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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Violence without limits and Pakistan�s challenge January 2009 By: A H Nayyar & Zia Mian

The murderous assault on Bombay by Islamist militants, at least some of whom were from Pakistan, has exposed once again the grave danger that radical Islamist movements pose to Pakistan, its neighbours and the world. The urgent challenge now is for Pakistan and its neighbours, together with the international community, to work together to confront the risk of Pakistan spiralling into chaos and collapse.

Ten years ago, the political thinker and activist Eqbal Ahmad wrote that “conditions for revolutionary violence have been gathering in Pakistan since the start in 1980 of the internationally sponsored Jihad in Afghanistan.” He argued that “revolutionary violence in Pakistan is likely to be employed by religious and right‑wing organizations which have not set theoretical or practical limits on their use of violence.” He then warned that Pakistan “is moving perilously toward a critical zone from where it will take the state and society generations to return to a semblance of normal existence. When such a critical point of hard-return is reached, the viability of statehood depends more on external than internal factors.”


To truly confront the threat, the first challenge is for Pakistanis to agree that they want to live in a modern, democratic and plural society. To achieve this goal, the jihadi movement will have to be faced and overcome. The resort to indiscriminate and overwhelming force will not serve, it will make things worse. It will require what Eqbal Ahmad described as “a carefully planned and methodically executed programme of reform aimed at removing the root causes of the proliferation of violence in society, and improvement in the investigative, preventive, and prosecution capabilities of security and intelligence agencies, and the administration of justice.” Put simply, to effectively meet the Islamist challenge, the Pakistani state must finally accept and fully exercise its responsibility to maintain peace, provide justice, foster democracy and participation, and make available in an equitable manner the resources necessary for economic and social development. Pakistan’s neighbours and the world will need to help.


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