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Mainstreaming Terror

As Pakistan has discovered, the process further radicalises society, undermines state

Written by Khaled Ahmed | Published: October 7, 2017 12:20 am
pakistan, paksitan terror, pakistan military, hafiz saeed, Milli Muslim League, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Lashkar-e-Tayba , JEM, nawaz sharrif, pakistan nuclear program  The non-state actors have returned from Pakistan’s covert war to trouble a state that has lost its writ to their localised tyranny.

It is now certain — unless Pakistan’s powers-that-be intervene — that the process of “mainstreaming” or deradicalising of Pakistan’s proxy warriors recommended by retired military officers figuring on TV talkshows has been shipwrecked. The Foreign Office under PMLN foreign minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif has decided that Hafiz Saeed’s Milli Muslim League (MML) should not have taken part in the NA-120 by-polls bagging 5,822 votes and beating at least one mainstream party, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party.

The Foreign Office has followed up on the letter of the Interior Ministry under PMLN Minister Ahsan Iqbal in answer to the query sent by the Election Commission of Pakistan on whether the MML should be allowed to take part in the by-election. The Interior Ministry said: “There is evidence to substantiate that the Lashkar-e-Tayba (LeT), the Jamaat ud Dawa and Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) are affiliates and ideologically of the same hue, and [therefore] the registration of the MML is not supported”.

This was new in Pakistan. The line to take heretofore was that Lashkar-e-Tayba had miraculously metamorphosed into Jamaat ud Dawa that only did education and charity work. This was accepted by Pakistan’s judiciary and no one could hint otherwise without being reprimanded or threatened. Hafiz Saeed and his “charity” organisations including hundreds of schools and colleges are the prime example of “mainstreaming” of an outlawed organisation by Pakistan. Its negative fallout was also endured, like the running of private courts under “Islamic law”. What has been highlighted by a lame-duck PMLN government is the negative consequence of what is called “mainstreaming”: Instead of de-radicalising the declared terrorists the process further radicalises society and undermines the power of the state.

It was said on TV talkshows that PM Sharif had heard of mainstreaming and had even received a proposal but sat on it till he was kicked out of office. His fear was genuine. But why did he balk at mainstreaming whenhe had allowed it in Punjab to the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba? It appears he had decided to take a stand because appeasement had not yielded good results: Mainstreaming simply allowed more space to the offender.

But his rump party, still ruling, wanted to retain the populist tinge of anti-Americanism as it bucked the jihadi state. Pakistan’s “consensual” foreign policy response to President Donald Trump’s critique of its terrorist “safe havens” is based on the presumption of a “fatal foreign policy blunder” — that of joining America’s war against terrorism. When General Zia joined the “deniable” war against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, no one thought it was a blunder. When America went to the UN on the issue, it found India missing. That was enough for Pakistan: India was left out of the most powerful consensus against the existence of the Soviet Union.

The general-president in Islamabad got the free space to push forward Pakistan’s “nuclear programme” that had become the central point of its India-centric nationalism. From Pakistan’s control of the anti-Soviet covert war in Afghanistan sprang the covert jihad of Kashmir. It was not a “blunder” to have joined “America’s war”; it was a boon.
No one but Pakistan is to blame. Least of all America, on whose money Pakistan got back the equilibrium it had lost by overturning democracy and killing an elected prime minister. The non-state actors have returned from Pakistan’s covert war to trouble a state that has lost its writ to their localised tyranny. It “mainstreamed” Sipah-e-Sahaba by renaming it Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat in South Punjab and let ex-ISI chief Hamid Gul “mainstream” the rest through the Defence of Pakistan Council now in the control of a “charity” warlord on the UN’s list of wanted terrorists.

The writer is consulting editor,  ‘Newsweek’ Pakistan

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More From Khaled Ahmed
  1. G
    Gurpreet Kaur
    Oct 8, 2017 at 2:52 am
    Every day you pick up a newspaper there is news of Mohamed followers exploding bombs or shooting down innocents in some part of the world. Why would anyone willing follow this ideology?
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    1. S
      seshan
      Oct 8, 2017 at 2:41 am
      Where is tolerance, secularism and equality in Mohamed's religion?
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      1. S
        seshan
        Oct 8, 2017 at 2:41 am
        Mainstreaming terror? Where is mainstream Islam? Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Libya...?
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        1. J
          Jawad
          Oct 7, 2017 at 11:33 pm
          You have been writing very good article. Why dont you write something about Indian society where rape is rampant, corruption is reaching its peak, saffronization is taking charge of everyone, minorities are being eliminated, hate and intolerance has been examplary. Muslims are being treated worse than animals and all of them are considered as traitor and terrorist. Please write something on it
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          1. Kris Tuli
            Oct 8, 2017 at 1:47 am
            JAVAD BHAI IS SO WORRIED ABOUT MUSLIMS IN INDIA------WHERE THEIR NUMBER HAS GONE UP EXPONTIONALLY-----WHEREAS IN PAKISTAN MINORITIES, HINDUS/SIKHS/CHRISTIANS HAS DRASTICALLY GONE DOWN FROM 20 TO 2 DUE TO ETHNIC CLEANSING REASONS!!! SURPRISINGLY---NOW EVEN ROHINGAYS MUSLIMS, BESIDES LAKHS OF BANGLADESHI MUSLIMS, ARE INSISTING OF BEING SHELTER IN INDIA !!! CHECK FACTS BEFORE PLEADING FOR MUSLIM'S CLAIM IN INDIA ?
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            1. S
              seshan
              Oct 8, 2017 at 2:40 am
              Sunni Muslims just blew up two dozen other Muslims in Pakistan 2 days ago. Why you say Hindus are intolerant?
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                NLS
                Oct 9, 2017 at 1:40 pm
                You want a Pakistani journo to write in Newsweek Pakistan about India? Your pig mentality is out in the open. Muslims are breeding and exploding in numbers in India. Yes, minorities are eliminated in India, but that is in a state like J K where in some districts, local fanatic Muslims are driving out native Hindus to rest of India or killing or converting them mercilessly (same in some pockets of Bengal and Kerala too). Corruption in India is steadily decreasing (albeit slowly), not increasing. Rape happens everywhere including India - but it is not increasing either, it is simply being reported more due to 24 x 7 media. Stop being a pig and become a human being. Do "something about it".
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                Bare Sarkar
                Oct 7, 2017 at 9:47 pm
                So much digging the grave. Too bad the other side has only ashes. Nobody gives a F of these figures in Pakistan. Pakistan is getting ready to lynch Yadev. Life goes on.
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                1. R
                  Ramesh Nittoor
                  Oct 7, 2017 at 10:12 pm
                  We need to respect the judicial process of Pakistan first, if we are to expect justice to be done for officer Yadav. Like all other facets of development, be it delivery of civic services, or education or public health, or physical infrastructure, justice dispensation on both sides is still falling short. While seeking justice, the shortcoming of both sides need to be recognized. This fairness criterion, given surcharged atmosphere, is not easy to implement. Mahatama, seeking fairness for Pakistan paid for it with his life, and officers, intellectuals, journalists on both sides find it difficult to vocalize it against the current trend where even sporting events can be held. A way has to be found to buck this trend and the best way to start, is perhaps शिष्टाचार, i.e. as Munna Bhai says in the movie, विनम्रता.
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                    Ramesh Nittoor
                    Oct 7, 2017 at 10:16 pm
                    Formalization policy is required not just for Indian economy, it is also needed for normalcy between India and Pakistan.
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                      Thrinethran T
                      Oct 7, 2017 at 11:52 pm
                      Others may have been tempted to exploit this explosive tail of radicalism, militarism and feudalism, but only a movement of their own can attempt to separate the molecules, maybe of isolated readers of this columnist. Blow-up now appears much more probable.
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