Imagining a Pakistan without terror
The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is quite possibly the only Muslim country which has mainstreamed Islamic militancy in its national extra-curricular activities.
In utter hypocrisy, the Sunni Muslim majoritarian country is the primary contributor to UN peacekeeping … while also aiding and abetting Jihadists.
Recently, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ijaz Ahmed Shah exposed the truth that the national exchequer has footed millions of rupees on terror outfit Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).
The top official of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government, while speaking to journalist Nadeem Malik, stated on Pakistani private TV channel Hum News that the Imran Khan government has spent billions of rupees on the banned terror outfit JuD to attach them to the mainstream.
Earlier, during his maiden visit to the US in July, Khan had made a similar revelation that his country still has about 30,000 to 40,000 militants “who have been trained and fought in some part of Afghanistan or Kashmir,” according to a wire service report.
Pakistan’s pioneering role of deployment of non-state actors began from the insurrection in Kashmir in 1947-48, which was masterminded by Major General Akbar Khan.
In the book Raiders in Kashmir by Akbar Khan, he described the evil behind Pakistan’s invasion of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. Later in the 1970s, during General Zia ul Haq’s regime, he overtly nurtured jihadists with weapons, logistics, and training facilities for Mujaheddin’s fight with Russia in Afghanistan.
Years after the Mujaheddin coalition government came to power, General Pervez Musharraf, through 1994-96, pushed tens of thousands of Taliban into Afghanistan.
The militants were recruits from madrasas in Pakistan, especially from those in the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). Hundreds of foreign fighters from across the Muslim world joined the Taliban militia, mostly Pashtuns in Pakistan, Uzbeks, and Turkmens. Soon after, the world’s dreaded terror network, Al-Qaeda, moved its headquarters and covert operations into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
Afghanistan was shackled under the strictest Islamic Sharia -- where women were barred from going to school or getting jobs, and music and theaters were banned outright.
The men were forced to grow beards and pray five times, while women were covered with a black abaya or burka when they stepped outside their homes on the condition that they be accompanied by a male.
The Taliban moral police were cruel with violators of so-called Islamic rules, especially with women.
The Taliban regime in Afghanistan collapsed soon after the ruthless Al-Qaeda suicide operatives rammed into the World Trade Centre building in New York with hijacked commercial airlines on September 11, 2001.
Years later, Western intelligence confirmed that Pakistan was secretly harbouring the dreaded Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden -- founder of Al-Qaeda and other terror outfits including Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, and Al-Badr -- who were particularly engaged with infiltration into India-administered Kashmir.
Bin Laden, a blue-eyed boy of the Pakistan military hierarchy, had been lying in front of the proverbial nose of the military establishment in Abbottabad.
It was exposed when the United States Navy Seal Team made a dramatic search-and-kill operation and eliminated Bin Laden -- the world’s most wanted terrorist -- and his bodyguards in 2011.
As Tarek Fatah, a Pakistan-born Canadian journalist writes: “Pakistan, the country that nurtured the mastermind of 9/11, Khaled Sheikh Muhammad, and hosted Al-Qaeda head Osama bin Laden, escaped all scrutiny as its wily diplomats ran circles of deceit around Western governments while corrupt Jihadi generals profited immensely and still do.”
Most Pakistan-born journalists, academics, and rights activists living in exile believe that Minister Ijaz Ahmed Shah’s comments were a face-saving strategy ahead of the upcoming meeting of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in October.
Last month, the FATF’s regional affiliate Asia-Pacific Group put Pakistan in the red list, for having major deficiencies in their anti-money-laundering and counter-financing of terrorism framework and implementation.
But the question still remains: Is Naya Pakistan doomed to fail as well?
Saleem Samad, is an independent journalist, recipient of Ashoka Fellow and Hellman-Hammett Award.