Pakistan: Jihad and future of democracy

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www.batori.inSince its independence, Pakistan failed to establish itself as a democratic state in its full sense. The very origin of Pakistan on which it was founded was religion and was always a dominant factor behind the idea of a Muslim nation or Pakistani nationalism. Throughout all its history, Pakistan had seen many ups and down in its politics and society. The very  idea of a secular and democratic Pakistan which,  the founding father of  Pakistan had dreamt about  shattered by the establishment of military dictatorship which only  brought Pakistan a decade back  to establish itself as a Democratic country.

In recent days the Religious forces in Pakistan became stronger than ever, especially after the US led coalition attack on Afghanistan. The FATA (federally administrated tribal area) became the sanctuary for all terrorist activities. The Taliban fighters from Afghanistan got a safe haven in these areas and they are controlling much of these areas despite of continues efforts by Pakistani military to free these areas from these Taliban outfits particularly the Tahriq-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Whenever military launches any operations, responses from these Taliban outfits becomes fiercer. The use of air force in response to a recent attack on Pakistani soldiers which caused the death of 20 Pakistani frontiers corps made a disaster which lead to the displacement of millions of people from these area to the other part of Pakistan which made the security issues more problematic. According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal around 5,300 people lost their life in such violence. Statements from the Taliban leaders are always stated that they are struggling to establish a “Shariah law “(religious Law) to establish their very own concept on so-called their Islamic idea of state.

There is no uniformity among the people of Pakistan regarding the Taliban issue, which causes major obstacles on the issues of conducting major anti-Taliban movement in northern tribal areas or FATA. Which is very unfortunate to Pakistan it may cause a great security & ethno-social challenge inside the state. Major opposition party lead by cricketer turned politician Imran Khan “Tehriq-e-Insaaf” supported  the negotiation talks between the government and TTP. But it is uncertain that if the talks succeed whether government will be able to implement “Sharia” in these areas or not and the problem with this negotiation is that “with whom government is going to negotiate” there is no sole representation of Taliban in Pakistan every region has its own Taliban with its own leadership, although TTP had appointed a spokesperson of his own named “ shahid -ullah-shahid” but how much he is influential inside the shura( group of elder tribal leaders) is doubtful. The problem with this talk is “seriousness of the government for this talk”. The Nawaj sharif government has appointed a representative body for the dialogues and negotiations from the government side but there is no effective delegate in this government body, there is not a single member of Nawaj sharif ministry in this group,. which questions the effectiveness of negotiations, even the Irfan khan is not among the delegates although government has suggested his name for the delegation.

Apart from these Taliban threats, Pakistan realised how deeply the fundamentalist are rooted in every section of society. The growing cases of Blasphemy in Pakistani society which are targeting religious minorities became a very common phenomenon. The intolerance towards the other religious group has increases significantly. Leaders like Salman Taseer who dared to criticised the religious intolerance and discriminatory laws like Blasphemy lost his life by his own bodyguard in 2011. This can be one example among many others which explicit the absence of any ground for secular thoughts.

The growing extreme right wing forces and support for “the fight for the cause of Islam” leading Pakistan into a condition of uncertainty where government will not be free from the influences of the theocrats and it will hamper the ability of Pakistan to take any strong decision to wipe out militancy & terrorism from the country. It’s not just north-western provinces where the terrorist groups are gaining stronghold but even in the other regions of Pakistan has recorded the presence of Taliban, regions like Punjab and Sindh has seen many Taliban outfits like “Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkare Jhangavi (LeJ). Today Taliban is no more an out side force, it has support(moral and political) from various government and judicial body inside the state itself. Jamat-e-ulema-e-Islam’s leader, whose party won 12 seats in National Assembly, Fazl-ur-Rahman stated in a press release after the death of TTP (Tahrike Taliban Pakistan) leader Hakimullah Masud in a drone attack by USA that anyone killed by USA is a martyr even if it is a dog.  In a survey most of the Pakistani favoured a “Sharia law” Islamic rule rather than a democratic government. Certainly, this is not a good sign for the future of democracy in Pakistan. It is widely discussed among Pakistanis that the withdrawal of American troops from the region will end violence and instability, but there is a little hope for that and too early to assume anything.

Md. Afroj

(The writer is a student of Masters at the Department of South Asian Studies, Pondicherry University, India. He may be contacted at afrozkhanjnu@gmail.com) 
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