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Terrorism And Extremism In Pakistan Essay

Overem­phasis on establ­ishing Islami­c state in public arena, it became centra­l theme of nation­al discou­rse, narrat­ive.

The writer holds a PhD degree in International Relations and is a visiting faculty member at different universities of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa

In recent decades, Muslim societies have been awash with extremism and terrorism in the name of religion. While the process and nature of radicalisation in most Muslim countries has had glaring similarities, in Pakistan, extremism has its peculiar character and genesis. Fundamentalism among Muslims has been described in numerous ways but at the scholarly level, it has mainly been explained by two terms, i.e., political Islam and Islamic revivalism. Political Islam means that religion has a sociopolitical dimension, which necessitates the implementation of the scriptures in the political-economic, administrative-judicial and socio-cultural spheres of a Muslim state. In fact, the creation of a true Muslim state is one of the prime objectives of political Islam. Islamic revivalism generally means that the supporters of the movement want to revisit history and to reestablish the glorious state and societal structures, which once positively distinguished Muslim civilisations from others.

In essence, the nature and genesis of extremism in Pakistan seems to be connected with the wider movements and phenomena of both, political Islam and Islamic revivalism. However, deeper analysis of the extremist trends in Pakistan brings to the fore the significant finding that it is neither of the two. The seemingly political and revivalist nature of extremism in Pakistan is due to the very reason that the ruling elite have through their handpicked clerical groups been trying to present the country, not only as a symbol but also a physical manifestation of political Islam and Islamic revivalism.

The aim has been to rally the public behind them by manipulating the sentimental attachment of Pakistanis with Islam. Concomitantly, due to overemphasis on establishing an Islamic state in the public arena, it becomes the central theme of the national discourse and narrative. Gradually, the theme started reflecting in the private arena and soon became a popular demand. Therefore, in order to assuage public sentiments, and to accommodate religious clerical groups and to create legitimacy for them, the ruling elite started reflecting the fulfilment of the demand and the course of it in national documents like the Objectives Resolution and different constitutions. Had there been no such strong emphasis on religion from the ruling elite-dominated state in Pakistan, the public and the religious groups would not have become vociferous in demanding the establishment of a theocratic state. On the other hand, religious groups and parties would not have gained so much nuisance value and public importance. This can be gauged from two very important examples. In the initial years of Pakistan, there never was a strong demand from the public to establish a theocratic state, therefore, neither in the stillborn 1956 Constitution nor in the 1962 Constitution, were there any elaborate or special provisions for establishing an Islamic state and society in Pakistan. However, in the 1973 Constitution, a special section of Islamic provisions was incorporated. Notably, these so-called Islamic provisions are not included in the operational part of the 1973 Constitution but are only mentioned in the ‘Directive Principles of Policy’ part, which in other words means that they are not binding provisions of the Constitution. This shows that the ruling elite even then was not ready to establish a theocratic state but only wanted to give an impression that they were quite sincere with the idea of putting in place a true Islamic dispensation. Therefore, propaganda was launched both, by the state and the religious-clerical groups, to term the 1973 Constitution the ‘great leap forward’ towards making Pakistan a true Islamic state and society. Both the ruling elite and the religious groups wanted to take credit for Islamising the state while consciously knowing that the 1973 Constitution never had any provisions to establish a theocratic or so-called Islamic state.

Without comprehending the nature of extremism in Pakistan and its dynamics, the formulation of a viable counter-extremist and counterterrorism policy is not possible.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2013.

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Terrorism in Pakistan has become a major and highly destructive phenomenon in recent years. The annual death toll from terrorist attacks has risen from 164 in 2003 to 3318 in 2009,[1][2][3] with a total of 35,000 Pakistanis killed between 11 September 2001 and May 2011.[4] According to the government of Pakistan, the direct and indirect economic costs of terrorism from 2000–2010 total $68 billion.[5]PresidentAsif Ali Zardari, along with former President ex-Pakistan Army head Pervez Musharraf, have admitted that terrorist outfits were "deliberately created and nurtured" by past governments "as a policy to achieve some short-term tactical objectives" The trend began with Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq's controversial "Islamization" policies of the 1980s, under which conflicts were started against Soviet involvement in Afghanistan. Zia's tenure as president saw Pakistan's involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War, which led to a greater influx of ideologically driven Muslims (mujahideen) to the tribal areas and increased availability of guns such as the AK-47 and drugs from the Golden Crescent.

The state and its Inter-Services Intelligence, in alliance with the CIA and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, encouraged the "mujahideen" to fight a proxy war against Soviet forces present in Afghanistan. Most of the mujahideen were never disarmed after the war ended in Afghanistan.

From the summer of 2007 until late 2009, more than 1,500 people were killed in suicide and other attacks on civilians[6] for reasons attributed to a number of causes – sectarian violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims; easy availability of guns and explosives; the existence of a "Kalashnikov culture"; an influx of ideologically driven Muslims based in or near Pakistan, who originated from various nations around the world and the subsequent war against the pro-Soviet Afghans in the 1980s which blew back into Pakistan; the presence of Islamist insurgent groups and forces such as the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba. Pakistan is the 10th most dangerous country by criminality index.[7].

List of terrorist incidents since 2001[edit]

Main article: List of terrorist incidents in Pakistan since 2001


See also: Pakistan and state terrorism

Terrorism in Pakistan originated with supporting the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and the subsequent civil war that continued for at least a decade. The conflict brought numerous fighters from all over the world to South Asia in the name of jihad. The mujahideen fighters were trained by Pakistan's military, American CIA and other western intelligence agencies who carried out insurgent activities inside Afghanistan well after the war officially ended.

Former Pakistan's army chief, Gen Raheel shareef accused longtime regional rival India, ill-focused on Pakistan, of seeking to undermine his country's $46 billion Gawader project to build an economic corridor to transport goods from China's western regions through Pakistan. Though, it is not uncommon for Pakistan and India to accuse one another on all troublesome issues. [8]

Imposition of martial law in 1958, Pakistan's political situation suddenly changed and thereafter saw dictatorship type behaviour at different levels appearing in the civil service, the army and political forces or Zamindars (landlords created by the British) who claimed power, probably because the British originally did not consider Pakistan an independent state, yet did not want to intervene; this trend continued into the 21st century, when finally, the US persuaded General Pervez Musharraf to hold elections. Other causes, such as political rivalry and business disputes, also took their toll. It was estimated in 2005 that more than 4,000 people had died in Pakistan in the preceding 25 years due to sectarian strife.[9]

War on terrorism[edit]

Main article: War in North-West Pakistan

The post-9/11 War on Terrorism in Pakistan has had two principal elements: the government's battle with jihad groups banned after the attacks in New York, and the U.S. pursuit of Al-Qaeda, usually (but not always) in co-operation with Pakistani forces. Also, a major cause of terrorism is religious extremism while so-called mullahs and movies inject in mind of innocent people and also the policies of Gen. Musharaf i.e. Lal masjid, murder of Akbar bughti are also some major causes of terrorism in Pakistan In 2004, the Pakistani army launched a pursuit of Al-Qaeda members in the mountainous area of Waziristan on the Afghan border, although sceptics question the sincerity of this pursuit. Clashes there erupted into a low-level conflict with Islamic militants and local tribesmen, sparking the Waziristan War. A short-lived truce known as the Waziristan accord was brokered in September 2006, This truce was broken by Taliban. They misinterpreted the conditions of the truce that led to the annoyance of Pakistani government and armed forces that launched a military operation known as operation "Raha-e-Rast" against Taliban in order to clear the area of Taliban.

In 2012 Pakistani leadership sat down to sought out solutions for dealing with the menace of terrorism and in 2013 political parties unanimously reached a resolution on Monday 9 September 2013 at the All Parties Conference (APC), stating that negotiation with the militants should be pursued as their first option to counter-terrorism.[10]

However, all attempts of bringing the militants to table seemed to fail while terrorist attacks continued. In late 2013, therefore, the political leadership in Pakistan gave a green signal to a military operation against terrorists which was named Operation Zarb-e-Azb. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a joint military offensive being conducted by Pakistan Armed Forces against various militant groups, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jundallah, al-Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Haqqani network.[11][citation needed] The operation was launched by the Pakistan Armed Forces on 15 June 2014 in North Waziristan (part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the Afghan border) as a renewed effort against militancy in the wake of the 8 June attack on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, for which the TTP and the IMU claimed responsibility.[12][citation needed] Part of the ongoing war in North-West Pakistan, up to 30,000 Pakistani soldiers are involved in Zarb-e-Azb, described as a "comprehensive operation" to flush out all foreign and local militants hiding in North Waziristan.[13][citation needed] The operation has received widespread support from the Pakistani political, defence and civilian sectors.



  • Hassan Abbas. Pakistan's Drift Into Extremism: Allah, The Army, And America's War On Terror, M.E. Sharpe, 2004. ISBN 0-7656-1497-9
  • Zahid Hussain. Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam, New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. ISBN 0-231-14224-2

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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