230969 10/23/2009 3:49 09ISLAMABAD2576 Embassy Islamabad CONFIDENTIAL "VZCZCXRO7776
PP RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHIL #2576/01 2960349
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 230349Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5519
INFO RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL 1033
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1590
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 5635
RUEHPW/AMCONSUL PESHAWAR 7056
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE 8010
RUEHKP/AMCONSUL KARACHI 2412
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL" "C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 ISLAMABAD 002576
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/22/2019
TAGS: ELAB, PGOV, PREL, PTER, PK
SUBJECT: EXTREMISM IN SOUTHERN PUNJAB AND NORTHERN SINDH
Classified By: Anne W. Patterson for reasons 1.4 (b) (d)
1. (SBU) Summary: Though the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) continue to grab headlines for terrorist violence, poor and underdeveloped regions in the rest of ""settled"" Pakistan are increasingly the recruiting and training ground for extremism and militancy. Areas such as the Southern Punjab's Seraiki-speaking belt and interior northern Sindh are mired in choking poverty and underdevelopment. This lack of prosperity is coupled with a rising number of disaffected youth who have a window to the outside world through television and the internet, but no prospects for social mobility. Moreover Pakistanis in these areas have lost their traditional patronage structure, be it the religious Sufi Pirs or the landlords, who once protected the basic needs of their citizens and delivered simple justice. In such places, as well as parts of urban Karachi and Quetta, religious extremists, such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), find fertile ground to spread their ideology and recruit new militants. End Summary.
BROKEN AGRICULTURE & FAILING EDUCATION
2. (C) Both Southern Punjab and Northern Sindh are still mainly agricultural societies with few other viable industries. Traditionally, the economies of these areas have been dominated by large landowners who outsource their farming to tenant farmers. Additionally, the highest rates of bonded labor in Pakistan are found in these regions, with most of such labor concentrated in agriculture, brick kilns, and carpet weaving. With the old agricultural system failing and ""modern"" farming taking hold, farming alone can no longer support the region's labor pool.
3. (C) As farming disappears as a source of income for the populace, government education systems fail to prepare their students for anything else. Public schools are yielding young graduates who can not find jobs, even when they move to large cities such as Lahore and Karachi. Many young high school and college graduates are frustrated because the years they spend in government schools do not provide them any employable skills. This common occurrence is reflected in the story of Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving Mumbai attacker, who by his own admission graduated from a Southern Punjab government school and unsuccessfully looked for jobs in Lahore. He ended up pursuing unskilled labor, then petty crime, and ultimately was lured to LeT with promises of money and adventure. Imtiaz Gul, Executive Director of the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), described the extremism in Southern Punjab not as ""talibanization"" but rather as a battle between haves and have-nots. He stressed that the education system had to be rationalized so that it led to real job opportunities, otherwise jobless youth would find a source of income in militant organizations. Those that actually graduate from public high schools are in the upper echelon of have-nots; illiteracy rates are high, and even primary school enrollment low, in these areas.
4. (U) Unlike in the recent past, the poor and jobless youth are no longer cut off from the outside world. Increasingly free media and internet access show these disaffected youth the wealth and corruption that exist outside their immediate circles. Also, newly rich local merchants who benefit from corruption, along with lavish foreign-financed madrassas, stand in stark contrast to the meager existence of this disaffected generation.
TRADITIONAL LEADERSHIP VACUUM & EXTREME IDEOLOGY GROWTH
5. (SBU) Several academic studies, including a recent look at the connection between poverty and militancy by the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, have found that while poverty alone is not sufficient to give rise to extremism, it is a contributing factor pushing people towards militancy, provided an enabling environment exists. Poverty has long existed in Pakistan well beyond southern Punjab and northern Sindh; however, recent changes to the power structures and ideologies in both regions have provided the conducive environment for militancy to take hold.