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Islam and Politics ( 18 Jul 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pakistan’s Struggle against Extremism: The Increasingly Capital-Greedy Civil-Military Bureaucracy Is the Biggest Obstacle


By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu

July 19, 2012

The militancy did not spare even its promoters. The US met 9/11. Pakistan has been facing suicide attacks and bomb blasts on a daily basis

General Musharraf’s policies did not change much for the better in the India-Pakistan relationship. Even earlier efforts made in this regard by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif did not succeed. President Zardari’s revolutionary approach also failed due to the Mumbai tragedy, caused by militancy.

There are four major reasons that did not allow a swift rapprochement between the two countries. They are the Afghan jihad-related and other types of militancy, the Americans’ and Arabs’ regional interests, fears of India’s politicians against radicalisation in Pakistan, and the Pakistani civil-military bureaucracy’s institutional interests.

The basic reason that makes militancy a choice for states and non-state organisations is to intimidate the opposition by using an inexpensive but terribly effective strategy. Another reason is that paid or indoctrinated militants can be recruited from all over the world to execute it. The disadvantages of militancy for its promoters come from the same reason that makes it a favourite — militancy cannot be controlled easily. Cost effectiveness, indoctrination and alien recruitment carry, separately or in combination, seeds of defiance and create an environment in which parallel militancy is bound to emerge.

When the Soviets left Afghanistan, Pakistan together with its friendly states from the Gulf took charge of the situation. The US afterwards supported the jihad covertly. This is how the Taliban — the leaders of an organised and controlled militancy — emerged. Consequently, defiant and parallel militancy also emerged. The warlords, the drug traffickers, the traders in arms and ammunition and extremists from different places formed their own militant organisations in the Pak-Afghan border areas. The dedicated Muslim activists funded by the rich Pakistani and Arab individuals, institutions and organisations also helped create militant groups inside Pakistan. This is how various Hizbs, Jaishes, Sipahs, Lashkars and ‘good’ Taliban emerged.

The controlled, defiant and parallel militancy devastated Afghanistan and Kashmir. The defiant and parallel militancy distressed China, India, UK, Russia and many Central Asian States. The militancy did not spare even its promoters. The US met 9/11. Pakistan has been facing suicide attacks and bomb blasts on a daily basis.

The war on terror against the Afghan Taliban has already been won. Now the war is being fought largely against parallel and defiant groups. The war is not ending because at times these groups are protected by various states for situational compulsions or even to use them as strategic partners. Presently, there is coordination among almost all militant organisations. The ongoing war on terror is, thus, a complex war, a war that deals with its opponents as enemy and as friend — as the situation or strategy demands.

We can sadly conclude that the militancy will continue in Pakistan for a longer time than expected if the Pakistani government does not take appropriate measures. The reasons are the American and Arab interests in the region, and strategies of Pakistan’s civil- military bureaucracy. The Americans want their meaningful presence in a land trade corridor that can connect strategically and economically two-thirds of the world. They are relying on the regional governments to facilitate their presence. They would do anything to achieve their objectives if resisted. They can again put Pakistan and India on an antagonistic course. They can do it also by using militant groups. The tribal Arab kingdoms and fiefdoms want to promote tribalism to counter modernisation, democracy, industrialisation, and hence, an organised economy, in the region. The good news is that the ‘Arab Spring’ has frightened them and that factor might keep them away from the region for a while. Let us hope this ‘for a while’ becomes ‘for a long while’. Lastly, Pakistan’s oversized civil-military bureaucracy needs capital to sustain itself. It is expecting the Americans to be more generous. In case it remains capital-short, it will use all the resources, human and otherwise, that it has produced during the Afghan wars. The other way is that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) government evolves a consensus among all stakeholders that failing to bridge the fiscal gap through indigenous resources will yield anarchy, and it will hurt all.

The indoctrination of 65 years in general and last 35 years in particular, which has been sponsored by the Pakistani civil-military bureaucracy, has brought huge miseries to Pakistanis, but it has mesmerised a considerable number of Pakistanis as well, who believe that if the Muslims of the world would unite, they would overpower others. They believe that the Taliban had brought peace in Afghanistan by implementing Islamic law.

The ‘unity of Muslims’ is a delusion and ‘overpowering others’ is a mission impossible. The Soviet Union was not defeated in Afghanistan, and the Taliban’s peace was like the peace of the graveyard. The Afghan communists stayed in power for about three more years even after the withdrawal of the Soviets. True, the militants ultimately defeated them. It happened, because the communists were not getting support from outside, whereas the Americans, the rich Arabs and a hundred other nations were on the side of the militants. The irony is that the Pakistani propaganda machine controlled by the bureaucrats has been successfully keeping the nation away from the truth.

Now let us discuss why the Indian political elite is fearful of a Pakistan-India swift rapprochement. India is walking on a paved track to modernisation, while Pakistan is running on a fast track to Talibanisation. The realisation that the two countries are on a diametrically different course can help us reach the best conclusion: meaningful interaction between India and Pakistan will be possible when harmony in their social directions is evolved. India cannot put at risk its achievements by opening its doors quickly to a radicalised society. Pakistan must go through a metamorphosis. Pakistan must turn to functional liberalism, which is an answer not only to the Indians’ fears but also to the Americans’ and Arabs’ undesired interference in regional affairs. If Pakistan and India follow the same path, they can act together to facilitate a reasonable participation of outsiders in the regional affairs.

None from our past or present leadership, except Asif Ali Zardari, has spoken the truth about the India-Pakistan relationship. He did it through his statement: “India has never been an existentialist threat to Pakistan.” He did it because he said many times that, “I am not afraid of death.” He is the only politician who became president by superseding the so-called system, our omnipotent ethno-religious intelligentsia and the US. The kind of stuff that has been appearing against him in the US, UK and our media, before and after his election, tells it all.

Mr Zardari is a determined person who is committed to the elimination of extremism. He can change the direction of Pakistan. However, in a thorny journey to metamorphose Pakistan, the biggest resistance is coming from the civil-military bureaucracy, which has with the passage of time, become increasingly capital-greedy.

The sooner the PPP changes the direction of the civil-military bureaucracy, the sooner Pakistan can change direction — its own and of history.

Muhammad Ahsan Yatu is a freelance columnist