1 important and difficult to contemplate where their interests


The militant of the 1990s and the militants now have stark contrasts. The first generation of militants was daring and carefree, but the new militant has clarity of ideology and political goals.

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A structural analysis of the militant groups shows a range of ideological and political tendencies, throughout Pakistan. These groups have many resemblances, but it’s important and difficult to contemplate where their interests converge and deviate. (Rana, 2015)

There are three generations of militants in Pakistan. The First Generation, being those who engaged in jihad in Afghanistan. The Second Generation came about as a reaction to the happenings of September 11. Finally, the Third Generation rose after the Lal Masjid incident in 2007 and during the rise and fall of Taliban rule in the Swat valley. (Rana, 2015)

2.2 First Generation

Pakistan’s environment at the time was promising for jihad. Militant groups were operating freely but did not easily get accepted in society. Parents discouraged children from association with such groups. (Qadeer, 2006) (Victor Asal, 2008)

The young age and their level of education made this generation susceptible to militancy. Both from madrassas and public school going kids were influenced by the prevalent jihadi culture of the time. However, it is seen that it was far more likely for a pupil from madrassa to go for jihad than one of a public school. Around 25% of these students then joined those militant organizations permanently.  (Stern, 2000)

The educational background is relevant as to understand how this generation perceived their social and political surroundings. The middle class seemed more prone to be inclined towards militancy in that regard. (Rana, 2015)

The majority of the First Generation belongs to the lower-middle class. We observe that this generation differentiated and utilized its urban and rural-based militants differently. The urban-based militants were used for administrative and operational needs of the organization. While the rural-based militants were used as foot soldiers on the ground. This was the group that was very important for the organization.

As the First generation militant was not very well off, they depended on the militant group it supported for financial aid. Their loyalties were likely to change based on which militant group helped alleviate their financial constraints to fulfill their family obligations and needs. The family structure was orthodox and family values were prioritized.  (Rana, 2015)

Sectarian identities were not as distinct and explicit at the time, even though the major distinction between Sunni and Shia school of thought were made, but these did not obstruct social relations. Sunni sectarian madrassas were on the rise but did not yet contribute to the social setting of the time or have societal pressure. (Qadeer, 2006)

These militants were not much inclined towards extracurricular books. Books related to Islamic history as well as the Holy Quran were seen as materials within easy reach. They were more influenced by the culture and eloquent speakers, daring commanders and war stories. (Rana, 2015)

As this generation was engaged in a jihad that was owned by the state and the society at large, and they committed no illegal, criminal or terrorist activities inside the state of Pakistan, this generation had far more opportunity to return to normal life. Only their own will to do so and their group stood in their way. (Rana, 2015)

2.3 Second Generation

The second generation really became distinct after 9/11. The militants who had fought in Kashmir and Afghanistan grew weary of their leadership’s compromises as it was not the Islamic way they had been promised to achieve. They also witnessed their waning influence in the region. (Qadeer, 2006)

There grew an unsurmountable void between the religious political parties and the militant groups after the emergence of the Pakistani Taliban in 2005. A staggering amount of madrassa going students showed interest in linking themselves with militant groups. This lack of influence showed in the electoral results of 2008 and changed the political trend if the time which profited the moderate parties. (Rana, 2015)

The mindset and outlook of this generation were greatly influenced by the emotionally charged domestic, regional and international political scenario. Their political and religious views started intertwining and tangled with each other so much they could not bear to listen to contradictory perspectives. (Rana A. , The Militant, 2015). So, most of these militants did not inform their families of their activities or sought consent or approval. (Victor Asal, 2008)

This generation was also prone to be mingling with crime for many reasons. An example of this is of Ajmal Qasab, someone who did not see himself as religious or someone who was seeking Shahadat, he was someone only interested in monetary gains. According to Qasab he became associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba because he thought he would have better and easier access to weaponry. (Rana A. , The Militant, 2015)

Compared to the first generation, the second generation had more defined political motives and goals. So in turn, conventional militant groups lost luster to them, and they moved towards Al Qaeda or other groups whose ideology was more precise and focused on the ends by deadly means. (Qadeer, 2006)

This generation found belonging, identity and mental peace within Al Qaeda. They were given more room to partake in the decision making processes. They had separate groups assigned practical and tactical tasks, which gave them a sense of achievement. This increased their exposure and triggered more violent acts which later caused the formation of the Third generation of militants to come. (Rana, 2015)