The Islamic world is in turbulence for some time now; whether these movements will lead to a more liberal order or will the religious groups that are lurking beneath the surface grab power once the present regimes have been toppled is not yet clear. In Pakistan, unlike in West Asia and Africa, it is clear that the society is moving towards radicalisation; here, a strong antidemocratic movement is pulling the society towards radicalisation that may lead to the establishment of a rigid Wahabi regime on the lines of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Pakistan possesses nuclear weapons and has a strong army that is favourably inclined towards radical religious groups, which it considers as important strategic assets.
Growing religious intolerance between various religious factions and internal terrorism in Pakistan have gradually become major destabilising factors and a dangerous threat to the very existence of Pakistan as a nation state.
However, the so-called strategic assets are slowly leading Pakistan to ruin. Growing religious intolerance between various religious factions and internal terrorism in Pakistan have gradually become major destabilising factors and a dangerous threat to the very existence of Pakistan as a nation state. Killing of moderate leaders, frequent attacks on Shiites and the destruction of Sufi shrines show the advent of a most violent culture under the influence of Wahabi organisations. Moderate Muslims, who want the current trend towards radicalisation to be controlled, have been reduced to a helpless minority.
The gradual collapse of the central government in Pakistan seems likely, and if the central authority crumbles, it may to lead to fierce infighting among various jihadi groups and the violence may spill over to neighbouring countries. In these conditions, communal tensions will be whipped up to kick-start jihadi movements and terrorist attacks on Kashmir and other parts of India may be intensified.
Pakistan has a very large congregation of poor Muslims and this makes it a natural breeding ground of Islamic radicalism. Its strategic location in South Asia provides the Taliban and al-Qaeda and their associates secured bases and sanctuaries for launching the global jihadi movement across large swathes of Asia. The efforts of the Pakistan government to curb fundamentalist trends that provide recruits for the jihadi movement have generally been feeble and ineffective. In the prevailing conditions, the secular groups in Pakistan seem to be losing political support and the jihadi militants now dictate terms in many parts of the country.
The efforts of the Pakistan government to curb fundamentalist trends that provide recruits for the jihadi movement have generally been feeble and ineffective.
To add to these problems, there is an ongoing war on Pakistan–Afghanistan borders and a large number of civilians have been killed here by rival groups in many urban areas, especially in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan along the Pakistani border. Afghan officials maintain cross-border firings, and raids across the frontiers from Pakistan are a part of a well-planned strategy.
This cross-border war between Afghanistan and Pakistan militaries has gone on for a long time, and in this war, Afghanistan and Pakistan armies have used artillery and other heavy weapons against each other. The clashes are, however, sporadic. Earlier only a few dozen were killed at a time during these skirmishes, but lately, the clashes have intensified and the frequency of these skirmishes is increasing. Occasionally, when some media personnel are able to witness these clashes, they are informed that the Pakistani military was attacking U.S. helicopters conducting cross-border raids into Pakistan’s tribal areas.
The shooting and attacks are not one sided, and both justify these clashes by calling them self-defence, but there is more to them than meets the eye. Often, Karzai has threatened to send Afghan troops across the borders into Pakistan to destroy bases that are being used by Pakistan for launching cross-border raids. On the other hand, Pakistan blames Afghanistan for helping Pakistani insurgents in carrying on war against the country.
Unless regimes such as Pakistan, which are allowing the radical Islamist groups to spread their wings unhindered, are persuaded to cut their ties with them and follow the path of peace towards non-Islamic regimes, freedom and democracy and human rights will be in grave danger throughout the world.
The main problem is that the Durand Line, separating Afghanistan and Pakistan, is highly porous and the Pashtuns on either side of the border have never recognised it as a legitimate dividing line between them. The people in these areas move freely across the Durand Line and tribes, communities and families intermix and intermarry. To add to the confusion, U.S. armed drones continue to mount frequent attacks on suspected militant hideouts and assemblies in this area. Although some prominent militant leaders have been killed in these attacks, adverse reactions to the attacks have expanded the support base of the insurgents.
There is little doubt that Afghanistan and Pakistan are waging a quiet unacknowledged war, in which with militants and irregulars often change sides. The border war is not as extensive or as intense as the internal turmoil both countries are facing, but tensions between Islamabad and Kabul frequently reach a boiling point, diminishing the chances of peace in the region. Pakistan aims to help the Taliban to power as they believe the Taliban will ensure a special relationship with Pakistan once the Americans depart.1