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State of Pakistan still running extremism factories: Afrasiab

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Awami National Party central leader and former senator Afrasiab Khattak has said the state is still running ‘factories of extremism’ in the country, and the phenomenon cannot be ended in society until the process is continuing.

He was speaking to BBC Urdu in connection with its special interview series, titled Vision Pakistan, being conducted on completion of 70 years of Pakistan’s establishment. Afrasiab Khattak declared General Ziaul Haq’s jihad policy responsible for the increase in extremism in the country, adding that at that time the state had become extremist, and it radicalised society. “How a society can be de-radicalised if the state continues running factories of radicalisation,” he asked.

When he was asked what evidence he had to prove that the state was doing it, the ANP leader said “the way Taliban are living in this country, and the banned groups are holding demonstrations and rallies in the country, and no action is being taken against them, that shows that there are some powers patronising them”.

He said no action was being taken against these outfits intentionally and a lack of political will was responsible for it. “Especially in Punjab, action has not been taken against them where the creators of jihadi and extremist ideologies are living”.

He believes that the reason for inaction against such elements is that “if you want to continue the old Afghan policy, you will need non-state actors. “And the second reason is that action against such outfits is being avoided for political considerations and for safeguarding some vote pockets, especially in Punjab. So they are compromising the national interests for political considerations”.

He said Sartaj Aziz had admitted it on record last year that Taliban leadership was living in Pakistan. He said it was not an allegation, as a responsible government functionary had stated it.

When he was asked if the Taliban leadership was still living in Pakistan, he said: “certainly, as nobody has denied it so far”. Afrasiab Khattak said civilians also played a role in the ills afflicting the country currently, but the dictators played havoc with the law of the land the most.

“There exist some remedies for the ills, caused by the civilians, but the worst thing is imposition of a martial law in a country. “And, of course, civilians can’t impose a martial law. Violation of basic laws of a country causes lawlessness. Even corruption also spread in the country due to martial laws,” he added.

In reply to a question about an assertion the dictators make that the country made progress during dictatorial rules and that the civilian rulers only looted the country whenever they formed a governments, the ANP leader rejected the claim. “You just look at the results of that so-called development and the so-called stability in the country.

“After General Ayub Khan’s 10 years martial law, Pakistan disintegrated; Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report is still not published; no investigation was conducted into Kargil incident; Abbottabad Commission report was not made public. Had these reports been made public, the people like General Musharraf would not found an opportunity to say such things.”

About Balochistan issue, Afrasiab Khattak said his party did not support any violent movement or separatism. However, he claimed that atrocities were being committed in Balochistan. He said the state institutions could not come clean out of the allegations of their involvement in killings in Balochistan in the presence of missing persons issue and the recovery of bodies. “There are various proofs that they have been involved in it. That’s why it’s a responsibility of the state that it must make laws for protection of its citizens.” (The News)