New Age Islam Edit Bureau
War by other means
Ihtasham Ul Haque
Trump on the wrong side of
Mirza Aslam Beg
Future as freedom
Syed Sikander Mehdi
Compiled by New Age Islam Edit
Pitfalls of mainstreaming
By Farrukh Khan Pitafi
can soft pedal in the realm of nomenclature by calling them militants, the
disaffected and the angry. But you cannot shy away from the fact that those who
kill innocent citizens to spread terror are nothing but terrorists.
you can call their supporters extremists, but they remain what they are: terror
apologists. Ergo, the concept of mainstreaming them falls under one rubric.
while we are at it, let’s also face the fact that mainstreaming is most likely
the right word representing what you intend to do here. A terrorist culture is
built on an ideological infrastructure. Without demolishing this
infrastructure, any attempt to bring such groups or individuals online in the
mainstream will most certainly influence moderate, if not impressionable,
minds. Hence, this stands the risk of mainstreaming terrorism itself. The word
that you are looking for is reintegration – that too after due diligence and
since there is little interest in such petty issues in our country, the random
use of terms goes unchallenged. And the loss of thousands of precious civilian
lives has not dampened the enthusiasm of those who want to see their ‘estranged
brothers’ back in positive light. Therefore, this debate has been raging behind
curtains for long before the Milli Muslim League was formed or decided to make
its debut in the NA-120 by-election.
true that proscribed organisations come in all hues. There are the ones that
are hell-bent on killing Pakistanis. Then, there are those who don’t want to
see peace in Afghanistan. There are also groups whose names India doesn’t let
us forget. Then, we have a sectarian mix and an anti-West mix. These groups
essentially draw their philosophical legitimacy from a weaponised version of
religious ideology. And since this ideology stretches the religious doctrine to
a breaking point, it should not be difficult to dismantle it. Yet, curiously
enough, we have not seen any serious attempt to deconstruct it in the 16 years
of our fight against terrorism.
easily be attributed to the lack of political courage, especially after the
assassination of Salmaan Taseer. The other reason could be the near-consensus
among the religious on not cooperating with the state to do so. But even so, the
state has many levers to be persuasive when it needs to. When the state has not
been able to convince all elements within itself that this needs to be done,
how can it convince others?
there lies the biggest problem in mainstreaming. Consider how all these
combustible materials, when put together, can cause a massive explosion. And
you can immediately understand that mainstreaming – even in the most innocuous
cases – can help slip in a few Trojan horses, biding their time and waiting
quietly for the right moment to unite with other elements to cause maximum
harm. After all, we do not have any mind-readers just to be sure. You have
enough ideological foundations, sympathisers, resources and motivation to make
this a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it is at this point that the paranoia gets
the best of you and the National Action Plan starts sounding like a tactical
instruction rather than a coherent plan.
this doesn’t mean that reintegration is an impossible task. Every other day,
authorities capture foot-soldiers belonging to various terror groups who can
easily be rehabilitated, bringing an end to the indoctrination and
regimentation of their minds. After a precautionary period, they can be
absorbed back into the normal national life. But this would involve meticulous
planning and hard work. Sadly, because this hard labour looks like too much
work, the entire idea revolves around accepting a few assurances and working
out nominal deals with proscribed organisations before letting them in.
course of action promises nothing but an absolute disaster. It needs to be
stressed here that no leader of a proscribed organisation or its poster child
deserves to be allowed back into society.
comes the matter of groups that have never attacked Pakistani citizens but were
accused of using Pakistani soil to attack other countries and were subsequently
banned internationally. Owing to a set of omnipresent conspiracy theories,
there exists enough denial in the country to breed defiance. But this defiance
is self-defeating. You cannot hope to win a war that was conclusively lost a
decade ago. You can blame governments of the past all you want, but trying to
mainstream such groups, reinvent them politically is bound to play right into
the hands of the country’s enemies who want to convince the entire world that
Pakistan promotes terrorism as a state ideology. In short, this is plainly
suicidal. Conserve some energy to fight future battles instead of squandering
it by obsessing over the past.
India-focused groups present another challenge. Unlike other militant groups,
it is not easy to dismantle their ideology, especially in the presence of a
hawkish government in New Delhi. When the Modi government constantly attacks
Pakistan verbally, diplomatically, covertly and overtly, the idea of building
bridges with the country looks like a form of appeasement. So, even if you find
a way to destroy the ideological infrastructure of other groups, with
India-specific ones you will have to be particularly careful because they can
act like horcruxes of terrorism.
National Action Plan and its precursor, the National Internal Security
Policy, envisaged the development of a
platform to deconstruct the narrative of terrorists and to come up with a
counter-narrative to combat them. Unfortunately, this glorious idea is lost in
the mist of political expediency. No one seems to be ready to dive deep into
the ocean of religious scholarship and find a lasting rebuttal of the
perversion of our faith by terrorists. This work is left to the religious
scholars who do not seem to be ready to oblige. In such a situation – and
without defanging the militant ideology – the idea of mainstreaming such groups
needs to be rethought.
By Ihtasham Ul Haque
a fascinating thing. Its nature is constant and is branded by violence. Its
character, however, keeps changing. So do the ways in which it is waged. The
state of Pakistan has been at war for the past 16 years. It may be just short
of a full-blown war but no less violent. War, as the 19th-century military
theorist Carl von Clausewitz famously put it, is simply the continuation of
politics by other means. In our dear motherland, however, it seems politics is
the continuation of war by other means. Politics here is dirty and demeaning.
It is always egocentric and on many occasions downright destructive for the
abduction of certain social media activists lately has become the talk of the
town. Nawaz Sharif in a rare statement, over his party’s official Twitter
account talked of upholding the freedom of expression and demanded the
immediate release of bloggers who were allegedly whisked away by the Federal
Investigation Agency for apparent denigration of the armed forces and the
judiciary over social media. The statement itself is blunt evidence of the
Nawaz League’s ownership of the missing ‘intellectuals’ who indulged in
unabashed vilification of sensitive state institutions in support of Nawaz.
While the deposed PM calls the acts in question a direct attack on the freedom
of speech, the interior minister seems to have dropped the pretense and agreed
that the concept must not be exploited and used against the state. The
conflicting statements are a surefire sign of diverging interests and divisions
within the party.
concept of absolute free speech is intrinsically defective in theory. In
practice, it is even more blemished and highly politicised. Pakistan is a textbook
case study. Anyone and everyone can say just about anything about anyone and
get away with it on the pretext of freedom of speech. Nowhere in the world is
the concept practised in such unbridled manner. Even the most liberal of
countries have constitutional provisions to protect the sanctity of cardinal
state institutions which invariably include the armed forces and the judiciary.
Throughout the liberal world there are libel laws, laws for defamation and
sedition, journalistic standards and rules that govern the social media. In the
land of the pure, ironically, freedom of speech is probably the only thing that
is absolutely pure.
of the PML-N, it appears, chided state institutions through an organised social
media cell run by the ousted PM’s daughter herself. The social activists were
no ordinary citizens but in fact ran their well-planned narrative in lieu of
salaries paid to them by the PML-N as per reports coming out of various
sources. These stooges were willing to wage war against their own armed forces
to seek vendetta for their leader’s dismissal at a time when they are
preoccupied with internal and external threats. Is it not exactly how the fifth
column operates: weakening defence lines by spreading disinformation and
clandestinely sympathising with enemy? How long do they believe the common man
would not take notice? Is this not treason? Is this not war against the state?
After all, it was the interior minister who explained the phenomenon terming
social media a weapon of fifth-generation warfare being used for spreading
anarchy and chaos in the country.
political mood in Islamabad is fast changing. The Senate has apparently
repented its previous sin and adopted a resolution that prohibits a
disqualified person from heading a political party. According to Punjab Law
Minister Rana Sanaullah, the former prime minister would give up party
leadership if a similar resolution is passed in the National Assembly. With
surfacing of such reports highlighting flagrant anti-state behaviour of the
ruling party’s top leadership, it is becoming increasingly difficult for even
their staunchest supporters to stand for the father-daughter duo who seem to be
arbitrarily calling the shots and disregarding the saner voices in the party.
Ahsan Iqbal’s refusal to make a statement in favour of the missing PML-N social
activists despite Nawaz Sharif’s overt support for them is a stark reminder of
often said that paid intellectuals and rented bloggers are using the medieval
principles of prejudice and hate in the garb of the liberal principle of
freedom of speech. We need legislation to rein in such ‘anti-social activists’
and teach them that the right to insult individuals or subjugate state
institutions is not unconditionally free. The case here goes beyond the defence
of law-enforcement agencies, armed forces and the judiciary. Unrestrained
speech has the capacity to generate great social upheaval, stoke sectarian
hatred, promote religious intolerance and fuel ethnic prejudices. It is evidently
the most lethal existential threat to the state. We must remember that peace
and order are not build on self-enforcing principles. They need to be organised
and guarded with fervour. Are we passionate enough?
By Mirza Aslam Beg
Secretary of States’ hop-over visit’ to Pakistan, on his way to India, was a
crude diplomatic gesture of brow-beating Pakistan. He handed over the demand
note, as confirmed by a senior US diplomat – Alice Wells: “US wants to see
practical steps from Pakistan, over the next few weeks, and not months, to use
its influence to get the Taliban to the table,… thus ensuring that its own
country is not destabilized.” Outrightly Pakistan rejected this demand because
Taliban won’t listen to Pakistan and the demand to accept India as the
Strategic Defense Partner of America, is unthinkable. Now there is a kind of
diplomatic stress between the two countries and the credit goes to President Trump
and the concept of achieving his purpose, by use of force, by whatever means
fact, Trump’s strategy is out-dated, because it is based on the post-WW-II
notion of a super-power, enjoying un-precedented military and economic power
for global domination, whereas over the period this super-power has lost its
shine, particularly after its defeat in Vietnam and Korea and the deliberate
loss of old allies and friends, such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey,
Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen, in a short period of a decade and a
half. All are Muslim countries and victims of post 9/11 Crusade. And this
decline is sharp, while the today’s international relations, both geo-political
and geo-economics dominate inter-state relations, with China and Russia
providing strategic pivot, towards which regional countries are gravitating.
of emerging global realities “Trump is doubling down on an unsuccessful war in
Afghanistan, which is a sign of insanity to do the same thing over and over
again and expecting different results.” He didn’t even bother to look at the
Soviet decision of withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, because Soviets knew
they were defeated and logic of conflict suggested a timely withdrawal. That
timely decision of the Soviets helped them make good friends of Taliban. And
now a timely withdrawal by US is not forthcoming, because of two basic reasons:
One: America hates Islamic States and Political Islamic State such as Egypt
under president Morsi, as well as a moderate Islamic State like Pakistan, of
today. Two: By retaining American influence in Afghanistan, they are hoping to
prevent formation of alliance, between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan that
could provide depth of security, to these countries. The proposal for the
formation of the said Alliance was expounded to the formation commanders and
garrison officers of Rawalpindi on August 25, 1988, as to how Strategic Depth
of Security to Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan could be achieved. This concept
was distorted by some of our own and foreign writers saying, that I had
proposed a defeatist concept of “withdrawal to Afghanistan for territorial
depth, against Indian military ingress”. This was unthinkable, because our
armed forces mission is: “Defend all territories of Pakistan and develop
counter offensive capability to carry the war into the enemy territory.” Thus,
the Offensive-Defensive Concept was developed based on our real military
capability. I spoke verbatim, as recorded by ISPR, I quote:
a matter of great satisfaction that in this hour of struggle, we are not alone.
The entire nation is with us… The second positive note which has emerged is the
heroic struggle on the north-western borders… The days of hegemony of super
powers are over and now we will witness the dawn of the supremacy of Islam. The
triumph of democracy is in sight…The three countries – Pakistan, Iran and
Afghanistan – are emerging free, strong and resilient, and are moving towards a
common destiny, to unite together and form the bastion of power – Strategic
Depth of the Muslim World. It’s a vision which must be converted into a reality.”
Indo-US collaboration against Pakistan is a failed attempt. After occupation of
Afghanistan, India was facilitated by USA and its coalition partners to
establish a vast spy network in Afghanistan, targeting mainly Pakistan. Thus
India let loose a reign of terror in Pakistan which has continued unabated. In
order to establish Indian Hegemony over the region, Afghanistan was declared as
part of South Asia and the Strategic Partnership agreement was reached in
2005/2014, with declared objective to curb and contain rising Chinese military
and economic power. These attempts failed as the Afghan Taliban defeated the
occupation forces, while the Pak Army and its Air force, dismantled Indian
terror network extending into Pakistan.
USA and India are facing serious internal problems. Trump has emerged as the
most unpopular President because of his style of governance and whimsical
decision making. Secondly, his top advisors and policy makers are the Generals
who failed to deliver in their war in Afghanistan. They can only repeat
failures and no better, and that is what precisely they are doing now. “Trump
has been tragically effective at dismantling environmental and health
regulations, as his most enduring legacy of Cancer, Infertility and diminished
IQ” (Nicholas Kristof). On the other hand India is faced with a serious
socio-political crisis of conflict between the Secularists and the
Ultra-Nationalists. Historically, such trends had emerged in India, in the
past, causing serious polycentrism, that would now be accelerating regional
drift by more than a dozen on-going insurgencies.
has faced challenges of myriad dimensions during the last decade and a half,
yet it is politically stable despite weak governance, poor decision making, and
now is focusing on the elections 2018, that would lead the nation to a robust
democratic order. Moreover, Pakistan has found its rightful place in today’s
international relations, based on geo-political and geo-economic relations –
the forceful trend sweeping the region that would actualise a peaceful
environment, without fighting a war.
— The writer, a retired 4-star General, is former
COAS, Pakistan Army.
By Syed Sikander Mehdi
country prepares itself for general elections, it invariably faces two
questions: which party will win, and who will form the government? Not
Pakistan. Here the questions that are asked are: Will general elections be held?
Will they be held on time? Will a democratic disposition be able to hold its
own? Or will a ruthless dictatorship be imposed in the name of good governance,
eliminating corruption and controlling anarchy control?
season of general elections has arrived in Pakistan. Elections are due by the
middle of next year, and all sorts of rumours about what the future holds are
making the rounds. Federico Mayor, former DG of Unesco, once observed that “the
future is freedom — for the most part, it will be exactly what we make it”.
However, Pakistan has often been denied this future. Often imposed is a dead
future proclaiming the demise of the demos (people). The quest for the future
as freedom continues.
what should be done to ensure that a dead future is not forced upon us again?
Of course, the battle for democracy has to be waged everywhere and those bent
on imposing a future which is ‘un-freedom’ should be exposed.
and Mirza left a new future waiting at the gate.
the past needs to be visited as a new journey, and ordinary people informed as
to how the future, which could have meant freedom, was bled during the early
years of Pakistan by the troika of governor general Ghulam Muhammad, Maj Gen
Iskander Mirza and Gen Ayub Khan.
Mirza — who was exiled on this day 49 years ago — and Ayub Khan were close
friends. Both hated democracy and despised politicians, both worked overtime to
engineer political instability, and disallowed the future as freedom to enter
the country. However, the fear of elections and of another future, a different
future, always hounded them. They had successfully postponed the general
elections due in 1957 and 1958, but they couldn’t postpone elections forever.
Polls were now due in February 1959.
was not sure if the new government formed after the elections would be as
submissive as the preceding ones, and if he could be re-elected president by
the new assemblies. Likewise, Ayub had his own worries. The last extension in
his service was to expire in January 1959, and a further extension was
fearful of a different future hard on their heels, both joined hands and
aborted the expected elections by imposing martial law on Oct 7, 1958,
abrogating the constitution, dismissing the central and provincial governments,
dissolving the national parliament and provincial assemblies, and abolishing
all political parties. Explaining the move to thwart the future which was so
near, Mirza observed: “The constitution of 23rd March, 1956, is not only
unworkable but dangerous to the integrity — and solidarity — of Pakistan. If we
go on trying to work it we will have to say goodbye to Pakistan” (Pakistan:
From Religion to Fascism by Muhammad Ali Siddiqi).
Ayub in his first speech after the coup said: “This is a drastic and extreme
step, taken with great reluctance, but with the fullest conviction that there
was no alternative to it except the disintegration and ruination of the
country” (The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan by Aqil Shah).
power began to grow out of the barrel of the gun of chief martial law
administrator Ayub Khan, and Mirza felt uncomfortable. This was not the future
he had designed for himself. According to Ahmed Salim in Iskander Mirza Speaks,
he attempted to regain his slipping power by declaring that martial law would
run for the shortest period, reportedly tried to get some trusted generals of
Ayub arrested (Mirza vehemently denied this charge), and initiated yet another
move to checkmate Ayub. He constituted a new council of ministers comprising
three military generals and five civilians, and nominated Ayub as prime
minister. Perhaps the aim was to quickly lift martial law and appoint a new
commander in chief to weaken Ayub’s position, and to remove him from premiership
at an opportune moment.
this was not to be. On the night of Oct 27, 1958, Ayub sent Gen K.M. Sheikh,
Gen Azam Khan and Gen W.A. Burki along with military personnel to storm
President House and obtain the written consent of the president to abdicate.
The task was accomplished swiftly and Ayub stayed in power till March 1969. All
these years, the future which was freedom kept waiting at the gate. Gen Ayub is
gone. Also gone are Gen Zia and Gen Musharraf, but the future which is freedom
still waits at the gate.