Islamabad: The acceptance of the idea that – Pakistan has not only been internalising, but mainstreaming militancy and terrorism – by the world comes as no surprise to a Pakistani columnist, as he mentions that theirs is a “country, where a convicted terrorist like Hafiz Saeed is not only allowed to run his own ‘charity’ (Jamat-ud-Dawa), he is also allowed to form a political party (Milli Muslim League) as an extension of this charity.”
The columnist, Khursheed Sardar, in an article titled ‘Mainstreaming militancy not surprising at all’ published in the Pakistan Today, also points out that the trends of the recently-held by-elections of the National Assembly -120 indicate a significant shift in the mindset of a common Pakistani over the past three decades.
“And it does not stop there: creation alone is not enough, Saeed’s party is also winning votes, as evidenced by the performance of its candidate, Muhammad Yaqoob Sheikh, in NA-120, who managed to win 5,822 votes in the recently conducted by-poll. This, importantly, was over four thousand votes in excess of what the liberal Pakistan People’s Party managed in the constituency, indicating the shift that has occurred in the mindset of the common Pakistani over the past three decades or so,” he states, in the article.
Sardar adds, “The country has repeatedly yielded global most wanted criminals, dead or alive. Leaving aside the controversial assassination of Osama bin Laden, the likes of Egyptian terrorists Ahmed Mohammed Hamed Ali and Saeed al-Masri, Saudi terrorist Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah, Libyan terrorist Abu Laith al-Libbi and American terrorist Adam Yahiye Gadahn were all reportedly killed on Pakistani soil.”
He further raises questions over the protection given to Saeed.
“The protection given to the now-under-house-arrest, Hafiz Saeed, raises huge question marks over Pakistan’s stance on global terrorism: are we fighting terrorism or helping it fuse into our society?” he adds.
“Pakistanis, thus, must ask themselves: whom are we trying to fool when we refuse to accept that our country’s armed forces, and we, the people, ourselves, are involved in safeguarding terrorists and terrorist organisations?”
The author points to the recent remarks made by the U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the presence of links between the ISI and terrorist organisations should not come as a surprise to anyone.
“This is certainly not the first time this “accusation” has propped up: the idea has been circulating since a leaked British Ministry of Defence document alleged in 2006 that the country’s premier intelligence agency has been involved in supporting terrorism across the globe, and again in the same year when the country’s then-President, Pervez Musharraf admitted that certain retired ISI personnel might be aiding the jihadist movement in Afghanistan,” he says.
The fusion of terrorists in the Pakistan’s political mainstream, Sardar says, gives ample evidence that the allegations levelled by the ambiguous World Muhajir Congress against the Pakistani Armed forces in the letter to U.S.’s ‘The House Foreign Affairs Committee’ holds true.
“We are afraid as Jihadi outifts are getting stronger with the support of ISI, important port city of Karachi which is the supply line of US and NATO could fall into the hands of these terror groups [.] We fear for the safety of Karachi, Muhajir Nation and especially children, as these jihadi outfits are kidnapping/abducting young poor children and after brainwashing turning them into suicide bombers, jihadis, and religious fanatics,” one of the allegations had stated.
“Barring the irony of the fact that this statement comes from an organisation spearheaded by a former terroriser of Karachi, do the concerns raised by it not sound valid? Do we Pakistanis truly believe that the existence of certain religious seminaries who recruit and brainwash innocent children, also a myth? Do we deny their part in radicalizing our society and playing a role in normalising, nay, propagating violence?” Sardar adds.
The writer further opines that the inclusion of radical, militant organisations in Pakistan’s polity is by no means just an “indicator” of the mass radicalisation of our society – “it is its living and breathing, long-due product.”
“The longer the Pakistanis stay in criminal denial of this development, as well as their own complicit role in it, the worse and more violence-prone the country’s social and political environment would become,” Sardar concludes.