Political crisis in Pakistan raises concerns for regional security


The current political crisis in Pakistan is not only a matter of domestic instability but also poses a significant regional geopolitical security threat. The recent arrest and subsequent release of former Prime Minister Imran Khan has exposed the growing divide over Islamic jihadist activities, particularly in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where terrorism and sectarian violence have become a regular occurrence.

The instability in Pakistan, highlighted by the Imran Khan political crisis, brings to the forefront a broader regional security concern. The arrest of the former prime minister indicates the escalating divide regarding Islamic jihad activities in the country, especially in Kashmir and other territories where sectarian violence is prevalent. Pakistan has long been a breeding ground for jihadism, as evidenced by the presence of notorious figures like Dawood Ibrahim, the mastermind behind the Mumbai bombings, and the fact that Osama bin Laden found refuge in the country, enjoying protection and hospitality from Pakistan’s espionage agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) for years before his death.

The rise in Islamic jihad activities in the region poses a parallel security threat to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical & Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC). Both organizations serve as gateways for the spread of Islamic jihad activities across the wider region. Within SAARC, the relationships between Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan are troublesome, while the significant increase in jihadist activities in Bangladesh and frantic bids of Islamists forces of returning to power raises concerns for BIMSTEC, as its headquarters are located in the country. India, having long land boundaries with its jihadist Pakistan, faces the most significant security threat.

BIMSTEC focuses on various sectors such as technology, fisheries, trade, energy, tourism, and transport. Additionally, the United Nations (UN), which holds the largest voting bloc of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and is obligated to accept Sharia law through the Cairo Convention on Human Rights, can exert political pressure on member nations through BIMSTEC. This dynamic contributes to the rise in regional jihad activities. Furthermore, the UN leadership is heavily influenced by OIC member nations, which has led to controversial decisions like Iran’s appointment to a commission on women’s rights.

BIMSTEC also plays a role in promoting the UN’s Agenda 2030, which has resulted in direct authoritarian control over the economies of member nations. Sri Lanka’s economic crisis and eventual collapse, for instance, can be partly attributed to aggressive green policies and the implementation of a “Green Tax” to meet Agenda 2030 targets. Interestingly, Sri Lanka is a low carbon-emitting country, with per capita emissions of around 1.02 tons/per person – that has achieved high human development while keeping CO2 emissions below the long-term average required to combat global warming.,

So why did Sri Lanka need to implement such aggressive green policies, considering its low GDP? Political pressure for these radical changes, akin to extortion for aid benefits, was forced onto Sri Lanka from the UN through agencies including BIMSTEC, which suggests a possible secondary means of attack from jihadists, who already destabilized the country with the horrific 4/21 Easter attacks.

The suicide bombings of the Easter attacks in Sri Lanka targeted both tourists and Christians over a large area. In the aftermath, the image of Sri Lanka as a safe tourist destination was severely damaged. This was the beginning of the political and economic crisis there. The Sri Lankan government may not have collapsed without the Easter attack and the Sharia-led UN interference through BIMSTEC. So, jihadists attacked two vital areas of the Sri Lankan economy: tourism and farming. Note that tea farms are traditionally a major export for Sri Lanka.

The suicide bombers in the Easter attacks were radicalized in the SAARC and BIMSTEC regions, as has been the case with so many other terrorist attacks. Thus, it is clear that all of the counter-terrorism measures in these two organizations have failed dismally. The question must be raised: what exactly are these two regional organizations doing to prevent the recruitment of citizens in their member states by jihadist groups, which directly leads to acts of Islamic terrorism? The root causes of Islamist jihad activity are still allowed to flourish in SAARC and BIMSTEC nations, which is one explanation for the dismal failures of their counterterror measures.

Another negative aspect of BIMSTEC is its Sharia-compliant resolution on controlling online speech. It should be put into context that in the past, Pakistan has been very vocal about controlling online speech in the West through fierce political pressure, under the guise of combating “Islamophobia”.

The same jihadist groups from Pakistan are also operating inside Bangladesh, so Pakistan is given more political leverage through BIMSTEC, where these jihadist groups now form a unified political front between the two countries. This is in contrast to the 1971 war for independence in Bangladesh.

Now, examine the collapse of Myanmar, also a BIMSTEC member nation, for a chilling comparison of collapsed governments within BIMSTEC. The massive 2017 terror attack by ARSA [Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army] in Rakhine State destabilized the country. It was led by an Islamist cleric who was trained in Pakistan.

Examine the similarities of the Myanmar situation to the collapse of Sri Lanka for a regional blueprint of jihad: a terror massive terror attack to ignite the problem; the terrorists were inspired by Wahhabism; Koranic madrassas and Tablighi Jamaat in both places were recruiting civilians for a long time.

Jihad is being waged against small Buddhist nations in the region from an organized network of jihadists under the direct funding from Afro-Arab sources and Pakistan while no alliance exists for Buddhist countries to defend or protect themselves from such a powerful jihadist threat.

In a regional geopolitical context, the ongoing political tensions in Pakistan that are related to the sharp rise in Islamic jihadist activity, naturally leads to questions of national security in the surrounding countries.

The perennial fears of nuclear weapons among other advanced tactical weapons of mass destruction, becoming accessible to Islamic jihadists is a frightening possibility. These weapons may easily fall into the hands of the Islamic State through a political crisis manufactured by jihadists. Or the systemic pro-jihad activity of these two regional organizations may enable the launching of another jihadist attack on a member nation, as we have seen in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, which would allow for the rise of a jihadist faction that would inherit possession of advanced weapons as a result of the government’s collapse.


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