By Irshad Ali Sodhar (FSP)
2.History of Terrorism in Pakistan: An Overview
3. Pakistan Faces Various Forms of Terrorism
a. Ethnic / Sectarian
b. Nationalist / Separatist
c. Jihadi / Islamist
4. Causes of Terrorism in Pakistan
a. Augmenting Illiteracy
b. Increasing Social Injustice
c. Swelling Poverty
d. Derailing Democracy
e. Heightening Religious Intolerance
f. Unending Afghan War
g. Crippling Economy
5. Is Terrorism a Great Threat to Pakistan: YES
I. To Democracy
II. To Sovereignty
III. To Economy
IV. To Governance
V. To Progress
VI. To National Security
VII. To National Integrity
I. Using the Influence of Religious Leaders
II. Utilizing Civil Society
III. Employing Media Effectively
IV. Revamping Education System
V. Achieving Peace in Afghanistan
VI. Ensuring Competent Intelligence
VII. Dealing Effectively with Militants
VIII. Economic Recovery & Poverty Alleviation
IX. Ensuring Speedy & Affordable Justice
Terrorism is second to none amongst the threats faced by Pakistan. The cost it has incurred, overweighs the losses bore in any other turmoil in history of the country. The complexity of this multifaceted menace lies in the fact that it is caused by multitude of factors ranging from internal situation to external developments. It has been damaging not only the economy, political stability, social sector and social fabric of the country but also national security and integrity. The country’s image abroad and its foreign relations are severely affected, as well. Moreover, the risk of being termed as a failed state was born out of the implications of no other problem but terrorism. Nevertheless, the increasing realization and resolve of the political, civil and military leadership to combat this threat with iron hands harbingers a strong action to eradicate terrorism. However, this problem will not go away easily given the isolated responses from state institutions. A comprehensive and integrated counter-extremism and counter-terrorism strategy is need of the hour. The emerging clarity among institutions and political consensus among major stakeholders is a positive sign in this regard.
The origin of terrorism in Pakistan can be traced back to two important events that brought obscurantism, intolerance and resultantly terrorism in Pakistan. Before 1980s, religion has never been a controversial issue in Pakistan. The sectarian militants emerged in Pakistan after the 1979 Iran Revolution which transformed the nature and magnitude of sectarian violence in Pakistan.
Besides, Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was the most critical event leading to the spread of militancy. A fundamental change that altered the very character of society in Pakistan occurred after the outbreak of Soviet-Afghan war. However, the real damage was exposed only after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, when there emerged weaponization and violence in Pakistan. Lately, in the wake of US attack on Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s entry into War on Terror as an ally, the extremism and terrorism soared.
With its multifarious nature, the magnitude of terrorism has become greater. Ethnic, sectarian; nationalist, separatist; and jihadi terrorism are some forms of it.
Ethnicity has been haunting Pakistan since its emergence as an independent state. This was the ethnicity factor that led to dismemberment of the country in 1971. Arson, bombings, assaults, vandalism and even murder have been some aspects of this nuisance.
Separatist terrorism is another threat to Pakistan. The Balochistan province has been facing the intermittent guerilla wars. The tribal militants, allegedly patronized by foreign powers especially India, carry out heinous acts of terrorism and even resort to target killings to advance their separatist agenda.
The so-called jihad is another form of terrorism that is most widespread nowadays. This type of terrorism emerged with Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s. After the Soviet withdrawal, this armed struggle transformed into a sort of civil war, and later Afghanistan became a breeding ground for terrorists.
Furthermore, after 9/11 attacks, when Pakistan entered in war against terrorism, some of these sham Jihadi groups turned their guns against Pakistan.
This violent phenomenon has become complex in nature due to multitude of the causes. The situation in Pakistan is more complicated due to its underdevelopment, strategic location, diverse cultures and religious orientation of society. The first and foremost cause is widespread illiteracy in Pakistan. Pakistan ranks 113th among the 120 nations in the literacy rate index. Since, people lack the knowledge of the true teachings of Islam; they are easily carried away by the emotional and sentimental speeches of religious fanatics.
Secondly; injustice or lack of justice is also one of the core causes of terrorism. People are suffering from many social injustices including, but not limited to, unequal resource distribution, restricted access to quality education, the elite’s hegemony in political system, lack of basic health facilities, and non-availability of necessary commodities to major portion of the population. There is plethora of examples in history when deprived and marginalized people rebelled and even resorted to violence to gain their rights. In Pakistan, the underprivileged and depressed class is prone to be exploited by the terrorists.
Thirdly; poverty is also a major cause of terrorism. According to a study conducted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, every third Pakistani is living below the poverty line i.e. 58.7 million out of 180 million are living in abject poverty. A survey conducted by Benazir Income Support Program (BISP) revealed that around 45.7% population of Pakistan is poor. These people, caught in the vicious cycle of poverty, join terrorists for monetary benefits.
Fourthly; derailing of democracy by military dictators also contributed to the spread of terrorism in Pakistan. History of the country manifests that these were the decisions of military rulers that put Pakistan in this quandary. It was Zia’s decision to involve Pakistan in war against Soviets in Afghanistan. Again, it was Gen Pervez Musharraf’s decision to become a frontline US-ally in war against terrorism.
Fifthly; the ever-growing religious intolerance in Pakistan also fosters terrorism. In recent past, more than 100 Shiites were killed in Quetta in one attack. In addition, many Sunni/Shia processions were attacked and churches were set ablaze.
Sixthly; Pakistan’s participation in Afghan War has also plagued the country with terrorism. Pakistan still ails from the disease it acquired during Soviet-Afghan war. Now, those militias have become so unbridled that they even challenge the writ of the government in various parts of the country.
Seventhly; the crippling economy also gives rise to terrorism. The faltering economy has increased inflation, poverty and unemployment. Almost 50% of the Pakistani workforce is unemployed, reveals the survey released by the Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW). Miseries compel people to find additional sources of income and the terrorists lure these marginalized people. Thus, economic frailty makes recruitment for terrorists easier.
Terrorism is the biggest threat to a viable state. The first and foremost threat, it poses, is to democratic system of the country. Pakistan has had only a wobbling democracy. Proper democratic transition is taking place for the first time in the country’s history. However, the elections were marred by terrorist attacks on election campaigns. If the environment of insecurity prevails, democracy would never flourish and people will lose trust in the democratic process.
Terrorism also threatens the sovereignty of Pakistan. The presence of terrorists invites drone attacks which is a serious challenge to the country’s sovereignty.
One of the major reasons behind the crippled economy of Pakistan is terrorism. The terrorist activities in Pakistan have led to flight of capital and investors. The investors are reluctant to invest here due to law and order situation. The estimated losses are around $70bn. Moreover, tourism industry of Pakistan is also in a dying state. Furthermore, the threat of terrorism also compels the government to divert resources to security spending.
Terrorism also hampers the prospects of good governance. The government finds itself hapless to improve the law and order situation in the country. The schools are bombed and demolished which deprives people of the light of knowledge. The proponents of education are attacked; the case of Malala Yousafzai is an example in this regard.
Terrorism thwarts the progress of the country as well. Pakistan couldn’t make any progress in the last decade rather all the economic and human development indices show a considerable fall. Pakistan ranks 145th on the Human Development Index. The country has spent more than $20 billion on war against terror and is compelled to increase its defence budget. Resultantly, the spending on the social development has seen new lows. Hence, terrorism causes underdevelopment which leads to increase in miseries of the masses.
Terrorism endangers the national security as well. A fleeting look at the current situation reveals that the country is suffering from worst security crisis. Terrorists carried out, successfully, attacks even on most secure and strategically important places. The attacks on GHQ, Mehran Naval Base and Kamra Air Base are testimony to this fact. The magnitude of losses can be gleaned from the fact that only one Saab-2000 aircraft fitted with an Airborne Early Warning & Control System (AWACS) destroyed at Kamra was worth $250 million.
Terrorism, lastly, is a great threat to national integrity. It is threatening the very roots and fabric of the society. Pakistanis are being divided into small sub-nations fighting to assert their existence and separate identity.
Despite the above-mentioned facts, Pakistan has all the capacity and potential to eradicate terrorism. All it requires is a comprehensive and coordinated strategy.
First of all, religious leaders and scholars can play a vital role in this regard. They should use speeches and writings to preach the message of peace.
Two; the civil society also needs to come forward and play its role in sorting out the problems face by the nation. Moreover, a huge campaign is required to defeat the ideologies of terrorists. This campaign or mass movement can be used very effectively with collaborative efforts.
Three; uniform system of education can play a viable role in eradicating terrorism. The curriculum should be free of all the biases, religious bigotry and fanaticism. It shall include religious and modern education in equal proportions. The minds of younger generation need to be washed of all the rigidness; then only peace will prevail in society.
Four; media can be the most effective tool in eliminating terrorism. Media can be used to educate people and bring them on board about challenges faced by the country. Soft corner for militancy in the general public can only be eradicated by well-organized media effort.
Five; peace in Afghanistan is one of the prerequisites for curbing terrorism in Pakistan. Presence of Nato and Allied Forces in Afghanistan is a major cause of instability in the region.
Sixth; an effective strategy to counter militant and extremist groups hinges in the capability to gain timely and accurate intelligence. The local intelligence needs to be strengthened in terms of organization, equipment, training and coordination. The intelligence agencies should be made completely free of political interference.
Seventh; a coherent strategy on using force as last resort should be evolved. The foreigners cannot live among the locals unless they are sufficiently motivated to support these militants. The local tribesmen should be taken into confidence and must be encouraged to stand up against the foreign elements.
Eighth; economic and social disparity leads to increase in recruitment of terrorists. Economic recovery should be given the top priority, especially in the underdeveloped areas. Comprehensive plans to ensure revival of industry to generate economic activity and jobs should be devised.
Lastly, there is, undoubtedly, a need for providing speedy and affordable justice to poor masses. As ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’, the people feel themselves alienated from society. The performance of lower judiciary has resulted in loss of trust of general public in courts and thus the Taliban-type speedy justice system attracts public support in certain areas. Therefore, justice system should be reviewed to ensure that people get speedy and affordable justice. Moreover, the prosecution needs to be made effective in order to curtail the large acquittal ratio of terrorists.
There is no denying the fact that Pakistan is facing great threat of terrorism. It’s a country which is plagued with multifarious terrorism caused by several intricate problems. It poses threat to essential ingredients of the state, from democracy to national security and integrity of the country. However, combating terrorism is not an insurmountable task for this resilient nation. The enormity of the challenge has led to the momentum that is underway with regard to building of consensus on the policy to combat terrorism. This would lead to a conclusive strategy to eliminate this menace. The policy accompanied with political resolve is bound to win this war and achieve the stability and prosperity in the country.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently watched A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s Oscar-nominated documentary about ‘honour’ killings. In a statement following the screening, he told Ms Chinoy and his audience that there is no ‘honour’ in murder.
In the days since it has been announced that the government will move to plug holes in laws that currently allow killers (often family members) to go unpunished. Ms Chinoy has expressed the hope that her film would help put an end to honour killings in Pakistan.
Read: No honour in honour killing: PM
It would be wonderful if her wish came true. The reasons it will not are the ones that the government needs to address if it truly wishes to tackle the problem.
The root of the problem is that women (and men) are considered social capital in a family.
Before reasons, however, consider context. I pulled up two sets of statistics compiled by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The first covers the period spanning Feb 1, 2004, to Feb 1, 2006. During this time, there were 988 incidents of honour killings in Pakistan. Nearly, but not exactly half, did not even have FIRs registered for the crime. Firearms were the weapon of choice for doing away with the victims, followed by blunt force injury with a heavy weapon.
Fast-forward a decade: another set of statistics I pulled from the HRCP database was from between February 2014 to February 2016. The number of honour killings in this period was 1,276, nearly 400 did not have FIRs registered, and most of the victims were killed by guns.
The decade in the middle has not been one without legislative initiatives or civil society campaigns to end honour killings. I chose the period immediately following 2004 because that marked the passage of a bill against honour crimes. As political machinations go, the bill that was actually passed was a diluted version of the one first introduced by senator Sherry Rehman. There was much clapping and clamour then too.
The whole thing repeated itself in March of last year with the passage through the Senate of the Anti-Honour Killings Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2014. Meanwhile, international human rights organisations have devoted budgets and campaigns to ending honour killings in Pakistan. As the numbers show in both cases, honour killings (to the extent they are even reported) have continued and even increased.
Here is why. First, legislative initiatives have focused on the legal dimensions of the issue, the latest a much needed amendment to the qisas and diyat laws that would prevent the pardoning of honour killers. This is a great idea.
At the same time, like legislative initiatives of the past, it has no teeth at all against the root of the problem: that women (and men) are considered social capital in a family, marrying them a form of adding sociological assets, creating relationships that families, increasingly torn by migration and demographic change, require.
When a woman rebels against this mechanism, not only does the family lose the possibility of capital accrued from arranging her marriage, her decision jeopardises the futures of remaining brothers and sisters, their possibilities of making good matches that sustain them in a web of relationships where individual choice defeats collective security.
In a cultural and sociological system where the family and tribe are still the only and often unitary form of social insurance against catastrophe, the death of a breadwinner, illness and job losses, collective control over the individual is the glue that holds everything together.
Honour killers kill because they think they are preserving the system, saving the sisters who did not run away. To overcome honour killings, a robust state must take the place of the family in providing basic guarantees of security against debilitating losses; until it does so, the cruel elimination of those who wish to make their own choices will continue.
The second reason for failure lies in the broken mechanisms of international advocacy, particularly as they exist in countries like Pakistan, which have faced the brunt of international aggression. Simply put, since “saving brown women” became the reason to go to war, stories of hapless victims of honour killings in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria have served to fuel a moral reason as to why such imperial overtures are justified. Some brown women, those at risk of honour killings, are to be saved; others who happen to be near target zones for drones do not.
The hypocrisy of this is not lost on local populations but it manifests in a particularly grotesque (مسخ شدہ، بگڑا ہوا) way in the towns and villages of Pakistan that have borne direct hits from American aggression; maintaining honour, which translates roughly to controlling women, has become a nationalistic goal, a stand for local sovereignty.
Women are paying with their lives; simply telling their stories has not saved them and will not save them. This last point is important, for it represents a very troubling moral bifurcation in the aid and advocacy economy via which campaigns against honour killings are funded and the communities in which moral change must take place.
The campaigns are providing jobs and causes and in some cases, international acclaim for a few; but that will never bridge the vast chasm (دراڑ، خلا) between top-down advocacy and urgently needed grass-roots change.
The words of the prime minister are heartening. Like most women, I would rather have a leader willing and sincere in recognising the horror of honour crimes than one who capitulates as so many others have done.
A Pakistani woman honoured at the Oscars is also a good thing, an inspiring individual victory and a hopeful honouring, even if it is one that cannot stop future dis-honourings of less lucky Pakistani women. For that, a deeper effort is required, a local and grass-roots conversation directed at those for whom family, honour and survival are intertwined, the murderous killing of the rebel justified because it pretends to be saving all the rest.
The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2016
TWO women qazis of Jaipur, Afroze Begum and Jahan Ara, have broken the male-dominated bastion for the first time in Rajasthan. Whether they get to put their two-year training into practice is another story but if they do, it will be with a model nikahnama, a comprehensive legal document that has been prepared by the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) to help helpless women trapped in unfortunate circumstances.
Behind these confident and eloquent women qazis stands steely, gritty but soft-spoken Zakia Soman, co-founder of the BMMA, which now has over 70,000 members. Soman and a colleague, Noorjehan Niaz, are spearheading a silent social revolution in the backward Muslim community to stand up against injustice, gender parity and to voice their opinion in a highly patriarchal community.
Soman herself passed through a similar experience during the riots of 2002 in Gujarat. She and her then 13-year-old son had to flee their home in Ahmedabad and relocate to a Muslim ghetto on the outskirts. Stories of arson, looting, rampage and destruction shook her up. She wondered at the police’s insolence and their eagerness to let off the mischief-makers. For her, it was a harsh lesson in citizenship. Once the riots subsided, Soman began to visit camps to help with the rehabilitation programme. There she met many women, who despite coming from a poor background, wanted justice for their families. It changed Soman’s outlook and inspired her. It was then she realised the vulnerability of being a woman and a minority. But it failed to dampen her fiery spirit, She resolved to find a way to help these women who needed justice and a voice. Excerpts from an interview:
What is this model nikahnama that you say should be used by qazis, especially women qazis?
In Islam, marriage is a social contract. But traditionally, there are no details in the nikahnama other than just name and signature. There are only basic details. The model nikahnama has the terms of agreement written down during the time of marriage. It has details and declarations like whether the groom is married or not, death certificate, of previous wives, talaq (divorce) certificate, amount of mehr, which is the money given to a bride at the time of a wedding and is equal to 100 per cent of the groom’s annual income. The gifts received from both sides should be listed in the nikahnama. There would be two witnesses and their addresses, signatures, IDs on the nikahnama. It is a comprehensive, valid legal document and would be beneficial for both bride and groom in the long run, if the couple has problems later in their marriage.
But how do you enforce that couples get married with this nikahnama?
It would be a long-term process to enforce it. In 2009, we prepared the first version of the model nikahnama. It was used in some marriages and some mass marriages in Maharashtra and Gujarat. In Ahmedabad, a girl got a mehr of INR 100,000 with this nikahnama. The process to enforce it would begin with spreading awareness about it. There would be campaigns to make parents of the bride know about the details to be filled in the nikahnama. Qazis have cleared their two-year training course from the Mumbai-based Darul Uloom-i-Nisawa and they would use it. Many of our girls and even boys have developed a progressive mindset. We have hopes that more and more people will adopt this nikahnama during the marriage vows.
But what about a nod from the highest Muslim body for these qazis to practise?
It is not that everybody in our community will be against women qazis. There are some progressive qazis as well who interpret religion rightly. So we would talk to them and get them to share our model nikahnama among the masses. There is no authorised body in our community to give the go ahead for either women qazis or the model nikahnama.
The Muslim Personal Law Board is actually an NGO among the many thousand NGOs in our country. It has no judicial or official status. The mainstream media has got it wrong that it is one of our highest decision-making bodies. But our Muslim society is changing, there is awareness and the mindset is changing. Boys and girls are becoming progressive, more aware and knowledgeable that Islam is being interpreted by many in a wrong way. That section of our society is likely to believe in our nikahnama and would use it.
Is there still a lot of confusion between Sharia laws and the laws of the land? Is there a wide gap between the two?
The confusion is deliberate. Our society is still patriarchal and the confusion is to their advantage. In 1937, the British who ruled over India said Muslims would be ruled according to Sharia laws. But those laws do not talk about what should be the age of marriage, the ways of talaq and many other things. It is not a codified law. So everybody has the liberty to interpret laws in their own ways, especially the fundamentalists. The Quran has given women equal rights but it has not reached the poorest of the poor women yet.
Are you against triple talaq?
Our movement has strongly campaigned for abolishing the practice of triple talaq, which allows Muslim men to divorce a woman by merely saying the word talaq thrice. Instead, we want the use of the “talaq-e-ahsan” method, where at least four attempts at reconciliation are made before a divorce is granted. So comprehensive reform in Muslim laws is very necessary. The Quran had given us rights 1,400 years ago but we have not been able to savour it. In 2014, the BMMA drafted a Muslim Personal Law drawn from the Quran, but from a woman’s perspective.
—The Statesman / India
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2016
WASHINGTON: The United States has made little or no progress in explaining how and why it orders lethal drone strikes, even as America’s reliance on the unmanned aircraft soars worldwide, a report said on Tuesday.
According to a study by the Stimson Centre, a Washington-based non-partisan think tank, President Barack Obama’s administration has failed to provide basic transparency in the drone programme that has become a keystone in America’s counter-terrorism efforts.
“In terms of the justification for the programme and all the legal basis — that still remains out of reach of the American public,” study author Rachel Stohl said.
Her paper gives American school-style grades in a “report card” to the US government, rating how it has improved its drone accountability since the Stimson Centre wrote a damning report on the matter in June 2014.
The report card gave the Obama administration an “F” — or a failing grade — in three areas: a lack of progress on releasing information on targeted drone strikes, developing better accountability mechanisms and explaining the US lethal drone programme’s legal basis.
A seemingly ever-expanding global war against extremist groups means the United States relies heavily on drones to monitor hostile lands and launch missiles at suspected extremists.
Mr Obama has drastically expanded the programme during his tenure, but his administration provides scant information on strikes.
Critics say many drone strikes kill civilians, and the aircraft alienate and radicalise local populations on the ground.
Since June 2014, the United States has reportedly carried out lethal drone strikes in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, as well as against the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq and Syria.
The Stimson Centre said at least a dozen countries now host US drone bases, including Ethiopia, the Seychelles and Yemen.
“The targeted killing programme has been the most precise and effective application of firepower in the history of armed conflict,” said Michael Hayden, former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, which carries out most drone strikes.
Writing in The New York Times on Sunday, he credited drones for decimating the ranks of Al Qaeda. But the Stimson Centre says such assertions are meaningless without any publicly reviewable data available to back them up.
“We know very little about the actual drone operations, the missions, even in aggregate we don’t know,” Ms Stohl said. “How do we evaluate if this programme is successful?”
Much of the limited data available on deadly drone strikes has been compiled by journalists, watchdog groups and industry whistleblowers.
The report’s highest grade is a “C”. While it’s a passing grade, it’s still far from stellar.
It credited the administration with making some progress in releasing a new export policy on drones, progress towards adopting rules and regulations for the use of drones in US airspace, and progress acknowledging the use of drone strikes in foreign countries.
Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2016