Syed Sadruddin Hussain
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 17:47:55 +0000
Subject: Extremism, Pakistan Foreign policy and international response Dr Shabir Choudhry
Extremism, Pakistan Foreign policy and international response
Dr Shabir Choudhry 22 November 2011
I know many Pakistanis will not like this, but the fact is that they are fighting a monster which their government and secret agencies worked hard to create; and sad aspect of this fight is that despite more than 35 thousand deaths and loss of billions in business and property, some sections of the Pakistani society continue to support the monster which is destroying them and threatening very foundations of the Pakistan State.
True, extremism is not confined to Pakistan, but where else would you find so much support for it among different state organs, officials and groups representing different sections of the society. Sad thing is that for many years it was perceived as a state policy to nourish those groups and individuals who promoted violence, terrorism and extremist views in name of religion; and anyone who oppose this or even question the rationale of this policy is considered as unpatriotic and subject to severe punishment.
What pains us more is that despite so much suffering and partnership in war on terrorism, one can see the continuation of that policy in different forms and shapes. And instead of taking concrete actions to put things right, policy appears to be still denials and allegations against those who point fingers at this disastrous policy, by calling them anti Pakistan and anti Islam etc.
A columnist of BBC Urdu, Aamer Ahmed Khan in his investigative report said, in last forty years twenty five extremist groups emerged in Pakistan; and most of them had some kind of official patronage. Up till 1971, extremist groups which had official support had nationalistic approach, as they were there to support a fight against India; but after defeat in a war against India in 1971 all this changed. Pakistani establishment created religious groups who would, as none state actors fight Pakistan's wars and advance Pakistani policies, as it happened in Jammu and Kashmir, India and Afghanistan.
Religious extremism and intolerance has increased in Pakistan; and through these extremist groups have influenced societies in India, Jammu and Kashmir and Afghanistan. These fanatics and extremists groups have become so strong that, at times, they even show their arrogance to those who created them and despite all the pressure still support them. Result of this policy is that forces which promote liberal and democratic ideals are retreating, as they don't want to confront a trigger happy religious fanatic, who like Mumtaz Qadari, can kill anyone in hope of getting Heaven and many women of Haven as a reward.
Mumtaz Qadari killed Governor of Punjab, a man he was supposed to protect even at the cost of his life, but despite this premeditated murder which he committed by breaching his oath and by using a gun which was given to him to protect the Governor. He is hailed as a hero for killing the Governor in some sections of the Pakistani society. What surprised many was that Mumtaz Qadari was not a hero of illiterate or religious fanatics, among his 'fans' are lawyers who are supposed to uphold rule of law and promote equality and justice.
Arshad Mahmood, a columnist and a writer, in his article published in Viewpoint (http://www.viewpointonline.net/peace-as-last-priority.html) asserted:
'Our state has policy always focused on "keeping the Kashmir issue alive and to see India bleeding." As we kept playing the dirty politics to the disadvantage of the Kashmiris, Kashmir was not liberated nor will it ever be in this fashion. However, the dirty game transformed Pakistan's security establishment into the most powerful and the most prosperous institution of the country.Pakistan kept bleeding as a result of thoughtless military adventurism against India. The economy, the society and all dreams of a progressive state died down and institutions devastated. Preparing militarily and providing equipment to religious fanatics to be used against neighbouring countries proved suicidal. During the past 30 years, our state remained an active partner in the destruction ofAfghanistan, after obtaining dollars from the US. Our establishment got finances to create Taliban and is now asking for money to destroy them. Presently we are viewed as mercenaries in the whole world. Our state is still caught in the rigmarole of good and bad Taliban…..'
'On the other hand the militants and their supporters have become so powerful that the state has surrendered before them. All sects have taken up arms against each other and all minorities are living in fear, while the state is but a silent spectator and the political leadership follows a policy of opportunism. The government is only interested in affairs of the state on a daily basis. It does not have the will and the capacity to take critical decisions, while the deep state obstructs them to function effectively.'
This policy, despite criticism and opposition from various countries continued; and situation is getting worse with international patience running out. America, which was also a partner in creating such extremist groups in fight against Communism find itself at the receiving end now; and accuse Pakistan for its failures in Afghanistan. Situation in Afghanistan is getting from bad to worse for the Americans and the NATO; and they cannot see any honourable way out of this quagmire.
Americans cannot have the desired outcome without the help and support of Pakistan; however, both countries despite being partners in the war against terrorism have divergent views and interests on the final outcome of the conflict in Afghanistan. Pakistan is Afghanistan's neighbour and both countries, despite love and hate relationship have to live in the same region. America is thousands of miles away from this region, but as the saying goes – America is a neighbour of every country because of its international role and ambitions to control and dominate policies of other countries.
Tension, or more precisely low intensity war between Pakistani establishment and the American security agencies is increasing; and some kind of showdown is not ruled out in near future. Apart from other serious areas of conflict, there is apparently serious dispute over role and future of Haqqani network. America wants Pakistan army to take tough action against the Haqqani network, as they did against other militant groups in Swat and some parts of FATA. The Haqqani network is among the best, and is very effective against the NATO and the Americans in Afghanistan; and they have never harmed interest of Pakistan.
Many experts believe that among others, the Haqqani network is very valuable strategic asset of the Pakistan army, which has never harmed interest of Pakistan; and that is why despite so much pressure from the Americans the Pakistan army is not prepared to take any action against them. But NATO and America are losing patience, as they continually suffer and losing lives in Afghanistan; and some believe these military actions could not have been achieved without some logistic support of Pakistani secret agencies.
The NATO, Americans and others who oppose Pakistani sponsored interference in Afghanistan and oppose Talibanisation of the society find it difficult to understand why Pakistan army cannot take any military action against Haqqani network when they are conducting military operations against their own people in Balochistan. According to the interior ministry's Crisis Management Cell, Pakistan army has spent Rs 900 million in military operations to put an end to rising violence in Balochistan.
English 'Daily Times' of Pakistan in its editorial 'Baloch blood on our hands' on 21 Nov 11, wrote: 'This is astonishing considering that the money is being spent on the same forces that the Baloch people hold responsible for their miseries. A military operation is going on in the province and the 'kill and dump' policy being pursued by the military and its intelligence agencies is no secret. … Killing innocent Baloch whose only fault is to ask for their basic and just rights is criminal. Thousands of Baloch are missing. Tortured and bullet-riddled bodies of Baloch missing persons are found every other day in the province. Under these circumstances, pursuing a repressive policy is not just the height of injustice but also a threat to the country's unity. The military made the same mistake inEast Pakistan. Instead of learning from past mistakes, our military keeps making new and more senseless mistakes.'
Situation is getting from bad to worse in all respects – relationship with America, control of militant groups, internal stability, relationship with Afghanistan and economic stability; and some American commentators and politicians are openly advocating tough policy against Pakistan. Those who are at the helm of affairs in Pakistan need to realise seriousness of threats Pakistan is facing and take immediate actions to put things right. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA employee and Advisor to President Obama on South Asia, wrote:
'Ironically, many of its terror groups have long – standing ties with the Pakistan army and its intelligence services, making Pakistan both patron and a victim of the Frankenstein it helped to create, which may eventually destroy it.'
Writer is Director Diplomatic Committee of Kashmir National Party, political analyst and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.Email:firstname.lastname@example.org