Militant Groups in Pakistan Rebrand Themselves as Political Parties

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As worldwide stress is mounting on Islamabad to do extra in opposition to militant teams working from its soil, some militant teams are rebranding themselves as political events.

“The Pakistan navy is permitting militant, virulently anti-Indian teams to enter the political course of to allow a vocal political voice in opposition to any Pakistani civilian warming relations with India,” Thomas Lynch, a analysis fellow on the Nationwide Protection College in Washington, instructed VOA.

“The aboveground voices of [Hafiz Mohammad] Saeed and [Kashmiri militant leader Fazlur Rehman] Khalil as political figures will meld with their enduring position as leaders of virulently anti-India armed teams in a method that may additional constrain Pakistani political leaders from simply enterprise any strikes towards rapprochement with India,” Lynch added.

New social gathering

Saeed, the chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawa group (JUD), which has been designated as a terrorist group by the U.S. and is extensively thought-about a entrance group for Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, launched a brand new political social gathering final month.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror assaults that killed 166 individuals, together with six People.

The U.S. authorities has supplied a $10 million reward for info resulting in his arrest.

JUD’s newly established Milli Muslim League social gathering got here in third in a by-election in Punjab final week, securing extra votes than Pakistan’s Individuals’s Occasion contender did.

Lynch stated he thought that with out the navy’s blessings, the militants-turned-political events can’t thrive.

“Nothing of consequence inside Pakistan safety, politics or economics occurs with out the Pakistan navy’s concurrence, both by direct help or oblique acquiescence,” Lynch stated.

“This mainstreaming of longtime militant-terrorist teams led by Saeed and Khalil is of consequence [and] due to this fact should be supported by the Pakistan navy,” he added.

Final week’s by-election was additionally contested by the Tehreek Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah, a celebration of the followers of Mumtaz Qadri, who was sentenced to loss of life after being convicted of murdering Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer, the identical particular person he was paid to protect.

Qadri killed the governor in 2011 as a result of he advocated for reforms within the nation’s controversial blasphemy legal guidelines.

The 2 events of militants-turned-politicians reportedly secured 11 % of the overall votes in final week’s election.

Growing stress

The politicization of militancy coincides with growing worldwide stress on Pakistan to take motion in opposition to militant secure havens within the county.

Saying his South Asia technique, U.S. President Donald Trump final month put Pakistan on discover to cease harboring militant teams that use Pakistani soil to plan and launch assaults in opposition to Afghan and U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Leaders of BRICS, an financial bloc composed of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, additionally expressed considerations this month about Pakistan-based militant teams and cited them as an issue for regional safety.

Pakistan has lengthy denied that militants get pleasure from secure havens within the nation and has proclaimed itself as a sufferer of terrorism.

The nation’s Overseas Minister Khawaja Asif, nonetheless, this week admitted that Hafiz Saeed and Lashkar-e-Taiba had been liabilities for his nation.

“Saeed, LeT, they’re a legal responsibility, I settle for it, however give us time to do away with them,” Asif stated at an Asia Society occasion in New York on Tuesday.

Optimism

Some analysts, nonetheless, see the brand new pattern of pushing militants to mainstream politics as a superb growth.

“Until these events and people are allowed to be part of the political system, they could by no means change their method and can go underground, which will likely be way more harmful,” stated Zubair Iqbal, an analyst on the Center East Institute in Washington.

The query is: Can violent extremism and politics co-exist? Pakistani-based political analyst Khadim Hussain has his doubts.

“The ‘mainstreamed’ extremist organizations haven’t publicly revoked their ideology. They haven’t but dismantled their militaristic, welfare and ideological infrastructure. This appears to be legitimizing extremist violence in Pakistan,” Hussain stated.

Hussain added that ” ‘mainstreaming ‘ and ‘integration’ appear to be a tactic to divert the U.S., BRICS and different regional and worldwide stakeholders’ consideration from the core problems with policymaking in Pakistan.”

Lynch of NDU echoed Hussain’s evaluation and stated it was unlikely that the transfer would assist curb extremism.

“I don’t see this transfer serving to to curb extremism in Pakistan over the quick time period,” Lynch stated.

As Pakistan is holding nationwide and provincial elections in 2018, analysts worry that militant teams will try to make use of the brand new platform to affect laws.

“These teams will inject xenophobia and extremist views within the physique politic if given free hand in politics,” Pakistani activist Marvi Sirmed wrote in an op-ed in Lahore’s Zari Information, urging the state to halt any type of help to those teams.

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