Pakistan: The Most Dangerous Place
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Issue Vol. 30.1 Jan-Mar 2015 | Date : 21 Apr , 2015

Global War on Terrorism

George Bush’s famous words after 9/11 said to garner support of his allies in to a coalition for launching the Enduring Freedom, “…either you are with us or against us” changed the discourse and definition of the campaign against terrorism. The Pakistani establishment, which found itself at the crossroads, was left with no other choice but to go the US way. General Musharraf who toppled Nawaz Sharif’s government after a failed Pakistan army’s adventure in Kargil now stood with the West fighting against those very own Jihadis they had bred in the past decades, integral to their grand strategy. This u-turn polarised the already radicalised society further and now threatened the establishment and the army as never before.

The strategic idea though was always India-centric and Soviet intervention was merely a God-sent opportunity…

The new circumstances forced him into the hard choice of opposing the growing clamour of religious fundamentalists as a matter of survival. The credibility of the army under Musharraf had plummeted to its lowest ebb since the 1971 defeat. He tried to regulate the madrasas and carried out military action on Lal Masjid followed by armed action against Islamic terrorists in the Swat Valley. But he persisted in excluding popular politicians from this process. Limitations imposed on the secular parties by General Musharraf created a political vacuum that was easily filled by the Islamists. It was Musharraf who promoted the idea of the good and the bad terrorists shielding the India-centric Jihadi organisations like the LeT and JuD, duality of policy lay exposed.

Edging Towards A Failed State

A heavily politicised army that lives in self-denial, ever willing to throw down the gauntlet against India despite repeated reversals is what characterises the military idea of Pakistan. Ideological division of this heavily Islamised society on the lines of Shia, Sunni, tribal affinities, Ahmadiyas, Deobandis, Barrelvi and the Wahabis has created many faultlines, now difficult to manage. In pursuit of their domestic, political and trans-border strategic agenda, the establishment has at convenience helped in creation of armed groups and armies of various tribes and theological groups.

Lots of funds pour in from the Sheikhs in oil-rich countries of the Middle East into these organisations of different followings for preaching and spreading the ideology. These organisations run madrasas and carry out charity work alongside supporting armies of terrorists. These madrasas are thus the epicentre around which society spins and economy of the area under influence flourishes. Ideological differences lead to armed clashes largely beyond the control of administration, thus a state within a state goes unchallenged.

As per SATP, Pakistan has 12 domestic organisations and 32 trans-national terrorist organisations. All these terrorist organisations have had the support of the ISI at one time or the other. Out of these who acquiesce with domestic and strategic agenda laid down by the army are categorised as “Good” while those not complying are termed as “Bad”. Tehrik-e-Talliban Pakistan (TTP) are the bad terrorists while the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jamat-Ul-Dawa are the good ones.

A heavily politicised army living in self-denial and ever willing to throw down the gauntlet against India is what characterises the military idea of Pakistan…

Unfortunately, the Pakistani military always thinks of the advantages in letting the Islamists dominate domestic politics and uses them as leverage against India. This obsession with ideology is edging the country into the status of a failed state. There have been numerous instances of military officers, non-commissioned officers and enlisted men co-operating with jihadists or deserting their service to join jihadist ranks. But the Pakistani military tends to hold back information on the matter, making an assessment of the extent of this problem difficult. Incidents such as the attacks on the Pakistani naval base ‘Mehran’ in 2011, the Air Force base Kamra in 2012 and the 2014 foiled attempt by Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) to take over a navy frigate in Karachi harbour, point to the persistence of jihadi influence within the ranks of the armed forces – a trend that needs to be arrested at the earliest by this nation possessing nuclear weapons.

The turn of events post the Lal Masjid military action, Pakistan entered the most challenging phase of its struggle for existence. As per US intelligence reports, an estimated 22,000 soldiers were reportedly deployed in Swat and the desertion rate was estimated at around six per cent, a high number but not a crippling one given that some of the soldiers hailed from the areas where they are fighting. The fatwa, which was issued by Lal Masjid leaders Maulana Abdul Aziz and Ghazi Abdul Rasheed, stated that Pakistani soldiers killed while fighting against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in South Waziristan did not deserve a Muslim funeral or a burial at Muslim cemeteries. This fatwa had an impact on Pakistani soldiers and many refused to fight or abandoned their units.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has failed to learn the desired lessons. General Kayani did mention the terrorism as number one enemy of the state. But months later during the passing out parade at Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul, he said to the cadets, “Pakistan was created in the name of Islam and Islam can never be taken out of Pakistan – a reminder to secular Pakistanis, Indians and the West that this country will not abandon its support to religious groups with which Islamabad seeks to take leverage in Afghanistan and Kashmir.”

This obsession with ideology is edging the country into the status of a failed state…

The shooting of Malala Yousafzai, two deadly assaults against the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad and the Pearl Continental in Peshawar and the terrorist attack on June 08, 2014, on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi by the TTP led General Rahel Sharif to finally launch Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan going against the wishes of the civilian leadership. The Peshawar school attack was the Pakistan Taliban’s answer to that initiative. The genocide of 132 children has once again shaken the establishment as the monster it created stands staring straight into its eyes. This could well prove to be a watershed provided the Army decides to abandon the ideology that it has held so dear since 1958.

The situation is even worse in 2014-2015 as the Pakistan Army faces the blowback of Zarb-e-Azab. The TTP attacked the Army Public School at Peshawar in revenge killing 132 children on December 16, 2014. Pakistan is probably the only democratic country that has used its armed forces with tanks, artillery, helicopter gunships and fighter jets against its very own civilian population. They killed in thousands in East Pakistan before the creation of Bangladesh. In the past, they have used all their might in Sindh, Baluchistan to suppress sub-nationalist voices. And now in Waziristan and Khyber Paktunwa displacing sizeable population out of their homes for counter insurgency, has further polarised the society.

Going by Pakistan’s instinct, they will mount more such initiatives to avenge this carnage. But this will not buy the country enduring relief so long as extremists continue to receive aid and comfort from their Afghani overlords, who themselves are under the protection of the ISI. For example, Mullah Omar, the Taliban ring-leader to whom all Taliban chapters swear fealty and on whose head America has a multimillion-dollar bounty, is widely believed to be holed up in Quetta or Karachi with the ISI’s blessings. The ISI is also in bed with the Afghanistan Taliban’s right-arm, the Haqqani network, which allegedly runs its jihadi operations in Kashmir. Pakistan cannot rid itself of Islamist terrorists without going after their ISI protectors. However, it is hard to see how the country’s civilian rulers, who serve at the pleasure of the army and the ISI can undertake such a task and still survive to tell the tale.

The turn of events post the Lal Masjid military action, Pakistan entered the most challenging phase of its struggle for existence…

Prophetic Advice

In order to achieve long-term stability and recover the state of Pakistan out of its perilous spin, they need to revisit the prophetic words of Suhrawardy who had warned Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly in March 1948 against building Pakistani nationalism around the notion of Islam being under threat. He had advised the elite and the law-makers at that time to refrain from using the rhetoric used to mobilise Muslims for the creation of Pakistan. This was no longer needed after independence. Raising the cry of Pakistan in danger for the purpose of arousing Muslim sentiments and binding them together, he had said, “…may succeed in the short term and you may preserve power to yourself for some more time”. However, Suhrawardy had warned against transforming Pakistan into a state “founded on sentiments, namely that of Islam in danger or of Pakistan in danger.”

A state which is held together by raising the bogey of attacks and friction with enemies will be full of alarms and excursions. In such a country there will be no commerce, no business and no trade. There will be lawlessness and those lawless elements that may be turned today against non-Muslims will develop such fratricidal tendencies which once aroused will act against the Muslim gentry itself.

He also defined the two key issues for the new country. The “fundamental aspect of the foundations of Pakistan”, he had asserted, should be “the goodwill of the people and of the citizens of Pakistan within the state” and “the mutual relationship between the Dominion of Pakistan and the sister dominion, Indian Union.”

Today, Pakistani society is highly radicalised and militarised…


The Army and the ISI have played theological groups against the political parties, sub-national movements and the neighbouring countries for decades now. Pakistan has been a country where the national priority has always been on building stronger armed forces, something that leaves health and education at the lowest ebb of planning. The demographic dividend by some estimate projects 60 per cent of the country’s population between the age group of 19 to 25 years. Out of this population, 80 per cent do not go through the formal education. Instead, they get indoctrinated in various religious seminaries. These are, in fact, the ideal recruitment catchments for terrorist outfits.

The dangers of Pakistan’s demographics being radicalised steadily to alarming levels are a high risk to global peace and stability. In the words of Craig Cohen of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “One possible way to think of the correlation between the nuclear weapons and country’s population is that nuclear weapons are the deadly tip of the iceberg, while demographics are the danger lurking far below the surface. The size, security, and possible use of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in 2020 will be a function of individual decisions by Pakistani leaders and its national security community. These decisions, however, will be shaped by a broader domestic and international context. Demographics will play an important role in determining this context, helping to shape Pakistan’s politics, social cohesion and economic growth. The demographic effects will be indirect and they will operate on a longer timeframe than any democratic political calendar. Demographic change, in the words of one recent study, “shapes political power like water shapes rock. Up close, the force looks trivial. But viewed from a distance of decades or centuries it moves mountains.”

The dangers of Pakistan’s demographics being radicalised steadily to alarming levels are a high risk to global peace and stability…

Today, Pakistani society is highly radicalised and militarised. The thought of a country with its nuclear arsenal under the control of terrorists sends jitters. The American troops pulling out of Afghanistan and leaving it at the mercy of Pakistan who nurtures a dream of wresting control of so-called strategic space makes the region highly volatile. Pakistan Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif’s recent visit to USA saw the waxed ecstatic and assurances of military aid from the Americans.

The strategic relevance of Pakistan leaves Uncle Sam with no other option other than buying guarantees of peace in Afghanistan through aid. And all this even after the Pentagon report on Pakistan’s role in supporting terrorism as a state policy, should not shock many going by their past record of turning a blind eye. However, working towards short term gains ignoring the long term lurking dangers may be detrimental. The US along with other powers must exercise tact in shaping the long-term security scenario in this region towards lasting peace and stability and not otherwise.

India should also refrain from counter rhetoric and work its foreign policy along with other regional powers to force Pakistan change course or else all would be lost in time and space. A sharp u-turn should not be expected from the Pakistan army where conflicting interests are so deep seated. Nonetheless, there is no option other than killing the ideology before the ideology kills them.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Danvir Singh

Associate Editor, Indian Defence Review, former Commanding Officer, 9 Sikh LI and author of  book "Kashmir's Death Trap: Tales of Perfidy and Valour".

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23 thoughts on “Pakistan: The Most Dangerous Place

  1. Partition of India was deliberately planned by the Britishers because they knew the real strength of a united India . It would have been the largest country in the world much stronger than even China. Nehru & Jinnah were just prawns in their hands due to their personal ambitions which was exploited by the Britishers.

  2. Danvir Singh is a hardliner Hindu and former commanding officer so how one cannot expect a biased and hate article against Pakistan! However the question is have Mr. Danvir looked in his own India where minorities are suppressed and murdered because they want freedom? Had he thought about more than 40% of Indians are living below poverty line? Billions do not have toilets? Latest data from National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) show that India is the most dangerous country to live because you can die in a bomb attack? India has more than 114 extremist groups, in which many are owned by Indian politicians and military? Even in the majority Hindus there is caste system in which the Shudras and Vaishyas do not have socio political economic rights and there living worst lives?

    • Then how come minorities population has increased? India has created Pakistan and Bangladesh for Indian Muslims. Vaishyas runs close to 25% of India economy so how come they dont have economic rights. Shudra also run close to 20% of India economy so how come they cont have economic rights. India current PM belongs to Shudra so how come he doesnt have political rights please explain?

      Indian population is 1.27 billion so how come billions dont have toilet, explain you logic?

      provide data that 40% of Indians living poverty line.

    • Shri Ajit Chavan: Israel did it and got away in the 60’s & 70’s since the ‘Holocaust” was still fresh in the minds of the world and the US viewed it as its ‘aircraft carrier’ in the Middle East. Today, only the US and to some extent Russia have the nuclear muscle to violate the sovereign rights of nations, withstand pressures coming from the UN and still use covert ops as extensions of their state policies by ‘other means’. Our planners have to factor in the near parity (superiority in some areas) in our potential adversary’s military strengths before embarking down this road which is fraught with tit-for-tat retaliations from them. Israel , the US and Russia acted the way they did only when they were sure that their targets lacked the muscle to retaliate in kind.

  3. It is time that India too draws out lessons from all that is taking place in Pakistan and ensure that obsession with religion, castes, regions and allegiance to other nations does not mushroom into a epidemic in any part of the country. Tolerance and compromise with anti national sentiments and actions should have sharply edged limitations if we are to prosper and not follow the path of doomed nations.

  4. The title of the above account is very attractive that ‘The Most Dangerous Place’ which means rest of the whole world is much peaceful place to reside. Look into the map of globe, there is not a single place which is immune from terrorism. It is such a dreaded phenomenon that US and its allies are failed to counter terrorism. The irony which lies for Pakistan is its geo strategic location which is based on aggressive neighborhood. This has actually become a habit of international community to draw a bleak picture of Pakistan. However reality is far much different that Pakistan is a victim and now combating terrorism by conducting military operations in country.

  5. The writer instead of showing obsession from Pakistan must have researched well before writing such a piece. He must remember that India Is Home to More Poor People Than Anywhere Else on Earth. We don’t have to be proud of what we’ve done in the name of uranium deals going around. Have you visited the Kalpakkam, Kudunkulam, kovaada nuclear plants sites ? have you seen the miserable life people living there? else than that there are hundreds of places more to read upon. 2,000 Girls Are Killed Across the Country Every Day and many got raped.

  6. Despite having the world’s largest democracy, famous examples of gang rape and hangings demonstrate what a perilous place India can be for women. Researchers estimate that there have been 50 million cases of female infanticide or foeticide over the last three decades. And even if you get to live, child marriage and high levels of trafficking still cast a shadow over the safety of females.

  7. China is bucking the global trend in seeing Pakistan as the epicenter of islamic jihadi terrorism. Whether they are right in doing so only time will tell. China does not shy away from deploying its huge foreign exchange reserves in furtherance of its national interests.$ 42 billion is a drop in the ocean as far as China is concerned. We have no choice but to factor in the proposed development of the corridor through Pakistan in our strategic riposte. China’s aim is energy security- be it from the Middle East or from the CAR region for her growing needs in the coming millennium.

  8. India’s security paradigm has changed. Pakistan and China have joined hands against India. How long would it take for the Indian leaders to realize that these two countries are encircling India by land and sea? India’s priorities must include preparation to fight two theater wars simultaneously and there is more likely hood of a nuclear confrontation with Pakistan than China. Reason, the political instability in Pakistan combined with the Talibanization of Pakistani Army. While many ifs ands and butts exist, a military alliance with US and Israel makes more sense now then before. I would even go as far as considering US/India joint bases in India preferably in the North East. This will be a check on China while India deals with the more immediate threat of field nuclear weapons in the hands of the Islamic terrorists from across the border.

  9. no doubt writer is shit head, he himself is hatemonger. look at Indian society where no minority is safe. Christians and Muslims humiliated everyday. where an extreme right wing party is ruling, you guys have serious issues at your hand deal with it before raising fingers at pakistan.

  10. a pathetic writer who is full of hate and has bleak info about hist, islam and Pakistan. STOP befooling others u cant do very longer…hate ur speech. u will find a good job in RAW polluting Pakistan’s frontiers.

  11. this essay is best example of “khasni balli khamba notchay” writer is indian hindu with extreme hate and jealousy to islam and Pakistan.Actually Pakistan is very rich in sources and pakistans location is very very important in world.These are the reasons of jealousy of these indian hinduuos.If Pakistan is so ppor and bad why indian Gov spending billion dollars money on wapons and deployed 90% their army and wapons on Pakistani borders? lala gi don’t make fools to your own people> go to London or Afghanistan to help RAW agents who are in problems to handle ISI after succeesful counter of bombing in Pakistan>Pakistani TALBAN OR ALTAF HUSSAIN ON RUN MEANS ALL INDIAN MONEY HAVE WASTED> HEHEHEHEHEHE

  12. Very true….Pakistan’s creation was based on anti India sentiments .
    I wud urge our govt to send those pak loving morons on our soil to pak and see the life in this failed state then only they wud realise what a democracy means…
    extremely educative and analytical article

  13. Pakistan is threatening holding nukes because of lack of bloody replied from India…… They attacked us four times… Sent & supported terrorists & mercenaries since 1960s in north east… Punjab…Kashmir etc…… Once in my ternage i asked a relative who was a senior BSF officer… Why don’t you shoot Pakistanis who are troubling often at border… They too have guns was the reply from him… Later on i came to knew tht our officers are restrained by politicians & pakis don’t… Apart from a short trailor on border there is nothing to boast about… Need to let loose all canons whenever they create nuisance & they will think a million times before repeating… May be a temporary solution but workable…

  14. Islam is a conditional religion – “IF you are a true Musalman and a believer in the Prophet ….” preceeds every action of theirs ….. violate any dictat and one fails as a muslim …. need anything more be said or expected then ???? All discourses and discussions are irrelevant and only wishful thinking ….

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