The Crisis of Militant Groups and Terrorism in Pakistan
The Crisis of Militant Groups and Terrorism in Pakistan
In recent years Pakistan’s security concerns have been rising as its major cities have been rocked by rising suicide attacks. It has emerged that several new terrorist groups have come up, with several other established groups reconstituting themselves. Further, a more violent crop of militants that is disinterested in political solutions has emerged. Experts also say that these groups have formed new, stronger links among themselves than before which has resulted into very serious concerns for the country’s stability.
Many of the terrorist and militant groups traditionally focused their activities in the region but recently they have demonstrated capability to export terrorism globally, as the failed bombing attempt in Times Square in New York (which was traced to Pakistan-based terrorists) shows. Pakistani Culture; Pakistan comprises of numerous diverse cultures as well as ethnic groups. The eastern part is occupied by the Punjabis, Sindhis and the Kashmiri. According to www. cia. gov, the western region of Pakistan is occupied by the tribal cultures of Pashtun and the Baloch, while the north is occupied by the ancient Tajik and Darcic communities.
Each of this region as well as ethnic groups has a distinguished culture of its own, though not extremely diverse from the culture of the others. The majority of Pakistanis (up to 95 per cent) are Muslims, while the other 5% is made up of other groups such as Hindus and Christians (CIA, 2010). Education is highly valued by all members of the various socio-economic strata and the country has a literacy level of fifty five percent, up from the three percent recorded at the time of independence from Britain.
Pakistanis highly respect traditional family values and in fact these are considered sacred. But owing to socio-economic constraints, the nuclear family is gaining popularity especially in the urban areas. Pakistanis have a nationally common dress called Shalwar kamiz which is worn by both men and women. Music as well as dances of the major regions and ethnic groups in Pakistan are unique in terms of instruments, styles, patterns and melodies. Pakistani died comprises wheat as the main staple and in addition is reach in beef.
Pakistani architecture is unique but is heavily based on Islam. A blend of local traditions and Islam guide the lifestyles as well as manners here (www. cia. gov). Political Culture; Militancy and violence in Pakistani political field is not uncommon. Suicide bombing attacks, political assassinations, military coups, as well as tribal and factional insurgence have all characterized the politics of Pakistan since independence and even beyond. For instance, such key political leaders have been assassinated, including Benazir Bhutto.
Violence has been on the rise in Pakistan as more militant groups target the state. According to South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP, 2010), a database that tracks terrorism, 2,155 civilians were killed in violence attributed to terrorism in 2008 and close to 1800 civilians killed in the first ten months of 2009 as compared to an estimated 1600 civilian deaths recorded from 2003 to 2006. Terrorist Groups in Pakistan; Many experts agree that it is difficult to put an exact figure on the number of terrorist groups who are operating out of Pakistan.
However, majority of the organizations fall into one of the five distinct categories as laid out by Tellis (2008), a senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in January 2008 before a subcommittee of U. S. House on Foreign Affairs. ? Sectarian: organizations and groups such as the Shia Tehrik-e-Jafria and the Sunni Sipah-e-Sahaba, that are involved in violence within Pakistan (www. cia. gov); ? Anti-Indian: groups of terrorism that operate with the supposed support from the Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and its military.
Such groups include the Harakat ul-Mujahadeen (HuM), the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), and the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). These groups have mainly focused their acts of terrorism on Kashmir as well as India (Gunaratna, 2010). ? Afghan Taliban: This is the original Taliban movement and in particular its Kandahari leadership built around Mullah Mohammad Omar, who is believed to be currently living in Quetta; ? Al-Qaeda and its partners: The terrorism organization headed by Osama bin Laden as well as other terrorists of non-South Asian origin believed to be entrenched in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA.
The International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVRT) based in Singapore remarks that other foreign militant groups like the Islamic Jihad group, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan,, the Islamic Fighters Group, Islamic Jihad group, the Libyan Islamic and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are also active and located in the Federal Administrative Tribal Areas (Gunaratna, 2010). ? The Pakistani Taliban: This is the major source of threat to security and stability of Pakistan and beyond.
Groups made up of extremist elements in the FATA, led by persons such as Maulana Qazi,Fazullal, leader of the the Tehrik-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), Hakimullah Mehsud of the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan, and Maulana Faqir Muhammad of Bajaur (I. C. G. , 2010). Some other militant groups exist in Pakistani soil and do not fit into any of the above categories. For example, groups seeking secession from Pakistan such as the BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army) operating in the southwest province of Balochistan was declared an organization of terror by Pakistan in 2006 (I. C. G. , 2010).
In addition, a new militant network, often referred to as the Punjabi Taliban, gained standing after the major 2008 and 2009 attacks cities of Rawalpindi in Islamabad, and Lahore, all situated in the province of Punjabi, according to Bajoria (2009). Pakistani authorities have for a long time had close ties with militant groups operating from its soil and which largely directed their efforts in neighboring India as well as Afghanistan. But with Pakistan supporting the U. S as a vital ally in war on terrorism beginning September 11, 2001, experts say Pakistan has received harsh retribution on its policy of supporting militants operating abroad.
Elements of fugitive al-Qaeda as well as those of Afghan Taliban, together with other terrorist groups, have made the tribal areas of Pakistan (the lawless region along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan) their abode and now closely collaborate with a wide variety of militant groups operating from Pakistan. Concerns about security threats caused by these groups are reverberating far beyond Pakistan. According to I. C. G. (2010), United State’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on In April 2009 that the deteriorating security in Pakistan, which is a nuclear power, “poses a mortal threat” to the U. S and the entire world.
Cooperation of the militant groups and terrorists; A greater cooperation and coordination exists between all these groups, and for this reason lines become even blurred as regards which category a militant group fits in. For example, the Pakistani Taliban, which were initially committed to fighting against the state of Pakistan, are at present increasingly joining insurgents fighting International as well as the United States troops across in Afghanistan. The former U. S. Central Command Chief, General David H. Petraeus, in an interview observed that the groups have for a long time shared a symbiotic relationship.
He noted that the groups support each other, coordinate with each other, they sometimes compete with each other, and that often they fight each other, an aspect that makes it very difficult to distinguish between the groups (I. C. G. , 2010). The main objective of the Pakistani Taliban is to establish a puritanical Islamic state in the country, enforcement of Sharia, as well as driving NATO forces in Afghanistan. This group is the major security concern for the Pakistani government. The other tribal groups, which also have Islamic and autonomy agenda, are well under significant control.
The Pakistani Militant Groups and the al-Qaeda Links; In addition to providing technical capabilities as well as technical expertise to militant groups in Pakistan, al-Qaeda is also actively gunning for cooperation among these groups. Rassler (2009) who is an associate at the independent research institution, Combating Terrorism Center, writes that al-Qaeda has taken the role of mediation and coalition building among the various factions in the Pakistani militant groups. It does this by backing unification of such entities that had conflicting ideas or have been opposing one another.
Counterterrorism challenges for authorities in Islamabad; The security forces in Pakistan are under pressure to counter the domestic militants with help from the US. Efforts to reform the forces are underway but challenges in the form of unwillingness to fight selected militant groups as well as capabilities to fight the militants remain still remain. The militant groups are increasingly targeting the security forces and in particular the police and the army, the culmination of which was the attack on the army headquarters by militants in October 2009 (www. dailytimes. com. pk).
Analysts firmly believe that both the Pakistani army and the country’s intelligence agency (ISI) continue to forge some sort of alliance with militant groups which they would like to use as a strategic get-around against both Afghanistan and India, even though they have shown increased will to fight militant groups. Pakistan has been asked by the U. S to crackdown on Afghan Taliban leadership which the United States believes is hiding in Quetta, in addition to two major Afghan insurgency factions that are under command of Jalaluddin Haqqani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who are veteran war lords in Afghanistan (I. C.
G. , 2010). The United States cites the reason that the two are actively involved with supplying insurgent fighters in Afghanistan. Analysts are convinced that the groups do not attack the state of Pakistan –at least directly, in exchange for political cover inside Pakistan, which Pakistan denies. Implications of military action by Pakistan on the Militant and Terrorist Groups; Previous military actions by the Pakistani authorities against the tribal militant groups have met stiff resistance due to the fact that the militants are heavily armed besides strong support the militant groups enjoy from their tribesmen.
But perhaps the biggest factor for the failure has been the unwillingness of the state to carry out a thorough campaign to reign on the militants. A conclusive military operation against the militants would have the long term effect of ensuring the countries stability as well as improved security in the form of reduced terrorism attacks, both inside and outside Pakistan. However this may come at a substantially heavy cost in form of both civilian and combatants’ casualties considering the fact that both sides of the conflicting parties are heavily armed, in addition to the militants resolve to remain operational.
The long-term results would however be much desirable for Pakistan and in deed the rest of the world. Conclusions and Recommendations: The authorities in Pakistan are moving in the right direction in combating militancy especially in the tribal regions of the country. The established pattern of engagement between the militants and the Pakistani government will take a very long period of time to undo, but the Pakistani government with active support from the international community-especially its close ally the U.
S, should not relent on the fight against militants and terrorist groups who have promoted terrorism both within and without Pakistan. Pakistani should consider a strong military response to the growing militancy by groups who are collaborating and perpetuating terror, more so al-Qaeda cells and its affiliate groups, if the country wishes to maintain viable national security and stability, more importantly within its borders. REFERENCES; Bajoria, J. (6 May 2009). Pakistan’s New Generation of Terrorists . Council on Foreign Relations.
Retrieved on August 10, 2010, from http://www. cfr. org/publication/15422/pakistans_new_generation_of_terrorists. html CIA. (2010). World Fact Book: Pakistan. Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from https://www. cia. gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/pk. html Daily Times (2 October 2009). ‘ISI has no links with Taliban’. Daily Times. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www. dailytimes. com. pk/default. asp? page=2009\10\02\story_2-10-2009_pg1_9 I. C. G. (13 March 2009). Pakistan: The Militant Jihadi Challenge. International Crisis Group.
Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www. crisisgroup. org/en/regions/asia/south-asia/pakistan/164-pakistan-the-militant-jihadi-challenge. aspx Rassler, D. (June 2009). Al-Qaeda’s Pakistan Strategy. CTC Sentinel, 2 (6). Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www. ctc. usma. edu/sentinel/CTCSentinel-Vol2Iss6. pdf South Asia Terrorism Portal. (2010). Fidayeen (Suicide Squad) Attacks in Pakistan since 2002. South Asia Terrorism Portal. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www. satp. org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/database/Fidayeenattack. htm Tellis, A. J. (16 January 2008).
Hearing of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Subject: U. S. -Pakistan Relations: assassination, instability and the future of U. S. policy. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www. carnegieendowment. org/files/testimony. pdf Gunaratna, R. (18 – 19 May 2010). 1st Strategic Workshop on Rehabilitation and De-Radicalization of Militants and Extremist. International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research. Retrieved August 10, 2010, from http://www. pvtr. org/pdf/Report/RSIS_PakistanReport_2010. pdf
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