Why the Pakistani army cant solve the jihadi blowback problem
Strangely, the kidnapping and subsequent death of a Chinese hostage has come as a wake-up call for the Pakistani establishment. Strange, because the establishment-types view kidnapping Chinese (China being the only ‘all-weather friend’ of Pakistan) as the last straw when the jihadis have previously showed no compunction in kidnapping and killing Pakistan’s very own citizens.
Shaukat Qadir, a retired Pakistani brigadier, and a representative of the very same military establishment proposes a two-pronged strategy to contain the “jihadi blowback”— first, to enlist the support of authoritative religious figures who could reach out across the sectarian divide and ‘establish the likelihood of a foreign-hand’; and second, rehabilitate the jihadi rank-and-file by explaining the rationale behind the change in policy, and by re-employing the jihadis into paramilitary forces. In other words, this simply means regularising the irregulars or laundering jihadis.
Qadir is right when he points out that finding new jobs for old jihadis is important; but that must come re-education and skills development in the short term, and education reform in the longer terms. Asking Islamic fundamentalists to hand in their jihadi weapons only to hand them official ones does not sound like a solution to the blowback — at least not when the motto of the Pakistani army reads ‘Faith, Piety and Jihad in the way of Allah’.