Pakistan: Terrorism As Military Doctrine

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, earlier this week, the president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari wrote an op-ed in The New York Times urging India and Pakistan to work together to battle terrorism. He argued that terrorists are out to destroy Pakistan and that India and Pakistan have a shared interest in combating terrorism. That is an argument hard to argue with.

In the op-ed, Zardari however makes the claim, often repeated by Pakistani leaders, that terrorism was brought into Pakistan during the Afghan-Soviet war in the 1980s. Zardari writes:

These militants did not arise from whole cloth. Pakistan was an ally of the West throughout the cold war. The world worked to exploit religion against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by empowering the most fanatic extremists as an instrument of destruction of a superpower. The strategy worked, but its legacy was the creation of an extremist militia with its own dynamic.

Zardari makes the same false claim that his predecessor, General Pervez Musharraf, has made numerous times in trying to point the finger at the West for a terrorism problem that is very much homegrown in Pakistan. Zardari, the son-in-law of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, should know better (and certainly does).

It is often argued that terrorists have support of "rogue" elements of Pakistan’s powerful military intelligence agency, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). It is often argued that the ISI is a "state within a state". The argument is that these terrorists are acting outside of the control of their masters in the ISI. However, it is clear from a look at Pakistani history that for most of the past half century the Pakistani government has used Islamists as an extension of the Pakistan military. Islamists, and terrorism, has been a government sanctioned component of Pakistani military doctrine since the inception of the Pakistani state. In every military conflict Pakistan has been engaged in since its inception, the Pakistani government has employed Islamists alongside its regular military forces to wage war.

In August 1965, the Pakistani military launched "Operation Gibraltar". Pakistani army soldiers, special forces units, and Islamist "mujahideen" infiltrated Indian-held Kashmir in an attempt to incite an insurgency by Kashmiri Muslims against India. The plan failed miserably. The Kashmiri Muslims did not rise up against the Indian government and no large-scale guerilla warfare took place to "liberate" Kashmir. In its counterattack, India launched a full scale war on Pakistan in what has become known as the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965.

In many ways, the Pakistani military’s attempt to incorporate Islamists into war planning was met with failure in 1965. By 1971, however, the military and the Islamists had learnt to work together as a more cohesive and successful killing machine.

On the night of March 25, 1971, in the name of "God and a United Pakistan", the Pakistan army, with Islamist support, launched "Operation Searchlight" in East Pakistan to crush Bengali nationalism by force. By the end of the night, 7000 Bengalis lay dead in the city of Dhaka. This was the beginning of nine months of war and genocide that would see the emergence of the nation of Bangladesh.

During the nine months of 1971, the Pakistan military formed local "Peace Committees" and paramilitary forces from the student organizations of the Islamists parties Jamaat-e-Islami and the Pakistan Muslim League. The paramilitary forces, known as the Razakars, were grouped into two wings – the al-Badr and the al-Shams. The al-Badr were fighters drawn mainly from the Jamaat-e-Islami while the al-Shams were drawn from the Muslim League. The "Peace Committees" consisted mainly of political leaders of the Islamist parties. The "Peace Committees" pushed out much of the propaganda, of "jihad" and also reported on the activities of local Bengalis, especially Hindus – the committees gathered vital intelligence for the Pakistan army. The Razakars carried out much of the unsavory work of the genocide. The Islamists were fighting for "the establishment of Islamic society" and "to save Muslims from Un-Islamic influences". Together, the Pakistan military and their Islamist allies killed up to 3 million people in 9 months.

To make the relationship between the military and the Islamists official, the Pakistan Government passed the "East Pakistan Razakars Ordinance" in Summer of 1971 to formally create the Razakar force. The Islamists who fought as Razakars were paid by the Pakistani government. For their efforts, in December 1971 the Pakistan government raised their salaries: an Islamist working as a Razakar would get a salary of Rs. 120 per month, a Razakar platoon commander would get Rs. 180 a month, and a Razakar company commander would get Rs. 300 a month. In addition to receiving a salary, the Razakars also received formal military training from the Pakistan army.

Though successful at terrorizing the population and mass killings, the Pakistan army strategy resulted in unconditional surrender to India on December 16, 1971 – two weeks after India intervened to stop the genocide in Bangladesh.

Since 1971, the relationship between the Pakistani military and the Islamists has continued. The Islamists in Pakistan got a significant boost when in 1979 the Pakistani military dictator Zia-ul-Huq promulgated the Hudood Ordinance bringing Sharia law to Pakistan. After losing East Pakistan in 1971, the Pakistan military has continued to cultivate Islamist militants in its proxy war over Kashmir.

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, the Pakistan army already had a ready-made relationship with Islamist fighters. Augmented by American weapons, CIA training and Arab fighters, the Pakistani Islamists joined with Afghan fighters to form the Afghan Mujahideen. However it was not the Aghan war that radicalized Pakistani Islamists – that radicalization was homegrown and battle tested in at least two major wars prior to the Afghan war.

Today, when the Pakistani president protests that militants on Pakistani territory are "non-state actors", it is a difficult claim to accept. The Pakistani military has a well-documented history of arming, training, paying and fighting alongside Islamist militants. Just as in 1965 with "Operation Gibraltar", the Pakistan military, with the assistance of Islamist militants, launched a similar attack in 1999 on Kashmir that resulted in the Kargil War with India. Since then, Pakistan based militants have continued to launch high-profile attacks inside India. Given the history of Pakistani military support, it is hard to argue that these Islamist militants are rogue actors.

So, Asif Ali Zardari is right. These militants did not arise from whole cloth. These militants were born with the idea of Pakistan as the "land of the pure", they were nurtured by the Pakistan military, and they have been a prominent part of Pakistani military doctrine. Islamist terrorism is a homegrown Pakistani problem. It is time for the Pakistan government to clean its own house.


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28 Responses to Pakistan: Terrorism As Military Doctrine

  1. zafa says:

    Thank you Mash.
    Very important compilation of Pakistani military’s history of atrocity and its support of the Islamic militia.
    I noticed you did not include the part of the history where the US (Nixon admin with Kissinger as the SOS) supported the genocide launched by Pak on Bangladesh, fully knowing that Islamic extremists were in play.

  2. Mash says:

    Zafa, I wanted to try to knock down this meme that is being pushed by the Pakistani leaders and is taking hold, that Islamists in Pakistan were radicalized by the Afghan war.

    I kind of jogged through the history, but, hopefully put enough in the post to make it coherent. I left out the Nixon involvement mainly because I have covered it elsewhere. I also wanted to keep the focus on the relationship between the Pakistan military and the Islamists.

  3. Mohammad m. rahman Jalal says:

    Thank you Mash.
    We need more posting like this.
    MMR Jalal

  4. vakibs says:

    Interesting post. The Pakistani army is now reaping what it has sown. Since the life support to the Military establishment comes from tehh USA, they have no choice but to do US bidding. And that means fighting against their own frankenstein children. I wish the Pakistani army be held more directly accountable to teh Pakistani parliament

    • Rahat says:

      hey guys this picture is a complete cheat oki…
      all of you are just fools coz wen you do not know a language you are commenting on it let me tell you, these guys with guns are the volunteers ,ok those who are not selected in da army but have the patriotism ok …
      and listen each and every army has reserves and volunteers in time of need,,, so next time you comment i d just say look before you leap

  5. Tanoy says:

    ISI is the biggest problem of whole subcontinent. Actually after the born of Pakistan , The leaders of Pakistan always move the wrong side of the domain. From The very first day Army is flexing muscles over the politicians. I have heard a funniest comment from the external and affair minister of Pakistan ” They will rather send their home minister to India than ISI chief.”

    It seems protocol of ISI chief is bigger than the home Minister. There was no check and balance in the administration. so what more we expect.

  6. robert says:

    Let’s be clear here that pakistan is a “terrorist state” and never have any illusion that it is going to be any different.We have made a grave blunder by suggesting in the international fora that “Pakistan is also a victim of terror.” We should stop interviewing leaders from that country who mouth the same inanities that “you have not produced any proof.”Let us not fall into the trap of providing proof to the culprits. More than 100 acts/attempts of terror recorded in the world since 9/11 have had their roots in Pakistan. More than 40% of the prisoners in Guantanamo are Pakistanis.

    We should categorically, unambiguously, unequivocally boycott Pakistan in all aspects for a decade or more. Pakistan is the only territory in the world where an army has a whole country under its control. The state policy of Pakistan is terrorism and their single-point programme of existence is to destroy India.

    • Rahat says:

      Its nice to hear that a titterly bitterly fat ass is commenting on fake pics ok i wont give any reasons to you neither i will explain it to you coz fools like you understand nothing ok…. i d just say that youi are a big big big big big big big big big big sensless, uneducated savage, idiot, stupid ,damn idiot, and a large motherfucker coz u do not know things and just start piising your ass where ever you get a chance ok……
      first get to know something and then start getting fucked over it….once i get a single fuckin damed chance and i m gonn tear your ass apart ….

  7. Raj says:

    Hey I am an Indian and I must say I am very pleasantly surprised… I wish More of Indians can see and read these articles.. U knw We r the most sufferer of Pakistan terrorism and what it does is gives common people and idea that all muslims are same and they all support these.. I think these sort of documents and the related blogs shld be brought forward more to Indian People so that they also know that common Muslims are as against these extremists as others..I think [art of the problem today is the educated class amongst the Muslim population is not coming out in open..And the small minority section who r extremists come out in the open and they r very vocal..And that becomes a voice of whole Muslim world as the common people who r generally against does not come out in the open and voice their disapproval…

    I am so glad to read the article and the blogs where ppl are coming out in the open..These articles should be made public and spread amonst common people of India and Bangladesh…So correct analysis of the role of state in Pakistani sponsored terrorism…Pakistan has been a failed state and my fear is more disoriented Pakistan will be, more extremists will create trouble..But an extremely well written document..Cheers

    • Rahat says:

      o madarchod k bacche teri mna ki chut bhenchod ki nasal harami ke bache is waqt jitna hum lar rahe hain na terrorist s tum sb gandu mil kar nai lar sakte mere do dost or ek cuzn bomb blast me mare gae ab bi tum hume hi terrorist kehte ho….
      kute k bache randi ki nasal khair he aj waqt he hum par tum log hila lo apni gaand but yad rakhna hum laren ge …
      me ek bat bta dun kute haramzade agar hum terrorist ko na roken na to kal yehi taliban teri behan ki izzat tere samne looten ge…
      Allah na kare k tum par aisa waqt aye magar kute k bache agar lar nai sakte na to aram se betho n gaand na hilao

  8. Anas says:

    Indians have been in a state of denial right from 1947. Rather than accepting their own mistakes they continue to please themselves by piling it up on the ISI.
    The article is a clear reflection of this fact.It does not take account of the fact that how the Indian Army actually captured the Hyderabad state, Junagadh and Manavadar in late 1940s.
    Furthermore, the majority of the population of Kashmir is Muslim (77% to be precise) and India herself admitted to hold a plebiscite there, a statement that never materialised.
    The article mentions Al Badr and al Shams but what about Mukti Bahini force which was trained and armed by Indian Army.
    It is the same India that claims to be secular but has killed thousands of muslims in THE GUJRAT MASSACRE 2002 and thousands of Sikhs in 1985. The same Indians burned down churches and raped nuns or was it the ISI doing that too?

    Further, the bombing of Samjhauta Express was also blamed on ISi. It was later discovered that a SERVING INDIAN ARMY OFFICIAL COLONEL SRIKANT PROHIT was involved in this heinous act where hundreds of innocent people died. Similar was the case of Malegaon Bombings.
    A brief history establishes the fact that Indian Army and the Indian government are not from heaven too. They have committed atrocities too and perhaps this is why that there is a strong seperation movement in Assam and some other states.
    Considering the Mumbai attacks , what I fail to comprehend is that, assuming for the sake of argument that these terrorists were Pakistanis, how did a boat laden with arms break through the strong indian navy and reach the coast. Even if it did then how did a group of handful men was able to resist the mighty indian national guards and all those forces. If it is true then Indian defence forces are crippling weak .
    Furthere there is the issue of Hemant Karkare, ATS chief who was investigating the HINDU TERRORISTS, whose target killing clearly indicates that there was some other story behind it.
    I suggest you first look at the history and then make allegations at ISI. I am in no way suggesting that Pakistani army and its governments officials are angels but they’re not as bad as you describe them to be. Infact , they are definitely a lot better than RAW and Indian government, the latter creating war hysteria to score at the upcoming elections


  9. Mash says:

    Anas, I am not Indian.

    I am not going to try to defend the Indian intelligence services against your charges. I am sure Indian readers of this blog can do an adequete job of that.

    But, I do want to take issue of your equating Al Shams and Al Badr Islamist paramilitary with the Mukti Bahini for one simple reason. Al Shams and Al Badr, along with the Pakistani army, committed a genocide that killed up to 3 million Bengalis. Trying to find some equivalence between perpetrators of genocide and Bengali freedom fighters who tried to defend Bangladesh against genocide is quite a stretch. The body count speaks for itself. If it wasnt for the Mukti bahini, I am guessing the Pakistan military and their Islamist allies would have slaughtered more civilians.

    As for the Indian army that entered the war on December 3, 1971 to put an end to the genocide, they have my thanks. Please note that the very Pakistani army that mowed down unarmed Bengalis for 9 months was humiliated into unconditional surrender in less than two weeks by the Indian army. I believe it was one of the swiftest collapses of a large army in modern history. That is what happens when an army gets too used to murdering unarmed civilians – when faced with a real army, they collapse.

    • Rahat says:

      look mr mash i do not have the level of education you have ok …
      i simply can not argue with you ok…
      But the thing is k theses are only vbolunteers that youare magnifying ok… now i do not have time but i am damn sure i will enhance my Knowleege, come back and then proove it to you that no muslim n no Pakistani is at terrorist ok….
      i give you a little example ok…
      if you call muslims terrorist then what was the holocast. why do no t you then call mr> Adolf hitler a terrorist and then blame whole cristianity on it

  10. Anas,

    First of all I want to tell you I am also not Indain and I am from the place called Bangladesh which you used to call so called East Pakistan. I don’t know what you want to provide by such link which is in house sides of yours and wanted to provide some information which does have only base of assumption and some Imaginary Data.

    Now First of all I failed to understand why you start discussion with religion, Intelligent agencies and all. or do you feel that as Pakistan has Put Islam in the constitution means you have got the sole agency of Islam??

    I am sorry to say you guys are living in
    fool’s paradise. Now If you go back to the history of Pakistan Kaide Azam Jinnah also mentioned ” Pakistan will be the state of all religion, Sect and Cast.”

    But unfortunately his successor always went through wrong side of the democracy. It seems that Pakistan is developed only to see the interest of Military not for Civilians.

    Now Regarding Kashmir I don’t want to involve my self in India- Pakistan Cyber war and all but Fact that Azad Kashmir is the most under developed part of Pakistan. Fact that Pakistan also does not want independence of the people of Kashmir rather Pakisan administration always wanted Kashmir as their part.
    Regarding Bangladesh
    Just remember India has given support to Mukti Bahini to get freedom only But 3 million people of Bangladesh has dedicated life for the country and Pakistan Army has raped lots of poor women in Bangladesh. Do You have such history?

    Do you have such sacrifice? Do you have such dedication?

    I can’t help laughing while your foreign Minister says ” we would rather send our Home minister instead of ISI Chief.”

    Is Isi another state inside the state? From any Neutral write up we have seen
    how a portion of Pakistan Army and ISI Push some terrorist to Afghanistan and Kashmir .

    How some young boys are spoiled.
    But I am getting optimistic when I see
    Pakistan is the country of Asma Jahangir, Pakistan Is the country of Hossain Dani, Pakistan is the country of Abdul Gaffar Khan, Pakistan is the country of Prof Salam.

    But It seems you want to claim Pakistan is the country of ISI only. another observation

    You Islamic Pakistan send army against Saddam Hossain on 1990 but India has refused to send any army in United Nations force against Iraq.

    I admit in India, Bangladesh every where have Minority issue. Even In USA, Asia pacific there is racism but end of the day Constitution is secular.

    I am sure common young Pakistani also want to come out of such stupid system. As long as you come out of such Fatal fanatic Monster attitude, every one of Sub continent can make it comfort Zone.

  11. Shanta Monika says:

    Please let us inform who was the Director during our Liberation War
    in 1971 ? Now where he residing now. Kindly inform detail about that Killer.

  12. Haider says:

    can anyone help me find the East Pakistan Razakars Ordinance, 1971?? i desperately need it

  13. Atif C. says:

    In all fairness it wasn’t just Pakistan, but the US, China, Saudi Arabia, and most of the Muslim world which supported the Afghan freedom fighters in their struggle against a corrupt communist dictatorship (and later an outright brutal invasion by the Soviet war machine). We absolutely did the right thing by helping the Afghan people throw off the yoke of tyranny and fight for their God-given rights and our only mistake (which of course would turn out to be a grave one) was not having an end-game plan for the postwar situation. I can no more blame Pakistan for supporting the mujahideen than I can blame the Afghan people for their courageous struggle against foreign subjugation.

  14. says:

    A complete e commerce site like ebay. Buy & Sell online. Free listing and Free advertisement.

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  16. Harunur Rashid says:

    Most of the killer officers of Bangladesh Army were Pakistan Military Academy Kakul graduates who were taught that politicians were ‘bloody civilians’ and army officers should aspire to be self-decorated hyperinflated Field Marshall Ayub Khans. Fortunately for Pakistan, both Ayub and lastly Musharraf were disgraced and rejected and the heinous ISI neutralised by democracy. Pakistan under democracy has the best chance of survival. Obama has in reality saved Pakisan. I see democracy gaining strength under the democratic Pakistani government. The military almost took it to the brink of self-destruction and labeling of a failed state syndrome drummed by the Western media.Terrorism flourished and prospered under blockhead despot Musharraf. The new elected government has subdued it in a very short time. In keeping with the Kakul tradition the cold blooded assassins of Mujib and family (two of his daughter-in-laws were pregnant) on that fateful morning spoke in English. Even the mastermind Zia who presided over the mass killings silently could not speak Bangla properly.

    There was a deep-rooted conspiracy underway to eliminate Mujib the day he defied the Nixon administration to go ahead with Bangladesh’s independence struggle. On that day Kissinger had signed Mujib’s death sentence. Bangladesh’s independence was a major insult and slap on the face of the brutal and conspiring (confer Watergate fiasco) Kissinger-Nixon administration.It was actually Kissinger whon was calling the shots while Nixon was the scapegoat. No wonder Kissinger remained untouched by the Watergate Scandal though I have every reason to doubt Kissinger’s ignorance about the incident!

  17. Now First of all I failed to understand why you start discussion with religion, Intelligent agencies and all. or do you feel that as Pakistan has Put Islam in the constitution means you have got the sole agency of Islam??

  18. Shafiq says:

    The root of Pakistan is extremism. They started with planned killing of civilians from Direct Action day in 1946. Started by then, this is a never ending process. It is a problem for whole Asia and World. The base of this country is religious hatred and extremism. We should destroy Pakistan Army and further divide it into pieces to make peace in the region.

  19. ali says:

    you mother fucker Rahat no nothing about fucking pakistan army. you are a black spot of Islam. you are a black spot of sunni muslim.

    got to bahawalpur and sawt valley and see the plight of common men and women. Paki army opened the border and imported terrorists from afganistan first, then they did a shariah agreement with them,then they are chasing those imported terrorists but end of the day, Pakis army did hold any top leader of terrorists rather it had raped women in those ares and evicted 1.5 million residents and claimed in Islamabad that they kicked out of terrorists.
    Know the fact them go and say something in favour or against pakistan. Our Paki Army is a terrorists army and full of mercenaries and those dogs are barking and biting its own lord Pakistan. Pakistan army should repent before Allah for these heinous crimes.

  20. You should either read books or start watching movies on dog training. Or if you wanted to ask to sit in during a dog training class, say you want to be a dog trainer when you get older

  21. musa says:

    all people over here r naive. on 8 march 2010 haseena herself admitted tat in 1969 in britain mujib had planned with his men abt the seccession of east pakistan from west pakistan. read the book “raw and bangladesh” written by zainulabiddin a former mukti millitant,and then decide who really looted bangladesh. sam manekshaw wrote a book in which he admitted tat he had recruited 80,000 hindus in the mukti bahini, tat is 80%. mujib was a political dictator who banned all other parties and killed 40,000 patriotic bengalis who demanded political and territorial independance frm india. mujib was killed by his own man ziaur rehman. and mujibs body lay in the streets for days. while wen zia was killed in 1981 hundreds of thousands came to his funeral. bangladesh is not a heaven as bengalis r trying to reput. more coups than pakistan,more famines than pakistan,more corruption than pakistan and most of all direct or indirect dependency on india for survival. zia was outsted by khalid musharaf,khalid was killed by abu tahir, abu tahir was killed by zia( his own man,zia was was killed by abu manzoor,abu manzoor was killed by hussain moh. irshad. u call this democracy??? man-made famine in 1974 wen mujib refused to stop indians frm looting(admitted by zainul abiddin of indian looting) killed 3-500,000 people, is this ur sui-sufficiancy??? with 5 inf. divs,236 helis and jets and just 5 frigates bangladesh considers herself a superpower??? it cant stand for more than a week against iindias 36 inf.divs,3armd. divs,3300 warplanes or against pakistans 26 inf. divs and 900+ jets??? day to day cyclones 1970(5 lak dead),1991(1 lak dead) and recently sidr(17,500 dead) and bangladesh has failed to recover on its own bt with massive foreign aid.pakistan both millitarily and economically stronger than bd. our relation with muslim countries streatch to 1400 years.we havent surrendered our desputes to india(kashmir,rann of kutch,sir creek) as bangladesh has(farraka barrage,border villages captures by india in 1971,and streamers passage in bd’s rivers).upon this surrender bd got 3 billion dollars,pakistan stood for palestine,kashmir,bosnia,kosovo..and we r pressurising usa to leave iraq and afghanistan(which is clearly evident with our politicians remarks). BANGLADESH WE(PAKISTANIS) KNOW UR CALIBRE,SO DONT OUTBURST BEYOND UR CAPABILITY!

  22. Alp Arsalan says:

    After reading the trash and comment I am fully aware of polluted minds of yours.

    I do not want to waste time in reminding you what your military forces have done and are doing.

    May it be Pak Army or ISI, they will keep working in the best interests of Pakistan (irrespective of barking of so many dogs as above)

  23. It appears that nobody has any idea how to go about tackling Rise of Extremism, Terrorism in Pakistan. What a lot of people seem to forget is that this country of 170 million people has a median age of 21 years. These young and impressionable people can easily be astray unless these menaces are curbed and Pakistan can be led back on the path of progress and stability.

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