PFS 13: Pakistan, Jihad and Terrorism

Chapter 13


When it was declared by the US Treasury department that two thirds of all terrorist groups had a link with Pakistan, the statement came as sweet music to the ears Indians who have been fighting terrorism from Pakistan for over a decade (118).

About two-thirds of all designated terrorist groups in the world have a Pakistani connection, according to the U.S. Treasury Department.

The statement was a vindication of long-standing Indian concerns. Since 1989, India had been ploughing a lonely furrow in the diplomatic capitals of the world calling attention to Pakistan’s role in terrorism. The terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001 in the US, in which aircraft were hijacked and crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington were a wake-up call to the somnolent and blinkered intelligence communities of the West about the deep changes taking place in Pakistan.

A charming tale for children is told in an animated film called “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” featuring Walt Disney’s cartoon character Mickey Mouse. The sorcerer (magician) is Mickey himself and has the task of drawing water from a well to fill a tub. Being too lazy to do the job himself, the sorcerer uses his magic powers to make a broom grow hands and legs to draw water to fill the tub. As Mickey relaxes and falls asleep the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the magic broom, working tirelessly, transfers enough water to cause a flood and does not stop. A panicky Mickey wakes up and chops the magic broom into small pieces but each piece then becomes a new apprentice that carries water and the flooding starts to get out of control.

Pakistan and jihad are like the story of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. The Pakistani army tried to use jihad to do it’s work but jihad, and terrorism associated with jihad now has a life of its own and may be getting out of control of the Pakistani army.

Jessica Stern, an expert on terrorism wrote (119):

Pakistani militant groups are killing civilians and engaging in terrorism in Indian-held Kashmir under the guise of holy war. The government in Islamabad supports these militants and their religious schools as cheap ways to fight India and educate Pakistan’s youth. But this policy is creating a culture of violence that exacerbates internal sectarianism and destabilizes the region. Without change, this monster threatens to devour Pakistani society.

Islamic scholars, especially from Pakistan, have repeatedly tried to point out that jihad is not terrorism. It is stated that jihad is an internal struggle and not external violence. But this assertion goes against the facts on the ground. Terrorism and senseless violence are being routinely committed in the name of jihad. In the Pakistani context, terrorism and jihad are one and the same. In his study of jihadi groups in Pakistan, Ehsan Ansari says of jihad (120):

various Islamic groups have been interpreting it to mean ‘holy war’ against everything the perceive as being ‘non Islamic’

An interview with a leading Pakistani expert on jihad, Arif Jamal, was published by the Asia Times online. Jamal has this to say about jihad (121):

The main objective of jihad even today is to defeat the infidels and establish Islamic states all over the world.

One of the ideological founding fathers of Pakistan, Maulana Maududi, placed a great emphasis on jihad, (120) so Pakistanis are not strangers to the concept of jihad. And with jihad being defined as holy war to defeat infidels, acts of terrorism are considered normal and par for the course by a large number of Pakistanis. The extent to which the system to promote violent jihad against non-Muslims has spread in Pakistan may be gauged from the following reports:

Terrorism expert Jessica Stern writes (119):

Only about 4,350 of the estimated 40,000 to 50,000 madrasahs in Pakistan have registered with the government... Madrasahs are the supply line for jihad...

A report from the US council of Foreign Relations said:

According to The Washington Post, some 7,000 madrasas currently operate in Pakistan, with enrollment at more than 650,000 students. Pakistani officials estimate that 10 to 15 percent of the madrasas in Pakistan promote extremist ideologies.

The New York Times reported on May 27, 2002:

there are as many as 500,000 members of jihadi - Muslim holy war organizations - in Pakistan, including many thousands committed to the cause of forcing India out of the sector of Kashmir that it controls.

Jihad became a driving force in Pakistan under General Zia ul Haq in the 1980s.

Quoting Jessica Stern (119):

Pakistani dictator General Mohammad Zia-ul-Haq promoted the madrasahs as a way to garner the religious parties’ support for his rule and to recruit troops for the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan.

This is supported by a report in the Asia Times (122):

The jihadi outfits were in fact a part of the ISI’s operations and the brainchild of late dictator General Zia ul-Haq and General Akhtar Abdul Rehman. The purpose was to develop a para-military force that would assist the Pakistan army in the event of war.

Jihad in Pakistan received a lot of funding from the US and Saudi Arabia. Stern reports that Pakistan received US $ 3.5 billion from these countries in the 1985 to 1989 period. Jihad became an important business in Pakistan, with funds coming in from diverse sources such as Libya, Iraq, Iran and other Gulf states. Along with the money came guns and drugs, mainly heroin, to fund the US backed war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. With US arms, Saudi funds and Jihad recruits from Pakistan, the Soviet Union was put under sufficient military pressure to withdraw from Afghanistan, paving the way for the Pakistan sponsored Taliban to form a government in Afghanistan.

Tariq Ali wrote in The Independent of the UK (123):

religious fundamentalism is the legacy of a previous military dictator, General Zia-ul-Haq...During his rule (1977-89), a network of madrassahs (religious boarding schools), funded by the Saudi regime, were created...The 2,500 madrassahs produced a crop of 225,000 fanatics ready to kill and die for their faith when asked to do so by their religious leaders. Dispatched across the border by the Pakistan Army, they were hurled into battle...The Taliban creed is an ultra-sectarian strain, inspired by the Wahhabi sect that rules Saudi Arabia...The Taliban could not, however, have captured Kabul on their own ..They were armed and commanded by “volunteers” from the Pakistan Army

For the Pakistani army, control of Afghanistan with its puppet, the Taliban government was a double blessing. The forces of jihad provided a huge supply of trained and experienced soldiers to fight India in a low cost war. The Pakistani army could describe the jihadi-terrorists as freedom fighters and deny any link with them, while Pakistan claimed to provide only moral and diplomatic support to them.

Meanwhile Afghanistan itself was seen by Pakistan as strategic depth - that is, if India ever attacked Pakistan, Pakistani forces and leaders could withdraw into Afghanistan and continue to fight. Afghanistan also served as a safe place to continue to train jihadis to fight Pakistan’s war against India.

RAND, a US based non-profit organization that helps policy and decision making, carried the following passage in a commentary (124):

Sponsoring militancy in Kashmir is regarded as a relatively cheap and effective way of offsetting existing power symmetries (essentially through the philosophy of a ‘war of a thousand cuts’) while simultaneously ... ensuring that Pakistan has sufficient strategic depth to undertake a protracted conventional war on the subcontinent, should this ever become necessary.

A report in the New York Times (27th May 2002) describes how the jihadis from Afghanistan were applied against India:

drawing on the 80,000 fighters whom Pakistan had trained and armed to fight the Soviet forces in Afghanistan...Pakistan’s military and intelligence services struck upon the idea of employing jihadis to wrest control of the Kashmir from India. “We have fought three wars with India and have not won even one of them,” said an expert on the country’s jihad movements. “The success of the jihadi strategy in Afghanistan compelled the generals to try it on India, too. The Kashmir jihadis are our cannon fodder because they are willing to die for their cause in a way that no paid soldiers would.”

And even today as Pakistani jihadis continue to be used as cannon fodder against India, the recruitment has to go on. Jihad is advertised in Pakistan as a career path to follow. Shahid Nadeem wrote in the Daily Times of Pakistan (125):

The moment we left Fortress Abbottabad, it was jehadi territory. Wall chalking after wall chalking advertised jehadi outfits and announced recruitment for jehadi fighters. Just a few kilometers from the Havelian cantonment, there are slogans such as Jehad is the shortest route to Paradise and Contact us for commando Jehadi training. Walls between Havelian and Haripur are full of jehadi slogans and adverts

Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani scientist and columnist wrote (126):

Islam, Pakistan, Jihad became emblazoned on banners at Pakistani army recruitment centers, ... A new ethos was created; this was to be an army not just for Pakistan, but for the greater glory of Islam.

Jihad has been made attractive and financially rewarding. The rewards of waging jihad include the following, among more worldly rewards (127):

The mujahideen were assured of entering Paradise before the first drop of their blood fell to earth. The Holy Scriptures of Islam also say that houris [beautiful virgins of the Koranic Paradise] come down to Earth to take the spirit of the mujahid who is about to die before the first drop of his blood falls to earth. The martyrs are promised 72 houris in Paradise. These houris are more beautiful than all the beauties of the world combined.

There are salary and pension rules in place as well. A RAND report quotes Indian Intelligence estimates of the budget of the Pakistani agency responsible for training and coordinating jihad-terrorist action in India the so called Inter Services Intelligence or I.S.I. (124):

annual ISI expenditure to the main militant organisations runs to between US$125 and $250 million a year. These funds are used to cover salaries for fighters (which run from 5,000 to 10,000 rupees a month), support to next of kin, cash incentives for high-risk operations and retainers for guides, porters and informers.

Appendix 4 reproduces an article carried in the online paper Mid-Day listing details of incentives and salaries offered to terrorists from Pakistan. The article is revealing in the extent to which Pakistan has been organizing and funding terrorists who have long been said to receive only moral and diplomatic support from Pakistan.

With jihad and terrorism being Pakistan’s main industry, the effect on India has been murderous.

A paper published by the South Asia Analysis Group (SAAG) carries examples of newspaper headlines resulting from terrorist acts sponsored by Pakistan in India (128). A few samples are quoted below:

  • “Suspected Islamic militants axed to death six members of a shepherd’s family overnight. The attackers killed four women and two children, the officer said.”

  • “Militants slit the throats of two women, shot dead another person and set off two explosions damaging a bridge “

  • “Terrorists have slit the throats of two of the four policemen abducted after the attack on a police post in Udhampur on Sunday.

Statistics of deaths of Indians in Kashmir show that over 17,000 civilians have been killed by Pakistani trained terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir from 1990 to 2003.

Over the same period Indian security forces have intercepted and killed 17,000 terrorists who were found committing acts of terrorism or infiltrating into India from Pakistan, along with the staggering recovery of over 27,000 assault rifles and machine guns, and over 59,000 hand grenades, 6 million rounds of ammunition and 34,000 kilograms of explosives (129).

The US army discovered in Vietnam that groups of armed men carrying machine guns and explosives, hiding in jungles in mountainous regions cannot be fought with tanks and attack aircraft. Men have to be met by men in deadly face to face encounters at the end of long vigils or cordon and search operations. The US in Vietnam had the luxury of being able to withdraw from Vietnam, but Indians do not have the option of withdrawing from their own land. Terrorism, with hundreds of thousands of jihadis entering from Pakistan required a robust response, and India met the threat by building a powerful counter-insurgency apparatus, and by starting to fence the India-Pakistan boundary where possible.

As the Indian strategy proved effective, jihadis started getting eliminated in increasing numbers, and the average life-span of a jihadi-terrorist entering India from Pakistan was reduced to weeks or months rather than years (130). One Indian army major is quoted in an interview as saying (131):

Once somebody picks up the gun then his family knows that it is only a matter of days before they hear that he has been killed in an encounter. We put the average lifespan of a terrorist at two-and-half years. Within this period we are bound to eliminate him.

This seems to have had a significant effect on the morale of Pakistan’s army backed jihadi-terrorist apparatus, because the Pakistani government started protesting against the presence of large numbers of Indian counterinsurgency personnel within India, and diplomatic protests grew shriller as Indian security forces chalked up success after success.

In many areas, terrorists from Pakistan were unable to enter India at all or were able to infiltrate through in the smallest numbers. A backlog of violent, trained and indoctrinated terrorists built up in Pakistan, and gradually, these terrorists began to target other nations of the world.

Once again, the only country that tried to alert the world about the global terrorist threat emanating from Pakistan’s jihad factory was India, but Indian information fell on deaf ears, until the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the US. That woke up the intelligence communities of the world with a jolt. Since then terrorist links leading back to Pakistan have been found in countries like Burma, Nepal, Chechnya, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Yemen, Mongolia, Kuwait, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Russia, Turkey, Latvia, Australia, UK, Canada, Indonesia and the Philippines. (119,132). A detailed study exists in an online portal of the evidence of Pakistani links to terrorism against the US, including links to the September 11th attacks (133).

Pakistan has now become the home base of global terrorism. Terrorism Central would not be an inappropriate name for Pakistan, and it is by no means certain that anybody in Pakistan can control the forces that have been unleashed. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice is out of control. The entire world, and Pakistan itself is being targeted by the Islamist groups spawned and nurtured by the Pakistani army and its intelligence cell, the I.S.I.

In an article on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, the magazine India Today, referring to the L-e-T (Lashkar-e-Tayeba), a powerful and deadly Pakistan based jihad group, had this to say in its December 2003 edition (132):

There is a terrible price to pay for this facilitation because the same forces that drive jehad in Jammu and Kashmir drive it in other lands too...Indian authorities reckon that groups like the LeT could, in time, become more dangerous. Not only would they become too large for the ISI to manage but also their strong links with the underworld would create a sort of double whammy.

This view is echoed by one of India’s premier anti145 terrorism experts, K.P.S. Gill, who warned (134):

There is now mounting evidence of a loss of control as these autonomous religious groups challenge, not only their Army and ISI handlers, but the Government itself.

In an indication of increasing international understanding of how jihad threatens to eat up Pakistan, a report carried by RAND said (124):

it is no longer apparent that the army or ISI exercise complete control over the proxies they have helped to create, some of which are now openly talking about fomenting a fundamentalist revolution in Pakistan itself.

In December 2003, General Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan survived two attempts to assassinate him that occurred within days of each other (135, 136). The fact that the route of the motorcade he was travelling in was known to the people who wanted to kill him suggests that someone close to General Musharraf was involved in these attempts. In an interview quoted in the BBC (137), Musharraf blamed the Al Quaeda for attempting to assassinate him. Other reports too have pointed to Islamist forces within Pakistan as being responsible for wanting to replace General Musharraf. Although the first of the two assassination attempts was thought to have been stage managed by Musharraf’s supporters to win greater sympathy for him (138), the second one, a suicide bombing involving multiple bomb laden trucks was a very real indicator of the sort of forces that exist in Pakistan today.

These forces will not be easy to eliminate. Apart from multiple Islamist groups, Pakistan is awash with weapons. There are an estimated 18 million illegal firearms in Pakistan, in addition to 2 million registered ones (139).

Pakistan is home to a Kalashnikov culture with hundreds of firearm manufacturing workshops making weapons, including inexpensive clones of the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, a reliable weapon of choice for terrorists, being able to spray a high volume of fire at targets. In a coherently functioning nation-state, the government retains coercive power. That means that the government, (the army, in Pakistan’s case) retains the armed power to suppress and control all other groups. But that monopoly over coercive power may have slipped out of the hands of the Pakistani army, into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists in Pakistan.

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