Pakistan: Fountainhead of terror


Manzoor Ahmed

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s description of Pakistan as “mothership of terror“ is apt and convincing.

If one were to take a random survey of countries that have supported terrorism, Pakistan would figure at the top of the list. Pakistan has been spawning terrorists for decades now. In fact, by numbers alone, Pakistan would outstrip any other country in the world which has been supporting terrorist groups, most often brazenly and openly.

It has been a factory of jihad long before Osama bin Laden had set up his terrorist outfit, al Qaeda. It was not a surprise that Osama bin Laden had moved from Sudan, when the global scrutiny became intense on his activities, to more secure, and safer, environs of Pakistan. The fact that  he was finally “discovered“ in the garrison town of Abbottabad, and killed by the US Special Forces, almost a decade after he masterminded the attack on the US, only confirmed what many already knew: Pakistan was a terrorist-state.

To be more precise, the real mothership of terror, within Pakistan, has been Pakistan Army and its notorious intelligence arm, ISI. Although the alliance with terrorist tactics began immediately after independence to wrest Kashmir from India, the army began setting up terrorist and extremist groups first to subjugate its own people. It began with the Ahmadis whom other more extremist religious groups abhorred and considered `kafirs` of the worst kind. By then the army realised that the best way to keep control of the country was to keep the “mullahs“ on their side and thus began the “unholy alliance“.  The Ahmadis were punished, their places of worship destroyed and the community was forever subjugated. This was a victory for the “mullahs“. But it was also the first time the military tasted victory, ironically over its own people.

So when the Bengali citizens grew anxious over the imposition of Urdu as the national language and decimation of their cultural moorings which was quite different from that of the Punjabi chieftains who had taken over the political and military regimes, this military-mullah alliance went into huddle once again. This time they came out with far more diabolical plan against their own citizens, albeit those whose mother tongue was Bengali and not Punjabi. They decided to teach them a lesson, a punishment by setting up terrorist outfits which, aligned with the army, wreaked havoc on the hapless Bengali Muslims in east Pakistan. The rape, killings and plunder of the Bengali Pakistanis by their own army and its proxies was horrendous. So horrifying were the tales that emerged the burning embers of east Pakistan that it shook the conscience of the world. Soon after Pakistan Army faced its most ignominious defeat and lost control of east Pakistan.

But the army, a strange beast, refused to learn any lessons from the 1971 defeat and set about creating more terrorist groups to subjugate its citizens, this time it was the Shias. This happened during the regime of rabidly Sunni, General Zia ulHaq, who had seized power from an elected Prime Minister whom he later hanged on trumped charges. Zia wanted to convert Pakistan into a rabid Sunni state, much like him but in between came the Shias who laid a siege on Islamabad and forced Zia to recapitulate. But the General was not the one to forget the insult and he planned to avenge his humiliation at the hands of the Shias by setting up a anti-Shia, pro-Sunni group which went on to become the laboratory of jihad in Pakistan. It was then called Anjuman Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan. With the army’s backing, the group began targeting the Shias. Soon after, it sprouted an armed wing, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a violent group which became a recruiting ground for several terrorist groups that were to follow, including the Taliban, al Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT).

The Pakistan Army got its ultimate boost when the US launched its final assault on the Soviet Union by bankrolling the Afghan Jihad. This US-made Jihad was staffed by Pakistani terrorist groups or groups which were set up and controlled by Pakistan Army. These groups drew cadres from earlier terrorist groups and in turn created new set of terrorist groups like the Taliban, LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Harkat-ulMujahideen and Hizb-ulMujahideen et al. None of these groups would have survived long without the material support and protection offered by Pakistan Army.

Almost all of these groups survive even today, some stronger than before, others muted, but all enjoying the patronage of Pakistan Army. All these groups pose a serious danger not only to the world but to the nuclear-armed Pakistan itself. So when Prime Minister Modi called Pakistan a mothership of terror he was merely stating the fact.