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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