Pearl Buck once quoted, 'If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday’. These words have been standing relevant for years that have passed by and continue to do so even today. Prioritizing the dangers that the globe is facing contemporarily, terrorism bags the first prize and seemingly would continue to maintain its fear and importance for generations to come.
Terrorist acts have been in existence for millennia, as early as the 1st -14th Century AD when the earliest known terrorist organization was the ‘Zealots of Judea’. It is completely inept to state that, terrorism is a concept arising from the religion of ‘Islam’. This mythical statement also tends to generalize them to the whole community and is the base for creating stereotypes.
Though the headlines created by terrorist acts have been flooding the newspaper and electronic media since 9/11 and has come to stay as another aspect of everyday news medium, the psychological fear created by the same can still be traced in not just specific regions, but the world as whole.
General statements and media interpretations make one believe that, it has sprouted from “Islam”. This to a degree may be considered acceptable but reviewing the chapters of history, one need not read between the lines to understand that the seeds of the terrorism trend of today were borne by the countries that are now crying out as a victim of the same. These countries cannot be just limited to the western powers but would also engulf Pakistan after the Lal Masjid siege. The cry babies of today may be making audacious statements about their ‘War against Terror’, but it is prudent (for them and others) to realize that it is their acts in the yesteryears which have made the planet a fertile ground for ‘Terrorism’.
With the latest Lal Masjid conflict creating a wave of protests and suicide bombings in Pakistan, some blanketed facts have come out in the open as a shameful truth. The country which was once on the verge of being declared a terrorist state is now suffering from its own creatures. Since 9/11, USA has been the most prominent country to wage a ‘War against Terror’ condoning the fact that these same organizations and so-called terrorists of today were financed and supported by it just a few decades before. Tracing back the name of Osama Bin Laden, Fazlur Rahman and organizations like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-E-Taiba, studies bring us to the era of the US supported Mujahideens and the proxy war against the Red Army of the then Soviets.
The Soviet Afghan War (1979-1989), a clash of the Soviet regulars with the rogue, indefinable and irregulars of the Afghan guerrilla force i.e. The Mujahideen. The covert war or the war by proxy was an effective political device exploited by the superpowers to contain Communism. This was not only cost effective tool but also gave legitimacy to ‘Jihad’, the same concept which haunts millions of heart and sends a shiver down the spine of many political citizens of the world. This episode was a boom period for the use of extremist form of religion which had no State borders, and no laws but its own. U.S.A assessed the importance of guerilla forces and tried to capitalize on them.
For Pakistan, this was only an experimental ground to reckon the strength and importance of irregular armies but was also perceived as a logical alternative for a country with a small armed force. Pakistan trained an estimate of 5000 Mujahideen and channeled aid to the Hazaras located in central Afghanistan. The covert war was funded almost unfathomably by the United States of America and can be considered the largest covert operation ever planned by the superpower. Pakistan’s feast with US funding the rain of arms and ammunitions was not an unreasonable or illogical one. ISI was too the gaining party with the above mentioned with the complete authority of the distribution of weapons and resources. The undying support of the CIA during the time added to the euphoria.
The glorification of Jihad and its unsounded application portrayed the war as ‘Just’ and religiously satisfying for people or potential recruits who has the slightest of doubt on the piousness of the mission. Thus, with the internationalization of the cause, there were umpteen amounts of recruits ranging from Turkey, Sudan, Bangladesh, Palestine, and indeed from all places with Islamists, who could relate themselves to the religious nature of the War and wanted to be a participant for the ‘Call for Jihad’ against the Soviets.
There was also an element to the wars which could not be considered a budding factor for the funding of the war, and this was none other than drugs and narcotics. There was a non-accountable funding of the mission by the use of drugs. Thus, the war was not only limited to the use of Jihad but also the undying use of drugs and money generated by it.
The war escalated with the success with the Afghan’s supported by its then dear friend U.S.A. the camps and madrassas became the recruitment agencies for people hailing from multiple countries. It was during this time, that the organization of Jamaat-e-Islami was thriving. Hit and run tactic was the most unbeaten ploy as the Mujahideen’s were novice when it came to frontal attack.
The ‘Mujahideen policy’ used by the U.S. to contain communism proved triumphant as the walk towards success was eventually complete. Thus, the use of Mujahideen’s through the support and training of Pakistan, U.S had nothing to regret as the war was won with almost no casualties on the U.S’s side.
Then was the era when the seeds of today’s terrorism can be vividly seen. It was reported that a major sum of the arms directed towards the Mujahideen irregular army was siphoned by the Pakistani army which added to their store of arms and artillery.
After experiencing the success of the Mujahideen’s in the war, Pakistan computed the potential of this strategy and deployed the same trained Mujahideens towards the Kashmir valley with another call for Jihad, hoping it to be an accomplishment for the second time in a row. The training took place in high spirits and the infiltration of the Indian land started from the mid-1988. This newly defined cause was not limited to India but its waves could even be felt in the autonomous region of Xinjiang. With the overt utilization of these Mujahideen’s, there was a threat on Pakistan and high probability of it being considered a ‘Terrorist State’.
With this swords hanging over the region, it withdrew its support from the organizations officially but covertly shored up the terrorist groups through retired ISI officers. This in due course led to the ‘Privatization’ of these groups with less backing with names like Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam (JUI), Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Markaze-Dawa-al-Ishad mushrooming in the region. These new groups were highly trained and skilled in their actions and had independent funding systems from abroad and home.
Over years, Pakistan has condoned the activities of the groups and maintained globally that Pakistan would never resort to any support to the groups branded as terrorist organizations. The Superpowers seemed to have been repeating the ‘Policy of appeasement’ used during the pre-second world war era. The same policy with alterations and higher degree of diplomacy is being used contemporarily.
All the terrorists groups of today are dominating the Pak-Afghan border and their tactics and strategies are coming becoming more and more heinous with the latest technology pouring up in their favor through their loyal friends in the International arena. The Mujahideens that were fashioned during the Afghan-Soviet war have now produced an undisputed tree that has its roots cleft throughout the ground of globe.
The armies rule in Pakistan is off-late suffering from the same rotten fruits that it has trained and supported in the olden times. Multiple factors that confluence together and stand responsible for the present threat of the imposition of emergency in Pakistan, is not just 'extremist's owned' (as they brand it) but also politically backed by Pakistani government (government here can be synonymous to Pakistani army) which it cannot deny. The conflict of Lal Masjid is a perfect example to cite in order to uncover the underground activities of the extremists within the political premises of Pakistan. Throughout its existence, it has enjoyed patronage from influential members of the government, prime ministers, army chiefs, and presidents. The mosque has for many years been at the centre of radical and fundamentalist teaching and has been openly propagating its pro-Taliban slant. The recovery of numerous guns and arms from the Lal Masjid, President Pervez Musharraf has been ashamed of his lenient approach in fighting against the extremists. His words on the national television, "Unfortunately we have been up against our own people... they had strayed from the right path and become susceptible to terrorism”, are nothing but a diplomatic style of face saving and showing to the world that they are with the in the ‘War against Terrorist’.
Thus, he and his still so friendly superpower should realize that, in the garb of Mujahideen’s, they had created an army of terrorists which have backfired on to themselves. The only difference between the other countries suffering from terrorist activities and Pakistan is that, the former are suffering from elements outside their country and the latter is a victim of their own malcontents.
The final question that now springs up needles me to think...
...Has the ‘Mujahideen policy’, created by America and sustained by Pakistan backfired??