Religious conflict is nothing new in Pakistan – it has been present in the state since its inception – and most observers know that there are links between the security establishment and terrorist groups. The country faces conflict on various fronts – those it created and those it did not: separatists, pro-regime jihadists, Islamist revolutionaries and sectarians. The country which harboured Osama bin Laden towards the end of his life is in a perpetual state of tension with India and is fighting a war with militant Islamist groups on its Afghan border. Fundamentally, the state can be said to be a victim of its own policies, although it does not face an existential threat from extremism.
1Many of the roots of today's conflict can be traced to the Islamisation policies of the 1970s: the attempt to subordinate local identities to a national Islamic vision, driven by the secession of East Pakistan in 1971.
2The state has long attempted to use groups committed to religious violence for its own ends, in conflict with India and against separatists. However, its ability to control jihadi networks of its own creation has become strained.
3A further theatre of religious violence is the separatist movement of Balochistan. Though the separatists are not themselves particularly religiously motivated, the conflict has been defined by resistance to the Islamisation policies of the government.