After the endgame

Published: September 17, 2011
The writer is author of Military Inc.

The writer is author of Military Inc.

These days we come across a new narrative that legitimises jihadi outfits in the country. The new narrative insists on lumping all jihadi outfits together, irrespective of their geographical concentration and ideology, highlighting their relief activities as essential for the state and as an engine for secularising the society. The underlying assumption is that jihadis will voluntarily submit themselves to the ‘writ of the state’, especially after the departure of Isaf forces, and agree to live happily ever after.

Such a fairy tale, therefore, supports turning a blind eye to the expansion of the jihadi organisational machinery. Forget about the Haqqani network in the tribal areas, even the Pakistan-based organisations are currently expanding and probably getting ready for the ‘endgame’. The trickiest part of this official strategic schema that was underscored in a report by the Jinnah Institute and the United States Institute of Peace (JI-USIP) is that it does not address the concerns regarding the impact of such machinery on the Pakistani and Afghan societies.

There are two parallel statements being offered simultaneously. First, when quizzed about clamping down the various Pakistan based jihadi groups, the response always is that these are not under state control and so are difficult to defang.

Second, there is a possibility of calming down these jihadi outfits presumably after the endgame is won. In fact, it is assumed that these outfits will naturally calm down and become part of the secularising process of the society through their welfare and other activities. This is an erroneous interpretation since these welfare activities are not meant for potential demobilisation but for communicating with the society. For those, who believe that there is any secularising element in these welfare activities, it must be pointed out that not all people have the heart for war-fighting and so must be integrated with a jihadi outfit’s overall ideological contours through various methods including welfare and relief work. It’s an extremely powerful tool for marketing and maintaining a relationship between the state and the non-state. While the state keeps justifying jihadi presence by highlighting their relief work, the latter are in a dependent relationship with the former because of such crucial facilitation.

The new narrative is problematic since it assumes the collapse of the jihad machinery after the militants integrate into the state’s decision-making. The Haqqani network might find a space in Kabul but what about the other outfits? Are we to assume that all jihadis will after the end of the endgame migrate to Afghanistan and live there forever? Or, are we to think that people like Malik Ishaq, Masood Azhar and others will agree to live a different life, spending their old age telling stories to their children and grand children and entertaining their families?

The new pro-jihadi narrative, in fact, wants people to forget about militancy and primacy of jihad for these outfits. The question being asked is that why not consider these outfits normal by not focusing on their ideology? The issue with this framework is that it tends to deliberately minimise the significance of the theory of jihad and its implication for the state and society since the basic idea of jihad is linked with an orthodox interpretation of a just war in an Islamic state. Since they do not believe in the existing political system and the structure of the state, it is logical for them to pursue war as a means to an end.

Furthermore, turning these jihadi outfits away from war becomes difficult in a socio-political environment that does not encourage a pluralist and inclusive discourse. The close linkage of religion with the politics of the state is dicey, mainly because it is difficult to ensure that all voices will be heard and all nuances given relatively equal space. For those that are overawed by the Iranian experience, it would be worthwhile pointing out that even there the space became limited for those that disagreed including Ali Shariati and Rafsanjani who were then harshly dealt with by the state.

The ideology of jihadi outfits in Pakistan is so deeply connected with peculiar sectarian bias that is bound to create greater violence. How about not lying to ourselves about the greater possibility of these forces turning within in both soft and hard ways after the endgame is won?

Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (41)

  • Sep 17, 2011 - 9:59PM

    If the following statement is true: First, when quizzed about clamping down the various Pakistan based jihadi groups, the response always is that these are not under state control and so are difficult to defang. Then is our sovereignty not being infringed by private actors? Or is our sovereignty only infringed when the US is behind the infringement? If the Pakistani state and people find it acceptable that Jihadists can do as they please, raise funds, propagate their ideology and bear weapons, what are those who do not subscribe to their ideology supposed to do? The military is supposed to have a monopoly over the use of force and military might, if the military, state and vast segments of society support private actors who are a law unto themselves, then we are neither sovereign and only a state in terms of a political boundary on an atlas.


  • Explorer
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:44PM

    As usual, Ayesha raised the right questions. How come these questions never figure in the talk shows? Looks like we are in for more ‘interesting times’!


  • faraz
    Sep 17, 2011 - 10:52PM

    After 911, when Sufi Mohammad was taking 10,000 children of Malakand to Afghanistan, a BBC journalist asked the local officer what the government was doing to prevent this; the officer replied that it’s better if they get killed elsewhere or they will create problems inside.

    All these dozens of Pakistan based militant groups with tens of thousands of members, having nothing to do elsewhere, will definitely turn against the state. Only a full blown Afghan civil war could accommodate a steady flow of jihadis from Pakistan. Like in the 90s, when we dumped thousands of children to support a single Mazar Sharif offensive.


  • waseem
    Sep 17, 2011 - 11:26PM

    Perception that all jihadi outfits will calm down after the end game is totally wrong.We already had a terrible experience when soviet union left the afganistan in a hurry.The jihadi outfits which were at that time fighting against Russia began to quarrel each other for power.After years of bloodshed Taliban were able to get power in Afganistan .Then the situation became even worse.They provided safe heaven to the alkaida terrorists who carried 9/11 attacks and ruined the peace of the whole world.

    So jihadi outfits must be banned from the country whatever the logic of their existance is provided.

  • Emaan
    Sep 17, 2011 - 11:37PM

    Agreed that connection of the jihadi outfits with the sectarian bais is very strong. In fact it is the other way round, some sects trained their militant groups especially to target the opponents. They joined hands with the global jihadis and challenge the writ of the state. They should be eliminated without having a second thought as they dont even acknowledge the constitution of Pakistan. But the big question comes now, How these can be eliminated? Our law enforcement agencies have the supporting actors who one way or the other supports global jihadis. Its not difficult to identify those elements but it requires some significant level of will from the top level of concerned institutions. Their financing channel can be traced out and put to an end by some vigilant screening.

    Why dont they find any other muslim country to go and try to do the same as with the Pakistan? If it has to do with American element then why not Saudia Arabia instead of Pakistan. The terrorists from Africa, middle east and central asia comes here to implement shariah, why dont they try to implement shariah in their own countries?Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Sep 18, 2011 - 12:55AM

    @ Waseem
    I agreed man but who will do it and gharib ul watan what gonna do?????


  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:13AM

    This woman has a serious problem of hating Islamists. Bashing jihadis is a sport to her. Just because of a book, “secularizing Islamists”, she lambasted the author for presenting the “militant” view though in fact the book presented views of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

    I havent seen a single article of hers criticizing the US hegemony and barbarism in Afghanistan. Jihadis aren’t all terrorists. And their social work should be appreciated.


  • spacedoutwriting
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:28AM

    Post whatever the endgame in Afghanistan, India will be in deep s**t. The legitimate demands of the JKLF were twisted and given a violent turn when the Mujahideens turned their eye to Kashmir.

    The Indian state is blind and our politicians don’t care, nor do they have the vision. The armed forces know this but do not have sufficient influence over policy to get the bureaucrats or politicians to take notice. Infact the armed forces have for a long tine been quietly suggesting the need for a political solution to the Kashmir insurgency … for very rational reasons as counter-insurgency is a loss-loss situation.

    Pakistani’s don’t get this as they are so used to their army’s primacy in politics, they think its the norm in other countries as well. It never fails to amuse me when I read a report about Corp Commanders meeting and their opinion about politics and governance. I doubt the average Indian knows our equivalent of the same – Army Commanders, when they meet or if they said anything. Anytime any of the service chiefs have stepped outside the line, they have been severely pulled up.

    All this apart…. we can kiss any mirage of peace goodbye if these guys are sitting around with their AKs with no ISAF to shoot at. This was glaringly missing from Ms. Siddiqa’s analysis in the The Times of India Crest Edition. (ToI Crest is an overpriced paper with good reportage. Apparently ToI believes that you need to shell out more for better reportage. The rest of India gets to read about their jingoistic balanced by an insincere Aman ki Asha routine.) Recommend

  • Majid
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:45AM

    I think Pakistan has become a new battleground for the militants as they most likely have sights on the country’s nuclear arsenal. It also doesn’t help matters that a significant percentage of the population is sympathetic to the jihadi cause thanks to our absurd school and madrassa curriculum. That organizations like Hizb-ut-Tahrir have turned their focus on Pakistan and especially the military should not be surprising anymore. If we think that such a scenario is inconceivable then it do us well to remember that no one could have imagined episodes of red mosque, Swat, GHQ, PNS Mehran, Wana, and North/South Wazirstan just ten years back. I shudder to even think of what the worst case scenario holds for the country. Our population, scale, and nukes will make Somalia look like Switzerland.


  • Sep 18, 2011 - 1:51AM

    It’s only natural that when the war-exploitations of jihdai outfits end, if at all, they will turn to the political arena to gain space, which is not very difficult as we’ve seen in the past (any unpopular leader or a dictator would want them on his wagon if the political parties at large are against him) – and political sway doesn’t merely mean seats in the legislatures but the ability to gather crowds to coerce governments to their will. Jihadi outfits have the advantage, over political regimes, in that they yield as well as advocate violence quite professionally.
    Saying that these jihadi outfits will eventually assimilate peacefully into the political setup is pretending away from the writing on the wall which states quite the contrary.


  • Doctor
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:58AM

    As usual, another great article from this author but the average person does not want to listen. The truth is there but most in Pakistan refuse to hear it. How do we educate the average person to realize how dangerous the Jihadis are?


  • N
    Sep 18, 2011 - 3:06AM

    She is so right. Very brave of you.

    They said the same about Adolf Hitler. Just accommodate a “little” and give an inch. He ended up taking a mile and everyone with him.

    To appease these outfits of terror is to support them. The JI – USIP report is proof of how we have learnt nothing. It also tells us how close is the world view of the establishment and LET and the like.


  • Sep 18, 2011 - 4:27AM

    Pakistani establishment is incapable of learning from history.


  • Adam
    Sep 18, 2011 - 4:57AM

    There is no end game. The Americans are not leaving and are here to stay permanently! The kitchen (Afghanistan) is too hot but they are moving next door (Pakistan & Central Asia). The main reason they invaded Afghanistan in the first place was to make sure that no state governs by Sharia. The AQ issue was just a manufactured side show.


  • Santosh
    Sep 18, 2011 - 6:53AM

    The tragedy of Pakistan is that though it has folks such as Ayesha Siddiqa and Khaled Ahmed, the vast majority is infatuated with fantasies of glory, that are totally disconnected from Pakistan’s reality. In psychology, this condition is schizophrenia. And as we know the prognosis of that disease is not good. Why isn’t this article taught in “Pakistani Studies” in schools?

    @Emaan, they come to Pakistan, because Pakistan lets them. They don’t dare do this in Saudi Arabia because the Saudis will behead anyone who dares challenge the royal family. Saudis don’t mind funding the discontents to go elsewhere and vent their frustration. But doing so in Saudi Arabia is a no-no.


  • American Desi
    Sep 18, 2011 - 7:27AM

    I don’t see anyway for Pakistan to claw her way back from this ‘strategic depth’ realistically. I pity the people of Pakistan and of neighboring countries. Effects of short sighted long term policies.


  • Khadim Husain
    Sep 18, 2011 - 7:55AM

    Ayesha Bibi’s whole article is revolving around word ” Win “and “End Game”, I think some peoples are dreaming or living in Utopian world. Who will win this war? On papers U.S. would win war like Viet Nam, Korea and Iraq etc., in fact U.S. has no capacity to win any war. If U.S. would have power to win war in Afghanistan, it should not have threaten Pakistan under lame excuses of Haqqani network or North Waziristan etc.
    Chapter of Afghanistan would never close, neither use of proxr warriors or Lashkars would ever end.
    In Spain Pakistan has objected, requested or begged that U.S. even after 2014 would not be able to leave Afghanistan.
    Previously pro-Western writers used word “Alkaeda”, then “Taliban”, and now everyone is talking about “Jihadi”, majority of same mentality writers are bashing Jihadis. Either those are Bholay Badshah or don’t want to understand realities of the time.
    Jihadi is not born Jihadi, a person is first hired, trained, paid and utilized for political purposes. The person is not eminent, he is discarded, new person or persons are hired. It is a cycle, it depends may you like older or newrer. If you want to label them secularist Lashkars, it is your wish and will.
    U.S. hired democratic, secularist south Koreans and South Vietnamese, in Afghanistan hired Northern alliance secularists, in Iraq hired secularists Mullahs, and there are hundred of more examples.
    In the eyes of NATO secularists means pro-West Capitalism. If Jihad was a problem then why those are against communist countries, President Saddam and President Qaddafi were hard core secularists. Whether Socialists are not secularists. Pakistan has manufactured new anti-Jihad Lashkars, proxy warriors, whether those are secular Lashkars.


  • Saleem
    Sep 18, 2011 - 10:13AM

    My question is simple.. Anyone here beleives that Jihadi leadership whould let go of power, lifesyle and influence after USA/NATO leaves Afghanistan? This is their job/livelihood/business. Why would they retire? The SUVs, power, oney, donations.. Why would they ever stop wanting and go back home..


  • khurrum
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:33AM

    A very well and Thought Out Article from one of Few real Intellectuals that we have from Province of Punjab ,

    Nobody Seem to Question Another Thing that Afghanistan and Pakistan has Millions of Pashtuns and No Newspaper seems to Give real Thoughts to Pashtun except from Express tribune ,

    The Likes of Farhat Taj the Lone Pashtun Intellectual from Europe , and Lack of Pashtun Intellectuals in Think Tanks and the GHQ and Military is Starkly Being Missed . while fate of Pashtun are being decided by Non -Pashtun and some fake leader in Jihadi Out fits Like Taliban and TTP ( pakistani version from Punjab and FATA )

    Unfortunately we don’t to Listen to Real Pashtun and how they will feel about Pakistan Meddling in Affairs of Afghanistan in Name of War on terror and Great Game , Have we lately asked any real Pashtuns ?????????

    where is ANP and ANP Baluchistan , where is Pukhtunkwa Milli Awami party and where is FATA representatives and the People of Afghanistan , in This Policy Making which is obviously lacking Legitimacy and would not be accepted by the world and UN and USA for Obvious reasons .

    and Where is real people of Afghanistan are we listening to them , aren’t they Muslims ????and our brothers and Neighbours ?????????????

    we are committing the Worst atrocities on Pole of Afghanistan who would never forget for next 100 Years what Pakistan did to them in Name of ” Strategic depth “, Afghans are known to have long Memories and they would Lump Pakistan with US Intervention .


  • vasan
    Sep 18, 2011 - 11:51AM

    The only solution is balkanization of Pakistan and Afganistan.


  • Irshad Khan
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:13PM

    What is endgame is not clear and what is expected to happen is not clear and when it will happen is also not clear. These stories are bases on baseless speculations and by those who who are least informed about the game of super powers and are confusing innocent citizens of this country. The only safest possibility for us is to tightly fence our borders with a firm decision that neither we shall interfere in other`s matters nor let others to interfere and provide a safe stay to law breakers of their own countries.

    As far as Jihadi groups are concerned it is a lucrative profession now for the organisers and for others war is an interesting game beside pleasing Allah. Definition of`kafir is very wide now and anybody disagreeing with a certain group can be declared of that class. Money and arms are available in abundance to such groups. Therefore, no end to endgame is foreseen for us.
    We should think seriously to provide education and basic necessities of life and employment to every citizen of the country instead of providing every thing to gifted and nothing to others, this will not continue for long now.


  • Wah
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:14PM

    Ayesha three cheers for such a great and fearless article rare to see in Pak press .Why Pakistanis are scared of modern world where every human is respected irrespective of his believe We have such chronology in India but moderates are more brave than hard ones No private weapon, Openness in society and women education is key to problem rest is all law and order problem


  • Ben
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:26PM

    The Afghanistan misadventure has not only changed the world; it has distorted its civil and human face. Taliban’s ability to carry out this multi-target and multi-location but finely coordinated operation in the Afghan capital lays bare the depth of the U.S.-NATO failure in the country. Nearly a decade into the U.S.-NATO occupation of Afghanistan no section of the country is secure; not even the heart of the capital. Apparently only six Taliban fighters kept Afghan and NATO forces engaged for over twenty hours in the Wazir Akhbar Khan district. Do these attacks suggest that fate of the NATO forces in Afghanistan is not going to be any different from that of the USSR? Shrewd Taliban strategists are employing the same tactics which were used to economically bleed the Soviet Union. Michael F. Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer, rightly depicted bin Laden as a rational actor who is fighting to weaken the United States by weakening its economy, rather than merely combating and killing Americans.


  • Tony Singh
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:27PM

    This is upteemth article on “The end Game” in ET. There is no endgame in forseeable future. It si just wishful thinking. Grow up everybody.


  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 18, 2011 - 1:29PM

    Why not balkanize india as envisioned by Mountbatten in the 1940’s? Remember “”Plan Balkan”?

    india should be split into atleast 10 parts.


  • BruteForce
    Sep 18, 2011 - 2:25PM

    Indians, like myself, need not have to worry if there wasn’t a remotest chance of this affecting India. I cant believe that an average Pakistani is so blind that is so obvious to one of its neighbours!


  • jajju
    Sep 18, 2011 - 7:14PM

    Yeah, just like the U S of A i.e. .USA


  • malik
    Sep 18, 2011 - 7:29PM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani:

    Do you know any good immigration lawyers? Just now I heard the warning from Ambassador Cameron Munter…..

    I think Australia seems to be the best bet for now …


  • amer nadeem
    Sep 18, 2011 - 8:49PM

    “Our blue eyes”,this kind of assumptions have marred our country & history, as well. That was same conjecture Pakistani decision makers have after Janeva Accord & USSR departure in 1988. Pakistan agencies foresaw that the “jihadis” would bow down to Pakistani writ after USSR quits Afghanistan, it proved wrong & disastrous. Under the same presumption “talabans” were cooked that they would favor Pakistan in Kabul, this also proved another blunder.
    What Pakistan needs….have a “non-intervention” policy as China adopted. Law abiding by armed groups is farce not reality.


  • vasan
    Sep 19, 2011 - 7:21AM

    Abdul Rehman Gilani :
    My reply to your “indian balkanization” was not published by ET. Anyway here is another opinion, India was balkanized and Pakistan was created, The rest of India decided to do away with balkanzing tendencies and decided to live together under a secular democratic management with the army,navy and airforce absolutely under civilian govt control. . Unfortunately Pakistan never got rid of such tendencies and resulted in the birth of Bangladesh. And till date such tendencies are on the rise in pakistan and fuelled by the est, army and the elected govt. Any solutions??


  • Sep 19, 2011 - 11:54AM

    Yes I fully support Dr Aysha in her opinion, she is authority on these issues. She has written a lot on extremism and violence in Pakistan.


  • A J Khan
    Sep 19, 2011 - 12:40PM

    USA and Allied NATO forces were neither able to defeat nor weaken the forces for which it travelled all the way from across Atlantic and Pacific. Billions upon billions were spent and wasted in war effort. Pakistan also got destroyed in the process.
    Today Pakistan is trying to salvage what ever is left from the vagaries of War. USA and allied forces are also trying to salvage their invincible and omni-potent image. USA and NATO are blaming Pakistan for not doing enough. They are asking Pakistan to do what they failed to do with all its might, money and machinery.
    If the world most powerful nations could not, how could a poor country like Pakistan which is unable to fight dengue, floods and bureaucratic corruption, do the spectacle by pitching them against the dark forces.
    When the US and Allied forces depart, there will be a deadly civil war for power. This has happened in past and it will happen again. It cannot be averted without power sharing. It will not be in the interest of Pakistan to get involved in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. Let them settle it. Recommend

  • Cynical
    Sep 19, 2011 - 1:40PM

    Not to worry madam. I am sure we will find/conjure some other game after the ‘endgame’.
    And that will keep our Army,ISI,FO all busy managing strategic assets,protecting us and just making a few bucks in the passing.


  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 19, 2011 - 4:35PM


    of course dear, when it comes to Kashmir, all democracy and human rights vaporize into thin air.


    Touch Pakistan, and all of South Asia will be affected. Munter can only make hollow threats. Cause he knows that if you push Pakistan too much, the NATO supply line will be closed, and the troops in Afghanistan will starve to death.


  • mateen saeed
    Sep 19, 2011 - 4:45PM

    we are bound to see developments likely to emerge after endgame. If we deny observations of Dr. Sahiba, we are cheating with us.we were lied in 90’s, we destined to see the same senario after new endgame.


  • vasan
    Sep 19, 2011 - 5:49PM

    Abdul Rehman Gilani : Human rights violations in Kashmir ? Yes. Democracy in Kashmir ? That is also a strong Yes.


  • observer
    Sep 19, 2011 - 7:14PM

    @Abdul Rehman Gilani

    Touch Pakistan, and all of South Asia will be affected.

    Well let me see, Abbottabad is not Pakistan and Drones and Hellfire missiles never ‘touched’ Pakistan.

    Cause he knows that if you push Pakistan too much

    Care to define how much is too much in clear verifiable terms? Will another Abbottabad be too much?


  • saeed ahmad
    Sep 19, 2011 - 8:16PM

    Why always write against Jehadis? I’ve yet to see Ayesha and likes of her condemn the Indian animosity against Pakistan, Gujrat Riots, US’ hegemony etc etc.

    It’s a pity… How very easily she has assumed that USA, India and their friends all are holy angels and it’s only the Jehadis who are the real source of trouble. Recommend

  • Bangash
    Sep 19, 2011 - 9:37PM

    @saeed ahmad
    jehadis are killing Pakistanis everyday , which is why the focus us on eliminating them.


  • observer
    Sep 19, 2011 - 10:02PM

    @saeed ahmad

    Why always write against Jehadis? I’ve yet to see Ayesha and likes of her condemn the Indian animosity against Pakistan, Gujrat Riots, US’ hegemony etc etc.

    Will writing about Indian animosity and US ‘hagemony’ make Abbottabad go away, or bring BB,Taseer, and Bhatti to life? Or restore the self respect of Pakistan, or lessen the pain of the people of Swat or bring to life the children shot on their way from school or their parents blown up while attending a funeral.

    And all this of course was done by the Jihadis.

    And now it transpires that even Kashmiri leaders were killed by the LeT.

    I am afraid your priorities are way off the mark.


  • Abdul Rehman Gilani
    Sep 20, 2011 - 7:20PM


    One Abbotabad created a huge public upheaval against the Pakistan Army, and they cannot to constantly tarnish their image. They have closed the supply line before, and they arent afraid to do so again.


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