Will Pakistan abandon export of Jihadi warriors?

Written By: Dr Shabir Choudhry

Predicament in which Pakistan finds itself, one can trace its history back to country’s unprovoked attack on Jammu and Kashmir State on 22 October 1947.

On 6 September 2017, the Army Chief of Pakistan, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, while paying tribute to martyrs of 1965 war said: “Let us create a Pakistan where the use of strength is in accordance with the law and Constitution and is in the hands of the state.” 1

I commend the General for saying this. However, it is sad to note that throughout chequered history of Pakistan, State either directly or through use of jihadi warriors have advanced militant policies and called it a national interest.

In this regard, they did not respect Pakistani constitution, international covenants, obligations to the UN or bilateral agreements. I just want to remind the General (because Pakistani text books and distorted history omit many bitter facts) that despite the Standstill Agreement with State of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistani officers in name of Jihad attacked a vulnerable neighbour, in which tens of thousands of innocent people were killed and women raped.

This attack, known as tribal invasion, also culminated in to the first India Pakistan war to capture Jammu and Kashmir. It forced the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir to seek help and accede to India. Thankfully, the accession was made conditional; and people of Jammu and Kashmir had to take the final decision on it. Furthermore, it internalised the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, made it part of the Cold War; and forcibly divided between India and Pakistan.

This jihad Pakistan started in October 1947, as a foreign policy tool, has not ended in Jammu and Kashmir; and we are still suffering on both sides of the divide since 1947. Encouraged by this achievement, Pakistani statecraft started exporting jihad in other countries, which even include China, a country with which Pakistan has a friendship higher than Himalayas and sweeter than honey.

It was also music to my ears that the learned General, while referring to the Jihadi forces, said:

“I would like to tell misguided people that whatever you are doing is not jihad but fasaad. Your country and your people are being hurt the most by your actions…Not only is the entire country paying the price of the fire you have set, but our enemies are also taking advantage of the situation.”

I say with respect that when I and many other people with vision and understanding challenged what these private armies were doing; and how they were harassing citizens and harming cause of Jammu and Kashmir, we were called: anti -Pakistan, anti – Islam, anti – Jihad and pro India.

I know, no one will dare say to you what they said to us, but doesn’t this establish that we were correct in our analyses. Those who castigated us and victimised us were wrong and out of step with geo political situation. Is it not time that they should change their hitherto policy and rectify all wrong doings?

Once again, while referring to the jihadi warriors, the General very daringly and realistically said: “… A monopoly over violence should only be the prerogative of the state.”

Respectable General, this is extremely important. You are hundred percent correct on this. However, is it not bit late in the day to say this? In any case, who has set up these private armies which are used as proxies of the state to bleed Pakistan’s neighbours and advance the Pakistani agenda.

May be, I am wrong. Perhaps, it is still not too late to rectify blunders of the past. State has power and ability to properly dismantle these jihadi or militant infrastructures. For the sake of peace and stability of Pakistan and peace and cordial relationship in South Asia, it is imperative that Pakistan root out militancy, block sources that promote extremism, militancy and religious intolerance.

What Pakistani statecraft, religious groups, political parties and ‘foot soldiers’ have been denying is known to nearly all the countries and international organisations. A Pakistani writer Khurram Husain, in his article, ‘The wall of Brics’ wrote:

 ‘Our state has come to be virtually held hostage by a reality that we have been denying in almost every forum around the world. This reality is that within Pakistan, as a matter of official policy, violent militant groups have been nurtured, trained, supported and nestled within the general population for use as assets in an underground geopolitical game that we have tried to play in the region. 2

Pointing out the wrong doings is the first step to rectify things. However, it is sad that in Pakistan those who dare to challenge the status quo, or point out wrong doings of those who are perceived as a state within a state, they are castigated as ‘anti – Pakistan’ and ‘traitors’.

Besides this, in view of some of the indications and explanations that have come of out of Islamabad make me rather apprehensive that perhaps powers that be are still not prepared to dismantle the militant infrastructure. I recall statements and promises made by the then Army Chief and President of Pakistan, General Musharaf. He also declared that militant infrastructure has been dismantled; and that Pakistani soil and areas under their control will not be used against any neighbour.

What we have witnessed since that statement is known to the world. Not only the infrastructure was intact, militants appeared to be more resourceful, more powerful and more effective in their missions.

After the BRICS declaration, there was some restlessness in Islamabad. However, to say that some countries are ‘biased against us’ indicates that they are still not understanding the severity of the situation; and not accepting that there is a situation in Pakistan that concerns the world community, especially neighbours.

Also, to point out that this declaration is only echoing the UN Security Councils statement made many years ago; and that these organisations are already ‘proscribed’ in Pakistan, is to say to these countries, what more do you want?

However, in my opinion, it is a tacit admission that despite ‘proscription’, in Pakistan, business will continue as usual. These groups will be allowed to move freely, collect funds, print literature and disseminate the messages they like, use print and electronic media to advance their ideology and cause. Furthermore, they are allowed to set up various institutions, rename organisations and operate mega projects which has great social, political and economic ramifications.

My apprehension is that after some cosmetic changes, business as usual may continue. Have we forgotten what happened in Lal Masjid? Apart from death of innumerable civilians and militants; many army men were also killed in that operation? Still cleric of that Masjid is calling the shots in the same Masjid and openly preaching what he preached at that time.

What does this say to the thinking people? Do I need to explain?

Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also, he is Chairman South Asia Watch, London and Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.


  1. Speech of Army Chief, Dawn 7 September 2017
  2. Dawn, September 7th, 2017
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