Capacity and Willingness of the State to control all the militant groups in Pakistan are two different issues. Can the State really put the genie back into the bottle? Is the genie willing to get back?Photo Source: The Express Tribune
D. Suba Chandran
International Strategic and Security Studies Programme (ISSSP)
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore
There is a general perception within Pakistan, that today, the nation does not differentiate between the “good” and “bad” Taliban, leading to a new paradigm involving the State, Society and Militants.
What is this new paradigm? While many at the civil society level are keen to put the militant genie back into the bottle, do every one within the Establishment share the same enthusiasm? Is there a section within the political and military Establishments that sees militants in terms of good and bad?
Two more important questions on this issue relates to the capacity of the State to deal with the militants and the willingness of the jihadi groups to get rolled back. Can the State really put the genie back into the bottle? Is the genie willing to get back?
The new paradigm that the civil society is talking today in Pakistan relates to their own resolve to fight the militants, and that of the State to combat and neutralize them. Three issues are important while discussing this new paradigm in Pakistan. Is the Civil Society in Pakistan against the violence perpetrated by the militant groups, or against them and their ideology in principle? Is the State’s effort aimed at completely neutralizing the jihadi groups and their ideology, or only focussed on bringing them under their own control, as it existed pre-9/11? Finally, is the State capable of creating an environment – social and economic, that would be competitive and not provide any substantial space for the jihadi groups and their ideologies to influence the civil society?
Is the Civil Society only against violence, or against the jihadis and their ideologies?
This is an important question that will have a crucial impact on the future of not only Pakistan, but also the entire region. The pressure from the civil society has been one of the most crucial components in State’s proactive response against the militant groups. How far will the civil society go in pushing the case? Will it call for the complete annihilation of these groups, their infrastructure and their ideologies? Or, will it fall short?
Peshawar attack undoubtedly has been an important event. The society has been shaken and is angry. Rightly so. But will the same sense of anger prevail against all forms of violence perpetrated by a small fraction in the name of religion? What has been the response of the civil society relating to the assassination of Salman Taseer, attacks on Imambargas, Shias, Ahmediyas etc? Unfortunately, the same senses of anger or condemnations do not exist. Even if there is, it does not have the same intensity that has forced the government to take proactive measures after Peshawar attack.
In fact, the attack on school children in Peshawar in December 2014 would not have happened, if such a resolve existed during the last two decades, when the militant groups were on a rampage against the minority communities in Pakistan. Their ideology would not have found support, had the civil society rejected the case against Ahmediyas and the blasphemy legislations that became the tool in the hands of select few against the minority communities.
The civil society will find it difficult to succeed in Pakistan, if its fight is narrowly focussed. Those who are using suicide bombs against the Sufi shrines and school children did not start abruptly. They started decades ago, supported by a sectionwithin the civil society, social organisations, political groups and parties, and finally the intelligence and military. The media, even today, perhaps unintentionally (with a section perhaps otherwise) provide the much needed space for those who support and believe in radical ideologies.
The civil society will also not be able to succeed, if it is buoyed with so much of anti-West, anti-Indian and multiple other “anti” sentiments. The jihadi groups and their patrons abuse this inherent sentiment to suit their purpose. While some of these sentiments are fed by different groups within the State and vested interests to perpetuate their monopoly, rest of them have been blown out of proportion by regular ill informed debates at various levels. Not only in Pakistan, but in the entire South Asian region, there have been such ill informed debates, at times carefully planted and nurtured by a select few. This vitiates the entire atmosphere and provides the space for hate and anger.
The shift in paradigm will come only when the civil society distance itself from the militant groups and their ideologies. Simply condemning violence alone will not be sufficient. A crucial first step has been taken; now the civil society has to walk the talk in Pakistan.
Is the Establishment aim at neutralizing the jihadis and their ideology, or simply want to bring them under its control?
The State has certain crucial measures during the last two months in Pakistan. The most important being the creation of military courts to deal with terrorists, banning certain militant groups and freezing the accounts of some other.
While the State seems to be serious in neutralizing those who have been attacking it, one is not sure whether the intensity and response is the same when it comes to the Afghan Taliban, Huqqani Network and the Lashkar-e-Toiba. Though statements have been made that the distinction between good and bad Taliban now cease to exist, actions during the last two months have created more confusion than providing clarity.
The State looks serious in fighting the TTP. The renewed measure as a part of its military offensive in the tribal regions and the neutralization of scores of Taliban militants belonging to the TTP clearly indicates the above.
But why is the State lukewarm in extending the same approach towards the Huqqani network and the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD)? While the TTP is being hounded in the FATA, the State has only frozen the JuD’s bank accounts; Hafiz Saeed is still being provided with State security. From analysts writing for media in Pakistan to its Supreme Court, many are confused about State’s approach towards the JuD and Huqqani network.
So, what is the new paradigm, as far as the State is concerned in fighting militancy? Is it only fighting those who have turned against and gone rogue?
Such an approach will backfire. The Establishment seems to be fighting only the symptoms of anti-State activities, and not the reasons that have provided the space for the jihadi groups to find root in Pakistan in the first place. The real problem in this context is the long term perception of India and Afghanistan by the Establishment and the use of proxies. Unless the Establishment changes this basic perception, the larger paradigm that provides a crucial space for jihadi groups is unlikely to change.
Besides the willingness, a larger question is related to the capacity of the State in Pakistan, if it decides to fight back. Unlike other States, for example Afghanistan, the capacity of the State in Pakistan has not been questioned. At least, until now. If it leaves the genie to expand further and gather a critical mass both inside and outside Pakistan, the question of capacity may also come into to the equation.
Militant Groups in Pakistan: Is the Genie willing to go back?
Perhaps, this is the most important question when people talk about a paradigm shift in Pakistan vis-a-vis the militant groups. True, there may have been external reasons for their emergence few decades ago. The State may have played a role in creating and nurturing them earlier, to be its proxies to fight the former’s battle both within and outside Pakistan.
Now, there is a realization amongst a section that the above strategy has started backfiring, there is a roll back. Will the proxies will remain committed to their patrons in the changed atmosphere? Or during the process they have developed their own objectives and fighting their own battles? Certainly the Taliban has turned back and is not willing to go down. How about the JuD and Huqqani network?
The larger problem for Pakistan will not emanate from the Master’s changed heart to put the Genie back in bottle. Rather, it will come from whether the Genie wants to go back. The situation will become worse for rest of the region, if the Genie finds the bottle small, and wants a bigger space!
Parliamentary leaders fail to arrive at consensus on delimitation legislation
Dawn, 9 November 2017 | Politics
Govt, opposition differences over census jeopardise timely polls
The News, 7 November 2017 | Politics
Rustam Shah Mohmand, “Cost of ignoring Afghanistan’s ground realities”
The Express Tribune, 5 November 2017 | Af-Pak
Raza Rumi, “Don’t turn CPEC into another holy cow. Transparency is a must”
Daily Times, 5 November 2017 | CPEC
Rejection of minus-Nawaz fomula shows PML-N’s internal strength
The News, 3 November 2017 | Politics
Security apparatus to continue its role in national interest: corps commanders
The News, 3 November 2017 | Military
Diplomatic row erupts over posting of video about Sheikh Mujeeb
Dawn, 2 November 2017 | Pakistan & Bangladesh
Chinese President Xi’s rise a boost for CPEC, causes concerns in India
The News, 26 October 2017 | Pak-China
Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi, “The options for Nawaz Sharif?”
The Express Tribune, 22 October 2017 | Politics
Mystery shrouds US drone strikes near Pak-Afghan border
Daily Times, 19 October 2017 | Drone Attacks
8 killed, 24 others wounded in blast targeting police vehicle in Quetta
Dawn, 19 October 2017 | Balochistan
Sheraz Raza, "The conundrum that is Pakistan-Russia ties"
Daily Times, 16 October 2017 | Pakistan & Russia
Shaheen Sehbai, "Options before the country are ‘very limited’"
Daily Times, 16 October 2017 | Civil-Military
Deadlock in Pak-US ties ends as both sides agree to continue talks
The News, 13 October 2017 | Pakistan & US
US-Canadian couple, three children freed from terrorist custody in Kohat
Dawn, 13 October 2017 | Extremism
If Sharif convicted, Shehbaz will be PML-N candidate for PM slot
The Express Tribune, 8 October 2017 | Politics
Raza Rumi, “Mainstreaming militants? Not without a political strategy”
Daily Times, 8 October 2017 | Politics/Extremism
US State, Defence secretaries to convey Trump’s tough message to Pakistan
The News, 8 October 2017 | Pakistan & US
Seven-hour-long corps commanders meeting discusses security situation
The News, 4 October 2017 | Military
Will resign if I can't find out who deployed Rangers at court: Ahsan
The Express Tribune, 3 October 2017 | Politics
Mubashir Akram, “From the days of Pakistani jihad incorporated”
Daily Times, 3 October 2017 | Extremism
Senator Rehman Malik, “Pak-Afghan conflict — Ray of hope from holy land of Saudi Arabia”
The News, 3 October 2017 | External Relations
Jamaat’s hesitation to quit KP govt delaying MMA’s revival: JUI-F
The News, 1 October 2017 | Politics
Raza Rumi, “Beijing has signaled. Is Islamabad listening?”
Daily Times, 1 October 2017 | Pakistan & China
Talat Masood, “Is mending relations with the US possible?”
The Express Tribune, 28 September 2017 | Pakistan & US
Sohail Warraich, “The Sharifs and the religious right”
The News, 26 September 2017 | Politics/Extremism
Dr Raza Khan, “Decline of some groups means rise of others”
The Express Tribune, 24 September 2017 | Politics/Extremism
Zainul Abedin, "The Panama drama: an unabashedly political view"
The News, 15 July 2017 | Domestic Politics
Imtiaz Gul, "Panamagate: time to face up the reality?"
Daily Times, 12 July 2017 | Domestic Politics
Aziz Ali Dad, "The sectarian spectre in Gilgit-Baltistan: Part - I"
The News, 11 July 2017 | Gilgit-Baltistan
Raza Rumi, "This summer Pakistan enters into another phase of instability"
Daily Times, 25 June 2017 | Domestic Politics
Babar Ayaz, "The good, the bad, and the ugly of the Panama Leaks"
Daily Times, 22 June 2017 | Domestic Politics
Imdad Hussain. "Pakistan left with limited options in Saudi-led Islamic military alliance"
The Express Tribune, 26 May 2017 | Pakistan and Middle East
Houbara bustard no more protected bird, govt tells LHC
Dawn, 11 February 2017, 11 February 2017 | Houbara
JI to observe ‘black day’ for FATA reforms on 16th
Daily Times, 10 February 2017, 9 February 2017 | FATA Reforms
Strict implementation of immigration laws on Afghan border
Dawn, 8 February 2017, 8 February 2017 | Af-Pak
Interior Ministry approves issue of red warrant against Altaf Hussain
Daily Times, 8 February 2017, 8 February 2017 | Politics
22 tons coal get lost on transport by the Pakistan Railway
The Nation, 7 February 2017, 7 February 2017 | Energy
Grand jirga of Khyber elders opposes FATA-KP merger
Daily Times, 7 February 2017, 6 February 2017 | FATA Reforms
Parliament should not outsource justie to the panchayats: Dawn
Dawn, 6 February 2017, 6 February 2017 | Justice
Second Edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) all set to begin
The News, 7 February 2017, 6 February 2017 | Cricket
As Ladla’s brother steps in, Rangers chief vows gang-free Lyari
The News, 4 February 2017, 4 February 2017 | Crime
Asfandyar flays Achakzai for opposing Fata-KP merger
Dawn, 4 February 2017, 3 February 2017 | FATA Reforms
Quetta commission report violates justice: ministry
Dawn, 4 February 2017, 3 February 2017 | Terrorism
India wants to presurize Pakistan through SAARC: Dawn
Dawn, 2 February 2017, 2 February 2017 | Indo-Pak
Chinese frustrated by legal hurdles surrounding OLMT
The Express Tribune, 2 February 2017, 2 February 2017 | CPEC
Work on TAPI pipeline to kick off in Pakistan this month
The Express Tribune, 2 February 2017, 2 February 2017 | TAPI
Opposition boycotts Punjab Assembly uover Hafiz Saeed`s arrest
Dawn, 1 February 2017, 31 January 2017 | Terrorism
"This (action) is part of the international conspiracy": Hafiz Saeed
The Nation, 31 January 2017, 30 January 2017 | Terrorism
Hafiz Saeed among five leaders put under house arrest
The News, 31 January 2017, 30 January 2017 | Terrorism
Court acquits 112 in case of torching Christian homes
Daily Times, 30 January 2017, 30 January 2017 | Minorities
Act against JuD or face sanctions, US tells Pakistan: The News
The News, 30 January 2017, 30 January 2017 | Terrorism
PIA needs another Rs60 bn revival plan for next two years: The News
The News, 26 Jan 2017, 26 January 2017 | PIA
Pakistan tests its first Surface to Surface ballistic missile - Ababeel
ISPR Press Release, 24 Jan 2017, 24 January 2017 | Military
"Pakistan aims for water treaty with Afghanistan": The Nation
The Nation, 23 Jan 2017, 23 January 2017 | Af-Pak
"Islamabad aims to woo new US administration, improve ties": The Nation
The Nation, 23 Jan 2017, 23 January 2017 | Pak & US
Carnage at Parachinar market; 25 killed, 87 injured
Dawn, 22 January 2017, 21 January 2017 | Terror in Kurram
China acquires strategic 40% stake in Pakistani stock exchange
MoneyControl.Com, 21 January 2017, 21 January 2017 | CPEC
Afghan transporters protest against requirment of visa documents at Torkham
Daily Times, 21 January 2017, 20 January 2017 | Af-Pak
HR groups in Punjab shut down for 'anti-state activities'
The News, 21 January 2017, 20 January 2017 | Social
India asked to stop work on Kishanganga and Ratle projects
Dawn, 21 January 2017, 20 January 2017 | Indus Waters Treaty
Pakistan will continue to fulfil its obligations: Dar
Source: The Nation, 20 January 2017, 19 January 2017 | Indus Waters Treaty
Disqualification of PM is a matter of public interest: SC
Source: Dawn, 20 January 2017, 19 January 2017 | Panama Politics
No imminent threat to Indus treaty, minister tells Senate panel
Dawn, 18 January 2017, 17 January 2017 | Indo-Pak
Al-Qaeda-like groups can raise heads again: Pakistan Ambassador to US
The News, 15 January 2017, 15 January 2017 | Pakistan and US
Two Chinese built Maritime Patrol Vessels for Pakistan
The News, 15 January 2017, 14 January 2017 | Pakistan Maritime
Separate laws to deal with terrorists,sectarian elements: Nisar
The News, 15 January 2017, 14 January 2017 | Terrorism
Chinese exports to Pakistan increase following CPEC
The News, 15 January 2017, 14 January 2017 | CPEC
“Activities of Indian RAW and NDS nexus remains a matter of deep concern to Pakistan”
MOFA Press Release, 13 January 2017, 13 January 2017 | Pakistan and Afghanistan
“Citizens will continue to disappear with impunity”: Senator
Dawn, 14 January 2017, 13 January 2017 | Disappearences
New Pak-Afghan border controls slow trade to a crawl
Dawn, 11 January 2017, 11 January 2017 | Pakistan & Afghanistan
Govt to exempt Chinese hydropower projects from sales tax
Dawn, 11 January 2017, 10 January 2017 | CPEC
Banned sectarian organisations could not be equated with other banned terrorist organisations
The Nation, 11 January 2017, 10 January 2017 | Sectarianism
Pakistan conducts the first test of Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) Babur-3: ISPR
Press Release, ISPR, 9 January 2017 | Military
Pakistan to revive the Military Courts
Press Release, Prime Minister's Office, 09 Jan 2017, 9 January 2017 | Terrorism & Military
JUI threatens agitation if decisions `imposed` on Fata people
Dawn, 9 January 2017, 8 January 2017 | FATA & KP
Chinese firm encroached on domain of policy matters: SC
The Express Tribune, 8 January 2017, 7 January 2017 | CPEC
Parliamentary parties give consent to Fata merger plan
Dawn, 7 January 2017, 6 January 2017 | KP & FATA
Ex-COAS Raheel likely to head Saudi-led military alliance
Dawn, 7 January 2017, 6 January 2017 | External
SC to ascertain 'conflict of interest' in PM's actions
Dawn, 5 January 2017, 4 January 2017 | Panama Politics
"Violence-related fatalities in Balochistan, Punjab increased in 2016"
Dawn, 4 January 2017, 3 January 2017 | Terrorism
Tribesmen protest delay in implementation of FATA reforms
Daily Times, 3 December 2017, 2 January 2017 | FATA & KP
Senators press govt to implement Quetta commission report
Daily Times, 3 January 2017, 2 January 2017 | Terrorism
Chaman-Kandahar highway blocked against closure of border
Dawn, 3 January 2017, 2 January 2017 | Pakistan and Afghanistan
First phase of census to cover 11 divisions of four provinces
Dawn, 3 January 2017, 2 January 2017 | Census