Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Pakistan Slowly Realizes There's No Such Thing as a Good Jihadist

With the military operation in Punjab, Pakistan has entered a decisive phase in its fight against the jihadists. But the government's simultaneously ongoing clash against the Islamist political parties and protestors is arguably more crucial in winning the ideological war against religious extremism.
Mumtaz Qadri's execution and the successful resistance to his supporters' demands could lay the foundation for greater reforms for religious tolerance in the country, including the much abused blasphemy law. The ambiguously phrased verbal agreement with the religious clerics in Islamabad won't mean anything as long as the state steers clear of any verdicts against those accused of blasphemy. The eventual reforms to the blasphemy law need a lot of groundwork, before they can even be considered.
Even so, the fractures between the civilian and military leaderships can undermine any fight against jihadism. At a time when the state needs to unite against all of its jihadist groups, the timing of the Indian spy's unveiling appears to be a measure to distract the government from the ongoing negotiations with India over the Pathankot attack. The fact that both the attack on the Indian airbase in Pathankot and the Lahore blast originated in South Punjab needs to be considered by the Pakistani establishment, before moving on to questions over Indian involvement in Balochistan.

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