“PAKISTAN has been at war with itself since it was carved out of the Indian sub-continent.” How true this line by the author sounds. If it’s not waging a war against India, it is battling with its feudal tribes, terrorists and Shia and Sunni warfare. The violent rejection of its secular ideal early in its formative years, for instance, is amply reflected in the Justice Munir Commission Report which looked into the anti-Ahmaddiya riots in 1953. The riots which saw Lahore and other towns in Punjab under siege for weeks marked the beginning of religious extremism in Pakistan. The trigger to violence brought the Army to the streets of Lahore for the first time following Partition. Pakistan ultimately relented to the demand of extremist religious groups to declare Ahmaddiyas as non-Muslims.
This marked the beginning of the first military take over of Pakistan in 1958 by General Ayub Khan. Then followed radicalisation of its armed forces due to the liberal policies of Ayub Khan, a Pashtun. This became quite apparent during the 1965 war with India when a wave of jihadi ideology, encouraged by Ayub Khan himself, arose. The media praised the Pakistani soldiers in the war which was described as a “struggle for Islam against un-Islam.”
The first example of Pakistani Army’s use of religion as an instrument to whip up anti-India tirade was the raids in Kashmir of 1947-48. Incensed at Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir’s decision to go with India, Colonel Akbar Khan, military advisor to Pakistan’s first Prime Minister Liaqat Ali Khan, launched an offensive to wrest Kashmir from India.
This book studies the covert attempts of Pakistan to create a radical constituency within the civil society to justify its overt use of terrorist and extremist elements against its adversaries. There is a growing radicalisation of students and faculty workers, with the later supporting ‘Kashmiri jihad’. The author says that far bigger conflicts are raging within Pakistan and while documenting these conflicts, the author warns that if Pakistan wishes to survive as a nation, it has to change the mindset and rein in not only the Army and intelligence agency but also the religious preachers, bureaucrats, students and the common men “who have been brought up to believe in killing the non-believers in the name of Islam.”
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