Battling militant brigades in political parties


As the country is already battling terrorism and increasing militancy in society, it is now being challenged by another menace; the militant wings of the political parties. Though the curse is not new on the political horizon of the country, during the recent years it has touched new heights thanks to the ‘politics of intimidation’ duly endorsed by the leadership of almost all the political parties in one way or the other.
It starts from the constituency where the ‘political representative of the people’ comes out of his house with a brigade of bodyguards, brandishing weapons to impress those who voted for him to power the corridors. The trend can be described as a display of no-confidence of the public representatives in the state security apparatus or maybe these people are in the habit of ‘begging’ for prominence at gun point.
The Karachi situation speaks volumes about the increasing trend of patronising militant wings in the political parties. And whenever the situation in the financial capital of the country gets ‘more than worse’, these political parties raise hue and cry, start blame games and issue statements to cool down tempers. All the political parties start publicly denouncing the militant wings in political parties and recommend suggestions to curb the trend.
It looks like the political cold store is full of politically-motivated statements and as and when the need arises, the dust from the statement is removed and put before the leader to read out before the public before it is again put away and stored on the shelf. During a press conference days back, Pakistan Muslim League-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif had called for a ban on political parties with militant wings. Sharif opined that such parties should not be allowed to contest elections and that could be done by making an amendment in the constitution. He said links between the militant wings and political parties should be broken in order to restore law and order and peace in the country, particularly in Karachi.
Nawaz served two times as Prime Minister of the country but was never this ‘concerned’ during his term as PM about militant wings in political parties. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had submitted a de-weaponisation bill in the National Assembly at the start of this year, calling to clean the country from illegal arms. The MQM believed that illegal weapons had become a serious threat to national security. The proposed bill sought review of the laws pertaining to production, distribution and use of weapons in the country.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan is also among the politicians who say that militant wings are present in all political parties of the country and that weaponisation is the only cause behind the current political mess. Recently, in a press conference, he said that he himself is under pressure to create a militant wing in his own party. The two major players in Karachi politics, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)and Awami National Party (ANP) also support the deweaponisation in public. But the irony of the fact is that nothing concrete has so far come from the respective political parties and no one is ready to take the lead in this regard.
At a time when Nawaz Sharif talks about banning political parties with militant wings, his party’s Rana Sanaullah is blamed of having links with terror organisations. Is Nawaz suggesting that parties should partner with terror organisations rather than having their own armed wings? The MQM’s militant wings are not a secret and now the PPP and ANP seem to be following the MQM when it comes to Karachi politics. If we talk with particular reference to Karachi situation, despite all these rhetoric and public statements against militant wings, no one is ready to throw the gun.
It seems that every political stake-holder, particularly in Karachi, is in ‘fear of being shot at’ by the ‘rival’ and reluctant to throw in the gun first. It is an open secret that three political parties are involved in a battle to extort money. All these political parties actually have militant wings and they intimidate each other by using such tactics. Politics of intimidation seems to be the real motive behind the creation of militant wings in political parties. Karachi did not belong to one or more groups as it has people from all over Pakistan with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Karachi is a big city of about 20 million people belonging to different sects and castes.
There is a need for restoring peace in Karachi, which is crucial for reviving the sagging economy of the country and the restoration of peace should not be an agenda of the current government alone. The way militant groups are being promoted in the political parties, the day is not far when these militant groups would have political parties. The political leadership of the country should come up with a serious approach on the issue instead of playing at politics lest these militant brigades take the central position in the field of politics and announce their respective political wings.