By Noor Dahri
June 20, 2018
Part One Here)
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
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.