The Foreign Office gave a briefing that appeared to be cleverly designed to provide the illusion that the state was putting actions behind its words about ‘zero tolerance’ policy against militant groups. Media dutifully reported that govt had imposed a ‘ban’ on Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Haqqani Group, but journalist Salman Masood and many others were quick to note that the Foreign Office’s statement was actually hollow. Never mind, though, because Jamaat-ud-Dawa released its own statement almost immediately afterwards saying that the state’s threats were meaningless and they will continue to operate without interruption regardless of what the state says or does.
JuD’s statement has far-reaching implications for the ‘writ of state’. If the state is unwilling or unable to back up its words with actions against JuD, every other militant group will receive the clear message that Pakistan has become an effective ‘free zone’ for terrorists.
Actually, the message has already been received. JuD is not the only group that is publicly demonstrating the failure of the state to secure Pakistan within its own borders. In the heart of the nation’s capital, an armed wing of TTP is recruiting, training, and carrying out attacks against Pakistan.
Ghazi Force Lal Masjid has been responsible for several suicide bomb attacks across the country since the past few years. In fact, Lal Masjid continues to train students in making explosives, ambushing military units and usage of light and heavy weapons. Tuesday’s suicide bomb attack in Wah was even carried out by Lal Masjid student. Despite the overwhelming evidence that Lal Masjid has been turned into a terrorist factory, it continues to operate uninterrupted just like Jamaat-ud-Dawa.
There are countless other militant groups in addition to JuD and Ghazi Force Lal Masjid that are openly operating and making a joker out of the state in the eyes of the world. While the Foreign Office and other civilians look foolish when they are defied by militant spokesmen, Army’s reputation is also tarnished in the eyes of the world when global leaders are faced with the question whether the glaring inaction of Pakistan’s military to stop these groups is do to unwillingness or inability.
This was on full display recently when a prestigious foreign journalist asked DG ISPR if he really believed Pakistan military was capable of taking on every terrorist in Pakistan. The military spokesman termed the question as an insult, but the real insult is coming from Jamaat-ud-Dawa, Lal Masjid, and other jihadi groups whose arrogance sends a clear message to the world that they have no fear or respect for Pakistan Army.
It should be noted here that some still choose to believe that JuD is an acceptable type of militant group because it is not openly against Pakistan Army. Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain (PMLN) recently said that JuD should be spared because “JuD only pinches India, not Afghanistan or America”. However even many anti-Pakistan TTP leaders were once “pro-Pakistan” before they became “anti-Pakistan”. Hafiz Saeed has publicly said that his party does not believe in the Constitution will not follow it. These statements suggest that it is only a matter of time before these “pro-Pakistan” jihadis follow the path of their predecessors and also turn on the state. Their open defiance of government officials suggests that such a time may be coming sooner than we would like to think.
Already citizens are beginning to ask the unthinkable: “Is Pakistan a failed state?” If jihadi groups like Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Ghazi Force Lal Masjid are allowed to continue their activities, the question may be answered for us.