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بدھ، 27 فروری، 2013

Quaid’s Pakistan in the hands of extremists

The Taliban killed Mr Bashir Bilour, accepting responsibility of his death, because he spoke bravely against them and challenged their ill doings. We lost our great leader Shaheed Benazir Bhutto at their hands. They kill whosever challenges their cruel ideology, whether it is a man, woman or child. They set our schools, hospitals and colleges on fire and attack our students, yet we demand for a dialogue with them. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi  kill hundreds a day and shamelessly accept responsibility. If we think that Pakistan is still safe then most surely we are deliberately handing over a dangerous country to our coming generation.

What happened in Quetta with the Hazaras in January and February this year has proved one point without any doubt that militancy has taken over Pakistan, though in this case the face of militancy is sectarianism. There is another face of militancy and that is terrorism, which makes its presence felt through sabotage activities. The targets of these activities are defence installations and stations of both the army and police. Frequent appearance of these two faces of militancy indicates that militants consider their targets legitimate, which also means that the attacks will continue unless militancy is stemmed. Militancy has also engulfed the ethnic domain. Karachi is the best example in this regard.

The threat of militancy Pakistan is beset with is essentially a post-2001 phenomenon. Though the drone strikes made their mark in 2004, the incidents of suicide bombing appeared in 2005. However, in 2009, when Pakistan officially owned the war on terror, militancy attacked Pakistan ferociously. That is the product of the collateral damage and the revenge of the Taliban coalesced into constructing a new challenge to Pakistan in the form of militancy.

At the state level, the mode to deal with the menace of militancy is lopsided. In January this year, the Pakistan army added the sub-conventional warfare doctrine as a chapter to its Green Book of warfare. That was essentially an anti-militancy strategy of the army. However, the civil sector of the state is still devoid of any such anti-militancy strategy. Even the army’s sub-conventional warfare doctrine is a belated awakening and can be characterised in certain ways. First, the doctrine is restrictive in the sense that it takes care of only defence installations and apparatus. Secondly, the doctrine is limited in the sense that it is meant to counter the sabotage activities carried out by saboteurs in the defence affairs. Thirdly, the doctrine is non-prohibitive because it does not deter militants from launching new attacks. Nevertheless, all these three points are comprehensible, since the prime duty of the army is to safeguard the defence related facets first. What is not understood, however, is that the doctrine considers attackers motivated or supported necessarily by the foreign powers. The army seems to have mixed the concept of ‘threat from within’ with ‘the support of foreign powers’. If the army thinks that no militant act can be carried out on the soil of Pakistan without any support from a foreign country, the army is making a grave strategic mistake. In this way, the doctrine overlooks the homegrown factors (non-state actors) that are motivated by various homespun reasons (for instance, religious bigotry) to resort to militancy. This major flaw in the rationale of the doctrine is loaded with costing Pakistan substantially.

The army has adopted its new doctrine but what about the police. To forestall any militant threat and to track the footprints of a militant, the police have to rely on the intelligence equipment and expertise available with the army. Secondly, the police cannot interfere in the area where the army shows its presence. Thirdly, the police are more vulnerable to any militant attack. Though the cost of damage is higher when the defence installations or tools have been attacked, the human loss of the police in any similar sabotage act is no fewer (or less) than that of the army. Multiple attacks in Lahore on the police are examples in this regard. Fourthly, there is not much compensation package made available to the family of a deceased policeman as compared to that of an army man. Fifthly, there is no anti-militancy doctrine of the police. The police are not prepared for any untoward event. In an anti-sectarianism campaign before 1999, dozens of officers of the Punjab police lost their lives. Why should the police keep on playing second fiddle to the army?

The Hazaras are faced with ethno-sectarian assaults that are rendering them isolated and insecure. The ethno-sectarian monopolistic trends are getting palpable in Pakistani society. Years ago, Pakistan envisioned (and perhaps yearned for) the same tendency for Afghanistan. Pakistan might have withdrawn its support to the Afghan Taliban but the effects of that decision are yet to materialise.

No doubt, sectarianism is an issue lingering on in this part of the world for decades. However, what has been happening currently in the sectarian domain never took place before in Pakistan. The ongoing militancy has reinforced sectarian cleavage in Pakistani society. Sectarianism has raised the possibilities of a continued conflict in Pakistan, since no ethno-sectarian community may be ready to capitulate to the forces hell bent on its cleansing. The fleeing of the Hazaras to Australia to save their lives should be a matter of concern for all Pakistanis. Pakistan was not founded to let one community assert any sort of ethno-sectarian monopoly over the others. If the concept of Pakistan is equated with the ethno-sectarian purity, Pakistan is bound to cave in under its own weight.

On February 23, a renowned lawyer of Pakistan, Syed Mohammad Zafar, circulated a statement in media. The statement contained at least four points that should be considered seriously by the incumbent government. First, suo motu actions taken by the Supreme Court (SC) are not the solutions for curbing terrorism including sectarianism, as terrorism has outgrown the will of the state to contain it. Secondly, the off the record remarks given by the judges of the SC may decorate news bulletins but they carry no legal value or practical implications. Thirdly, Pakistan has entered the phase when a new law should be enacted to thwart terrorism: the point of countering terrorism is secondary because it comes after the threat of terrorism is not frustrated by intelligence agencies. Fourthly, the new law should be framed by the current parliament before its dissolution. Fifthly, though not mentioned in the statement, there is a need of infusing more democracy at the political level and more pluralism at the societal level.

By Dr Qaisar Rashid

The writer is a freelance columnist and can be reached at

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