It is regrettable that the Difa-i-Pakistan Council (DPC), a coalition of mainly militant groups that had been inactive for several years, has resurfaced with a singular aim to counter alleged political schemes that could harm national interests. This resurgence of the DPC will further deteriorate the already polarized situation in Pakistan. Since its inception in 2011, the council has caused disruptions, mostly in line with the establishment’s interests. The council promotes an extremist, jihadist ideology that has radicalized the nation. In a recent emergency meeting, the council suggested a “conspiracy by politicians to bring chaos and anarchy” in the country, without naming any particular political party, supposedly under the influence of global powers. Pakistan has struggled to get off the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) list for three years, primarily due to the unchecked activities of extremist groups. The council’s recent statement contains hawkish views that highlight Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities and the enemy’s efforts to spread propaganda against the nation. The state-run PTV’s airing of the meeting, including the speech of the banned outfit Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat head Ahmed Ludhianvi, should be investigated by PEMRA.
The rise of the DPC has blessings of the government, but the government should remember that the DPC promotes extremist ideology and religious intolerance, which is a major cause of sectarian violence in Pakistan. Its rallies and speeches often incite hatred against non-Muslims, Shias, and other religious minorities, which fuels sectarian tensions and can lead to violence. At times, it has been accused of undermining democracy by supporting the military rule and opposing democratic processes. Moreover, the DPC has been accused of supporting terrorist groups, including those that have been responsible for attacks on civilians and security forces. Some of its leaders have also been accused of having links with banned militant groups.
The recent statements of the DPC can be used to alienate Pakistan from the international community and damaged its relations with neighbouring countries. In the past, its opposition to the opening of NATO supply routes to Afghanistan has also hurt Pakistan’s relations with the United States, a key ally in the war on terror. The country is struggling with its image internationally. The DPC’s rallies and demonstrations often lead to violence and disruption, which harms Pakistan’s image in the eyes of the international community. Its extremist ideology and rhetoric also undermine Pakistan’s efforts to promote a moderate and tolerant image of Islam.