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Religious extremism becoming more successful in Pakistan, expert warns

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Manish Saini
Manish works as a Journalist and writer at Revyuh.com. He has studied Political Science and graduated from Delhi University. He is a Political engineer, fascinated by politics, and traditional businesses. He is also attached to many NGO's in the country and helping poor children to get the basic education. Email: Manish (at) revyuh (dot) com

Pakistani authorities have promoted the strengthening of religious beliefs among the population to unite the country, but growing religiosity has also brought greater intolerance, prompting one expert to express concern that the country may be overwhelmed by a progressive resurgence of militancy.

“Unfortunately, instead of helping to instill better ethics and integrity, this phenomenon is fostering a tunnel vision” that encourages violence, intolerance and hatred, Mohammad Amir Rana, executive director of the Pakistani Institute for Peace Studies recently wrote in a local newspaper.

“Religiosity has begun to define Pakistani citizenship,” he added.

Extremist violence has skyrocketed in Pakistan: In just the last week, four vocational school instructors advocating for women’s rights were traveling together when they were shot and killed in a border region of Pakistan. A death threat on Twitter against Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai drew an onslaught of trolls, attacking the young advocate for girls’ education, who years ago survived a gunshot wound to the head by the Pakistani Taliban. Two men on a motorcycle opened fire on a police checkpoint not far from the Afghan border and killed a young officer.

In recent weeks, at least a dozen members of the military and paramilitaries have been killed in ambushes, attacks and operations against militia hideouts, mainly in the western border regions.

A military spokesman said this week that the increase in violence appears to be in response to a vigorous military campaign against militant hideouts in regions bordering Afghanistan and the reunification of divided and deeply violent anti-Pakistani terrorist groups led by the Tehreek-e-Taliban. The group responds to a radical religious ideology that defends violence to impose its extreme points of view.

General Babar Iftikhar said that the reunified Pakistani Taliban have found refuge in eastern Afghanistan. He also accused hostile neighbor India of financing and equipping the reunited Taliban, providing them with equipment such as night-vision goggles, improvised bombs, and small arms.

India and Pakistan routinely exchange accusations that the other is using extremists to undermine stability and security in the country.

The security analyst and member of the Center for Security and International Cooperation, Asfandyar Mir, said that the reunification of the extremists is dangerous news for Pakistan.

“The reunification of various splits in the central organization (Tehreek-e-Taliban) is an important advance, which makes the group very dangerous,” Mir said.

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