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While Pakistani State Curbs Jihadists, A Student Body Is Doing The Opposite

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KARACHI: Replica of a Pakistani nuclear warhead missile was loaded on a decades-old Bedford truck, parked in the middle of University Road, right in front of the Hakeem Saeed Ground, near Baitul Mukarram Masjid in East Karachi. At the foot of this rocket, two banners were hanging from both sides of the truck. The banners read: “Dhaka Sy Kashmir Talak Ab Saray Qaraz Chuknay Hain [From Dhaka to Kashmir it’s time to pay back for everything]” and “Ab Hind Banay Ga Pakistan [Now India will be made a part of Pakistan]”.

The rocket was brought by the Islami Jamiat Talaba, student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan. The aim of displaying the replica of a warhead missile was to ‘awaken the spirit of jihad in the hearts of students across the country’.

The press release issued by IJT on Thursday states, “the IJT had launched a 20-day drive to invoke the jihadi spirit in students’ hearts”.

At the end of the campaign, the IJT held a ‘Kashmir Convention’, in which the leaders highlighted the brutality of the Indian army on Kashmiri youth. They also talked about the history of Islam and jihad. The truck on which the students had loaded the replica was parked right behind the stage.

Addressing the convention, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JIP) Chief Senator Sirajul Haq said that half the Kashmir was liberated through jihad and now the rest of it will also be made a part of Pakistan. “Everywhere, from Karachi to Khyber, people must be ready to sacrifice their lives for Kashmiris. The government has to announce jihad”. The JI Karachi chapter chief Hafiz Naeem ur-Rehman also expressed similar views. Rehman reiterated the resolve expressed by his leader Sirajul Haq and stressed that without jihad we cannot liberate Jammu and Kashmir.

However, in a separate talk with Naya Daur Media, the IJT-Karachi In-charge Information Abdul Ahad Talha said that jihad is an integral part of Islam. “No one can deny the fact. And this is a fact that jihad is one of the main pillars of Islam — though Jihad is not included in the five basic pillars of Islam as per our textbooks; but in reality it is,” he said.

“We did nothing wrong. We stand by the press release that we have issued to the media,” said Talha, and asked: “Are you a Muslim and Pakistani. If you don’t believe in jihad, then what can we do?”

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The spokesperson said that if the state announces jihad, the students will be caught unprepared if they are not trained. “This is why we are telling the students to be prepared for jihad anytime and anywhere”, he added. Talha, however, said that the IJT was not telling the students to pick up the guns and go to Kashmir for jihad.

Efforts To Counter Extremism At State Level

National Counter-Terrorism Authority and Higher Education Commission (HEC) are running campaigns to counter extremism on campuses. They have been organising seminars, sessions, and events at educational institutions across the country to save students from the exploitation at the hands of extremists and banned outfits.

Law enforcement agencies have arrested hundreds of students involved in terrorism in the past. “It is a reality that students are used by terrorist outfits in Pakistan,” said Federal Urdu University Assistant Professor Dr Irfan Aziz.

On November 7, 2017, after addressing a joint press conference with General Staff Officer of the Iranian Army, the (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor had tweeted: “Presser at Tehran. Pak Armed Forces are capable to thwart any threat with [support] of nation. Prerogative of declaring [Jihad] rests only with state and Armed Forces are instrument for its application.”

The conference was also covered by Pakistani media. The Nation, one of the most widely read English dailies in the country, had published the news with the headline: “Only state can declare jihad, says ISPR chief in Iran”.

Last year in January, more than 1800 Pakistani Muslim clerics had issued a fatwa, forbidding suicide attacks against public, government officials, armed forces and other institutions of the state. According to Reuters, the fatwa had been unveiled by the government.

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‘Parents Inspired From JIP Have To Be Careful About Their Children’

Such efforts have proved supportive in curbing terrorism in the country. But on the other hand, a student group is openly attempting to thwart these attempts, and no action is being taken, despite the fact that IJT has a history with extremist organizations. In 2011, the LEAs had arrested some students and faculty members, allegedly linked with extremist organizations, from Punjab University hostel.

“The LEAs and police have consistently pointed out that many IJT activists have been involved in suspicious activities for the past many years. In the past, many students have been arrested in this connection. Many of them were killed in the shootouts with police. Some of them have left the country. And many are still behind the bars”, said a senior police official deployed in East Karachi.

He added that it doesn’t make sense for a student organization to not only run a campaign calling for Jihad but also openly accepting that it was campaigning to glorify jihad. The organization must be taken to task, he said.

The official warned that the parents inspired from JIP’s worldview have to be careful about their children. “They have to keep a close eye on their young boys and girls. The IJT is once again pushing students towards extremism”, he said.

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