The use of combative, confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause. A militant is someone who is inclined towards warfare or hardline policies. Militancy is by external elements (non-state players). Terrorist, insurgents, and even religious groups who seek violence to spread their beliefs are militants. Militancy is challenging in the sense that it keenly inspires conflict, rather than seeking to resolve or limit the hostility and chaos that conflict creates. According to Martin Luther King, militancy seeks “to create a crisis” or “to foster tension.” Militancy stands in contrast to systems of remonstration that see their targets as prone to rational persuasion. So in turn militants are not “persuasion-oriented” but “confrontation-oriented”.
Pakistan’s History with Militancy:
Pakistan was founded on its religious individuality. It is difficult for the nation to sever ties with its religiosity. The intensity of religiosity is tied to support of militancy. During the Afghan war in the 1980s, Pakistan, along with the USA and other Western governments managed and maintained the mujahedeens who were countering the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. The Pakistani army made them proficient in military matters, the Pakistani military dictator of the time, General Zia ul Haq also enforced a nationwide Islamist revival campaign with aid and encouragement coming from Saudi Arabia.
There formed a seven-member mujahedeen alliance, sponsored by the US, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and many other Muslim countries, which was composed solely of ‘Islamist’ groups.
Forty thousand ‘Islamic’ radicals were imported from across the Muslim world, including Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri. These imported rebels were from Uzbekistan, Chechnya, and Xinjiang.
After the Russians pulled out from Afghanistan, this lethal blend of fortified local and foreign jihadists either stayed on in Afghanistan-Pakistan or returned to their home countries to disseminate their toxic ideological and fighting knowledge. These militants and their descendants formed the core of Al Qaeda and its offshoots in the Arab world as well as the Islamic Movement Uzbekistan (IMU), The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Through the Soviet withdrawal and an equally speedy American withdrawal from Afghanistan, Islamist groups had a relatively free hand in Afghanistan, Pakistan and their countries of origin. Al Zawahiri combined with Osama bin Laden to form Al Qaeda. At the same time the mujahedeen, divided into several factions, competing for control of Kabul. A fight for influence followed between Pakistan and Iran in Afghanistan. Pakistan found itself on the frontline for externally funded Sunni-Shia violence.
The September 11 attacks sustained by the US caused the partnership between the Islamist groups working within Pakistan and the state of Pakistan very sour, very fast. When Pervez Musharraf decided to partner with the US to oust the Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Which resulted in Pakistan having to completely stop their support for Islamist groups and having to launch many military operations against them. Through thorough analysis of Musharraf’s offensive on the Islamist groups in Pakistan, it is clear to see that he selectively targeted the militants – choosing not to act against Islamists whom Pakistan thought to be “strategic assets” to be utilized as proxies against India occupied Kashmir. As the leadership of the time thought they needed some leverage in the future to negotiate with Afghan government.
During which time the state had almost complete control over the Taliban and other Islamists, which was negatively impacted and damaged after Pakistan’s support for the US in the war against terror. As a number of groups turned against the Pakistani government and carried out violent attacks on the military and civilian facilities. The problem remains a threat for Pakistani establishments. These militant groups are intent on imposing the Islamic law, i.e. Shariah in Pakistan.
The Shariah ideology shows clear popularity and support among the Pakistani population. As the Islamic clergy from all sects are demanding the same, these include the leadership of popular Islamic political parties.
With al Qaeda not as strong or as influential as it once was in the region, and the Taliban splitting into various offshoots due to a leadership conflict, Islamist groups are rapidly creating incursions into the country. As many of the Taliban deserters have joined mainstream political parties in the past decade. As is an open secret the Haqqani Network is considered to be collaborating and working very closely with Islamabad.
The recent dissemination and escalation of militant movements across the Muslim world have been made possible by three factors. One, the deficiency and vulnerability of most Muslim states, in terms of their law and order capabilities and their intelligence outreach, political negligence and/or tolerance towards extremist movements. Two, the erroneous Western directed subjugation or erosion of dictatorial regimes in Muslim states including Egypt, Libya, and Syria, which opened the gates for Islamist groups. Three, the external support of some of these groups, like the IS and TTP.