Yadav help Pakistan to change this perception and put things in their correct context? This is a simple but crucial question for the Pakistani authorities.


According to Sarfraz Bugti, interior Minister of Balochistan government, Pakistan’s stance regarding Indian-sponsored terrorism has been “vindicated.” “Indian intelligence has been involved in destabilising our country using Balochistan’s soil and luring Baloch fighters and fuelling sectarian violence,” he told reporters in Quetta while disclosing Yadav’s arrest.


Few days later, Director General ISPR Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa showed the world the on-camera confessional statement of the Indian agent in which he presented details about the role of India in fomenting violence and terrorism in Pakistan.


New Delhi has already officially acknowledged that Yadav was linked to its armed forces, though it claims that he was an ex- Indian Navy officer and has nothing to do with the RAW. The Indian story of feigning ignorance about the reason of Yadav’s presence in Pakistan does not hold ground in the wake of its demand of counsellor access to him.


The Indian Express in its March 27th issue quoted an anonymous Indian diplomat as saying that “this is, by far, the most high-ranking official – even if he retired some years ago – who has been arrested on Pakistani soil, that too in Balochistan.” Many Indian diplomats expressed surprise as why India in the first place acknowledged that Yadav had any connection with the Indian armed forces. The paper further said that “whenever Pakistan has raised the issue of Indian involvement in subversive activities in Balochistan, India denied it. The only time it found a mention in the official documents was in the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement of July 2009.”


The Sharm-el-Sheikh statement – issued after the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with PM Yousaf Raza Gilani – only mentioned that “Pakistan has some information on threats in Balochistan and other areas.”


New Delhi has moved briskly to block any information about Yadav and his family from being reported in the press. The road outside Silver Oak building in upmarket Powai, Mumbai – where Yadav’s family lives – thronged with people including reporters and curious onlookers once the reports of his arrest hit headlines, Indian media says. However, his family members and neighbours have strictly been told not to talk to the press.


Does the world need any bigger proof of India’s state sponsored terrorism?
This high-profile arrest has provided a rare opportunity to Pakistan to turn and counter the Indian propaganda tide. India’s state-sponsored terrorism should be presented in its historical context – starting from its illegal occupation and oppression of the Himalayan region of Kashmir and direct involvement in the tragic events of the former East Pakistan in 1970-71. All these decades, India continues to support and sponsor terrorism in one form or the other in various parts of Pakistan. Yes, Yadav and likes him have been igniting violence and terrorism for a long time. However, through deceit, guise and lies, Indians have been almost successful to make the world believe of their peaceful intentions.


The Pakistani leadership must use each and every world forum to tell the Pakistani side of story objectively and forcefully. It should not allow opportunities to slip by as happened a number of times in the recent past both on the bilateral and multilateral forums. Even the three dossiers submitted at the office of the UN Secretary General on India’s state terrorism in October 2015 proved a whimper due to the mishandling in their presentation and lack of follow-up. This should not happen with Yadav’s case.


Washington and the other western powers – which are only pressurizing Pakistan to do more to combat terrorism, ignoring the ground realities by design or default – must also take into account the role of India in complicating the situation both for Pakistan and the entire region by supporting terror networks. India’s plans to establish its hegemony by destabilizing neighbours are a bad news for world peace in this nuclear-armed region. The world powers must act to rein in India and its mad lust for dominance. India’s huge economic market must not be the only criteria for defining relations in South Asia.


But while we can try to draw attention towards India’s state-sponsored terrorism internationally, the bigger and important task is how well Pakistan is prepared in dealing with the direct or indirect Indian threat? Our Armed Forces need all the support from our civilian leadership, media, academia and intellectuals to counter both the internal and external challenges faced by Pakistan.

The writer is an eminent journalist who regularly contributes for print and electronic media.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Twitter: @AmirZia1

 

After the surge of terrorism in Balochistan in the last decade or so, our security forces have successfully contained the situation in recent years. But when the epicenter of terrorism and militancy remains across the Pak-Afghan border is financed, fomented and sponsored by India, it remains a challenging task to root-out this monster for good.

*****

Washington and the other western powers – which are only pressurizing Pakistan to do more to combat terrorism, ignoring the ground realities by design or default – must also take into account the role of India in complicating the situation both for Pakistan and the entire region by supporting terror networks. India’s plans to establish its hegemony by destabilizing neighbours are a bad news for world peace in this nuclear-armed region. The world powers must act to rein in India and its mad lust for dominance. India’s huge economic market must not be the only criteria for defining relations in South Asia.

*****

 
15
April

Current State of Indo-Pak Relations

Written By: Najmuddin A. Shaikh

Where does the Indo-Pak relationship stand today? Ceasefire violations particularly along the Working Boundary – the term which we use to describe the border between Pakistan and Indian Occupied Kashmir – have all but ceased, after the repeated allegations that appeared up to January. The last report traced in the Indian media alleged that 5 or 6 rounds were fired by the Pakistani Rangers on a post of the Indian Border Security Force on 15 March, without causing any damage and without inviting retaliatory fire.1 Does this mean that the sanctity of the ceasefire agreement has been restored, by and large, or does the 15 March incident allegation suggest that a fresh round of violations can be expected?

Certainly Pakistan, with its army fully engaged in the battle against terrorism, has zero incentive to initiate any fire violations and therefore if they do occur it could only be if the Indians decide to put on another display of the so-called muscular policy towards Pakistan. This, they may argue, would reinforce the war of words that has been triggered by the judicial decision to release Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai carnage of 2008. The release order came because as reports in the Pakistani press put it, the prosecutors had failed to provide the required reports or fulfilled the other formalities for the extension of his detention under the Maintenance of Public Order.2

The detention of Lakhvi has since been extended by an order of the Punjab government but the Indian media did not lose the opportunity to recall that the US State Department spokesperson, while commending Pakistan’s cooperation in counter terrorism, mentioned about pledge by Government of Pakistan in her cooperation to bring the Mumbai perpetrators to justice.3 It is noteworthy that the State Department spokesperson refused in the same briefing to address the question of the Pakistani charge that the perpetrator of the attack on the Samjhota Express had been released by the Indian authorities on the ground that she did not have the relevant information.4

This exchange has once again brought to the fore the fact that not only does India place a high priority on bringing to justice the perpetrators of Mumbai but will continue to use this as a reason for not discussing other substantive issues with Pakistan. It believes that in so doing it will have the support of the United States and others in the international community. A former High Commissioner to Pakistan and National Security adviser in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government has praised Prime Minister Modi’s foreign policy and has termed as unfair, criticism of his “flip-flop” policy towards Pakistan arguing that these are tactical issues and what matters is addressing the cause which he defines as being “terrorism and the state sponsored angle to it”.5

Menon also suggests however that the Modi government has not, unlike Manmohan Singh, developed a vision of what relations with Pakistan should be and suggests that if it shows the same creativity that it did in the formation of the government in Kashmir then there would be hope.6 Menon of course is not part of the Modi government and has no direct role in the formulation of policy but he is part of what can be called the “security community” and his views could be seen as reflecting what some segments of this community would like Modi to do. Will he do it is an open question at this time.

One factor is of course going to be the international community’s interest in ensuring that as Pakistan seeks to implement its National Action Plan strained relations with India and consequent skirmishes – verbal or physical – do not become a distraction. India cannot ignore this as it seeks the approval and assistance of the international community – particularly direct foreign investment which is wary of going where regional tensions exist – nor can it set aside the advantages of a normalised relationship with Pakistan as a vital ingredient for the expansion of regional economic collaboration.

There is no doubt, that the Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit earlier this month, dubbed a part of a “SAARC Yatra” was owed at least in part to what President Obama had urged Modi to do. Writing on the eve of the visit I had said:

"Even while the visit of the Indian foreign Secretary has been termed a "SAARC Yatra" the announcement by the Indian Foreign office spokesperson that talks with Pakistan would cover all issues including Jammu and Kashmir indicates that there is a willingness on India's part of resume discussions on all the issues that form part of the "composite dialogue".

From Pakistan's perspective, the first priority will be ending the breaches of the 2004 ceasefire agreement along the "Working Boundary" and the LOC – a necessary prerequisite for winning the internal battle that Pakistan is waging against terrorism and in the step by step success of which India has a stake.

While definitive finalisation of agreements or implementation of existing agreements on Sir Creek, Siachen and NDMA may not be on the cards, an understanding on dates for meetings on these issues can be expected.

There should be an exchange of ideas on how the "Kashmir" dialogue is to be resumed. As a small step there may be an agreement on the proposal for opening additional crossing points across the LOC and on deployment of equipment to ensure that only legitimate items form part of the cross LOC trade. Positive developments on these issues can pave the way for substantive discussions on the advancement of regional integration that the "SAARC Yatra" will seek to promote and segue into the contribution that such integration would make to advancing peace and stability in Afghanistan. The Pakistan side while highlighting the efforts it is making to promote reconciliation in Afghanistan will ask India to join other regional countries in using their influence to promote this objective.

India’s concerns about the slow pace of action against the alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai incident and Pakistan's concerns about Indian activities in Balochistan will be raised but will hopefully not be the centrepiece of the dialogue.

Slow incremental progress and the creation of a more positive ambience rather than a spectacular break–through should be the optimal expectation.7 Even these modest expectations remained unrealised. Beyond the exchange of views on areas of convergence and listing the areas of divergence there was little that emerged in these talks but an effort was made to ensure that certain cordiality was maintained at least in the public statements. The adviser on foreign Affairs acknowledged that there had been no breakthrough and that “there was no date fixed for the next round of talks.”8 There may have been, one imagines, an effort on Pakistan’s part in the closed door discussions to suggest that the Pakistan Government was serious about pursuing the case against the alleged perpetrators of the Mumbai incident as part of its own battle against terrorism but had to proceed in a step by step manner given the enormity of the battle it was waging but clearly the Indians were not convinced. Pakistan was offered little satisfaction on the persecution of the alleged Samjhota Express perpetrators.

It is also apparent that from the Indian perspective or at least from the perspective of the present government in India, the gains of normalising relations with Pakistan are outweighed by the perceived advantage of keeping Pakistan in the dock and thus putting off discussions on the agenda items in which Pakistan has an interest. Among these, Kashmir is of course foremost but there are other items in which the benefits are clear for both sides. So what can one look forward to? It seems, though this is by no means certain that India will exercise restraint in terms of violating the ceasefire for some time. It is also possible that the voice of influential members of the “security community” will find listeners among Modi’s closest confidantes, of whom there do not appear to be too many, and their advocacy of a resumption of the dialogue may become policy.

There is however another perspective – perhaps too harsh – articulated by my colleague in a recent article. He says, “There is zero mutual trust and even less political will. India does not feel the need to accommodate Pakistan. There is no domestic constituency for it. India sees itself as too strong for a weak and isolated Pakistan to do it any real harm. This perceived Indian ‘arrogance and inflexibility’ undermines the ‘liberal’ argument in Pakistan that it needs to develop a stable relationship with India in its own interest.”9

His view of the reality may be too harsh but this does not detract from the value of his comment, “Pakistan and India cannot develop mutual cordiality overnight. But they should jointly acknowledge that in the 21st century they must jointly work towards it. Addressing each other’s core concerns must become a priority for both countries. This will require a shared and realistic vision to guide the policies of both countries towards each other.”10

1 “Pakistan Rangers violate ceasefire near Jammu”. Hindu, March 15, 2015

2 Malik Asad, “Govt not serious about prosecuting Lakhvi?”. Dawn, March 15, 2015

3 US State Department Press Briefing, “We are monitoring reports that an Islamabad High Court judge suspended detention orders for the alleged Mumbai attack mastermind. The Government of Pakistan has pledged its cooperation in bringing the perpetrators, financiers and – financers and sponsors of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice, and we urge Pakistan to follow through on that commitment. Pakistan is a critical partner in a fight against terrorism. We’ve certainly seen the reports, but we can’t speculate on the outcome of an ongoing legal process in Pakistan”. (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/03/238880.htm, accessed March 13, 2015.)

4 Ibid.

5 “Ex-NSA Shiv Shankar Menon lauds PM Narendra Modi foreign policy”. Indian Express, March 17, 2015

6 Ibid

7 “Second Opinion on Indian Foreign Secretary’s”. (http://jinnah-institute.org/second-opinion-gearing-for-a-reset-india-pakistan-foreign-secretary-level-talks/, accessed March 2, 2015)

8 Mateen Haider, “Sartaj Aziz admits no breakthrough in talks with India”. Dawn, March 6, 2015

9 Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, “Policy towards India”. Dawn, March 10, 2015

10 Ibid.

The writer is a former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan and contributes regularly for print and electronic media.

15
April

Issues of Radicalization & Extreme Behaviour in Pakistan

Written By: Dr. Arshi Saleem Hashmi

issues_of_radiclization1.jpg

Pakistan is suffering from the menace of radicalization, the problems however multiply due to lack of unified approach to identify the issue and its solution. The way religious radicalization is defined by the conservative rightist groups is completely different from the liberal/secular forces in the country; the majority of the moderates prefer to remain silent on the issue that is at time misunderstood by the West as tacit support. More than anything, Pakistanis need to find a consensus on the nature of the problem and render complete support to the government to take initiatives to curb radicalization

Radicalization has repercussions on socio-political and economic landscape of Pakistan in different ways. Intolerance towards other religions is increasing and injustice is a vital determinant of radicalism. The privileged classes exploit justice by use of illegal means whereas poor people are deprived of justice. This frustrated class is easily caught up by the radical groups and these groups tend to spread violence in the society. Some segments of the media are one of the influential tools and have played an important role in the process of radicalization. It gives coverage to things in such a way that viewers and readers compel to think about radicals positively and sympathetically.

Causes of Intolerance and Polarization in Historical Perspective

Neo-Marxist, feminists and social historians challenged the old functionalist and Marxist view of religion as “False Consciousness” in last 40 years. Sociologists of religion have portrayed religious institutions and theological worldviews as expression of class and power struggle, rather than of monolithic ideological hegemony; the interests of the less powerful have found to be expressed through and in religion.

Three Arguments on Religious Intolerance

First, there is a group of scholars including Hent De Vries and Mark Jeuengersmyers that believes religion is always violent. The second school of thought having writers and scholars like Daniel Pipes and Jessica Stern, see only Islam and not other religions as inevitably violent – an ideology incompatible with secular democratic society; while third group that includes Scot Appleby and Marc Gopin argues that much of this religious violence is attributable to religious actors who are actually quite ignorant of their own traditions and as religion became more important in the lives of the political power would either lead to a more peaceful world or a more violent world, depending on how that power was utilized.

Having diverse opinions on religious intolerance, the question still remains that is why there is such level of religious extremism. One explanation could be to look into the problem of relative deprivation and fear. Grievance borne of deprivation (economic or political) is an individual concern that manifests itself collectively. Political or economic grievance can lead to unrest across the social lines that distinguish the minority group. South Asia, however, is unique in the sense that the religious revivalism in extreme form in all of its troubled areas was initiated by the religious majority. Fear of being left out and losing the status is quite interesting phenomenon. The fear of being deprived of something drives one to act aggressively. Fear of being left out is the motivating factor behind political manifestation of religious violence, if not necessarily the most obvious, it is virtually always there.

Understanding Extreme Behaviour

One of the best explanations on extreme behaviour is found in Ted Gurr's Why Men Rebel , he discusses relative deprivation as a cause of aggression. His models suggest that the gap between expectations and achievement would contribute to the willingness of people to rebel. Another explanation could be the gap between the expectation of a regime based on “true” faith and the reality of an “adulterated” regime. Still the question remains whether it is relative deprivation as Ted Gurr suggests or element of fear that motivated the majority Muslim Pakistan to go through religious violence as a result of intrusion of religion in politics.

What it Means to be Radical?

David Mandel explains: “To be radical is to be extreme, relative to something that is defined or accepted as normative, traditional, or valued as the status quo.” Therefore, extremism is inherent in radicalism. Randy Borum further explains that “nearly all terrorists are extremists, but most extremists are not terrorists.” The distinction, however, is “whether the focus is more on promotion of the ‘cause’ or destruction of those who oppose it.” For examples in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood democratically established its idea of a Muslim state; Al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) on the other hand, tried to violently remove anyone who opposed them.

There can be many levels of radicalization: Individual Level Radicalization, for instance, focuses on internal forces innate to the person radicalizing, while these internal forces may be the result of external experiences in life, they are internalized during development and manifest in the individual’s psychology and personality rather than being immediate responses to external experiences. A severely damaged self-esteem may also result in acquiring an identity. Group Level Radicalization, on the other hand, focuses on the external social forces on a person. Top-down approach, which sees radicalization as a result of active recruitment from terrorist groups, and a horizontal approach, which views radical friends or family members within a person’s social network as responsible for radicalizing the person. There is yet another category, which is Mass Level Radicalization, its mechanisms are external forces on society. In this level, radicalization is the direct result of real or perceived experiences, such as Israel-Palestine issue, West conspiring against the Muslim “Ummah”, WB, IMF, capitalist imperialism.

Reasons for Politico-Religious Mobilization

The reason for individual, group and mass level radicalization can be diverse. In the case of individuals, it is mostly the feeling of humiliation for variety of reasons to join. At group level, it is mostly financial, spiritual and emotional incentives by locals as well as outsiders and at the mass level, it is the desire to promote specific political goals. In case of Pakistan, the factors responsible for radicalization and intolerant behaviour include:

• Fear of losing status acquired by the religious groups over the years.

• Long periods of undemocratic and unaccountable governments.

• Inept political and social approach.

• Political and economic deprivation.

• Challenges of “traditionalist” and “neo” Islamists.

• The Islamists’ capture of civil society institutions.

• Lack of unified approach towards Ijtehad within clergy.

Politicization of Religion in Pakistan

The constitutional umbrella provided to religion through ‘Part IX Article 227’ of the 1973 Constitution stating that all laws in conformity with the Holy Quran and Sunnah, thus leading to the institutionalization of religion in the Constitution of Pakistan. It was a decision taken for the ideological direction of the country, actually made religion a political force. Religious identity, slogans and symbols were often been used by political parties for political mobilization which heightened religious antagonism and acrimony and unfortunately made room for religious militancy and extremism. An argument on use of religion is that the official emphasis on Islam was to overcome the ethnic and linguistic disparity in Pakistan, but its political manifestation paved the way for the Islamist groups to maintain the influence of the center in the Northern Territories, restrained secessionism in Balochistan and the KPK Province, and the broader idea of Islam to establish common ground for Sindh and the Punjab provinces.

Politics of Religious Extremism in Pakistan: Is it Unique?

Religion’s role in Pakistani politics and its militant manifestation increased many times after the anti-Soviet Afghan War. Politico-religious parties started considering Kashmir conflict more of a religious struggle rather than a regional security/territorial dispute. At the same time, religious extremism promoted majoritarian and illiberal conceptions of democracy through exploitation of religion in politics by religo-political parties that weakened the political rights and civil liberties of religious minorities. What happens when the philosophy becomes a reality and tastes power? In Pakistan, religiously motivated political parties when came in power through alliances with majority political parties, approved structural violence as a semi-official instrument of governance and political self-preservation. Given the state of our political history in last many decades, it was always convenient to state that the problem of extremism and intolerance was political in nature and policies adopted in the past were responsible for the mess we are facing now. However, the Islamic scholars cannot be relieved from their responsibility, the form of religion that we have now with various interpretation especially on Jihad and war against the infidels, is a religious issue that only ulema could have clarified and initiate the discourse on the true meaning of Jihad and other issues.

It is the element of fear that existed among the religious groups, the fear of losing their identity and status, sense of empowerment that motivated them to continue with aggressive postures and mostly violent interpretation to mobilize people against the assumed infidels. Religious groups with social purity syndrome offered themselves to the successive regimes. The project of converting Pakistan from a Muslim majority state to an Islamic theocracy initiated by religious parties that opposed the very creation of the new state has come a long way. Basic question still remains, what kind of an Islamic state do they have in the works for Pakistan?

It is important to understand that in theory, religious philosophy and political violence may not necessarily have a link. In practice, however, there seems to be strong connection between the doctrine and the politics in contemporary religio-political situation in Pakistan. It would however be naïve to think that religion in Pakistan will cease to exist as a political force; it would be the other way round. It is all the more necessary to have cooperation rather than confrontation on the part of the policy-makers to ensure possibility of a happy synthesis in which essential elements of democracy will be conveyed in the vessel of state.

Deliberate Social Engineering

In order to uphold the ideal of a modern progressive state, deliberate social engineering initiative is needed. Despite severe limitations in understanding, analyzing and defining modernity and progressiveness, there is a huge percentage of moderate urban civil society in Pakistan, which has the intellectual quality, organizational ability and experience of social activism and is the only visible social force that can fight the religious orthodoxy and could play the effective role in establishing a modern state.

What the State needs to Look at?

There is a need for synthesis of culture and religion. Having roots in South Asian culture will help the people come out of crisis of identity. Massive changes in fundamental agents of socialization of the polity, such as in political system, media and education is required. Modern colleges and universities should have theology as a subject to produce experts in Islamic theology and comparative religions to have a more tolerant society where religious pluralism is accepted.

Undoing the radicalization process of society is more than simply disengaging from terrorist activities, as disengagement is change in behaviour and de-radicalization is change in belief. Unless there is change in belief that makes them to inflict violence to innocent people in the name of God, no policy can work successfully to eradicate militancy from the country. This is difficult and at times can be counterproductive as their ideology or belief is regarded as part of the obligation.

Pakistan needs a serious rethinking as it faces the challenge of reinventing itself both at state level as well as societal level. But more so, it needs to have top down approach to reform and reconstruct the conceptual and ideological orientation to undo the past policy of enforcement of Islam of a particular sect. If the society appears indifferent about the nature of religiosity, it is not because people want it the way things are today, but there is a great deal of confusion and it can only be removed if officially steps are taken to de-radicalize the society through education syllabus, media programmes and free intellectual discourse on religion and cultural nature of the society in Pakistani context.

The writer is on the faculty of National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
13
April

For International Peace

(In memory of Maj Syed Riaz Manzoor Shaheed - Martyr of UN)

Written By: Maj Faqeer Hussain (Liberia)

Mankind has always been beset by the 'difference’; of opinion, of faith and of way of living. Few 'constants', however, remain unwilling to be changed or reduced to 'insignificance', whatever the miracles the science can bring about; these are humanism, virtue, justice, honour, charity, selflessness and above all the 'sacrifice'. Life is an expression of sacrifice; may it be at home or at battlefield. Every specie sacrifices to endure the continuity of the coming generation. What, however, lends reverence to the process is the element of 'Choice'. The choosing of the option with a measure of consciousness brings the sanctity due to the 'sacrifice'; otherwise the process does not go beyond the word 'compulsion'. In what cause, for what principle for whose sake; this is what makes the choice so sublime and sacrifice so venerable. Martyrdom, however, assumes the loftiest pedestal. Imagine the goodness of a soul willing to shuffle off the garment of physical life for the sake of others.

Traditionally, a soldier personifies a figure who values his life as a 'trust' and is willing to offer it in the pursuance of his cause. Pakistan Army puts a high premium on its men and officers who keep the 'flag of motherland' high, no matter what the cost is. Friends and Foes are all full of praise for this selfless fact. Combat or comfort, crisis or calamity, challenge or danger, battlefield or peacekeeping, the 'Men of Honour' of Pakistan Army have always outshone their compatriots in prevailing against the challenges. While all the domains that fall within the ambit of army obliging it to deliver, involve own nation; the peacekeeping shines forth as an entirely different enterprise involving the betterment of other nations. This particular dimension adds to the importance and far-reaching impact of the role that a Pakistani soldier has to perform in the international milieu and with the multi-nation force. Every soldier represents the national ethos, embodies the national character and reflects the national spirit.

The journey of humanitarian service by Pakistan Army under the aegis of United Nations spans well over half century; with the deployment of first contingent in Congo in 1960. Serving all across the globe in 23 countries with 41 missions, the Pakistani Peacekeepers (including police and para-military forces) have proven to be the veritable arm of the nation projecting its standing and proving their competence. The challenges surmounted in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Heiti have become the part of their folklore. And the sacrifices offered by Pakistan Army in Somalia are the part of the chronicles of United Nations history as well as the part of tradition of our own glory. The Somalian mission of Pakistan Army remains unsurpassed in terms of the commitment with the cause, capacity to persist against the challenge and the ability to humble the hazards flung upon an unsuspecting body of peacekeepers doing its service to humanity by a rogue and unruly militia (Somali National Army-the militia of Somali clan leader 'Farah Aideed”) that had the least ethics for the combat or armed engagement.

Somalia is located in the 'Horns of Africa' with its coastline running along 'Arabian Sea' and 'Gulf of Aden'. The northwestern part remained a protectorate of British from 1884 and its northeastern, central and southern parts remained a protectorate of Italians from 1889 until in 1949, when it came under United Nations Trusteeship. In July 1960, after the two regions were united, it was given independence. In 1969, Mohammad Siad Barre seized power until, in 1991, his government collapsed as the Somali Civil War broke out. The famine, drought, starvation and inter-clan killings ensuing the civil war ravaged the country's infrastructure and its people. By end 1992, more than half million people were killed and more than 3 millions were displaced. The world got alarmed over the humanitarian crisis and United Nations deployed its first mission UNOSOM-1 in December 1992. In line with its commitment to the humanity, Pakistan was the first country to deploy its contingent in Somalia earning international accolades for its positive commitment for international peace.

5 June 1993 was a routine calendar day like any other day. But not for Pakistan Army and men and officers of 10 Baloch Regiment. It had in its womb the premonitions that a Peacekeeping Force could never construe to be of any meanings detrimental to their mission as well as existence. But as the day unfolded, the tragedy unfolded too, making the accounts of a heroic tale that was written by the blood of Pakistani soldiers in the line of duty. A company size strength of 10 Baloch Regiment was assigned the task of carrying out an inspection of the 'Weapons Depot' owned by General Farah Aideed, in line with agreed upon commitment. Located in southern Mogadishu on 21 October Road, the site was reported and confirmed to be a neutral place by United Nations Staff. The unsuspecting peacekeepers of Pakistan Army, rather imbued with the spirit of avoiding clash and combat, made to the site. The roadblocks, gun brandishing and jeering by the unruly mobs enroute, however, signalled the antagonism all around. Avoiding to do anything that could incite or provoke the situation, 10 Baloch set about to inspecting the cache.

While the team was calmly into the task, the unprovoked fury unleashed. Militia of General Farah Aideed were cunning enough to wait and time their well planned assault on the troops of United Nations/Pakistan Army. With a massive fire of small arms, machine guns and RPGs from well-hidden positions, a battalion of gangsters ambushed the Pakistani troops, who not only reorganized themselves well, but reacted back with striking punch to them. The sense of danger and will to persist was inbuilt in the combat response of our troops. The fighting ensued and the casualities, too. Major Syed Riaz Manzoor Shaheed (Sitara-i-Jurat) was commissioned in 10 Baloch Regiment in 1984. The professional standards earned by him over his highly demanding, albeit brief career speak of the professionalism of an infantry soldier. He was chosen for the formidable part of the operation, as a recue and evacuation commander for the beleagured comrades at the combat site. While the vulnerability was a given, his ability to outdo it was also a given. Sense and sacrifice were to be his swords in surmounting the challenge. He employed both and did the miracle.

Fighting his way through upto the combat site, Major Riaz effectively engaged the enemy combatants, carefully avoiding the shield of ordinary women and children that distracted the peacekeepers, and quitened the hostile guns. The toll was expected and expectation came true. While leading the rescue and evacuation operation from the front, the commander willingly exposed himself to the danger. What else can be the choice of a true commander in the face of the danger; he has to grapple it to down it. Major Riaz prevailed upon the danger, resued the comrades, evacuated the wounded and surrounded to safety but not without cost. His courage cost him the bullets in the chest; a true sign of an honourably fallen soldier. 24 soldiers and one officer of Pakistan Army laid their lives for the sake of humanity and country. In recognition of his unsurpassed courage in the face of the danger and his supreme sacrifice, this 'son of soil' was honoured with the prestigious operational gallantry award, 'Sitara-i-Jurat', posthumously. His manly portrait adorns the wall of tea bar of 10 Baloch Regiment but his soul must be in the blessed hall of heaven. Pakistan Army and the nation are proud of and grateful to their Shuhada, forever.

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