Militancy setting down roots in Pakistan

February 23, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Sattar Rind

It may or may not be accepted, but it is a fact that most political parties at a national level in Pakistan, either directly or indirectly are supporting the Islamic militants.

However, we must exclude three parties from the list: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

These three parties as a result always face serious threats and have lost many workers and leaders due to the principles by which they stand.

The ANP, being based in Pakhtunkhwa, remains very much under threat and at the same time tries to fight back honorably, though their leaders and family members were last in this war a long time ago. The PPP even lost their charismatic leader Benazir Bhutto, but they never compromised with militants.

Thus I have argued that all national level parties are supporting the militants. The remaining parties, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN), Qauid-e-Azam group (PMLQ) and Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are either are fully supporting the militants or have a soft spot for them.

The Chief Minister of Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif, younger brother of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and leader of PMLN, in a reaction to an attack on Lahore by militants, said that militants must spare the Punjab province as they know that “they were not against them.”

Again, there is a very popular story that the leader of the PMLN Nawaz Sharif once met with Osama Bin Laden to get directions and money to bribe the National Assembly Members to get Benazir Bhutto out of government through a ‘No Confidence Motion’ in the National Assembly in 1989.

For the Islamists, a woman would be a great sin and bad omen if she could be head of a Muslim country. It is equal to annoying God.

Therefore they started planning and a special assignment was given to then second in command of the ISI Intelligence Services, Brigadier Imtiaz and his confidante Major Amir to manipulate the assembly members either by bribing or threatening them. On the other hand Osama bin Laden had attended talks with Ramzi Yousef – one of those who attacked the World Trade Center.

This plan, under the name ‘Operation Midnight Jackal’, failed however. Somehow Benazir Bhutto survived both actions, the No Confidence Motion and threats on her life, but was very soon removed from government on corruption charges by then president of Pakistan, the late Ishaq Khan.

It is assumed, after dismissing her government, that Khan said to Nawaz Sharif that he killed Benazir Bhutto and that you now have to bury her body politically, indicating that he knew the whole plan of Nawaz Sharif, ISI and Osama Bin Laden.

Nawaz Sharif eventually became a third time Prime Minister and there were hopes that he would not repeat his mistakes of the past. But very soon he tried to avoid the long awaited action against the militants, as they also supported the PMLN in the 2013 election.

The Taliban and other militant groups threatened the PPP, ANP and MQM that if they could start an election campaign in Pakistan then they must be ready to receive suicide attacks.

At the same time they proved their claim and in an election campaign in Pakhtunkhwa they attacked ANP’s senior leader Bashir Ahmad Bilour and killed him.

The militants also supported the PTI and his leader Imran Khan, who then demanded talks with the Taliban and started to protest against the drone attacks on Taliban hideouts in North Waziristan, even offering the Taliban the opportunity to open their offices in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

As a result Nawaz Sharif constituted a team for talks with the Taliban, soon after announcing the names of said team, that people termed the ‘Taliban vs Taliban’ talks. Amazingly three of the government team members were diehard supporters of the Taliban.

For example one was the ex-ISI Major Amir, of ‘Operation Midnight Jackal’ fame, who remained the Taliban’s strategic advisor, officially or unofficially. During this time his elder brother’s madrasa was involved in producing militants from the time of the Mujahideen against the ex-USSR.

The second was Maulana Sami ul Haq who never hid the fact that all Taliban leaders had gained an Islamic education under his supervision and in his madrasa. He always used to call the militants his sons.

Third was the advisor to the Nawaz Sharif government Irfan Siddiqui, a journalist by profession and devoted supporter of Al-Qaeda, having written a number of articles in favor of Al-Qaeda leaders, especially Ayman al-Zawahiri.

He has also written articles for existing Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah, terming him a great leader, the same person who sent attackers to kill 146 people, in which 134 were pupils, at the army public school in Peshawar.

Many are indicating that he is also writing with a pen name in a banned group magazine. The same person is also an undeclared speech writer for the Prime Minister.

The fourth member was Rahimullah Yusufzai, a harmless editor of an English newspaper in Peshawar and an expert on Afghanistan affairs. He was the only person who was uncontroversial in the team. However, there is still the question as to why he has been accepted by the Taliban as a member of the Pakistani talks team.

Besides this, the Islamic political parties are not hiding their sentiments in favor of the Taliban or other militants groups. The most organized and cunning parties’, the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Fazullah (JUI f), leaders, when Taliban head Hakimullah Mehsud was killed in a drone attack, termed him ‘mortared’.

Besides, large numbers of these militant groups are Punjab based and their leaders are not only living in Punjab and running their madrassas, but they have great influence on the Punjab government. They even started deciding who will be a member of the national assembly and who wouldn’t.

For example, a famous columnist in Pakistan, Ayaz Amir, has not been awarded a PMLN party ticket for the National or Provincial assembly. There are reports that militants have threatened PMLN leaders that if they give Ayaz Amir a ticket to contest the election from the PMLN platform, then it could be dangerous for the leadership. Ultimately the PMLN did what the militants desired.

Moreover, and at least for the last five years, the number of madrassas has increased in Pakistan and no one is stopping them. There are though claims that the government has broken the backbone of the terrorists. The Sindh province has been flooded by these banned groups, opening madrassas and paying pupils’ parents a reasonable amount to send their children there.

On Saturday, 20th February the Chief Minister of Sindh in a provincial level of the ANP’s meeting said that he has received reports that the banned militant groups are bringing the pupils from deprived areas of Pakistan and enrolling them in their madrassas in Thar.

Even a Chief Minister of Sindh would definitely not dare to do anything, therefore he presented his case before the ANP of the Sindh province. Sindh, for centuries has remained liberal at its core, but I do not see in the coming years it being liberal anymore.

This situation is known by everyone in Pakistan. Even when I hear such claims that the militancy is losing its grounds in Pakistan, I still can’t get the courage to smile.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sattar Rind

Sattar Rind lives in Sindh, Pakistan. and is an Author with four books to his credit. three poetry and one on politics. As a Columnist he has written for a number of newspapers and magazines since 1991. Sattar can be contacted at the following email address: sattar-rind@hotmail.com

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