By Noor Dahri
June 20, 2018
Pakistan became the hub of global jihadists. US delegations conducted official visits at the Pak-Afghan borders and planes were landing with ammunitions and dollars to fuel the jihad against infidels of the time, the USSR. The western world called these jihadists freedom fighters. Osama bin Laden was called to the US to attend briefings and was given a mission to accomplish before leaving for Afghanistan.
Many new Arab and non-Arab jihadist organisations were immediately formed and maintained offices all around Pakistan. School syllabi were changed and Jihadi verses and religious texts were added to them.
This was the foundation of all subsequent generations of jihadists and extremists, as the country went through a transformation. Pakistan’s president and dictator, General Muhammad Ziaul Haq enforced strict Sharia laws in the country. TV programs were changed, modernisation was banned, clubs were shut, prayers were made compulsory for all governmental employees and Friday sermons started discussing topics like jihad.
Militant training centres were also operational in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The local religious parties started to ask their students to take part in jihad and their affiliated newspapers circulated news of the mujahedeen’s successful operations against the USSR. People were keen to join the Afghan jihad and their only wish was martyrdom. The country’s atmosphere was completely changing as numerous Sharia laws were introduced into constitution that soon became mandatory for everyone in the country.
Jihadist leaders had more freedom of movement in Pakistan than security officials. Extremist clerics became the decision makers of the country. They were able to make internal and external decisions regarding Pakistan
Every single person was talking about jihad and Sharia; everyone seemed to be involved in the jihadist mission. Religious parties’ workers were collecting donations for jihad by knocking on every door, whether it was an office school or mosque. Millions of dollars were collected throughout the country, to be added to the considerable amount of money being poured into the country by the western block, as well as several other Muslim nations. Those who were being killed in the Afghan jihad were granted the title of ‘Martyrs’ by the Muslims, and a fund was established for the widows and orphans of the mujahedeen.
The goal to promote jihad increasingly picked up speed, and print and electronic media was constantly used to fuel this radicalisation. The jihadist ideology was bred in every government department and guns became easily accessible. This led to the gun culture prevalent in our country today. Crime became the culture. The law and order situation began to lose its grip in the country.
The state of Pakistan was successfully handed over, or I can say, hijacked by Islamists whose core ideology was to promote and propagate jihad all around the world with the help of Islamic and western powers
Every individual wished to make some contribution to the jihad being waged against the soviets. Some provided finance and others their children to participate in the holy cause. Arab jihadists started landing in Pakistan and they went on to open mosques and seminaries. Osama bin Laden, along with his jihadist mentor Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, arrived in Pakistan and opened an office with Pakistani, American and Saudi Arabian support. Sheikh Azzam, who is referred to as the father of global jihad, was a Palestinian Islamic and theological cleric, and a founding member of Al-Qaeda. He founded the Maktab al-Khidmat, a prominent jihadist organisation that was later turned into Al-Qaeda and was succeeded by Osama Bin Laden after Azzam’s assassination in Peshawar, in 1989.
In a few years’ time, the current generation was ready to participate in the Islamic holy war and the future generation was successfully indoctrinated via their educational and social system. The media and Islamic seminaries played a very crucial role in spreading jihadist doctrine around the country, even causing some religious parties and organisations to become stronger than the government itself. The jihadist leaders had more freedom of movement in Pakistan than the security officials. The extremist clerics became the decision makers of the country. They were able to make internal and external decisions regarding Pakistan.
Noor Dahri is an author, Director of the Middle East Affairs at Command Eleven. He is a counter-terrorism researcher based in the UK.