09
March

Where Education Fails - The Changing Face of Terror

Written By: Salman Masood

"Youth in our universities are extremely vulnerable to such tendencies, especially in the absence of guidance and oversight. One does not even have to be part of an organised group to form political convictions that can mutate into violence and radicalisation. Internet is rife with such opportunities, through literature and easy access to chatrooms and communication with radical elements. For those willing and amenable, the drift towards extremism and militancy is easy and quick."

We often try to oversimplify complex and complicated issues and subsequently such an approach leads to even more complexities and imbroglios. The effort against militancy and violent extremism has also had one such aspect. In popular perception – often peddled by some officials and even academics – religious extremism and militancy were considered to be a by-product of a mix of poverty and narrow-focused education of religious seminaries. Students of madrassas were considered to be most vulnerable to adopt the path of religious extremism and eventually terrorism. The fact that almost all of the suicide bombers in recent history of the country have come from the far-flung tribal regions or belonged to poor families of the urban ghettos strengthened such perceptions.


But this is not the whole story of the multifaceted and complex reasons why young people resort to violent extremism. Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, an alleged Al Qaeda courier and financier, incarcerated for life in US; Faisal Shahzad, convicted in the US of an unsuccessful bombing attempt in New York in 2010; Saad Aziz, a graduate of Karachi’s Institute of Business Administration, accused of being the mastermind behind killing of human rights activist Sabeen Mehmud; Tashfeen Malik, who along with her husband was accused of a shooting rampage in San Bernardino, US earlier this year, do not fit in the straightjacket of extremists indoctrinated by religious seminaries.


Educated and affluent youth, who go to the most prestigious colleges and universities, are equally prone to terrorism and militancy; religiosity and devoutness cannot be attributed as the only factors. Most often than naught, it is the extreme sense of persecution, a search for identity and political beliefs that lead young, disenchanted men and women to embark on the path to militancy and terrorism.


It doesn’t help the youth when they see themselves growing up in a society that is rampant with corruption of the politicians and rulers, where the elite manage to get away with the most heinous of crimes. It can be extremely frustrating to come to grips with the reality that official malfeasance is seen as an acceptable way of bureaucratic life and religion is mostly left in the hands of bigoted clergy and charlatans. Adding to this combustible mix is the constant talk about politics and persecution, about plight and helplessness of fellow Muslims in other far-off regions of the world. Youth are constantly fed with notions of an irreconcilable clash and attempts of subjugation and dominance by the others.

 

whereedufails.jpgEmpowerment, both political and religious, then seems like an ideal that has to be achieved through every possible means. Such ambitions fill the young minds with a burning sense of purpose. Devoid of such purpose, life and existence seems meaningless and pointless. And, within their own minds, religious orthodoxy and political radicalisation unite to form a potent mixture. Such a calling becomes so strong and so heady that nothing else matters – and blinded and driven by this radical rage, the youth decide to take on the world.


The sense of shame and humiliation at the hands of the western world is the driving factor that leads educated, middle class youth to violent extremism. The conflict in the Middle East, neighbouring Afghanistan and Kashmir have remained constant sources of inspiration and anger within the youth. For long, Al Qaeda used the presence of foreign troops in the Holy Lands as a pretext to wage their version of Jihad. Local so called Jihadi groups have used similar sentiments to fill their cadres.


When Faisal Shahzad defended himself before a US court in 2010, he glowingly spoke of Osama Bin Laden, terming him as a modern-day Salahuddin Ayubi, accused American forces of attacking Muslim lands and vowed to lay down his life a thousand times for his cause. Shahzad came from a privileged background, immigrated to the US and yet he veered towards extremism, taking the first steps when he saw the siege of the Red Mosque in Islamabad in 2007 and concluded that it was an act of war against Islam. The radicalisation within him was conscious and self-taught.


Youth in our universities are extremely vulnerable to such tendencies, especially in the absence of guidance and oversight. One does not even have to be part of an organised group to form political convictions that can mutate into violence and radicalisation. Internet is rife with such opportunities, through literature and easy access to chatrooms and communication with radical elements. For those willing and amenable, the drift towards extremism and militancy is easy and quick.


Organisations like Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), which claim to be striving for establishment of Khilafat, scour through the internet and university campuses to look for potential recruits. Affluent and middle class students are lured by a vast array of propaganda literature distributed both on and off campus. Many are impressed by the fact that those propagating such views are themselves western educated and highly qualified professionals.


For Pakistan, where the writ of the state has gradually diluted and extremism and radicalisation has been steadily on the rise, the challenge to ensure that its youth do not embark on the course of violent radicalisation is immense. It would need a concerted effort both at the societal and governmental level to face this challenge. The national curriculum would have to ensure tolerance and enlightenment. The law enforcing authorities would have to ensure supremacy of the law and disallow any militant or ideological group to have any public space. Dissemination of hate and violent literature on the internet would have to be checked and monitored.


Most importantly, the quality of education, employment opportunities and a system that promises fairness and merit can ensure that youth don’t get disillusioned. Furthermore, the country needs to be seen working with the international community in diplomatic efforts to mitigate regional and international conflicts. Once an individual sees the state doing its job, there might be little less of a desire to take things in one’s own hands.

The writer is Resident Editor of a leading national daily. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Most importantly, the quality of education, employment opportunities and a system that promises fairness and merit can ensure that youth don’t get disillusioned. Furthermore, the country needs to be seen working with the international community in diplomatic efforts to mitigate regional and international conflicts. Once an individual sees the state doing its job, there might be little less of a desire to take things in one’s own hands.

*****

 
05
April

Combating Extremism

Written By: Arif Nizami

The state is engaged in crucial talks with ‘Islamic’ militants to bring an end to rampant terrorism eating into its very entrails. Negotiations with the TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) are still very tenuous and at an incipient state. No one is sure they will bear fruit or not. Whatever the outcome, in the end analysis, the Pakistani state and society will have to grapple with the endemic causes of extremism and intolerance afflicting it. With the passage of time however, alarming trends promoting extremism are becoming more pronounced. Of course, the immediate objective of talks with the TTP is to bring the spiral of violence to a closure. Nevertheless having a grip on religious extremism should be the end objective of any anti-terrorism policy. Absence of such a strategy will be tantamount to missing the wood for the trees. Making Pakistan a free, open and tolerant Muslim nation should be our ultimate goal. Right now we are far from achieving it.

On the contrary recent trends point out towards a disturbingly rising trend of extremism and intolerance in society and our body politic. Unfortunately absence of a vision and the political will to combat the menace is becoming more pronounced. Take the case of religious minorities. Incidents of violence against them threatening their very life, property and livelihood are becoming more and more common.

Not only non-Muslim minorities are being targeted with impunity, sectarian violence is also on the rise. Shia and Hazara Muslims are continuously, and increasingly, on the receiving end of the militants' wrath. The question is: what is the state doing to combat this alarmist situation? Mere lip service is paid to the teachings of the founding fathers as a source of inspiration for our policy makers. There is no long-term policy framework to combat the menace. Take the case of performance of the Council for Islamic Ideology (CII). The advisory body composed of clerics and scholars should be a contributory factor in providing the nation with an enlightened vision of Islam. However, its recent edicts mostly against women have generated nothing but controversy. The council headed by a cleric who also happens to be a member of the parliament, recently generated unnecessary controversy by making the fantastic claim that marriage of even minors can be solemnized, but with consent of the guardians.

When a lady member of the parliament belonging to the ruling party moved a private bill against child marriages, the CII chairman opposed it on the grounds that it was unislamic. To add insult to injury, the parliamentarian did not get any support for the proposed bill from her own party. A large swath of opinion believes that an elected parliament representing the will of the people is the perfect forum for interpreting Islam in the light of modern times. Going a step further, the Sindh Assembly through a resolution has demanded the disbanding of the CII. Misplaced priorities and lack of courage or conviction of our policy makers has promoted extremist trends in the society at large. On a macro level, budget outlays as a percentage of the GDP on the sectors like health, education and providing a social safety network for the poor and the downtrodden, are dismally low.

A mixture of increasing poverty and high rate of population growth, coupled with a dismal economic performance is a recipe for disaster. Lack of income generating opportunities and an absence of a level playing field for the underprivileged has given rise to the Madrassa culture. As a result, a large number of such institutions have become breeding grounds for extremism. Many of the seminaries impart religious education. But others, in the name of imparting religious education, are actually producing extremists to become a willing tool of terrorist outfits. The National Assembly recently adopted an opposition resolution demanding that the government take steps to improve and regulate education in seminaries. Such efforts in the past have come to naught owing to opposition from the religious right. Hopefully they will be brought on board and made to realize the urgency to reform and regulate. Unless urgent measures are taken to combat this alarming trend, the hydra headed monster of extremism will simply devour the state as envisaged by Allama Iqbal and the Quaid-i-Azam. It is not coincidental that implementation of Sharia much beyond the scope of the 1973 Constitution has been demanded off and on by the TTP and its affiliates.

Over the years, a general perception has set in that Pakistani society, as a whole, has become more conservative. In the backdrop of the prevalent trend in the Isalmic world, this may be true to a certain extent. However, to confuse conservatism with extremism is erroneous. Even the Secretary General of the OIC (Organisation of Isalmic Countries) Iyad Amin Madni, in his recent address had to admit that extremist voices and groups have hijacked Islam and misappropriated the right to speak on its behalf.

Pakistani society and the military have shown a tremendous resilience in the face of rampant terrorism and growing extremism. The nation has adequately risen to the challenge posed by the terrorists. There are various tales of bravery and valour in resisting the gauntlet thrown by the extremists. The spirit shown by the people of Swat in flushing out the TTP is exemplary. The resilience shown by Malala Yousafzai despite being targeted by the terrorists for standing up for girls' education has become a legend now. Similarly military personnel have resisted terrorism bravely even at the expense of laying down their lives.

Another very important element of the complicated matrix of combating extremism is the role of the media. A number of media persons who have been outspoken against the extremist mindset have been intimidated and threatened with dire consequences by terrorist outfits. Some have even been brutally attacked. And few have even lost their lives at the hands of the terrorists for their courage of conviction. But on the other hand a large swath of the media is also responsible for promoting the extremist agenda. The extremist agenda has been lent too much space and airtime on the print and electronic media.

There is an obvious reluctance to properly accommodate the alternative agenda of the enlightened strata of the society, partly perhaps owing to the fear of retribution. Law enforcing agencies, by being unable to provide adequate security to journalists, has exacerbated the malaise. It is obvious that converting Pakistan into a tolerant society is an uphill task. Without developing a consensual and enlightened narrative, war against extremism cannot be won in the long run. The power that be, perhaps lacks vision and the political will to develop such an agenda that promotes tolerance and respect for opposing views. In doing so without further delay lies our salvation as a nation.

The writer is a former Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting. He is an eminent personality of electronic and print media. He is also the Editor of an English Daily.

Tweeter:@paktoday

13
April

How will the Militancy against Pakistan End?

Written By: Dr Farrukh Saleem

An insurgency is “an organized rebellion aimed at overthrowing a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict.” How will the insurgency against Pakistan end? There are three possible outcomes. Outcome number 1: Pakistan wins. Outcome number 2: A stalemate. Outcome number 3: The insurgents win.

In 2010, the U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA) sponsored a research study to be conducted by the Intelligence Policy Center (IPC) of the RAND National Defence Research Institute (the RAND National Defence Research Institute is financed by the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Defence Intelligence Community). IPC undertook a “quantitative and qualitative” analysis of 89 insurgencies and counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns around the world. IPC, admitting that “no two insurgencies are the same”, has five generalized conclusions:

• One; sanctuary is vital to insurgents.

• Two; modern insurgencies last an average of ten years.

• Three; a “government's chances of winning may increase slightly over time.”

• Four; “insurgent use of terrorism” against civilian targets backfires.

• Five; “anocracies or pseudodemocracies rarely succeed against insurgencies”.

Two of the five conclusions are particularly relevant in Pakistan's case. One; North Waziristan is the last sanctuary left for the militants. Two; militants continue to consider Pakistan's armed forces as their primary target (Yahya al-Libi's Doctrine of not targeting civilian targets). Of the 89 insurgencies there are only four insurgencies where the insurgents won: “Fidel Castro's victory in Cuba, Mao Tse-Tung's in China, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.” Four out of 89 means less than 5 % of insurgencies are actually won by insurgents. According to the IPC, “Most insurgencies fail, since states, no matter how weak or feckless, are typically stronger, better organized, and more professional than non-state forces.”

What can be the outcome of Government-TTP negotiations? For the record, there are three models. Model 1: The East Timor Model. Model 2: The Nepalese Model. Model 3: The Sri Lankan Model.

The East Timor Model: Between 1975 and 1999, East Timor suffered more than a hundred thousand insurgency-related deaths. In 1999, a majority of East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia. On 27 September 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste became the 191st member of the United Nations. This model is referred to as the political autonomy model.

Under the political autonomy model, Pakistan would have to grant TTP political autonomy that TTP seeks. Release their prisoners and withdraw Pakistani troops. Let TTP declare independence and establish their Emirate of Waziristan. The Nepalese Model: This is referred to as the 'assimilation into the mainstream model'. In Nepal, the Nepalese Army and the rebel-led army known as the People's Liberation Army (PLA) fought a bloody civil war that lasted for 10 years and 9 months. War-related casualties stood at around 20,000 killed and 200,000 internally displaced. By 2007, an Army Integration Special Committee was formed under which 3,129 former PLA insurgents agreed to integrate into the Nepalese Army while 6,576 insurgents chose the Voluntary Retirement Scheme with regular retirement cheques. The two questions here are: Is TTP willing to abandon its armed struggle, lay down arms and form a political party? Is TTP willing to assimilate into mainstream Pakistan?

The Sri Lankan Model. The conflict between the Sri Lankan Military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) went on for 26 years (1983-2009). LTTE demanded an independent state. War-related causalities have been estimated at a hundred thousand and economic cost of around $200 billion. By 1987, the Sri Lankan army had fought the LTTE down to its knees when India stepped in and gave LTTE another life. The Sri Lankan government was forced to give concessions to appease the LTTE. The ceasefire of early 1990 was broken when LTTE killed 600 policemen after the policemen had surrendered. In 1991, LTTE insurgents surrounded a military base and killed a thousand soldiers.

In 1994, the People's Alliance won elections on a peace platform. In 1995, a ceasefire was agreed but the LTTE broke the ceasefire by bombing two Sri Lankan Navy boats. In 1996, the LTTE killed 1,173 army troops. By 2000, a million Sri Lankan were internally displaced. In December 2000, LTTE declared a unilateral ceasefire. In April 2001, LTTE cancelled the ceasefire. In July 2001, LTTE's suicide bombers attacked the Bandaranaike International Airport, destroyed eight air force planes and four Sri Lankan Airlines aircraft. In the months after the September 11 attacks, the LTTE fearing direct American support for the Sri Lankan military announced a month-long ceasefire. By October 2003, LTTE had given up its demand of an independent state and had put up a demand of a Self Governing Authority in northern and eastern Sri Lanka (with powers to impose their own laws and collect taxes). In December 2005, LTTE killed 150 government troops. By 2006, LTTE's focus had shifted to civilian targets.

On 8 December 2006, the Sri Lankan army undertook a full-fledged military operation. By 16 May 2009, the Sri Lankan army had cleared the entire area held by LTTE insurgents. On May 17, LTTE admitted defeat. How will the militancy against Pakistan end? How are Pakistan's force ratios? According to Quinlivan's 'Force Requirements in Stability Operations', a “standard force ratio of 20 to 25 counterinsurgents for every 1,000 residents.” FATA with an estimated population of 5 million will thus require a force of around 125,000 counterinsurgents albeit, TTP/ Militants are mostly FATA based but in no way represent the whole population of FATA. Their numbers are a tiny fraction of the population. The standard troop-to-insurgents ratio is 9:1. The number of militants in FATA can only be estimated and most estimates fall in the range of 10,000 to 20,000. Pakistan would therefore require 90,000 to 180,000 troops. How will the militancy against Pakistan end? Pakistan's 'war on extremism' has to be fought at two levels: battlefield and ideological. Pak Army has won dozens of battles on the battlefield including the Battle of Wana, Battle of Swat, Battle of Buner, Battle of Orakzai, Battle of Kurrum, Battle of Bajaur and Battle of Tirah. At the ideological level, the war has to be fought by our politicians, the media, academics and the civil society. To be certain, there is no power that can stand up against Pak Army in any battlefield within 796,095 sq km of Pakistan. There is absolutely no doubt that Pak Army has the capability to bring North Waziristan back into Pakistan's fold and that too within weeks. But that will be another battle won; the war goes on. What do we as a nation really want? Political autonomy for TTP? TTP's assimilation into the mainstream? TTP's complete defeat?

The writer is an analyst who regularly contributes for national and international print and electronic media.

Tweeter: @SaleemFarrukh

13
April

How will the Militancy against Pakistan End?

Written By: Dr Farrukh Saleem

An insurgency is “an organized rebellion aimed at overthrowing a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict.” How will the insurgency against Pakistan end? There are three possible outcomes. Outcome number 1: Pakistan wins. Outcome number 2: A stalemate. Outcome number 3: The insurgents win.

In 2010, the U.S. Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA) sponsored a research study to be conducted by the Intelligence Policy Center (IPC) of the RAND National Defence Research Institute (the RAND National Defence Research Institute is financed by the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Defence Intelligence Community). IPC undertook a “quantitative and qualitative” analysis of 89 insurgencies and counterinsurgency (COIN) campaigns around the world. IPC, admitting that “no two insurgencies are the same”, has five generalized conclusions:

• One; sanctuary is vital to insurgents.

• Two; modern insurgencies last an average of ten years.

• Three; a “government's chances of winning may increase slightly over time.”

• Four; “insurgent use of terrorism” against civilian targets backfires.

• Five; “anocracies or pseudodemocracies rarely succeed against insurgencies”.

Two of the five conclusions are particularly relevant in Pakistan's case. One; North Waziristan is the last sanctuary left for the militants. Two; militants continue to consider Pakistan's armed forces as their primary target (Yahya al-Libi's Doctrine of not targeting civilian targets). Of the 89 insurgencies there are only four insurgencies where the insurgents won: “Fidel Castro's victory in Cuba, Mao Tse-Tung's in China, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.” Four out of 89 means less than 5 % of insurgencies are actually won by insurgents. According to the IPC, “Most insurgencies fail, since states, no matter how weak or feckless, are typically stronger, better organized, and more professional than non-state forces.”

What can be the outcome of Government-TTP negotiations? For the record, there are three models. Model 1: The East Timor Model. Model 2: The Nepalese Model. Model 3: The Sri Lankan Model.

The East Timor Model: Between 1975 and 1999, East Timor suffered more than a hundred thousand insurgency-related deaths. In 1999, a majority of East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia. On 27 September 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste became the 191st member of the United Nations. This model is referred to as the political autonomy model.

Under the political autonomy model, Pakistan would have to grant TTP political autonomy that TTP seeks. Release their prisoners and withdraw Pakistani troops. Let TTP declare independence and establish their Emirate of Waziristan. The Nepalese Model: This is referred to as the 'assimilation into the mainstream model'. In Nepal, the Nepalese Army and the rebel-led army known as the People's Liberation Army (PLA) fought a bloody civil war that lasted for 10 years and 9 months. War-related casualties stood at around 20,000 killed and 200,000 internally displaced. By 2007, an Army Integration Special Committee was formed under which 3,129 former PLA insurgents agreed to integrate into the Nepalese Army while 6,576 insurgents chose the Voluntary Retirement Scheme with regular retirement cheques. The two questions here are: Is TTP willing to abandon its armed struggle, lay down arms and form a political party? Is TTP willing to assimilate into mainstream Pakistan?

The Sri Lankan Model. The conflict between the Sri Lankan Military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) went on for 26 years (1983-2009). LTTE demanded an independent state. War-related causalities have been estimated at a hundred thousand and economic cost of around $200 billion. By 1987, the Sri Lankan army had fought the LTTE down to its knees when India stepped in and gave LTTE another life. The Sri Lankan government was forced to give concessions to appease the LTTE. The ceasefire of early 1990 was broken when LTTE killed 600 policemen after the policemen had surrendered. In 1991, LTTE insurgents surrounded a military base and killed a thousand soldiers.

In 1994, the People's Alliance won elections on a peace platform. In 1995, a ceasefire was agreed but the LTTE broke the ceasefire by bombing two Sri Lankan Navy boats. In 1996, the LTTE killed 1,173 army troops. By 2000, a million Sri Lankan were internally displaced. In December 2000, LTTE declared a unilateral ceasefire. In April 2001, LTTE cancelled the ceasefire. In July 2001, LTTE's suicide bombers attacked the Bandaranaike International Airport, destroyed eight air force planes and four Sri Lankan Airlines aircraft. In the months after the September 11 attacks, the LTTE fearing direct American support for the Sri Lankan military announced a month-long ceasefire. By October 2003, LTTE had given up its demand of an independent state and had put up a demand of a Self Governing Authority in northern and eastern Sri Lanka (with powers to impose their own laws and collect taxes). In December 2005, LTTE killed 150 government troops. By 2006, LTTE's focus had shifted to civilian targets.

On 8 December 2006, the Sri Lankan army undertook a full-fledged military operation. By 16 May 2009, the Sri Lankan army had cleared the entire area held by LTTE insurgents. On May 17, LTTE admitted defeat. How will the militancy against Pakistan end? How are Pakistan's force ratios? According to Quinlivan's 'Force Requirements in Stability Operations', a “standard force ratio of 20 to 25 counterinsurgents for every 1,000 residents.” FATA with an estimated population of 5 million will thus require a force of around 125,000 counterinsurgents albeit, TTP/ Militants are mostly FATA based but in no way represent the whole population of FATA. Their numbers are a tiny fraction of the population. The standard troop-to-insurgents ratio is 9:1. The number of militants in FATA can only be estimated and most estimates fall in the range of 10,000 to 20,000. Pakistan would therefore require 90,000 to 180,000 troops. How will the militancy against Pakistan end? Pakistan's 'war on extremism' has to be fought at two levels: battlefield and ideological. Pak Army has won dozens of battles on the battlefield including the Battle of Wana, Battle of Swat, Battle of Buner, Battle of Orakzai, Battle of Kurrum, Battle of Bajaur and Battle of Tirah. At the ideological level, the war has to be fought by our politicians, the media, academics and the civil society. To be certain, there is no power that can stand up against Pak Army in any battlefield within 796,095 sq km of Pakistan. There is absolutely no doubt that Pak Army has the capability to bring North Waziristan back into Pakistan's fold and that too within weeks. But that will be another battle won; the war goes on. What do we as a nation really want? Political autonomy for TTP? TTP's assimilation into the mainstream? TTP's complete defeat?

The writer is an analyst who regularly contributes for national and international print and electronic media.

Tweeter: @SaleemFarrukh

Follow Us On Twitter