A researched history of Pakistani state terror against its own citizens
When General Ayub had 250 civilians killed for expressing their political opinions in 1967 and in 1971 when General Yahya had thousands of people killed Jalal (1995:63), they were both doing so to terrorize the East Pakistani population into submission.
In 1972, the democratically elected and yet authoritarian Prime-Minister Mr. Bhutto had many labourers killed and arrested in the streets of Karachi due to their protesting (Gardezi et al., 1983:103). The next year he had approximately 10,000 people killed in Baluchistan for protesting against their provincial government being dissolved and wanting to secede from Pakistan (Lamb 1991:12). Both these incidents of state terror were aimed at the weak. Terrorizing both the groups (labourers in Karachi and political demonstrators in Baluchistan) into submitting to the will of Mr. Bhutto’s government gave his government more power and less opposition.
There have been overt forms of terror that have been instituted without violence. Pressurizing the judiciary into giving favorable judgments, house arresting and removing most of the judiciary for not giving favorable judgments as General Musharraf tried to do in 2007 and as General Zia did in 1977.
The argument can be made that the killings of prominent political figures that the state has been implicated in are forms of state terror such as the political killing of Akbar Bugti through as a military operation carried out against his tribe. As Valenzuela et al., (2010:5) states, the ISI (military led Inter Services Intelligence ageny), the police and the military establishment hampered the investigations of the United Nations into the details of ex premier Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. While the report stated that Benazir Bhutto also made it clear that she was afraid that certain elements of the state wanted to assassinate her, it also went on to state that it found the responsibility of the assassination lay with the military government of the day.
In the cases of militant groups creating terror in Pakistan, it is not the intent of the military establishment for Pakistanis to be targeted. Yet, due to the support of extremists in other states by the military elite and the ISI, these terror organizations feel they can turn on Pakistan and often do.
Byman’s (2008:3-5) theory of passive state sponsorship regarding internal terror does apply as a result of Pakistan’s foreign policy terrorism. Many of the militants and militant organizations encouraged by the state to attack India or Afghanistan have formed links with terrorist cells that attack Pakistan. While the Pakistani government does what it can to stop these internal attacks, it cannot stop them altogether or even successfully as the ISI uses many of these same militants to attack foreign states. Noor (2006:29) talks about how the ISI has worked with the Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP), which has attacked Pakistan and threatened Pakistani minorities. The ISI has not cracked down on the SSP due to the fact that it uses the group for foreign policy terror. Since the military elite and ISI have the same policies regarding proliferation of terror and state security, the government (being weaker than the military establishment) is powerless to act against the SSP properly. This fits Byman’s (2008:3-5) theory of passive state sponsorship where the bureaucracy (in Pakistan’s case, the military establishment) is more powerful than the government rendering the government of the day powerless to act against the terrorists properly.
The image above potrays a young unarmed man being shot by the Pakistani military when he was outnumbered and posed no threat to them. Yes, the Pakistani state is responsible for state terror against its own people and needs to realise that this is the quickest way to disintergration.