This article by Muhammad Amir Rana makes a very important point about splinter groups of older banned organizations. It reminds me of a statement by Ahmed Ludhianvi of SSP where he called Lashkar-e-Jhangvi a violent group that had nothing to do with Sipah-e-Sahaba. In the old days one would be tempted to consider that to be largely motivated by deniability rather than genuine differences, but there seems to be good reason to believe that that viewpoint is wrong. I wonder if all this pressure on Sipah-e-Sahaba and its alliance with PML-N is somewhat misguided in the sense that Sipah-e-Sahaba is probably not in control of the actions of groups like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Furthermore, the militant landscape of Pakistan has become considerably more complex than it was when the first ban was ordered. Banning a few organisations is unlikely to serve the purpose anymore. The groups involved in terrorist activities across Pakistan are largely splinter groups of banned organisations, in addition to a few new groups that have emerged recently. The banned organisations, which were once strategic assets of the state, have nurtured the narrative of destruction. Although their emphasis was initially on ridding the people of Kashmir, Afghanistan or elsewhere in the world of tyrannical rule, review of their literature and objective statements lays bare their sectarian motives and ambitions for achieving an ultra-orthodox theocracy in Pakistan.
However, realisation of those ambitions was the ‘secondary agenda’ of militant organisations, once they had achieved their objectives in Kashmir and Afghanistan. The splinter groups, however, have taken those secondary agendas, prioritised them and started pursuing them through violent means, which has, throughout, been the militants’ singular means to pursue their objectives. These splinters have cut off ties with the banned parent organisations, declaring them puppets of official agencies, and have developed coordination with the Taliban and al Qaeda militants based largely in the lawless tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
In this context, nothing suggests that the latest ban will achieve anything more than the previous bans.
Another point to remember is David Headley’s statement about the falling moral capital of established organizations like the LeT:
“I am just telling you that the companies in your competition they have started handling themselves in a far better way that is why they all are running in losses profit-wise and market-wise. There are continuous losses and it does not seem that they will recover. In these conditions it looks that there will be bankruptcy in approximately six months, my estimate within . . . six to twelve months is that our companies will be done the way things are going on.”
Just what are we going to do when people like Ahmed Ludhianvi or Hafiz Saeed no longer have any moral standing in the Islamist movement within the country? Something to think about, for sure.