This study will look at militancy as a combative, confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause. Religious groups who seek violence to spread their beliefs are militants. Militancy is challenging in the sense that it keenly inspires conflict, rather than seeking to resolve or limit the hostility and chaos that conflict creates. According to Martin Luther King, militancy seeks “to create a crisis” or “to foster tension.” Militancy stands in contrast to systems of remonstration that see their targets as prone to rational persuasion. So in turn militants are not “persuasion-oriented” but “confrontation-oriented”.
Pakistan’s History with Militancy:
Pakistan was founded on its religious individuality. It is difficult for the nation to sever ties with its religiosity. The intensity of religiosity is tied to support of militancy. During the Afghan war in the 1980s, Pakistan, along with the USA and other Western governments managed and maintained the mujahedeens who were countering the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. The Pakistani army made them proficient in military matters, the Pakistani military dictator of the time, General Zia ul Haq also enforced a nationwide Islamist revival campaign with aid and encouragement coming from Saudi Arabia.
Osama bin Laden was among as many as forty thousand ‘Islamic’ radicals which were imported from various Muslim countries, This was done in cooperation with many western countries most exclusively, the USA. These imported rebels were from many different cultural and political backgrounds ranging from Uzbekistan to Chechnya to China.
After the departure of Russian forces from Afghanistan, these well trained jihadists either stayed on in Pakistan or went back to their homelands. This further disseminated their extreme ideas and unique fighting experience. These radicals and their prodigies formed the core of Al Qaeda and its offshoots in other Muslim countries. As well as the and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
When both the Russians and Americans withdrew from Afghanistan at the same time, Islamist groups had all the space they needed Afghanistan to administer that region under whatever laws they saw fit. Al Zawahiri combined with Osama bin Laden to form Al Qaeda. At the same time the mujahedeen, divided into several factions, competing for control of Kabul. A fight for influence followed between Pakistan and Iran in Afghanistan. Pakistan found itself on the frontline for externally funded Sunni-Shia violence.
The September 11 attacks sustained by the US caused the partnership between the Islamist groups working within Pakistan and the state of Pakistan very sour, very fast. When Pervez Musharraf decided to partner with the US to oust the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Which resulted in Pakistan having to completely stop their support for Islamist groups and having to launch many military operations against them. Through thorough analysis of Musharraf’s offensive on the Islamist groups in Pakistan, it is clear to see that he selectively targeted the militants – choosing not to act against Islamists whom Pakistan thought to be “strategic assets” to be utilized as proxies against India occupied Kashmir. As the leadership of the time thought they needed some leverage in the future to negotiate with Afghan government.
During which time the state had almost complete control over the Taliban and other Islamists, which was negatively impacted and damaged after Pakistan’s support for the US in the war against terror. As a number of groups turned against the Pakistani government and carried out violent attacks on the military and civilian facilities. The problem remains a threat for Pakistani establishments. These militant groups are intent on imposing the Islamic law, i.e. Shariah in Pakistan.
The Shariah ideology shows clear popularity and support among the Pakistani population. As the Islamic clergy from all sects are demanding the same, these include the leadership of popular Islamic political parties.
With al Qaeda not as strong or as influential as it once was in the region, and the Taliban splitting into various offshoots due to a leadership conflict, Islamist groups are rapidly creating incursions into the country. The turncoats from the original Taliban have found their way to mainstream political parties in the past few years. As is an open secret the Haqqani Network is considered to be collaborating and working very closely with Islamabad.
The recent dissemination and escalation of militant movements across the Muslim world has been brought about by three dynamics. The first being the Western attempt to subjugate dictatorial regimes in Muslim states like Libya, Egypt and Syria, which made way for more Islamist groups. The second being the vulnerability of most Muslim states as their law and order capabilities and their intelligence outreach sometimes lack behind the initiative shown by these enthusiastic militant groups, the tolerance shown by political leaders in regards to extremist movements in fear of their own religion being called under question. Finally, the external support of some of these groups, like the IS and TTP.