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KARACHI: Most of the 500 or so militants languishing in jails across the province belonged to low-income groups and were suffering from psychological and other ailments, while over 40 per cent of them joined banned outfits because of unemployment or other economic difficulties, showed a recent survey carried out by the Counter-Terrorism Department of Sindh police.

The CTD had conducted a survey aimed at suggesting policy intervention to the government to tackle growing militancy in society and prepared a 2,000-page profile of 500 militants over the past three months, sources said.

According to the documents reviewed by Dawn on Monday, as many as 329 militants out of 500 were suffering from certain kinds of mental disorders. Among them, 46 militants were suffering from epilepsy, 48 facing ‘gaba’ syndrome, 38 renal/hepatic impairment, 40 mania and bipolar disorder, 35 serotonin syndrome, 50 hallucinations and 27 were facing major depressive disorders.

The survey showed that 202 had not received education at all. Among the literate, 134 had bachelor’s or master’s degrees, 63 were matriculate/intermediate while 101 studied up to Class IX. Of them, 169 had studied at seminaries, 98 at public sector educational institutions and 92 at private educational institutions.

Over 40pc militants cite economic hardship for joining banned outfits

Almost all the 500 claimed that they were ‘practising’ Muslims, with 265 of them claiming to be ‘strongly religious’ and 235 ‘somewhat religious’. Similarly, about their family background, 153 said they had ‘strong’ religious family background and 202 said their families were ‘somewhat religious’, while 145 disclosed they did not belong to ‘very religious families’.

About marital status, the survey found that 125 of the 500 militants were unmarried while 201 had multiple wives. Besides, 81 militants said they had divorced their wives, according to the CTD survey.

Financial problems

Most of the militants interviewed by the CTD officials belonged to low-income group. “As many as 201 belonged to the family with an income ranging between Rs5,000 and Rs15,000 per month while 117 belonged to the family with an income of over Rs50,000 per month,” showed the survey.

At least 203 militants disclosed that they had faced financial problems while growing up, 84 suffered physical abuse or violence, 88 faced marital problems, while 70 militants faced ‘victimisation’ at the hands of others. Twenty-nine militants had suffered personal losses in death of close family members, the CTD officials found.

In reply to a question as to what ultimately led them to join banned outfits, as many as 203 cited unemployment and economic concerns, while 204 stated ideological/religious concerns.

According to the CTD survey as many as 249 militants said their families supported their views while 251 stated that their families opposed their radical views. Similarly, 246 militants claimed that their families knew that they had joined banned militant groups while 254 said their families were unaware about their affiliation with such outfits.

In reply to a question as to how strongly they believed in waging a ‘holy’ war in the name of Jihad, 154 replied that they ‘very strongly’ believed while 127 said they did not ‘very strongly’ believe in it. They survey found that 197 militants were helped by ‘religious clerics’ to develop their extremist views, 128 were influenced by their friends/peers who had radical views while 76 were influenced by family/community members.

The survey showed that 97 militants replied that they ‘justified’ the violence in order to bring their notion of ‘justice’ in society, 207 believed that they were fighting because of perceived grievances of the Muslims against the West, 99 justified the violence on account of their ‘personal experience’ while 97 had other reasons.

The CTD survey disclosed that all the 500 militants were not first-time offenders as they had committed different kinds of crimes before joining militant groups. At least 189 ‘admitted’ that they had carried out robberies/dacoities, 131 said they had been involved in kidnapping for ransom, 93 claimed they had carried out extortion-related activities and 87 confessed that they had committed murders.

It also stated that a significant number of militants gave preference to their sect-based identity over other identities. “As many as 169 replied that for them sect-based identity was more important than being good Pakistani or good Muslim,” according to the CTD document. At least 140 militants said that for them, it was more important to be a good Muslim while 85 militants said they liked to be called as ‘good Pakistani’.

About daily prayers, the survey found that 92 militants said they prayed once or twice a day, 109 offered prayers thrice a day, 98 four times a day, 107 offered their prayers five times a day. Ninety-four militants said they were not consistent in their daily prayers.

Asked about their ideological stance, 85 militants cited ‘hatred against the state’, 198 termed ‘hatred against the West and India’ as their ideological stance, 92 considered sectarianism, while 125 said ‘bhatta collection or money’ was their ideological stance.

The CTD survey, which was carried out by three separate teams led by SSP Junaid Ahmed Shaikh, also demonstrated that 197 militants regretted their actions though 303 others had no regrets.

Meanwhile, Additional IG Dr Sanaullah Abbasi heading the CTD in Sindh told Dawn that they had prepared profiles of 500 militants in the first phase and they were planning to survey the remaining around 1,000 to 1,500 other jailed militants in the next phase.

He said the findings of this survey had been shared with the authorities concerned. He added that this survey was aimed at suggesting policy interventions to the authorities to control the menace of militancy in society.

The Sindh CTD chief said they had suggested the government to concentrate on rehabilitation of the militants, as majority of them were suffering from psychological problems. Besides, it had been proposed to the government to focus on youth development, as a significant number of militants were single and unemployed. Furthermore, as a significant number of them was radicalised through education at seminaries, the CTD had also recommended for reforms in the seminaries.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2017