Dawn News

The ‘jihad project’ gone wrong

Pakistan’s military is at the front line in the war against terror. About 2500 soldiers and officers have laid down their lives and about 7000 have suffered injuries so far. The figure is fast approaching the number of casualties suffered by the military in the full-fledged war against India in 1965.

As the soldiers and officers fought in the war against terror that began in 2001, some of the junior military cadre in the armed forces had to change their perspective of jihad which had been inculcated in their minds during General Zia-ul-Haq’s regime. When Pervez Musharraf came to power, he tried to pursue a new policy by following a fateful call by the then US Secretary of State, General Colin Powell.

Reports in the media as well as books written about war against terror give a detailed description of the trials and tribulations faced by the disgruntled junior commissioned officers, who not only planned assassination attempts against General Musharraf, but also formed associations with the militant organisations.

Investigations by DawnNews programme, ‘Reporter,’ revealed that some of the disgruntled junior non-commissioned officers formed an organisation by the name of Jundullah which allegedly had contacts with Jaish-i-Muhammad.

According to the DawnNews investigation, impressed by calls to jihad, very soon about 30 personnel from various army units stationed in Quetta Cantonment joined the new organisation. Preparation for jihad was top priority while work on collecting donations from various units also started. Some of these disgruntled military men were also involved in planning botched attacks on Jacobabad Air Base in 2003, in addition to planning two separate assassination attempts on General Musharraf.

In addition to PAF, Jundullah also tried to establish its influence on different units in the military. After investigations into the attacks on General Musharraf in 2003, many personnel from the Army and Air Force linked to Jundullah were arrested and tried in military courts.

Although the military claims to have wiped out Jundullah from the armed forces, literature promoting extremist tendencies and banned extremist organisations is still available in the market.

After the attack on Data Darbar, the government has once again re-banned such organisations. However, the question remains, if such steps have not been effective over the last nine years, what is the guarantee that such steps will succeed?

At a time when the international community is once again talking about reconciliation with the Taliban in Afghanistan, answers need to be sought if a policy shift is taking place within the security establishment as well as the government. The people need to be assured that sacrifices made by soldiers and civilians since the war started, have not gone to waste and that once again, the state policy gone wrong in the past “jihadi” case is not repeated for pursuing “strategic interests” beyond the borders without securing the internal security of the country.

Arshad Sharif is the Islamabad Bureau Chief of DawnNews. He tweets at http://twitter.com/dawntvreporter and can be found on Facebook.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Comments (35) Closed

Shoaib Malik
Jul 14, 2010 08:40am
I have full faith in Pak army, as whatever, strategy Pak army adopted in past, present or even in future, would be in the best interest of the Pakistan and its people. Nobody could take a perfect decision, even Americans made big blunders in past in this region. But everybody should learn from its mistake. If Pak Army supported Afghan/Russian war, that was the best strategy at that time and now if they want a different approach, is purely based on current circumstances and geopolitical situation of this region. There is no harm in shifting your strategy provided it serves in the best interest of your country. It's totally non realistic that based on few fanatics, we start blaming the whole institution. Definitely, Jihad is a key virtue of Islam and Pak army. But who will define the real definition of Jihad, especially in these days. I believe, serving for the interest of the Islamic country and fellow citizen is a real Jihad and our army proudly doing this secret duty. Long live Pakistan and Pak Army!
Jul 14, 2010 08:31am
Strongly Agree.............and nice explaination.
Zulfiqar Haider
Jul 14, 2010 11:13am
It is true that any shift in policy should be made clear so that the people should know what is happening in the country and no mistake is being made and the sacrifices of our army are not wasted.
Jul 14, 2010 07:29am
As fa as I see it, the army is just a representation of the people of Pakistan. A large section of the army grew up as civilians and then at a later teenage stage or early 20s they joined the army, their perspectives had already formed by then. It could only be hardened by groups like the one mentioned. So its not the army officers/cadres that need to be changed or re-educated, its actually the civilian mass that needs to be changed.
hassan farooq
Jul 14, 2010 12:05pm
well this is true that army have made many sacrifices and is still passing through very tough time. but here i mention one thing that i strongly feel that insurgency cant be won with out people support.
Jul 14, 2010 11:51am
Agree. Except that not all but a vast majority of the civilian mass needs to change...
Yawar Shah
Jul 14, 2010 02:00pm
Pakistan's military is ranked as one of the "best" in the world. It has a proud history and origins going back to the British raj. It's fighting on the front line against the global war on terror. It may lack the most modern equipment, but it is a highly disciplined and motivated force we can all be proud of. The sacrifices made by the armed forces of Pakistan shall not be in vain, as the war on terror will be won regardless of the cost. This is a necessity for world peace.
Jul 14, 2010 03:51pm
good for you that you think that way. I don't.
Jul 14, 2010 04:59pm
i feel that the author has a comparatively less knowledge of the topic army has proved itself as to be the only strongest institution of the country there may have been a difference of self opinion but the evolution of a separate group is far from believing so its better not to misdirect the people who dont know
Jul 14, 2010 07:30pm
Good point. Also thanks to the author bringing this topic to the forefront. Though one thing I strongly disagree with the author about, it is the choice of word "Disgruntled". The act committed by these personnel by joining the enemy is "Treason" not "disgruntlement". They made this choice clearly and deliberately according to their political beliefs. The actual soldiers and civilians who lost their lives against terrorists are to be remembered dearly and they have to be compensated monetarily as well so their families continue with their daily lives as normally as possible after bearing the great loss of their family member.
Jul 15, 2010 07:11am
We have a strong army and we damn sure are proud of it.
Jul 14, 2010 08:16pm
The most major problem in Pakistan is the lack of true patriotism. The whole society is divided into different groups, different sects and different ideologies. No one seems to be thinking of what is best for Pakistan.
Jul 15, 2010 06:53am
Are you representing yourself or the entire nation? if so how do you know everyone is supporting your idea? I am a Pakistani I dont support the war so please next time talk about yourself and your views only
Jul 14, 2010 08:34pm
This young man is absolutely right.
Jul 14, 2010 08:46pm
The most major problem in Pakistan is the lack of true patriotism. The whole society is fragmented into different groups, different sects and different ideologies. No one seems to be thinking of what is best for Pakistan as a country. There is no cohesive force between different sections of the society. No one seems to be creating an atmosphere of unity. No wonder Pakistan is going downhill in every sphere compared to its neighbours. Outsiders look at Pakistani politicians and laugh at there poor performance. Pakistan Army is extremely good but the soldiers originate from the same fragmented society and therefore some of them get indoctrinated by Jihadists mentality. People are confused, army is confused and above ALL GOVERNMENT IS CONFUSED. Hence no solid internal or external policy. Pakistan just goes with the flow!
Tahir Rizvi
Jul 14, 2010 10:44pm
General Zia-ul-Haq
Jul 14, 2010 11:04pm
If you don't, it doesn't matter. The Pakistanis fully support their military who are steadfast against their enemies. Long live Pakistan and Pak Army! Well said Shoaib Malik.
Jul 14, 2010 11:14pm
Proud history? Every army has proud moments but I seriously doubt they have proud history.
Jul 14, 2010 11:20pm
I feel pity why we Pakistanis always are supportive of army. Army may have saved us during war times but at the same time, we have to realise that it is the army which has dragged us to war in past and it is because of army that we are in such terrible condition economically and socially. Pakistan is no doubt a poor country and our government is in huge debts. Army on the other hand has always been given luxurious facilities in term of salary, their livings and pensions. Can we afford? When will we think of science and technology, social justice, civilian rules. Will we always be thinking of F16, nuclear power, American aid and war against India.
Jul 14, 2010 11:34pm
Clearly meant to tarnish the image of Pak Army. The report itself accepts that even if some disgruntled soldiers were involved in any activity the appropriate actions have been taken by the military authorities. If that is so, why to raise this issue at a time when military is fully committed to fight out extremism and militancy from the country. Second, qouting Hussain Haqqani from his book written ten years before is unrealistic. It could have been more appropriate to get the comments of Hussain Haqqani now as he is representing the government of Pakistan today. It is shameful that public is being misguided by proving a link between military and jihadi organisations. Truly, media is a business. It needs money. How to earn it, is not the issue. The issue with a segment of media is to earn more and more money. Where this money comes from, does't matter. Come it must.
akbar khan
Jul 15, 2010 01:56am
very well said. sometimes its the society that itself needs introspection-until these woes will never end. Army cannot be seperated from society nor can politicians who are from Pakistan society.
Jul 15, 2010 03:26am
It is for sure, without people support, Jihad would not have existed in Pak and lot of people are not being killed everyday in the name of religion or extremist ideology. It is unfair to blame Army when the core issue is how people think about jihad as such. If people can kill in the name of religion, there is no end. As anyone can define and justify his/her version and kill the rest who does not agree with that. This attitude has already en golf Pakistan society and will not stop until people start thinking the very essence of their humanity irrespective of religious belief.
Jul 15, 2010 03:43am
Heartening to read such comments which portrays strong faith of us in our Army.. I couldn't agree more.. There might be some resistance in the lower ranks for their commanders but I don't think that is this much strong.. Please give some hard facts before pointing fingers.. Pak Army has gone through rough that is unexplainable and inevitable.. If one odd person had his mind brainwashed then he is no longer a part of this institution.. May Allah give them more strength to nib the evil and give us strength to support them in any way we can.. Amen
Jul 15, 2010 03:45am
Every country has an army and in Pakistan ...an army has a country......
shafiq (Dubai)
Jul 15, 2010 06:19am
Pakistan army have coordination with American army sharing intelligence and launching coordinated drone attack in Pakistan and Afghanistan so, how we will differentiate between these two? are we supporting NATO cause who are always in any case against us.
Jul 15, 2010 07:22am
The majority does...democracy is the dictatorship of the majority. I believe a poll was even conducted by Dawn news with a substantial majority in favour of the war in the norther areas. We dont want another Taliban Afghanistan. I don't wanna see my beloved country run into the ground anymore. Wake up before its too late. And War is not going to happen without collateral damage. Long Live Pakistan.
Jul 15, 2010 06:22am
but army must avoid entering into civil society, when it happens.... worst for the country and its citizens.
Pakistan First
Jul 15, 2010 05:09am
My dear fellow citizen start accepting realities and its high time you change your opinions. Jihadis are eating our countries like dimak. Please why can't a jihad be called against illiteracy, medical inefficiency, corruption. Please look into building our country, please look around where are we at world level. Please everyone I request from you to give a thought and its our duty to root out this enemies of the countries outside.
Jul 15, 2010 05:29am
Much of the present mess has also been created by the security forces. They are eliminating the enemies but at the same time 10 others are born with the idea of revenge from them.
Jul 15, 2010 11:09am
@Moin Are you a resident of the tribal agency? It is very easy to say that collateral damage is a given when this does not include one's own house and businesses or even lives I can say for myself that if the collateral damage is bombing my locality I dont want this war. I would ask you to look again at the stands or view points of those directly effected by this war
Jul 16, 2010 04:13am
@ shafiq Dubai You said
Yasir Qadeer
Jul 20, 2010 06:45am
The after effects of the Zia regime are still echo. But enough is enough. Now that the army, government and the people are not only united but determined to throw this evil out of our country, I am sure things will change very soon in future.
Amna Zaman
Jul 20, 2010 06:13am
The biggest Jihad in Islam is to control your conscious and the Taliban are not doing it for Islam. In numerous interviews they claimed they want to do this for power. Militancy is condemned by all religions and types of people.
Amna Zaman
Jul 20, 2010 06:14am
Could not have been put in a better way I must say. It is all about the ideology that was induced into many in the Zia regime. This needs to be erased and the moderate Islam should be taught which it is in actual reality.
Ali Hamdani
Jul 20, 2010 06:17am
It is important that the lives of 2500 soldiers should be accounted for. The Taliban will have to leave this land as we will not allow them to use our country as a militant playground where they can go ahead kill everyone as they wish.