Pakistan should not fall for the arguments being peddled to ‘mainstream’ its proxy warriors
Constantly showing up on talkshows and brandishing extremist partisan views against the incumbent government is a trap into which former Lt. Gen. Amjad Shuaib has fallen after a Reuters report. His stance? A belief that all proxy warriors who have abandoned militancy should be “mainstreamed” and allowed to return to “normal life” after “jihad.”
He initially suggested the Pakistan Army had recommended the scheme. This was followed by the Reuters interview, published on Sept. 16, with the headline: “Pakistan Army Pushed Political Role for Militant Groups.” According to the report, the participation in the NA-120 by-polls of Hafiz Saeed’s newly named Milli Muslim League was an effort to “mainstream” the organization, which is included in the United Nations’ designated “terrorists list.”
General Shuaib was alarmed by the report, which also claimed that [a blueprint of mainstreaming] was rejected by “Sharif himself when the military proposed it last year.” In a lengthy denial, published in local daily The News on Sept. 20, he attempted to clarify what “mainstreaming” meant.
He wrote, “Except for a few individuals most of them are peaceful people and they should be separated and allowed to work as normal citizens. By bringing these parties in mainstream politics we will be able to keep a close eye on their activities. Moreover, these parties will have to declare their assets and funds to the Election Commission every year.”
NA-120 featured two extremist parties seeking “mainstreaming” who would be seen as entering politics, not to “normalize” themselves, but to “radicalize” the electorate and entrench the anti-India, globally isolationist worldview favored by Pakistan’s establishment. Objectively speaking, Pakistan’s textbook nationalism and new developments at the global level are more suited to isolation and “jihad” than to mainstreaming.