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Thursday, January 5, 2012

What do Pakistanis perceive about their National Security ? Part II

In the previous installment, we saw about international isolation.

I am not going to discuss other issues like poor governance and shaky economy that were also expressed by the group of 50-odd civil society members as contributing to the concerns regarding national security. That may be true but that follows from several factors, most notable of which is the particular path of confrontation that Pakistan has chosen to employ with India, the country from which it was yanked away. We will come back to this theme later.

    Lack of control over non-State actors

What is disturbing is that the eminent group thought it fit to accept the use of 'non-state actors', but what they lamented was the lack of 'control' over them. {For the sake of understanding how Pakistan has used the 'non-state actors', please see earlier posts in this blog, 'The Fraudulent Theory of Non-State Actors' Part I, Part II and Part III} Instead of condemning outright the Pakistani policy of using terror as the main plank of the state policy and advising the powers-that-be that this integration of jihad into the role of a professional army has brought only doom and gloom to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, they chose instead to highlight the 'loss of control' over the jihadi groups. That shows the bankruptcy of thinking in Pakistan and the overall acknowledgement of jihadism as an accepted and sanctioned way of life. The theory of non-state actors, as propounded by the Pakistanis and the Pakistani State itself, is as fraudulent as their other pet theory of 'good' and 'bad' Taliban. One should, however, marvel at the Pakistanis for regularly developing and propagating such theories to which gullible and other realpolitik-practising nations either fall a prey or which they have exploited for their own narrow interests. These [fairly successful] theories are not recent attempts at fraud. Pakistan has been at it for a very long time, deceiving not only the rest of the world but its own people all along. The precursor to such fantastic theories is the most audacious 'Two Nation Theory' which got completely unravelled in 1971. Anyway, that is beyond the scope of this post.

Before one looks at the lament of the Group-of-50 over the 'lack of control over non-state actors', one must briefly recall their genesis in present-day Pakistan. My contention is that there is no separate entity called 'non-state actors' within Pakistan. The non-state actors are nothing but an extension of the State, most especially the Pakistani Army (PA) because the PA is substantially the 'State'. It is not a 'State within the State' as some refer to it because it is the State. The evolution of the Pakistani Army, a legacy of the secular and professional British India Army, into its current pathetic state is a pointer to why I claim that the non-state actors are a part and parcel of the PA. It will be appropriate to divide the history of the PA into four distinctive segments: early professional years up to 1971, the middle years of creeping Islamization within the PA, the next decade of consolidation of Islamism, and the current transformation into Wahhabi jihadism. Except for the initial segment, the Pakistani society at large had also gone through the same metamorphosis.

While the State and the PA employed non-state actors (the Pakhtun tribes to invade, loot, burn and pillage the Princely State of Jammu & Kashmir in c. 1947) right from day one of their independent existence and invoked extensive Islamic symbolism to justify to the masses their amoral ambitions, it had to turn to an Islamist narrative later to justify the PA's successive string of defeats (1947/1948 failures were conveniently blamed on the perfidy of the British officers who were holding all the high positions in the three Services. The 1965 result when Pakistan came close to a debacle was partially explained away as due to American sanctions.). The East Pakistanis were described as not 'good Muslims' having been irretrievably corrupted by Hindu influence and hence the 1971 defeat was a 'good riddance' for the pious Islamic West Pakistan. The 1971 loss was also explained away as further proof of the machinations of the cunning and evil Hindu India. At the same time, a campaign was unleashed to ascribe the failure to the deviation of Pakistan from truly Islamic values and systems of governance.

It was the 1971 crackdown on the hapless East Pakistanis that first saw the Islamist jihadi volunteers from Pakistan fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with the PA. The slide of Pakistan into such religious extremism was anticipated but not in the wildest imagination so quickly and so extensively. Though Pakistan was formed on the basis of Islam, Jinnah’s Aug. 11, 1947 speech about a secular Pakistan was expected to be the guideline for the actions of the State. However, the hopes were soon dashed. Pakistan organized a World Muslim Conference (Motamar Al- Alam Al-Islami) in Karachi in Feb. 1949. Later it organized an even bigger event in 1951, again in Karachi, when Karachi was made the world headquarters of the Motamar. On both occasions, the Congress was chaired by the then Prime Minister, Liaqat Ali Khan. In c. 1948, the expelled Muslim Brotherhood leader from Egypt, Said Ramadan (d. 1995), came to Pakistan where he was received warmly. Said Ramadan, who was the son-in-law of Muslim Brotherhood founder Mohammed al Banna, stayed in Pakistan for a year. It was Said Ramadan who helped Maulana Abu ala al Mawdudi to set up the radical IJT (Islami-Jamia'at-e-Tulaba) student wing of his Jama’at-e-Islami (JI). He also helped the convening of the Motamar conference in Karachi in c. 1951. In c. 1962, Said Ramadan set up the Muslim World League to spread wahhabism. In those areas that became of Pakistan, the masses practised Low Islam or Folk Islam which centred on practices anathema to High Islam. While High Islam was puritanical and scriptural, the practitioners of Low Islam relied on the ‘saint cult’. The Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith sects strove to lift the masses from Low Islam to High Islam gradually, an effort in which the political and the military classes participated either out of compulsion in certain cases or out of conviction in other cases. For example, Mohammed Ali Jinnah or F.M. Ayub Khan or Z.A. Bhutto were not strictly adherents of Islam and yet pandered to the dictates of the Islamists out of necessity. On the other hand, Gen Zia-ul-Haq and Nawaz Sharif were fundamentalists who supported Islamists out of conviction. So also is the Prime-Minister-in-waiting, Imran Khan.

It was this IJT that was let loose on the East Pakistanis in March, 1971 when the talks between Sheikh Mujibur Rehman and Yahya Khan broke down permanently. As he came closer to JI, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq banned all student organizations except the IJT. The ban was lifted only in c. 2008 by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani. The IJT played a significant role in the ouster of Z.A.Bhutto. It was this IJT that was also involved in the initial stages of the militancy and terrorism in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir in early 1990. The IJT has been virtually running the famous Punjab University (PU), a university which has a hoary tradition, terrorizing the student community and the faculty, imposing its strict Islamic code even today. The IJT was dominant in the campus even when the powerful military dictator Gen. Musharraf was ruling and the Punjab University’s Chancellor and Vice Chancellor were Army Generals. The IJT terrorizes campuses in the same way the Hitler Youth Brigade of Nazi Germany ran rampant across the German academic institutions. It is no wonder that the IJT has such a stranglehold on the PU because the previous Amir of JI, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, was a faculty in the PU. The PU also had another illustrious faculty in the form of Professor Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the Emir of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Gen. Zia-ul-Haq also utilized the IJT to target the communist movement that opposed his rule in the 1980s. The communists found a favourable environment in the PU and the IJT was employed to cleanse the University and they have remained entrenched ever thereafter. The IJT was also used to recruit jihadis for the Afghan and later the Kashmiri campaigns of the PA. Thus, very close proximity developed between the PA and the IJT. This proximity was encouraged by Gen. Zia-ul-Haq who was a great admirer of JI, the parent organization of IJT. Gen. Zia gave unprecedented access to the JI within the PA.

The other Islamist organization that was allowed to develop an affinity with the three services of the Pakistani armed forces was the Tablighi-Jama'at (TJ). The organization, TJ, was formed in India in the 1920s as a revivalist Islamic movement to counter the increasingly popular Arya Samaj which was involved in the twin objectives of ridding the Hindu society of what it considered as superstitions and in winning back, through its shuddhi movement, those Hindus converted to Islam and Christianity en masse. After Partition, the TJ posed themselves in Pakistan as an apolitical Islamic organization involved in proselytization, spreading of the good Muslim virtues and prevention of vices among the population, though their not-so-secret agenda is to seize political power. Such an ambition is not surprising since in Islam political and religious powers are inseparable. Gen. Zia-ul-Haq encouraged the TJ to preach to the various Army units. It is their belief in Jihad-fi-Sabilillah (Jihad in the service of Allah) which found itself as the new motto of the Pakistani Army as imposed by a true adherent of TJ, Gen. Zia-ul-Haq as he took over the Army and soon thereafter, the Presidency. The Deobandi-leaning fundamentalist TJ has followers at the highest levels in political, bureaucratic, academic and armed forces establishments. For example, apart from Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, the then President of Pakistan Rafiq Tarar used to attend regularly Tablighi Jamaat congretations(ijtima) at Raiwind near Lahore, as also Lt. Gen. Javid Nasir, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul and Lt. Gen. Naseem Rana, all DGs, ISI and Nawaz Sharif, the two-time ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan and a closet Islamist. On the eve of the November, 2009 annual convention of the Tablighi Jamaat, 50 former high-ranking officers of the armed forces met under the chairmanship of Lt. Gen. Javid Nasir for a day to deliberate how to take the movement forward, possibly within the armed forces. It included many retired Generals, Brigadiers and Admirals including former Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral Karamat Rehman Niazi, Lt Gen (r) Agha Masood Hasan, Lt Gen (r) Aftab Ahmed et al. The brutal daylight attack on the mosques (officially known as Ibadatgah because of the law declaring Ahmedis as non-Muslims) of the Ahmedis on May 28, 2010, that killed 95 of them was carried out by a suicide squad which had been assembled in the Raiwind office of the Tablighi-e-Jama’at. Later, a hospital where injured Ahmedis were being treated was also attacked killing even more of them followed by a warning to doctors not to treat them. Richard Reid, the shoe-bomber, attended the mosques run by Tablighi. Several men connected with the aborted UK plane bombing of Aug,2006 were members of the Tablighi. Tablighi Jamaat members were also involved earlier in a failed coup against Ms. Benazir Bhutto in September, 1995. This coup was staged by Maj. Gen. Zaheer ul Islam Abbassi, who had earlier been relieved of his command in 1990 in Kargil. As an aside, he was the Force Commander Northern Area (FCNA) when he made an amateurish and unauthorized attempt to re-take the Bilafond La Pass on the Saltoro Range from the Indian Army, leading to the death of dozens of Pakistani soldiers. TJ also acts as a cover organization for LeT, HuM, HuJI and JEM. The TJ has cleverly used its 'apolitical' tag to infiltrate heavily into the three services of the Pakistani military. When the Supreme Commander of the armed forces, the COAS, the Prime Minister and leading politicians attend the congregations openly, it is no wonder that the rank and file of the armed forces also participate in them. The TJ's faith in the concept of ummah is also responsible for frequently referring to the PA as guardians of the 'ideological frontiers' too and not merely the 'geographical boundaries of Pakistan'.

Thus, TJ is singularly responsible for the twin maladies afflicting the society, and by extension the Pakistani armed forces, namely jihadism and participation in international terror (or jihad as the Islamists call) through its popularization of Jihad-fi-Sabilillah and ummahdom. It is claimed that Gen. Zia-ul-Haq encouraged TJ within the PA as an alternative to the JI in order to cut down its preponderant influence. This has been the practice of the Pakistani 'Establishment' in managing various Islamist, sectarian and jihadi outfits. Whenever one of them becomes too large, it is either split or a competing group is created to checkmate its growth, thereby spawning a mind-boggling number of these organizations leading to many of them going out of control eventually, as we are now seeing in the form of the Teheek-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP).

In recent times, another virulent Islamist organization of a similar nature, Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT), has also been making its violent presence felt among the officers of the armed forces. In July 2009, HuT announced that four Pakistani Army officers sent to Sandhurst for military training had been ‘converted’. A serving Brigadier Ali Khan, who was posted at the Army Headquarters was arrested on May 6. 2011 for his association with the HuT, a few days after the dramatic assassination of Osama bin Laden by the US Navy SEALs on the night between May 1 and 2. Like TJ, the HuT also claims to be an 'apolitical' organization but its sole aim is to bring a caliphate to Pakistan and from there expand the struggle to establish the caliphate in the rest of the world’s Islamic countries and even in non-Muslim states. It is usually stated that Hizb ut-Tahrir believes in jihad against hostile states only after establishing a caliphate in an Islamic country, preferably Pakistan, as opposed to the current wave of jihad. However, HuT does not expressly condemn terrorist strikes against civilian and military targets either, which makes one believe that the underlying ideology of HuT is actually not based on non-violence. Like the TJ, HuT also has its tentacles deep inside the tri-services of the Pakistani military. Captain Farooq, who was President Musharraf's security officer was quietly removed from service after it was found that he had helped HuT smuggle in NVGs (Night Vision Goggles) into Pakistan. In 2009, the then commanding officer of Shamsi Air Force Base Colonel Shahid Bashir, and a retired PAF Squadron Leader were arrested for leaking sensitive information to the HuT. A military court in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir identified two military officers in January 2010 as members of HuT and charged them with planning to attack the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan. The modus operandi of HuT is to bring the personnel of military forces under its umbrella. Unlike usual revolutionary movements, HuT aims to bring change through the military because it is well aware that the military is the strongest institution in Pakistan.

A consequence of creating and involving with these fundamentalist and extremist outfits was that many rank and file of the armed forces got infected with the jihadi terrorism virus and quit their service jobs to dedicate their services full time with these jihadi outfits. A prime example was the dreaded Ilyas Kashmiri who set up the 313 Brigade and briefly held the command of operations within Al Qaeda before he was killed in a CIA drone attack. Thus, serving, retired, dismissed and voluntarily retired military personnel constitute a significant percentage of these jihadi terror outfits. The confessions of the lone survivor of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist strike and then the revelations by Daoud Gilani alias David Coleman Headley who mapped out the likely targets in Mumbai (and Delhi and Pune as well) for the attack reveal an elaborate collaboration between the armed forces and the jihadi groups. These have been also accurately substantiated by extensive communication intercepts by the Indian and American intelligence agencies. Several terrorists caught in India and elsewhere have confirmed the same conclusions. The NATO/ISAF field commanders in Af-Pak have time and again brought out this evil nexus between the PA and the Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives. Many journalists who ventured into the Af-Pak badlands have corroborated the same. Even Pakistani media editors, analysts, politicians and retired PA officers have accepted this fact. So much so, the PA is no longer interested in the theory of 'plausible deniability' that it practised during the First Afghan Jihad and then in the 90s when it turned its full jihadi force towards India. It tauntingly leaves enough evidence in every operation these days almost inviting the rest of the world to take it on. Today, there is therefore voluminous and irrefutable evidence linking the close cooperation between the Pakistani armed forces (especially the PA) and the dozens of jihadi terrorist tanzeems and sectarian groups in Pakistan.

The radicalization of the society for which the foundations were laid by Jinnah, then taken to the next higher level by the 'secular socialist' Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, followed by the dizzying heights it reached during the reign of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq; the changing patterns of recruitment to the armed forces resulting in a large number of officers from the middle classes and lower middle classes that have become vulnerable over the years to extremist thinking, and the rapid spreading of intolerance-preaching-madrassah in the Potohar region of Northern Punjab which has been the traditional recruitment grounds for the Pakistani Army, are major causes for concern in the upsurge of jihadi Islamism within the officer corps of the Pakistani armed forces. By his own admission, the then DG, ISI, Lt. Gen Mahmoud Ahmed admitted as far back as circa 2000, that 15 to 16% of the army officer corps were religious extremists. In February 2011, when the Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was assassinated by his own police bodyguard for his stand on the Blasphemy Law, the COAS Gen. Kiyani refused to condemn it or even issue any condolence to the Taseer family. He confided to Western diplomats that there were simply too many religious fundamentalists in the Pakistani Army that such an overt sympathy might lead to disunity within the Army ranks. This implicit reliance on jihad to achieve political goals was amply demonstrated in the National Assembly of Pakistan by no other than the Secretary of Defence Maj. Tanveer Syed on Aug. 7, 2007 when he demanded the Pakistani government to wage jihad against India to get Kashmir. He assured the nation that if full-fledged jihad was waged, Pakistan would get Kashmir within six months. There are numerous such instances to show that the fervour of extremism and Islamist jihadism are deeply entrenched even among the officer corps of the armed forces.

Now, to my reasoning as to why there is no distinction between the PA and the Islamist jihadis operating in and from that country. The AfPak region has seen four phases of jihad since that fateful day on the eve of Christmas in 1979 when the USSR crossed Amu Darya into Afghanistan. The PA has been involved in all of these along with the jihadis, sectarian groups, warlords and terror outfits which were all its own creation. The events since then have led to two types of jihad. I know that it is even blasphemous to characterize jihad like that because jihad is jihad. But, I take strength from Islamic scholars who themselves talk of jihad-al-saif (jihad by sword) and jihad-al-nafs (jihad against human weaknessess). They say that jihad-al-nafs is Jihad-al-Akbar (Greater Struggle) and jihad-al-saif as Jihad-al-Saghir (Minor Struggle). However, the two types that are on-going in Af-Pak are finer variations within jihad-al-saif. For ease of understanding, the jihad in AfPak can be classified as either 'pure' or 'impure'.

The First Jihad was of the pure jihad variety by the mujahideen supported by the US, KSA, Pakistan et al. Though the infidel US was involved on the side of the Believers, it was still acceptable. This jihad was 'pure' because the Godless Communists were taken on by the Believers. However, this pure jihad came to an end through an agreement, not by military defeat, and the Believers had to rely on the Crusaders for success.

After the Geneva Accord, came the internecine war after unity (which was never strong to start with) unravelled among the mujahideen. This internecine war was brought to an end by the impure jihad of the Taliban supported by Pakistan. That was the Second Jihad and it was impure in the sense that the more pious Believers had to take on the less pious Believers. It came to an end after bloody battles and the military defeat of the less pious Believers. Afghanistan saw more damage in the three years of this impure jihad than the preceding ten years of pure jihad. Somehow, this type of green-on-green is always more damaging to the ummah than otherwise as we saw in that Operation Black September in Jordan against helpless Palestenians refugees in the refugee camps. That was again unleashed by a Pakistani Brigadier by name Zia-ul-Haq in 1970-71 in camps at Irbid, Salt, Sweileh,Baq'aa, Wehdat and Zarqa. More Palestenians were reported to have died in that operation than at Israeli hands in the previous twenty years. As the Jordanian King decorated Brig. Zia-ul-Haq with his country's highest medal of ‘Order of Valiance’, the Palestenians equated him with the Israeli General Ariel Sharon.

After that Second Jihad was the pure jihad once again, this time against the 'Ahl-e-Kitab' (People of the Book) after 9/11 when the Believers had to take on the combined might of the infidel Americans and their Allies. That was the Third Jihad. This is still on-going. This looks likely to come to an end just like the first pure jihad, through an agreement, not by military defeat. Again, like the first jihad, the PA and their allied jihadis would celebrate their victory over the only remaining Superpower.

The Fourth Jihad, an impure one, had to be fought against the state of Pakistan, after its CEO, Gen. Musharraf imposed bans on the jihadi groups on Jan. 12, 2002. This jihad is also on-going. If the previous jihads are any indicators, the impure jihad will also be bloody (has already been so) and will also end in a military victory for the more pious over the less pious or in other words for the more savage over the relatively less savage. The events, so far since the 2002 announcement, confirm the ferocity of the impure jihad.

Before the Fourth Jihad, the interests of the jihadists and the PA coincided. They continue to coincide though the Pakistani Taliban and most of the Punjabi Taliban were not able to appreciate the nuances and adjust their war-fighting strategy accordingly. For the simple-minded Punjabi Taliban, it was "either with us or against us". The frothing-at-the-mouth-corner jihadists wanted Pakistan to withdraw support to the US and help the jihadists as they have always done before. But, that was no longer possible as things had changed dramatically. Musharraf, Mehmood Ahmed, Kayani and Nadeem Taj tried their best but the support could never be like before because the Eagle, sitting in the same room, was watching everything very closely. So, the more pious determined that it was time to defeat the less pious and therefore launched the impure jihad. There can be no room for sentiments in jihad, as the assassinations of Khalid Khwaja and more importantly that of the architect of Afghan Jihad Col. Imam (Sultan Amin Tarar) issues showed clearly. Both were accused of being a CIA/ISI agent as the notes attached to their bullet-riddled bodies indicated. The bloody attack on PNS Mehran, the earlier attack on the GHQ itself, the assassination attempts on Musharraf and other top Army officers, the suicide bombing at the SSG HQ at Tarbela, the numerous attacks on military-industrial complexes that hold nuclear weapons etc. have taken place due to insider information and assistance. PA might have been the hand that fed the viper the milk before, but that hand has to be bitten now and that too from within. the Fourth Jihad is as much internal to the PA as it is external by the Punjabi Taliban or the TTP. It is Pakistan's perfidy to turn around and claim victimhood. However, that show of injured innocence in this internecine and impure jihad should not detract us from the fact that all this while (and continuing still) the various jihadi terror groups have functioned as the 'veritable arm' of the PA, to quote from Adm. Mike Mullen.

The group-of-50's lament of this unravelling of the unity of the jihadi forces of Pakistan is therefore understandable but untenable.

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