Defending the National Ideology

Pakistani protestors holding posters of Osama bin Laden

The national ideology is a topic that has been discussed from before independence. Actually, it may be even be discussed more today than it was in the time of Iqbal and Jinnah. Certainly their words continue to be discussed and debated as much if not more today. Most of the discussions of national ideology center on defending the the boundaries of the national ideology of two nation theory, keeping Pakistan from being undermined by Indian hegemony. But while a vigilant watch has been kept on one boundary, another was left unguarded.

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Taliban’s Punjab Army

Militants Preparing For War

In avoiding any responsibility for dealing with the growing threat of militants within our borders, many analysts both amateur and professional turn to the excuse that militant groups are not aligned and different groups fight for different causes. They point to LeT’s focus on Kashmir, LeJ’s focus on ethnic cleansing of Shia, etc etc etc. The supposedly ‘unrelated’ existence of domestic militant groups is proven a lie, however, by their common cause in supporting the Taliban’s fight to take over Afghanistan.

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Open Season on Pakistanis

Pakistan bleedingWhen Raymond Davis shot two men in the street, the nation erupted in anger. The streets were packed with angry souls who demanded justice. As his true identity as a CIA agent became known, anger fueled paranoid nightmares that saw trigger happy Americans in every burger restaurant and behind every boundary wall in Pakistan. Internationally acclaimed Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid expressed this anxiety most eloquently in his piece for The Guardian.

The affair has brought home what should have been obvious to us Pakistanis for a long time. Pakistan has become a game preserve, a place where deadly creatures are nurtured, and where hunters pay for the chance to kill them.

It’s a terrifying picture. What makes it all the more terrifying is that, like many nightmares, there is some small piece of truth to it. But, then, like most paranoid conspiracies, it deflects from the reality. Pakistan has become a place where deadly creatures are nurtured, and where where hunters pay for the chance to kill. It’s not, though, American Raymond Davises that are killing Pakistanis like game.

16th August 2012: 20 Shias pulled off bus and shot dead

Local police official Shafiq Gul told AFP that the gunmen were masked, but said the victims were pulled from three separate vehicles in the district, which neighbours the Swat valley, a former Taliban stronghold.

“They stopped three vehicles, searched them and picked up people in three batches of five, six and nine and shot them dead. They were all Shias,” he said.

20th September 2011: Sectarian atrocity: 29 killed in Mastung, Quetta ambushes

The Shia community in Balochistan came under intense attack on Tuesday when 29 people were killed in two separate, targeted incidents claimed by banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

At least 26 people were killed and six others injured in Ganjidori area of Mastung, about 30 kilometres southeast of Quetta, when a group of armed men attacked a passenger bus carrying Shia pilgrims from Quetta to Iran.

Hours later, three more people, hailing from the Hazara community, were gunned down near Akhtarabad area of Quetta as their rescue team made its way to the site of the bus attack. Two others were also shot.

Not CIA. Now RAW. The initials of these killers are LeJ. And the leader of the hunting party is Malik Ishaq, the man invited on stage with Sheikh Rashid, Hamid Gul, Hafiz Saeed, and others of the so-called ‘Difa’-e-Pakistan Council. The same Malik Ishaq who was paid by Government Punjab ever since Sharifs came to power in 2008.

In case you are thinking, “Oh but I am not Shia this is not my problem…” please let me remind you that this was not the only terrorist attack inside Pakistan that day. Same day, militants attacked PAF Minhas airbase martyring two soldiers before being defeated by our security forces.

Federal Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar Thursday said the terror assault on Kamra’s Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Airbase is not a failure of the security institutions, but then, what else can we call it when terrorists plan and carry out attacks on our own PAF base inside our own country? Security is when agencies stop terrorists BEFORE they carry out attacks, not DURING attacks.

It’s time to stop making excuses and start defending our nation.

COAS Gen Kayani spoke the following words on the anniversary of the national Independence Day:

“The fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war and we are right in fighting it. Let there be no doubt about it, otherwise we’ll be divided and taken towards civil war. Our minds should be clear on this.”

Today, this has become crystal clear. If we continue to bury our heads in the sand and ignore the jihadi killers in our midst, it will be all of Pakistan that is eventually buried. There is still time to save ourselves but we must act now to end this open season on Pakistanis.

When will our patience run out?

As I sat watching last week’s events unfold before my eyes via satellite from Mumbai, I found myself in that dreaded but all-too-familiar place – praying that it not be Pakistani who has committed this awful act. We feel the dread coming on whenever some tragedy takes place (please don’t let it be a Pakistani) not because of any conspiracy against Pakistan. We feel the dread because we get up and read the newspaper and see Malik Ishaq laughing at us from the page, once again set free to slaughter innocent people.

Malik Ishaq laughing

Sadly, I was not at all surprised by the court’s action as courts in Punjab have a strong record of freeing terrorists. And even when they are behind bars, they are getting support from high places. No, I am not referring to any foreign hand or conspiracy by national agencies, either. I’m talking about terrorists being given taxpayer money by Punjab government.

Malik Ishaq enjoyed Punjab government’s financial assistance ever since the Sharif’s came to power in 2008, officials on condition of anonymity told The Express Tribune.

The accused terror kingpin belonging to banned Sunni outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), nominated in 44 cases in which 70 people were killed, allegedly received a monthly stipend, during imprisonment, from the Punjab government.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah confirmed the disbursement but clarified that it was given to Ishaq’s family, not him, as per orders of the court. However, upon further investigation, it was revealed that nor was there any such disbursements during former president Musharraf’s tenure, nor was there any court order pertaining to the matter.

Sri Lankans may be disgusted by this latest move of the courts, but it is our own people who will suffer the worst.

As a matter of fact, most of the major terrorist attacks carried out in Pakistan since 9/11 appear to have a common grandmother – the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or the Army of Jhangvi – an anti-Shia Sunni-Deobandi sectarian turned anti-America jehadi organisation which is currently the group of choice for hard-core Pakistani militants who are adamant to pursue their ambitious jehadi agenda. Launched in 1996 as a Sunni sectarian group, the Lashkar today has deep links with al-Qaeda and the Taliban and is considered to be the most violent terrorist organisation operating in Pakistan with the help of its lethal suicide squad. As with most Sunni sectarian and militant groups, almost the entire LeJ leadership is made up of people who have fought in Afghanistan and most of its cadre strength has been drawn from the numerous Sunni madrassas in Pakistan.

Besides receiving sanctuary from the Taliban in Afghanistan for their terrorist activities in Pakistan, the LeJ operatives used to fight alongside the Taliban militants. Being part of the broader Deoband movement, the LeJ secured considerable assistance from other Deobandi outfits.

The LeJ also has an effectual working relationship with other Deobandi religio-political and terrorist organisations at a personal level, if not at the organisational level. Also, Pakistani intelligence findings show that al-Qaeda has been involved with training of the LeJ members, and that the Lashkar militants also fought alongside the Taliban against the Northern Alliance troops in Afghanistan.

Asad Munir noted recently that the Taliban do not recognise Pakistan’s sovereign borders.

The Taliban never recognised the Durand Line, and in fact laid claims to parts of Mohmand Agency, Binshahi in Dir and Angoor Ada in South Waziristan. Pakistan, for internal security reasons, should not insist on a Taliban government in power in Afghanistan, because they export Talibanisation to Pakistan. Efforts should be made for a broad-based, friendly government in Afghanistan on the withdrawal of US forces.

Pakistan’s army is under unprecedented pressure from both inside and outside the country. The Pakistani urban middle class and media who are largely anti- US are furious at the US carrying out the operation in Abbottabad which killed Osama bin Laden, and at our armed forces’ failure to react appropriately. Internationally, the situation is not in favour of Pakistan. Most of the world perceives Pakistan as a safe haven for terrorists. In case we do not act to eliminate these sanctuaries, action by foreign forces will remain a threat.

For all the hue and cry about ‘sovereignity’, it is not CIA that is executing our security forces and releasing videos to brag about it. And the notorious LeJ hitman, paid by government Punjab and freed by the courts, tells Geo that he will continue his work of terror.

An editorial in The Australian last week says that the world’s patience is wearing very thin with regards to terrorists groups in Pakistan. The question is, when will our own?