KASHMIR, AFGHANISTAN, INDIA AND BEYOND: A TAXONOMY OF ISLAMIC EXTREMISM AND TERRORISM IN PAKISTAN

Pakistan has been called the epicentre of terrorism. Since leaders from almost every Sunni Islamic extremist group worldwide, from the internationalist Al-Qaeda to the Afghanistan-centred Taliban, have been found on the Pakistani soil, there seems little reason to argue with the conclusion that Pakistan is indeed central to political violence and terrorism in the name of Sunni Islam. Foreign extremist and terrorist groups had good reasons to choose Pakistan as a base. Long before international terrorism found an accommodating haven in Pakistan, the country was the breeding ground for a large variety of domestic religous groups with violent ideals. Since a detailed history of religiously inspired political violence and terrorism in Pakistan remains to be written, and credible sources for the activities of clandestine groups often are lacking, it is unlikely that anybody could say exactly how many such groups have existed in Pakistan, and how many remained active at any given moment. Credible sources suggest a total of well over a hundred extremist groups committed to violence. Although they were in most cases tolerated, often even encouraged, by the Pakistani state as means of leverage against neighbouring countries such as India and Afghanistan, their presence eventually, when their power began to rival that of the state, became a threat to the sovereignty of Pakistan and its viability as a unified country…

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