Terrorism in Pakistan is the outcome of backup support provided by USA, India and Afghanistan to TTP and its affiliated groups in the northwest and to BLA, BRA and BLF in the southwest. While foreign agencies fund, equip and provoke the terrorists to strike civil and military targets in Pakistan so as to create bedlam, the liberals and section of media on the payroll of outside powers keep instigating the government and Army to keep fighting war on terror till the elimination of each and every terrorist. Those preaching peace and suggesting dialogue with militants are termed as Taliban lovers and insane.
Pro-fight elements consider drone a useful weapon to kill terrorists hiding in far off places and go to the extent of claiming that residents of FATA love drones and view drones as a good deterrent against terrorists. Pro-peace groups on the other hand see drone as the biggest obstruction in the way of peace and say that people of FATA, particularly women, children and elderly people have contracted mental diseases because of hovering drones. They feel that the US purposely uses this weapon to trigger terrorism and scuttle peace process. They quote examples of Nek Muhammad killed by a drone soon after he signed a peace deal, Bajaur seminary struck by a missile in October 2006 when peace deal was about to be inked, pro-talks TTP leader Waliur Rahman droned on May 30, 2013, Hakeemullah killed by a drone on November 1, 2013 when he had consented to take part in peace talks.
Anti-talks lobbies are making hue and cry as to why the government is insisting to hold talks with the TTP when its new leader Fazlullah has categorically stated that there will be no talks and has threatened to avenge the death of Hakeemullah. They argue that it is pointless to hold talks with Fazlullah who has a history of breaking deals and had soaked Swat in blood. Those favoring talks counter their arguments by saying that the security forces have been fighting the militants for over a decade without achieving any results and in the process, civilians, Army, police have suffered heavy losses and Pakistan has lost over $100 billion. They say, other than Sri Lankan and Colombian insurgencies, no insurgency could be resolved anywhere in the world through force and ultimately had to rely on dialogue to end the conflict. They quote the example of US military supported by military contingents from 48 countries having used excessive force for over 12 years has finally decided to quit and is seeking dialogue with the Taliban to arrive at a political settlement.
Within Pakistan, perceptions on various issues are viewed differently. There is unending debate concerning Quaid-e-Azam, whether he was a secular or Islam Pasand. Opinions differ whether Pakistan should be an Islamic or a secular State. We are not clear whether the US is a friend or foe and should we or should we not remain tied to the apron strings of USA for times to come. We are unclear whether war on terror is our or someone else’s war, whether we should continue to fight or end it. Same is the position taken on drones, whether they are useful or harmful, and whether they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty or not. While majority view India arch enemy of Pakistan which cannot be trusted, movers of Aman ki Asha view differently and keep highlighting the benefits of friendship with India. They advocate grant of MFN status to India as well as road access through Wagah border to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
The opponents argue that until and unless India settles core issues of Kashmir, Siachin, Sir Creek and water, India should be kept at a distance. They say that India has been cleverly extracting concessions from Pakistan without giving anything in return and that friendship should be on reciprocal basis. Opinion differs over Kalabagh dam so very vital for the existence of Pakistan. Nationalists in KP and in Sindh dogmatically oppose construction of the dam well knowing that India is building large numbers of dams over the three rivers of Chenab, Jhelum and Indus to turn Pakistan into a wasteland.
Peddlers of hate and destruction have all along striven to impose Shariah upon others using coercive, cruel and violent methods. Instead of reforming the society by endearing to influence the wayward and weak Muslims and guiding them to become practicing Muslims through preaching and demonstrating strength of character, honesty, tolerance, amiability, generosity and humility, the militants have been resorting to cruelty and terrorism to terrorize the people and force them to accept their brand of Islam, which they project is the real Islam.
While the militants condone their aggressive acts under the cover of religion, saying they have a noble agenda of establishing Shariah in the country, the deprived class groaning under the weight of poverty and insecurity and fed up of arrogance of proud pursed elites, tend to overlook the acts of militants. The religious and politico-religious leaders as well as religious scholars sympathize with the cause of militants since they too yearn for Shariah. Those driven by ignorance, or half-baked knowledge of Islam, or fear, believe that the extremist groups have taken up militancy in order to get rid of anti-poor western systems of governance and justice, and to usher in real Islam in Pakistan for the betterment of the downtrodden. While doing so, they ignore the fact that over 40,000 innocent people have died at the hands of militants, and the whole social fabric has been severely traumatized. Very few pick up courage to speak out that Islam preaches peace, tolerance, brotherhood, fraternity and shuns violence, bigotry and bloodshed.
Sectarianism is another curse which has created bad blood between Shias and Sunnis. Extremist groups of each group declare the other Kafirs. Civil-military relations often remain tense. The politicians and pseudo intellectuals hate Army and miss no opportunity to degrade its image. However, for every natural and manmade calamity the rulers and the people look toward the Army and the Army always live up to their expectations. Army handles the monumental tasks with utmost efficiency and at the peril of their lives.
While drone is choice weapon of USA, suicide attack is the choice weapon of militants. Pakistan has suffered the most at the hands of suicide bombers. This phenomenon crept into Pakistan in 2002 and started to peak after Lal Masjid operation in 2007 and recorded 78 attacks in 2009. Groups involved in this heinous practice are TTP, Asmatullah Muawia and Qari Zafar groups of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, 313 Brigade of late Ilyas Kashmiri, Badar Mansoor group of Harkatul Mujahideen, Qari Saifullah and Amjad Farooqui groups of Harkatul Jihadul Islam, Lal Masjid Brigade, TNSM, Jaish-e-Muhammad, Jamaatul Furqan, Jaishul Islam, Fidayeen-e-Islam, Abdullah Azam Shaheed Brigade. TTP’s late Qari Husain, cousin of late Hakeemullah Mehsud, earned the title of Ustad-e-Fadayeen. TTP spokesman Azam Tariq is on record having stated that ‘Our Ulema have termed suicide attacks as an elite form of Jihad, which has made the Mujahideen invincible’.
It is, however, heartening to note that the Ulema belonging to Wafaqul Madaras are now unanimous in declaring suicide attacks as un-Islamic. All religious leaders do not subscribe to violence and say that Quran clearly spells out that murder of one innocent human being is equivalent to murder of entire humanity. Saudi Arabia’s grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh has recently stated that killing oneself is a grave crime and a grave sin and those who kill themselves with explosives are criminals and are moving fast to hell. His categorical verdict must have put TTP leaders on the back foot and compelled them to ponder over whether it was right to train teenage boys as suicide bombers and deceivingly making them believe that no sooner they will blow themselves up, they will be welcomed by Hoors and taken to paradise. Misusing the name of Islam, the trainers have been exploiting the poverty of the boys hailing from downtrodden class and misleading them to kill Muslims.
Being the oldest and most respected religious political party of the country, it is the responsibility of Jamaat-e-Islami chief to remove ambiguity and show the clear path as enshrined in Holy Quran rather than adding to the existing chaos and confusion by siding with the misled. Wafaqul Madaras should also play its role in forbidding every tom, dick and harry claiming to be guardian of Islam from issuing mischievous Islamic decrees like the one related to Shahadat. Gory practice of suicide attacks and all forms of terrorism and that too against own brethren must end now. Dialogue is the route to peace and tranquility. The government should not only strive to bridge divides within the society, but also focus on creating sectarian harmony and enforcing law for all sectarian groups to prevent recurrence of Rawalpindi tragedy on last 10th Muharram.
The writer is a retired Brig and a defence analyst. firstname.lastname@example.org