Pakistan was born out of a spirit of optimism under stress. The two-nation theory that came into being as a result of the philosophy of Sir Muhammad Iqbal, the political Declaration of Choudhry Rahmat Ali and the national leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah stressed that peace and freedom for the region’s Muslims could only be achieved through the creation of a modern national republic. The two-nation theory’s greatest proponents envisaged Pakistan as a republic that would serve as a homeland for Muslims seeking both post-colonial independent development as well as a national bulwark against the growing tide of Hindutva terrorism in the subcontinent as embodied by the ruthlessly violent gang RSS and related organisations.
Since its inception, Pakistan has shown great resilience in the face of supremely adverse circumstances. Tragically, Pakistan’s identity as an Islamic Republic has attracted both anti-Islamic forces of violence to its soil whilst also being a magnet for those who seek to exploit, abuse and insult Islam by organising acts of violence committed in the name of Islam.
Because of this, while many countries facing challenging conditions only need to confront one variety of extremism, Pakistan has throughout its existence faced threats from traditional state military aggression (primarily from India and Afghanistan), secular terror groups funded and aided by both New Delhi and its partners in Kabul, ethno-nationalist terrorism funded from abroad, political terrorism founded from abroad and Islamist terrorism funded from abroad.
While groups as diverse as the BLA (foreign backed Baloch ethno-separatists), PTM (foreign backed Pashtun anti-state agitators), and TTP (foreign backed Islamist terrorists) all present unique challenges to Pakistan’s security apparatus, each of these groups have a de facto singular goal – to destroy state institutions and hence the national identity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
There are fairly self-evident motivations behind the foreign backers of each of these groups. After intervening in Pakistan’s internal affairs in 1971 which resulted in the severing of East from West Pakistan, Indian political factions and the RAW intelligence agency have desired to sever Pakistan’s least populace but strategically important Balochistan province from the rest of Pakistan in a similar manner. Also, through collaborations with multiple aggressive Kabul regimes, RAW has helped to encourage Afghan expansionism across the legally recognised (though not by Kabul) Durand Line. This is the way in which TTP unleashed a wave of terrorism on what is now known as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (KP) between the early 2000s and very recent years.
In spite of these multiple terrorists groups being funded by nations more wealthy than Pakistan (typically India) and aided by a nation more aggressive than Pakistan (multiple Kabul regimes), there is but one reason that the terrorists have failed and that Pakistan’s state institutions have prevailed. The professionalism and dedication of Pakistan’s Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have seen off wave upon wave of deadly terrorism that as recently as earlier this decade threatened the very existence of Pakistan.
But while this issue is clearly important for peace and freedom loving Pakistanis, it is also of great relevance to the wider world. When terrorists take over entire countries, the threat to peace quickly spreads across national borders. Much of Europe’s migrant crisis has been caused by Libya’s post-2011 transformation from Africa’s most successful country into a failed state built upon terrorist training camps. The fall of Iraq after 2003 and the destabilisation of Syria after 2011 likewise brought both the Middle East and the wider world instability as it was the destruction of Iraqi state institutions and the severe weakening of Syrian state institutions that led to the creation of the notorious Daesh (aka ISIS) terror organisation.
The monster that is Daesh ought to prove instructive to all nations that foolishly believe that they can achieve traditional goals of regional domination through the use of non-conventional militarism (aka terrorism that appears to be non-state in its origins). And yet, for Pakistan’s enemies, this lesson still has not been learned.
Worse yet is that many of Pakistan’s enemies compare the indigenous resistance in Indian occupied Kashmir to a terrorist campaign even though Kashmiris began resisting before Pakistan could even call itself a functioning state. Likewise, it is equally absurd to equate international sympathy towards a democratic and peaceful referendum in Indian Punjab for Sikh self-determination (the Khalistan movement) with a campaign of terror for the same reason that the Catalan referendum in Spain and the UK’s referendum in Scotland could not reasonably be conceived as terrorist activity.
But while Pakistan continues to fight terror, many too many continue to make excuses as to why Pakistan is somehow the aggressor rather than the victim. Whether Indian or Afghan strategic propaganda, western and Israeli knee-jerk Islamophobia or Pakistani liberals who somehow believe that laying down weapons in the face of terrorism will somehow turn cold blooded killers into human rights activists, Pakistan’s war against terrorism continues to be undermined at the level of soft power, in spite of the very real military and domestic political gains that Pakistan has made in order to secure the region from terror while promoting good governance as a long term solution to draining the swamplands once invested with foreign backed terror.
It is because of this that the entire world owes Pakistan a debt of gratitude. If a nation as large, as populace, as strategically located and as nuclear armed as Pakistan were to fall into the hands of those who continue to de facto rule Libya while still riding roughshod over parts of Syria and Iraq, the entire world would be endangered. Because of this, those from outside of south Asia would stand to benefit from thinking of Pakistan’s Army and ISI as a national police force against the high crime of terrorism.
While Pakistan fights for its own survival and has largely won this recent battle, Pakistan is also fighting for the world. Since terrorism quickly shifts from national to regional and then to international, one cannot forget that terrorists neutralised by the Pakistani Army are terrorists that won’t be travelling anywhere else to commit their crimes against humanity. The only good terrorist is a dead one and Pakistan’s state institutions have worked tirelessly to deprive terrorists of life so that peace loving people can enjoy their own lives.