NationalVolume 13 Issue # 17

Sources of extremism in Pakistan

Street agitation, target-killing based on faith, sectarian conflict, indoctrination, blind faith, terrorist activities and politicizing religion are the manifestation of Islamic militancy in Pakistan. The role of Pakistan in the Soviet invasion provided footing to militant organizations and groups to sprout. Particularly, the post-9/11 war on terror aggravated the situation of law and order not only in Pakistan but also in war-ridden Afghanistan. The rapid growth and expansion of a vast amount of literature dealing with the phenomenon of Islamic extremism was also the product of the American-led war on terror that drove Pakistan into the quagmire of terrorism, extremism, narrow interpretation of Quranic texts and sectarianism. According to the book, The Deadly Embrace: Religion, Politics and Violence in India and Pakistan 1947-2002 edited by Ian Talbot, the Jihadi literature includes the congressional hearings in Washington D.C, parliamentary reports, official memoranda, and sociological research into Muslim societies. For political and strategic objectives, USA and Pakistan articulated a particular narrative following their interests.  They formulated, authenticated and projected the narrative and waged the war for mutual benefits.

Many books, documentaries, articles and reports conclude that methodological individualism is the motivational and driving force among Muslims to join terrorist activities. The impulse or conduct has historical multi-linear approach regarding militant strategies. Thus, there is dire need to bring structural acquaintance and rationalization between society and state. Then, the structural approach must be applied on global level in order to comprehend the dimensions of terrorism or militancy.

The write-up will focalize on context rather than text, collectivity rather than individualistic approach and continuity of terrorist activities under the aegis of political activities. The context, in fact, is based on the violent and non-violent modes of political behavior exercised by Islamist forces. Pakistani history has shifting paradigms and patterns of Islamic groups attitudes depending on their position and socio-political environment in various spans of time. For example, Islamic militant groups were more active in the Zia era. They were financed and assisted with modern weapons and conceptual-feeding. All factors thrive in the country’s Muslim majority in conceptual polarization between various sects and sub-sects. The further division was between Ulema and the secular ruling elite, and then between Islam and the West. The militant struggle of Islamist groups for political ascendency, war against the West by terming them non-believers, to impose rule of Shariah on the whole world, and Western policies toward the Muslim world have become leading causes of Islamic insurgency not only in Pakistan but also in the rest of the world. For instance, Al-Qaida and ISIS work at a global level, while TTP confines itself to the South Asian countries.

Focalizing organizational potential and future direction of Islamic militancy in Pakistan, the prolonged crisis of civil-military relations paved the way for Islamic parties and groups to enter the national political discourse. Pakistan emerged as a constitutional state, and its legal system is based on British common law, according to the research article “Political Sources of Islamic Militancy in Pakistan” written by Mohammad Waseem. He further enunciates that the state apparatuses in Pakistan display a fundamentally secular character in both structural and operational contexts, even as Islamic ideology gradually dominated the self-image of the people at large. To him, public policy remained secular, while the national profile became increasingly Islamic. For example, Hudood Ordinances and other Islamic laws were formulated and included in the penal code of Pakistan, later.

Alliance of Islamic parties under the sway of the Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA) took some precautionary measures to make up its government in KPK in 2002. The MMA government operationalized the Islamic agenda to Islamize the whole socio-political scenario. Sectarian division aggravated socio-political as well as legal discourses. Religio-political parties played their important role in provision of Islamic footings and justifications to Jihad for material benefits. Madrassahs were established on a large scale. Thus, the process of indoctrination attained an upper hand and sectarian division along with escalating role of Islamic militancy enveloped the country devastatingly.

A rational approach should be inculcated in the minds of the public in order to distinguish good and bad following the exponential globalized changes in socio-political dynamics. The government must reformulate its foreign policy to mitigate the effects of militancy with special reference to Trump’s policy toward South Asia. Terrorism and Muslim militancy must be analyzed sociologically and psychologically. In the coming elections of 2018, government and law and enforcement agencies must not allow extremist and religious political parties to conduct elections, which have links with militant, sectarian and terrorist organizations. Check and balance on religio-political parties must be strict as these elements will vitiate the social, political, ethical, religious and legal frame-work of the country by becoming part of the system. They will struggle to secure their illegitimate objectives through loopholes in the system. Their participation in elections on the slogan of religion or sects will prove lethal for Pakistan in the course of time. This aspect will be grist to the mill for anti-Pakistan actors to force the world powers to formulate aggressive policies, of which the role of India and Israel is a blatant example in Trump’s policy-making regarding Pakistan and South Asia.