A militant is a person who, in order to achieve certain aims, pick up arms and do fighting; A militant can also be motivated by a belief which may make him inclined to fight. Militancy is a condition produced by the militant acts of a militant to meet the requisite aims or serve a cause; the word militancy also includes the impression of the word aggression without which neither can a person become militant nor can militancy be possible (Khan, 2005; Husain, 2012a; Husain, 2012b). A militant can resort to aggressive verbal or physical confrontation to achieve his objectives. A militant can be a political activist, revolutionary or an insurgent. What makes a militant an ardent supporter of a cause is the assumption that he is right or the cause is just. What makes a militant aggressive is that he is not being heard by others and he feels that he is left with no choice but to pick up the arms and assert on others his version of belief system or his set of ideas (Bobbitt, 2008). As per its definition, militancy flourishes more under autocracy or dictatorship than under democracy (Bobbitt, 2002).
The dividing line between a militant and a terrorist is quite thin. A terrorist is a person who terrorizes others to make them listen to him or to submit to his aims. A terrorist uses the means of terror to affect others. He may or may not pick up arms to commit terror. In this way, a militant is a kind of terrorist who picks up arms to achieve his ends (Bobbitt, 2008).
As per the cause there may be different branches of militancy. For instance, when the conflict is sectarian, sectarian militancy is found rampant. When the conflict is ethnic, ethnic militancy is found prevalent. When the conflict is political, political militancy in the shape of an insurgency appears (Khan, 2005; Rashid, 2013a). Hence, militancy is shaped by the underlying cause. The latest turn in these kinds of militancy is the entry of religion itself in the list of causes. However, at the minute level, militancy in the religion is actually militancy in the name of sect (i.e. to forward the agenda of one particular sect) because no religion of the world including Islam promotes militancy (Rizvi, 2005; Malik, 2008).
Senior Analyst - Counter Terrorism - South Asia Desk (Pakistan)