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Pak Tea House » Pakistan, Punjabi, Religion, Taliban, Terrorism » Terror’s Training Ground

Terror’s Training Ground

By Ayesha Siddiqa

Openning09-09A few years ago, I met some young boys from my village near Bahawalpur who were preparing to go on jihad. They smirked politely when I asked them to close their eyes and imagine their future. “We can tell you without closing our eyes that we don’t see anything.”

It was not entirely surprising. South Punjab is a region mired in poverty and underdevelopment. There are few job prospects for the youth. While the government has built airports and a few hospitals, these projects are symbolic and barely meet the needs of the area. It’s in areas like this, amid economic stagnation and hopelessness, that religious extremists find fertile ground to plant and spread their ideology. Click here to read remaining article.


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12 Responses to "Terror’s Training Ground"

  1. [...] Terror’s Training Ground [...]

  2. Feroz Khan Canada Internet Explorer Windows says:

    @ BJ Kumar

    The state has no alternative for the dreams of Muslim martial traditions because the state is incapable of any policy decision, which mitigates against this phenomena. The policy framework required to create a response against the occupation of South Punjab by the Islamic militant groups cannot be allowed to exist as a workable policy option. The formulation of such a policy, designed to resist the growth of Islamic militancy, in the heartland of Pakistan, poses a direct threat to the very institutional existence of the Pakistani armed forces and such, will never be tolerated to exist let alone succeed.

    In terms of emerging global threat indicators and trends, the growing cause of concern in international security studies, as they pertain to Pakistan, is not the failure of the state or even a Islamic styled revolution, but the questions of durability and sustainibility of the Pakistani armed forces, particularly the army. The greatest mortal threat to the state of Pakistan orginates from within the Pakistan army and not these non-state actors.

    The non-state actors, which are gradually entrenching themselves into the political fabric of the Pakistani society do not have the ability to usurp political power completely and rule the state, but they do have the capability to plunge Pakistan into circumtances of acute anarchy. The political forces in Pakistan, and this term implies the political parties in Pakistan, are not capable of resisting the militant groups in Pakistan, because these groups exist under the umbrella of the military’s offical patronage.

    The Pakistani army views these groups as its “strateic assets” not because of their usefulness to the army’s own political interests in Kashmir or Afghanistan, but because these groups are increasingly offering the only viable avenue to the army’s own raison d’ etre as an insitution. To understand the proliferation of these militant non-state actors/groups in Pakistan, it is incumbent to understand the reasons why the Pakistani military supports them; shelters them and preserves them from harm.

    Pakistan is a state, which though not a failure in the most objective sense, is on verge of an impending economic implosion. The Pakistani military, particularly the army, has historically siphoned resources from the state towards its own betterment and it has used the existence of the state as a rationale for its own very existence. The problem, for Pakistan in light of the proliferation of the militant groups and their offical linkages with the state, is that the Pakistani military is an institutional bureaucracy and the first principle of any bureaucratic organization is the idea of self-preservation.

    The Pakistani military; the army, represents the state and sees itself as the embodiment of the state’s authority but in a reverse sense. The legitimacy of the state of Pakistan draws from the legitmacy of the Pakistani army as a viable institution. The problem is that as the state of Pakistan continues to fail and seems to be failing, it poses certain questions for the long-term existence of the Pakistani military and its most dominating influence; the Pakistani army.

    The mindset of the Pakistani army is such that it believes that without it, Pakistan cannot exist. With the economy of Pakistan under severe strains and the international opinion critical of miliary intervention in Pakistani politics, atleast overtly, the army had to find an argument to justify its existence in Pakistan and still be the recipient of external donor support in order to exist as an institution.

    The Pakistani army is creating a narrative that that suggests that without it, Pakistan would be overtaken by the militant Islamic groups and to ensure that this idea is credible, the army sees these militant groups as “prized strategic assets” which insure the army’s own existence.

    What matters to the army mindset and what motivates it is not the idea of whether there is or there is no Pakistan in the future, but that there MUST be an army in the future. The Pakistani army, being a colonial legacy, follows the colonial policy of divide and conquor and it is for this reason, why the army and its various intelligence services, play handmaiden in Pakistani politics and why they continually mutate the political realities of Pakistan into countless premutations for their own benefit.

    Pakistani army supporting the Islamic militant groups is one of the premutations of politics whereby the army wishes to create a specter of a Islamic threat to Pakistan, because it wants to make sure it has access to money to exist as an organization. This is a form of blackmail to ply a state of fear in the minds of international security analysts that if Pakistani army is not financially supported by international donor money as a bulwark against threats of Islamic militancy in the war on terror, its collapse would be a greater threat to world peace not because of Islamic take over in Pakistan, because it might sell its services to the highest bidder for sake of its, not Pakistan’s, self-preservation.

    It is for this reason, why the Pakistani military is embarking on a massive escalation of its nuclear program and why, despite the dismal state of Pakistani economy, it is pouring money into its nuclear weaponization program. It is preparing the tools of blackmail by which, raising the imagery of its collapse as an institution, it hopes to gurantee the flow of funds into its coffers and thus, allow for its continued existence in the future.

    The Pakistani army has never cared for Pakistan or its people, but for its own institutional interests and it has always seen Pakistan as a stepping stone to its own ambition of securing its own survivial. This also explains, why in the aftermath of the 1971 war, Pakistani army doubled in size when Pakistan itself was halfed and in actuality, the size of the army should have been cut in proportions to what was commeasureate to the territorial size of a post-1971 Pakistan.

    As long as the Pakistani army sees these non-state Islamic groups as offering it a lease on life and as the state of Pakistan becomes more and more incapable of supporting the Pakistani army, Pakistani army will increasingly rely on these groups to preserve its intitutional intergrity and why it will resist all attempts to isolate, dismantle and defeat these groups in Pakistan.


  3. sikandar United States Safari Mac OS says:


    Part of what happen after 1971 was that Saudi Arabia used
    Pakistan as a mercenary force in middle east. and Anatol Lieven
    says Pakistan is a patronage society.
    So unless you come up with another way patronage the powers
    of pakistan nothing will change.
    The problem is that Saudi Arabia paid for the nuclear bomb
    along with other muslim countries and they are the only one
    who are going to pay pakistan’s massive debt of borrowed money.
    Another problem is the US will blame pakistan for their withdrawal
    from afghanistan. Only other question is what happens in Iran.
    Bahrain is also a wildcard. Saudi Arabia is already upset because
    of Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. With Iraq kicking out US, there is
    trouble there as well.

  4. neel123 Canada Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    “It’s in areas like this, amid economic stagnation and hopelessness, that religious extremists find fertile ground to plant and spread their ideology.”

    - are poverty, unemployment, corruption etc unique to Pakistan alone …. ? If one goes by this logic then there would be Hindu equivalent of the JEM and LET, killing people on the streets of Lahore and Karachi …….. !!!

  5. Progressive Right United States Mozilla Firefox Windows says:


    Pouring scarce funds into rapidly expanding the nuclear arsenal at this time in the nation’s history seemed like madness. Your framework provided a very feasible explanation.

  6. AKG United States Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Based on the latest Wikileaks release, the Houston Chronicle reports:
    On Sept. 11, 2001, the core of al-Qaida was concentrated in a single city: Karachi, Pakistan.
    End quote.

  7. Viva ka Baap United Kingdom Safari Mac OS says:

    Dear Viva,

    You are very similar to that man you worship named Gandhu, your fascination with Pakistan is like Gandhu’s fascination with a German bodybuilders ‘sausage’. Similarly your fascination with Islam is like Nehru’s fascination with Mountbottom ‘spotted dick’.

    So the moral of the story is that you are a Gandhu.


    One of your mums many Muslim lovers.

  8. Feroz Khan Canada Internet Explorer Windows says:

    @ sikandar ( April 25, 2011 at 8:56 am)

    Pakistani army is a mercenary army becuse the only patronage that it seeks is a patronage for war. Saudi Arabia may have paid for Pakistan’s nuclear weaponization program, but that begs a different question and opens up different avenues of questioning into the nature of political power in Pakistan itself. The army is the defination of political power in Pakistan and if we validate the proposition that it is a mercenary army, then we are by default suggesting that Pakistan is, and was, a mercenary state since its inception.

    Pakistani army started to make its forays into the areas of governance and foreign policy early in the 1950s and after the initial dialogue that led to Pakistan recieving military aid from the United States, the army circumvented the civilian government and started to discuss the terms of the alliance with the United States itself.

    The next logical step in this process, of the militarization of the Pakistani state, was the inclusion of Ayub Khan, as a serving general in the Pakistani cabinet. A few years later, Ayub Khan simply discarded the illusion and the military took over the state of Pakistan and since that day in 1958, it has dominated every aspect of the Pakistani society. In the 1950s, the army was already becoming a mercenary force for hire, as it readily rented itself out to the United States’ version of the Cold War.

    Saudi Arabia using Pakistani army as a mercenary force overlooks the role of the Pakistani army in Jordan, when Brigadier Zia-ul-Haq, spearheaded Jordan’s explusion of the Palestinians in what became known Black September. Then in the 1970s, Z. A. Bhutto loaned the army to Saudi Arabia for purposes of guarding its oil and this continued till the early 1980s, when the army was withdrawn by Zia-ul-Haq, who by then the head of the army.

    Zia withdrew the army because the Saudis were starting to intervene in the internal matters of the army and suggesting that shia officers of the Pakistani army not be allowed to serve in Saudi Arabia. Zia, fearing for the unity of the army itself and worrying for its institutional cohesion, withdrew the army from Saudi Arabia.

    With the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, Zia could not tolerate a rebellion within the army and in the early 1980s, American aid was still a few years away and Zia was still a pariah on the international stage for having hanged an “elected” civilian head of government – Z. A. Bhutto.

    Therefore, the withdrawal of the Pakistani army was made possible by the institutional interests of Pakistani army itself and not due to the considerations of Pakistan’s foreign policy. In a smilar sense, Zia agreeing to Pakistan becoming a frontline state and fighting the Soviet Union as a proxy of the United States, was done to further secure his own military rule and legitimize it and end his own pariah status in the world.

    Pakistan became an ally of the United States, against the Soviets in 1981, but the Soviet invasion was in 1979. The timing was perfect, because just as the Pakistani army was ending its patronage links with Saudi Arabia, the war in Afghanistan allowed itself to regenerate the dormant alliance with the United States, and once more offer itself to the American cause against the Soviets.

    This alliance lasted till the early 1990s, when the United States having no use for the Pakistani army, started to sanction Pakistan because of its nuclear program. Then, the fates intervenened again, the Second Gulf War happened (the First Gulf War was between Iraq and Iran in 1980s) and Iraq invaded Kuwait and the Pakistani army once more looked to the Saudis for patronage.

    By this time, the indoctrination of the Pakistan army was complete and with its motto of “jihad in the name of Islam” and the numberical designation of the GHO in Rawalpindi as “786″, Pakistani army was more amenable to the Saudis and it would play a key role as a Saudi proxy in bringing the Taliban to power in Afghanistan.

    Throughout the 1990s, it acted as a Saudi proxy and this alienated Pakistan’s ties with Iran, which started to open up to India. Iranian overtures to India and its hatred for Pakistan stemmed from the Taliban massacre of shias in Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan, and the systematic perceution of the shias which started under Zia in the 1980s.

    Then, 2001 happened and another illegitimate military ruler adopted another means to save the army from annihilation. Pakistani army has ruined Pakistan and since 1958, it has been the army which has made all the important decisions which Pakistan is now paying for in blood and tears.

    Pakistani army, being a colonial creation, plays a policy of divide and conquor because it is not willing to tolerate any opposition to its own institutional interests and towards this purpose, it first dismantled and undermined the idea of institutional politics in Pakistan; then it introduced religion into politics and claimed itself as a champion of that idea and in all, its policies have been consistent and uniformal; to serve the interests of the army itself at the expense of Pakistan.

    Sikandar, Saudis will not pay for Pakistan’s massive debt. Pakistan’s massive debt will be paid by the non-Muslim world, which is becoming concerned at the idea of Pakistani army; the only mercenary army in the world with possession of nuclear weapons (not even Blackwater/Xe can claim this honororfic), and what it will do if Pakistan is allowed to sink into an economic black hole.

    Pakistan has no economy or industrial production and no visible means of wealth generation. Who do you think is paying the salary of the Pakistani army? Pakistani people with with their taxes? It is the international loans also known as Coalition Support Funds, which are paying for upkeep of the Pakistani army!

    Bahrain is not the wildcard! The wildcard is the Pakistani army and what it will do; and who will deal with it if Pakistan is allowed to implode! Keeping Pakistan on the hook of insupportable debt and feeding small gasps of financial oxygen to its economy is still a better idea than dealing with a mess of Pakistan collapsing and the Pakistani army opening up an international bazzar for its nuclear weapons!

    By keeping Pakistan economically afloat, the idea is to keep Pakistani army contained with the territory of Pakistan and limit its influence and any potential fallout to Pakistan.

    Reverting back to the begining, a mercenary army lives for patronage for war and world is offering that patronage to the Pakistani army by keeping it busy fighting a war inside Pakistan than causing harm outside of it!

    Hope this clarifies the situation!


  9. Sachbol United States Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Feroz Khan,
    There is another scenario. In 20-25 years with curent growth rate in population there will be close to 350-400 Million Pakistani. Unfortunately most of them religious fanatics, hungry, illiterate and armed to teeth with janoon of jehad and jannat . There will be negligent industrial jobs and with shortage of water , no agriculture either. How will Paki army control and handle such ground level discontent? To me it seems very shortsighted . This single factor alone have the potential to doom Pakistani experiment . PA might try to push Jihadis in India or Afghanistan but this too will have its own repercussions and consequences which might hasten the evnetual demise. It is no secret that Indians and others effected by Paki jihadis will eliminate the threat on ASAP basis with no mercy. Regardless of jingoism , PA will face the same fate in case of direct conflict. China or WEST or Ummah , no one have the desire or obligation to keep and feed 400 Million people as pets . Pakistani value to contain, harass Indian growth have already diminshed to lowest level and soon will have no patron for this cause. Indian economic integration with China , West and ME /Africa will exceed over Trillion each and realistic assesement of economic development will tell anyone that Bangladesh and Afghanistan with the help of India will be decades ahead of Pakistan in economic development . Question is then “what”? Will Pakistan have any aim in life or rational to exist beside reading, eating, drinking, breathing Islam as ultimate nirvana in post 2030-2040 scenario? Whatever Jihadi seeds they sowed in 80s , they are reaping the reward now and whatever seeds they sow now will bring the reward for reaping in 20-25 years.
    I will be very interested in knowing your thoughts on this asessment of near future scenario. How will Pakistan get 50-60 Billions a year in aid from Kaffirs to survive?

  10. Feroz Khan Canada Internet Explorer Windows says:

    @ Sachbol ( April 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm)

    Pakistan army is not concerned about the fate of an ordinary Pakistani citizen. It is concerned about its own institutional existence. The world is not concerned about the deaths of Pakistanis from stravation or hunger and therefore, as long as those deaths from a Malthausian scenrio are limited to the territorial limits of Pakistan, the world will remain least bothered about how to feed the Pakistanis in the next 25-30 years.

    The idea is to limit the consequences within Pakistan and not allow any fallout outside of its borders. The millions of Pakistanis, uneducated, hopeless and fired by visions of fanaticism are not the problem.

    Where do these screaming fanatics have to go? Can they travel outside of Pakistan? Where is the greatest damage they can cause? They will die, eventually, within Pakistan will they not?.

    Pakistani population will naturally be culled from stravation, war and its resultant after effects. This scenrio is called “crisis management” and a potential crisis in Pakistan is going to managed, because no has the capability to solve it let alone commit resources to Pakistan in hopes of solving it. Pakistani army had no historic qualms about killing its own people, so the idea of Pakistani being incapable of killing Pakistanis for the sake of its own surivial seems remote and not a realistic one.

    The question is, are we going to see a possible application of a Malthausian scenerio in Pakistan given that other options of dealing with problem are problematic in their own ends and means?

    We should not judge the outcome of this crisis on the humanitarian nature of the world but on its logistical abilities to deal with the problem. Unless, Pakistan develops an ability to sort out its problems, there is no hope for another option save a possibility of a Malthausian end to the problem.


  11. Feroz Khan Canada Internet Explorer Windows says:

    @ Sachbol ( April 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm)

    “In 20-25 years with curent growth rate in population there will be close to 350-400 Million Pakistani. Unfortunately most of them religious fanatics, hungry, illiterate and armed to teeth with janoon of jehad and jannat . There will be negligent industrial jobs and with shortage of water , no agriculture either. How will Paki army control and handle such ground level discontent?”

    Simple! Pakistani army has nuclear weapons, does it not?

    An army that has historically killed its own people with conventional arms should not have a problem killing them with a few well placed tactical nuclear weapons of low yield.


  12. sikandar United States Safari Mac OS says:


    Little known fact that Ayub Khan wanted
    to take over Pakistan prior to independence
    from Britain. He was in the same regiment
    as my relative in the British Army.
    So Pakistan was from the beginning not in firm

    Pakistan is important in as far as pipeline is concerned.
    US doesn’t want a pipeline to China or India being
    built without them doing it.
    If Peak Oil hits as it is to do then Iran will be
    very important for US to invade no matter what.
    I also thing that Pakistan never got Oil from Iran
    even when US was controlling it.

    Pakistan Army is a bureaucracy like all bureaucracy
    likes to protect its turf just like pentagon. in fact
    Egyptian and Pakistan officers have been trained in the us.
    war colleges.

    US can print as much dollars it wants, it have no value
    other than all the countries trading it to buy oil.

    As far nuclear weapons. US built nuclear fallout
    shelters in 50s and 60s. They recently found one
    which was all rusted. I doubt pakistan army can have
    sealed bunkers with all the food and water stored.
    They can’t be that stupid. All the US planes
    have kill switch. US can turn off all pakistani electricity
    by an EM pulse. All electronic would seize to work forever.

    so any dollars Pakistan gets is just rest of the world subsidizing it.

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