-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro
Jamat-e-Islami-e-Pakistan (JIP) is often dubbed as the political partner of Pakistan’s military or the Sinn Fein (political wing of the terrorist Irish Republican Army) of the militant groups involved in India and Afghanistan. However, recent comments of JIP’s chief, Syed Munawar Hassan, on Hakimullah Mehsud and Pakistani soldiers confronting the Taliban (TTP) have raised controversy in the country. In a press release, the military has asked JIP’s chief to apologize for refusing to recognize the soldiers as martyrs who lost their lives confronting the Taliban.
Many will argue that such statements issued in the midst of anti-US and pro-Taliban campaigns actually enhance legitimacy and leverage for the military rather than hurting its image. As Pakistani military’s role as the non-NATO US ally looms in dark, such rhetoric help the military strengthen its position during negotiations with the international community. The unfolding events in Afghanistan have emboldened pressure groups like JIP and Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaaf Pakistan (TIP) to launch a psychological warfare that will eventually help the armed forces find a new purpose and relevance in the post-NATO scenario. It is with the blessings of the military that JIP and TIP receive the center stage in shaping Pakistan’s foreign policy.
Such statements also leave a strong impact on the conservative soldiers – who dominate the middle and lower military ranks and see Taliban as their allies against India and the west. Not only TIP and JIP, but in recent months, high ranking military officials like the Corps Commander of Peshawar, Lt-Gen Safdar Hussain, have called Hakimullah Mehsud a soldier of peace and the Taliban an essential component in bringing peace and security in the region. The Abbottabad Commission also substantiates this fact in her report that the military still considers Taliban and their affiliates as assets and instrument of leverage against adversaries. Given, they not only encourage negotiations with the Taliban but also favor a due role for them in the future governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Although the military leadership is still far from openly accepting their collaboration with the Taliban; organizations like JIP and TIP will continue their mission in shaping the mindset of the nation to eventually accept Taliban as Pakistan’s only hope.