Written by Sajjad Shaukat
In the past era, the two warring parties used to follow the rules of the game and Geneva Conventions, while knowing each other’s target. Contrarily, war against terrorism is quite different, as it is against an invisible, mysterious and merciless enemy which does not respect any rule. It is a war in which offence knows its target, but defence does not know.
In this regard, during the last ten years, Pakistan which has become special arena of this new style war has been facing terror-activities such as suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings, ruthless beheadings of the innocent people, assaults on security personnel and prominent religious figures. Besides blowing children schools and attacking the female teachers in order to deny education to girls, the militants also targeted mosques, Imambargahs, mausoleums, and disgraced dead bodies. Their nefarious acts resulted into killings of several persons in Pakistan.
Besides other cities of Pakistan, especially in Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa, Balochistan and Karachi, these terrorists have accelerated their anti-social, undemocratic and un-Islamic practices where their subversive activities continue unabated.
However, their merciless acts could be judged from a recent video which was uploaded by Rasool Jan who had joined the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2008, and left the TTP after having seen the acts of barbarism by the thugs. They had decapitated their victims and played soccer with the heads chopped by the TTP Commander of Matini named Jangraiz Khan. This shows insurgents’ disrespect of human life and their lack of knowledge about Islam. We hope that after watching the video, the Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Syed Munawar Hassan would change his concept, as he evolved a new theory on Shahadat (Martyrdom) in relation to the TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud who was killed in a drone attack, last year. It is also expected of leaders like Imran Khan to review policies about the TTP.
Undoubtedly, in our country, the victims of terror attacks and suicide bombings have been innocent men, women and children. Their families mourn and raise a question asking for what crime their loved ones were punished in a way—that the scattered pieces of their dead bodies were assimilated to bury. Regrettably, those entities which try to justify terrorism and suicide bombings in the name of Islam are misguiding the people, while these ruthless acts are clearly against the teachings of Islam.
In this context, during a lecture in Riyadh in December 2013, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh branded suicide bombers as “criminals” who would go to “hell.” He described suicide bombers as “robbed of their minds…who have been used (as tools) to destroy themselves and societies.” In February 2010, Sheikh denounced terrorism as un-Islamic and condemned the killing of civilians, saying such attacks have nothing to do with the Muslim religion.
Recently, while condemning the inhuman activities of the insurgents, particularly by those of the TTP, more than 100 Islamic scholars clarified in their joint fatwa (edict) and separate statements that “killing of innocent people, target killings and suicide bombings including sectarianism are against the spirit of Islam…the terrorists’ self-adopted interpretation of Islam was nothing but ignorance and digression from the actual teachings of the religion.
In fact, Islam is a religion of universal application, as it emphasizes peace, democracy, moderation and human rights including tolerance of political groups, religious communities and sects which are in minority in a country. In this connection, the Constitution of 1973 which was unanimously adopted, clearly states that Pakistan is basically a democracy guided by the Islamic principles and values—no law would be made contrary to Quran and Sunnah.
Notably, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his sermon at Hajjatul Wida issued directions for protection of life, property and dignity of the whole mankind. The sermon became a charter of democracy which was included in the constitutions of the western elected governments in one way or the other.
While addressing the Constituent Assembly on August, 11 1947, Quaid-i-Azam who wanted Pakistan as a democratic state, said that he did not want Pakistan to be a theocratic state. He wanted Pakistan to be a liberal, secular and progressive state where both Muslims and non-Muslims were treated as citizens of equal status.
Nevertheless, Islam considers killing one innocent person equal to murdering the entire humanity, while Jihad is a sacred obligation, but its real spirit needs to be understood clearly, as murdering innocent women and children is not Jihad. These Taliban and their banned affiliated groups are defaming Islam and are weakening Pakistan. These miscreants who have been carrying out ferocious attacks, also take pride in claiming the responsibility for the same. Now, people from all segment of life and majority of politicians want that a handful of terrorist elements must not be allowed to dictate their agenda and to impose their self-perceived ideology on the majority of Pakistanis.
Taking cognizance of the mysterious and merciless enemy, Pak Army which changed professional priorities, has declared the internal threats such as anti-state terrorist groups as major challenge to the country. In this context in January 2013, the former Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani stated that the country was pitched against the faceless enemy, adding that the present spectrum of threats could be defeated through collective national efforts in which the armed forces had a pivotal role to play.
On January 6, 2014, Kayani’s successor Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif who paid rich tributes to the sacrifices and valour of the soldiers of Pak Army, martyred in the ongoing war on terror said that the nation was proud of them. He also appreciated the determination of the security forces in their fight against the invisible enemy.
Unfortunately, no previous government formulated any counter-terrorism policy. In this respect, the present government did issue three ordinances recently which are before the National and the Senate—yet to take a concrete form of law. In this regard, the government has announced its strategy to start peace talks with the militants and in case of failure; it has decided to take military action against them. But on the other side, TTP and their affiliated militant outfits have repeatedly been rejecting government’s offer of peace dialogue. Therefore, controversial viewpoints are being projected by media regarding the faceless enemy of the country.
Nonetheless, it is due to delay in formulation and implementation of counter-insurgency policy that these terrorists who continue their acts of sabotage have been emboldened by the statements of some political and religious leaders. As it is a joint war of the nation and security forces, it certainly demands a serious unified action and crackdown to root out the terrorists including their internal and external supporters. Thus, innocent lives of people can be saved and peace can be restored in country which has already been facing multi-faceted crises of grave nature. For the purpose, every patriot citizen of Pakistan must show solidarity with the armed forces and other law-enforcing agencies in order to cope with the insurgents.
Moreover, our rulers must carry out reforms of Madrassas, and ensure that foreign aid to these religious institutions is provided only through the approval and consent of the government. This will automatically block the way of proxy wars fought by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran at Pakistani soil, using people of Pakistan just as the fodder of these wars. The government should also monitor the literature published by different sects and their affiliated religious institutions or Madrassas, and those found guilty of spreading hateful communication must be brought to books.
The right hour has come that Pakistan’s media, politicians and leaders of religious parties including security forces must show practical unity against these zealots who seek to create anarchy in the country to accomplish their self-motivated designs.
Especially, counter-terrorism strategy must be enacted without losing more time, while our media must show realistic approach by pointing out that it is collective war of everyone.
No doubt, different war needs a concrete unified front of all the segments of society, which is essential to defeat the mysterious and merciless enemy of Pakistan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations