IN 1990s, Al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden and some other smaller extremist groups emerged in the Middle East. They claimed to be the real leaders of the Muslim world and appealed to Muslims that they should join them for the sake of Jihad to expel foreign forces from the Middle East, and to take over governments from the alleged non-practicing and infidel Muslim leaders. The extremist groups also announced to establish Muslim Khilafat and promised as well to wage Jihad to free Palestine from Israel. Hence, they had started committing terrorist attacks on targets of their choice anywhere. Other than these groups, some extremist/terrorist religious groups had already existed since long in different countries such as RSS in India to advance their ideology by using violence against people of other religions.
After 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, the US and coalition forces, authorized by the United Nations Security Council, (UNSC) started military action against the Taliban government in Afghanistan for giving refuge to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden alleged to have masterminded the terrorist attacks in the US. Pakistan also started supporting the coalition forces in accordance with the UNSC resolution authorizing the military intervention. In reaction to Pakistan becoming the non-NATO ally of the US, and also to support the Afghan Taliban resistance against US military action, Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TPP), emerged in Federally Administered Areas of Pakistan (FATA), which also announced to fight for establishing an Islamic government in Pakistan and they started committing terrorism using small arms and suicide bombing against military installations, also killing many civilians in the process.
This triggered military action against TPP and other terrorist groups that had fled from Afghanistan to hide in FATA, and after fighting some of the very daring battles over a period of more than ten years, the Pakistan military has succeeded in eliminating terrorism in FATA and elsewhere in Pakistan. No doubt, this success has been achieved after suffering human casualties of more than 60000 individuals (military plus civil) and economic losses above US $ 103 billion. The anti-terrorist operations by the Pakistan military and defeat of TPP have also contributed to weakening terrorism in the region.
Since 2003, after US military intervention in Iraq, and Libya, Al Qaeda started resisting US forces there and the sectarian war also started as a consequence of which, Daesh also emerged in Iraq and Syria. To attract recruits from all over the Muslim youth, both Al Qaeda and Daesh announced that they were fighting foreign forces and infidel Muslim governments in Iraq, Syria and Libya to establish the Islamic Emirate and the main weapon used was suicide bombing. Then a stage came when they started targeting innocent civilians, causing many casualties. Also, in the areas under their occupation instead of following correct Islamic precepts to give good governance, they started committing terrorist acts to terrorize civilians to submit to their rule.
Hence, after seeing their atrocities, the people realized that the slogans of Al-Qaeda and Daesh to establish Islamic rule were hollow and they only meant to create chaos and disorder. Therefore, now their support among the Muslim youth has dwindled and they have almost been defeated in Iraq and Syria. Whereas, while fighting the government forces supported by the US, Al-Qaeda and Daesh have plunged Iraq and Syria into sectarian war and both countries have been brought to the ruins, Al-Qaeda and Daesh never crossed the border into Israel to help free Palestine. The irony is that Daesh has recently declared war against Hamas also and its militants are killing Palestinian Muslims in terrorist attacks. After being defeated in Iraq and Syria, the Daesh is now trying to establish itself in Afghanistan to perpetuate terrorism in this region.
In view of above, the Muslim youth has to understand that terrorist outfits have wrong motives and they only create chaos and disorder to lengthen their cruel rule. Also, Jihad in any form is not allowed in Islam as ruled by Ulema through Fatwas given in Pakistan and other Muslim countries. In this context, Paigham-i-Pakistan Fatwa given by the Ulema of all sects in Pakistan through consensus has declared that Jihad is the prerogative of the State only, as whenever the groups or the individuals tried to misuse the concept of Jihad, they were known to be Khawarij in Islam and were eliminated. Of course, now the main question for the major powers in the world is to focus on the issue of ending state terrorism being done to the Muslims by India and Israel in Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine respectively by using their security forces and religion based terrorism being sponsored by the RSS against the Muslims and other minorities in India.
—The writer, retired Lt Col, is former Research Fellow of IPRI, a think-bank based in Islamabad.