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#477, 2 March 2001
 
Jihad, Pakistan and Indo-Pak Dialogue
D Suba Chandran
Research Officer, IPCS
 

Ever since the military coup and acquiring power, General Musharraf has been continuously expressing his desire for a dialogue with India at various platforms. One significant condition for any such dialogue from India ’s side has been that Musharraf should control the various jihadi organizations inside Pakistan and stop cross border terrorism. How much influence does the Pakistani army have over these jihadi groups? Is it possible for Musharraf to reign them in? If these groups are independent and have a separate agenda other that of the Pakistani army, how far can Musharraf succeed in controlling cross border terrorism, even if he is earnest?

 

 

The coming of Zia regime in Pakistan and his islamisation policies to gain legitimacy, the entry of Soviet troops and the subsequent Afghan mujahideens war against the former, the follow up civil war inside Afghanistan and Pakistan’s involvement both in the war against the Soviet troops and the civil war – all resulted in the emergence of a “jihad” culture inside Pakistan. 

 

 

A significant factor that aided the growth of jihadi culture has been the rapid increase in the number of madrassas inside Pakistan . According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s report, about one third of these madrassas provide military training to its students. Today most of the jihadis are from these madrassas. The government’s influence on these madrassas is insignificant, as the madrassas do not form a monolithic entity. The shia-sunni divide, adherence to different faiths and the divergence in political support and patronage prevent these madrassas from becoming a monolithic entity and these factors further prevent the government from exercising any control over them. Most of these madrassas have permanent sources of income and also receive funds from outside Pakistan . According to a Special Branch analysis, reported in The News, in Pakistani Punjab alone, only 36 percent come from the Zakat funding while 64 percent of the funding for these madrassas comes from foreign sources. 

 

 

Besides the madrassas, another significant factor that aided the jihadi culture has been the proliferation of small arms caused by the Afghan war and the illegal small arms industries inside Pakistan . The mujahideens fighting the Soviet troops in the 1980s were liberally provided with a number of small arms which spilled over to Pakistan . Today, the situation is so serious that one can hire a AK-47 for a couple of hours. 

 

 

Secondly, the illegal manufacturing of small arms, especially by master craftsmen of darra markets make it very easy and cheap for any jihadi group to purchase these small arms. On its part, the military government very serious with its de-weponisation drive, has banned the public display of small arms by these groups. It has also taken efforts to regulate the illegal arms manufacturing markets. But how far these efforts will be successful, one has to wait and watch.

 

 

The third significant factor that aided the growth of the jihadi forces has been Pakistan ’s Afghan and Kashmir policy, whereby it used the jihadi forces to achieve its objectives. In the aftermath of the Kargil war, the equation between the Pakistani government and the jihadi groups seem to have changed. Where Kashmir is seen as an end by the Pakistani government, the jihadi forces consider it as a “means” and a beginning for a broader objective. If Pakistan has been using these groups until now to achieve its objectives, today these groups may not hesitate to use Pakistan to achieve their objectives. Today the jihadi groups have become financially independent and have enough resources to carryout jihad without the support of the Pakistani government. 

 

 

Given these conditions, Pakistan is bound to face serious challenges from the jihadi groups in the coming days. If Pakistan cannot control these forces, what can India do? Should India still insist that Pakistan control these jihadi forces as a pre condition for a Indo-Pak dialogue? The steps taken by the military government in controlling these groups are inadequate as they lack clear planning commensurate with the seriousness of problem at hand. At the moment, the government’s relationship with the jihadi groups is delicately poised; yet, there are measures that the government can adopt to regain control over these groups. To begin with, it can regulate the madrassas at least on two basic issues – regulating the source of their income, especially the external source and secondly a uniform curriculum. On the issue of the jihadi groups, the government should continue with its attempt to control the various jihadi groups including a ban on their public call towards jihad, the collection of funds especially through the use of force and should completely restrict their access to weapons. Only then should India consider a dialogue with Pakistan , as it would otherwise be futile not only for Indo-Pak relations but also for Pakistan . It is crucial that Pakistan evolve measures to reign in these groups before resumption of dialogue with India , not only because it is preconditioned by India , but also for its own self interest. In the event of an Indo-Pak dialogue, any move by Pakistan that does not respect the objectives and goals of the jihadi outfits would be misconstrued as reconciliatory and submission by Pakistan . Such position would not only jeopardize the delicate Indo-Pak balance but also unleash violence generated by these outfits within Pakistan . Thus controlling these groups before an Indo-Pak dialogue would do more good for Pakistan than India .

 

 

 

 

 

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