Friday, January 18

Who Are Pakistan’s Militants and Their Families?

More proof if needed that the brains behind terrorism are always those of educated people. The author surveyed 141 families of slain militants. Most died in Kashmir and I quote: seem to be ‘‘high
quality’’ militants in that they, like their heads of household, are well educated and not predominantly coming from seminaries, as is often claimed.

I further quote some interesting factoids from the paper:

  • Sampled shaheed households tended to be larger than Pakistani households on average. The mean shaheed household size was
    about 12 persons, whereas overall in Pakistan, the average household size is between 7 and 8 persons.
  • Together the 141 surveyed households yielded 200 members who became
    mujahids, averaging about 1.4 per household.
  • This survey found that generally, households were aware that their family member embraced jihad and most gave blessing/permission to the Shaheed!
  • The survey respondents were typically married, male, heads of household.
  • Only 17 (12 percent) respondents attended a madrassah among whom only 7 percent obtained a certificate (sanad) from the religious school. Generally, attaining such a
    certificate requires full-time attendance for at least two years. (The highest certificate requires at least 8 years of madrassah study.) This suggests that overall only about 4
    percent of the respondents attended a madrassah full-time.
  • While 27 percent had no formal education, 22 percent had less than a matriculation (a.k.a. ‘‘matric’’ or 10th grade), 22 percent had a matriculation but less than intermediate degree (12th grade), 16 percent had an intermediate degree but less than a degree (14 years, the equivalent of a BA), and 13 percent had some sort of post-secondary education. This suggests that overall, more than half of the respondents were matriculates.
  • In contrast, among Pakistani males generally, only 32 percent are matric graduates.Compared to these national standards, the respondents in the sample are considerably more educated than the average Pakistani male. This finding undermines the common aphorism that militants come out of environments of ignorance.
  • Overall, about 14 percent of the respondents in the sample had some form of military experience: 10 (14 percent) served in the army, 1 (1 percent) served in the navy; 2 (1 percent) served in a national guard component (e.g., Janbaz, Ansar, Mujahidin, Azad Kashmir Regiment, or Mehran Force); 1 (1 percent) served with the police and 5 (4 percent) served in some other (unspecified) security force. (BD note: this is way higher compared to normal security forces enrolment rates and goes to explain incidents such as this where retired army personnel are frequently found to be terrorists).
  • Sixty percent indicated that they are Deobandi, 22 percent indicated ‘‘Ahl-e-Sunnat’’ (which means simply ‘‘Sunni’’ and suggests an affiliation with Jamaat Islami), 11 percent indicated that they are Barelvi and 6 percent indicated Ahl-e-Hadith.
  • To further probe the religiosity of the households, the survey asked respondents whether any male or female members of the household attend (currently) dars-equr’an (Qur’anic study circles) or deeni majlis (religious gatherings). A significant number of respondents answered in the affirmative with 97 percent reporting that males attend such gatherings and 82 percent for females.
  • Overall the militants were young when they died. While the average and median age of death was 22 years of age, the youngest was 12 and the oldest was 52 years of age.
  • In sum, this suggests that religious gatherings (mosques, tabligh) account for about 44 percent of the shaheeds’ recruitment, 42 percent occurred through friends or family, and only 26 percent occurred through an educational institution (madrassah, public school)
  • some 58 percent of the shaheeds in the sample were matriculates and of those many had obtained further education. When one considers that throughout all of Pakistan, fewer than one in three males are matriculates and when one considers further that the bulk of this sample was derived from the NWFP where educational attainment is among the lowest in Pakistan, the males in this sample are extremely well educated, again underscoring the need to interrogate common assumptions that Pakistan’s militants are all uneducated, madaris products.
  • During author fieldwork in Pakistan over the last thirteen years, the author has also heard that families who have lost a family member to jihad enjoy better marital alliances for surviving sons and daughters. This can manifest in the form of marrying their children into higher status families than they would otherwise or it may take the form of increased dowry payments for boys (for those ethnic groups who practice dowry) and decreased amounts given in dowry when they arrange weddings for the daughters of a shaheed family. Contrary to expectation, only 17 (12 percent) households believed that their status in the community had improved as a consequence of becoming a shaheed family. Most (75 percent) respondents believed that their status in the community remained ‘‘about the same as before’’ and 10 households reported that their status was ‘‘worse off than before.’’
  • Respondents also reported any financial assistance they received from the community, shaheed’s tanzeem, and even the Pakistani government. While it was expected that most families would demur from answering this sensitive question, 19 respondents (13 percent) reported receiving financial support from the government and 61 (43 percent) admitted financial assistance from the tanzeem after the mujahid died in action.

Despite the obviously limitations of the study (small sample size, convenience sampling, leading questions....) the results are curious, eh? basically it shows that terrorism is well embedded into many sections of Pakistani society and it has become a profession. Just replace the word shaheed or terrorist with say an engineer or fireman, and no difference to the responses!.

Professionalism or what? The problem is not with the Madrassahs, but with the public schools of Pakistan, the Army and the general societal thought that jihad is perfectly fine as a profession. So it is not surprising when these medieval gits from Britain go off to Peshawar or elsewhere in Pakistan and then get trained as terrorists. Why are you surprised? there is a good household and welcoming society which supports this behaviour. When most terrorists are coming from public schools, what will you do to them? When a significant lot are coming from the Army, what will you do to them? When most terrorists have welcoming households, what will you do to them? When most terrorist households are rewarded financially by the government or the group, then what will you do?

Welcome to the home of terror.

JO - Terrorism and Political Violence
PB - Routledge
AU - Fair, C. Christine
TI - Who Are Pakistan's Militants and Their Families?
SN - 0954-6553
PY - 2008
VL - 20
IS - 1
SP - 49
EP - 65
AB - This article presents results of a survey of 141 Pakistani families of slain militants. This survey collected data about the militants and their households. While derived from a convenience sample, these data are unprecedented and offer a glimpse into the backgrounds of militants and the families who (mostly) supported their decision to join the jihad. Most militants served and died in Kashmir and seem to be “high quality” militants in that they, like their heads of household, are well educated and not predominantly coming from seminaries, as is often claimed. This analysis suggests that while the militants merit attention, so do the families that produce militants.

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