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Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Rise of Religious Extremism in Pakistan.

The Rise of Religious Extremism in Pakistan:

In Pakistan, the relation between Islam and state has been a matter of great controversy. From the time of its inception, the opinion in the country has remained divided as to whether Pakistan is to be an Islamic/‘shariah’ state or a ‘modern’/‘secular’ Muslim-majority state.
The roots of this controversy could be traced to the various statements of the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, which he gave during the independence movement and at the time of the emergence of Pakistan.For example, in his 1940-article entitled “The Constitutional Future of India”, Jinnah stated:“The British people, being Christians, sometimes forget the religious wars of their own history and today consider religion as a private and personal matter between man and God. This can never be the case in Hinduism and Islam, for these religions are definite social codes which govern not so much man’s relations with his God as man’s relations with his neighbor.
They govern not only his law and culture, but every aspect of his social life, and such religions, essentially exclusive, completely preclude that merging of identity and unity of thought on which Western democracy is based, and inevitably bring about vertical rather than the horizontal divisions democracy envisages.”
[1] In marked contrast to the opinion expressed in the above-mentioned article, Jinnah as the designated Governor-General stated in the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August 1947:“ . . . You may belong to any religion or caste or creed . . . that has nothing to do with the business of the state . . . We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.” He added, “. . .you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in political sense, as citizens of the state.”
[2] The ‘two-nation theory’ had served its purpose and was duly repudiated. The two ‘nations’ __ Hindus and Muslims ___ were once again to be regarded as two ‘communities’ after independence.Jinnah’s pronouncement of 11 August 1947 explicitly envisaged creation of a secular state in Pakistan. In doing so he was representing religious diversity of Pakistani society and plurality of Pakistani culture.But the Ulema (Clergy) considered it a betrayal of the cause for which the South Asian subcontinent was partitioned into two sovereign states. Since then the ‘Objectives Resolution’ of 1949, the 22 Points of the Ulema framed in 1951, the anti-Ahmediya agitation of 1953, the ‘Islamic’ provisions of the Constitutions of 1956, 1962 and 1973, including the declaration of the Ahmediya community as being outside the pale of Islam through a constitutional amendment in 1974, General Zia’s ‘Islamization’ program and the ‘jihadi’ culture have reflected the conflicts and compromises between the adherents of diverse opinions as to the role of Islam in Pakistan.
Notwithstanding popular aspiration to establish some form of Islamic polity___ a legacy of the freedom struggle ____ the ethos of Pakistani society did not reflect religious extremism, at least till 1979.In fact the society was prepared to accept many liberties in every-day life that the strict observance of Shariah would have denied it.With economic development and exposure to foreign influences, it was opening up to modernism and adopting many western values. Ayub Khan’s period would be particularly known for this trend, for he had a penchant to modernize Pakistani society and his Family Laws Ordinance of 1961 is a testimony to the fact.
One is nostalgia for the social scene of the 1960s. There was no bar on performing arts, provided the presentations were apolitical.The cinema halls offered latest Pakistani, Indian and Hollywood movies that as a part of urban culture were watchedby families in decent environment.Almost every urban locality had its wine shops and some sort of mini clubs for the youth.
For the elite, the gymkhanas and nightclubs in the cities offered good venues to enjoy liquor, gambling and dancing.There used to be prominent advertisements of floorshows with semi nude photographs of foreign performers in the newspapers. The racecourses attracted a lot of people on weekends.The rich organized New Year parties without any hinder. Musical shows and functions without any impediment. Foreign tourists thronged the market places in the cities. Co-educational institutions were mushrooming. The programs of Qawwali, (a form of recitation of Sufi poetry in the traditions of Hazrat Amir Khusro-the renowned Mystique and inventor of this form of religious rendition in praise of Allah, Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), and religious saints), was quite normal and used to draw huge audiences.
Besides, rendition of Urdu Poetry in the well entrenched form of Mushaira was built into our lives and used to be a great form of _expression of our culture and traditions. The city life, particularly big cities like Karachi and Lahore, were known for these traditional forms of _expression of our aesthetic values. The Coffee shops were built in to our day to day lives and were venues of diverse political, social and cultural debates, discourses and discussions.
In short, there was no transformation in urban or rural culture that could have been specifically attributed to the creation of Pakistan in the name of Islam. Alas the traumatic events of 1971, culminating in the abject surrender of Pakistan armed forces in East Pakistan, did jolt the nation. Since the military ruler of the time, General Yahya Khan, and some of his close associates were notorious as drunkards and womanizers, the people blamed their waywardness as responsible for the disaster.In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, the unruly mobs attacked and burnt wine shops, nightclubs and cinema houses to vent their shock and grief.
In this passing phase, there was much talk about the East Pakistan catastrophe as being a divine retribution for nation’s sins in deviating from the path of Islam and the dire need to revert back to what was popularly perceived as the real raison d’etre of Pakistan. With East Pakistan gone, Pakistan lost much of its religious diversity. Under pressure from the religious parties, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who assumed power after the East Pakistan debacle, agreed to declare Islam the state religion of Pakistan in the Constitution of 1973.
He used the Islamic Summit Conference held at Lahore in February 1974 to project himself as one of the foremost leaders of the Islamic world. He also consented to declare the Ahmediya community as non-Muslim through a constitutional amendment in September 1974 after serious riots broke out on the issue.By adopting such measures, Bhutto wanted to strengthen hisIslamic credentials vis-à-vis ethno-regional and religious parties and compensate for his failure to deliver on economic front. But despite all this, Bhutto was never averse to cultural permissiveness and the ethos of Pakistani society did not undergo any change on that count.
His social liberalism was anathema to religious parties and the Casino, which Bhutto planned to construct on the Clifton beach, became a symbol of Bhutto’s cultural openness.

Considering himself firmly entrenched in the office, Bhutto advised President Fazle Elahi Chaudhry in the first week of January 1977 to dissolve the National Assembly and appoint 7 March as the date for next general elections.In no time the hitherto divided opposition joined hands to form the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) to confront Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party from a single platform.In his desire to secure two-third majority that could have enabled him to amend the Constitution, and his erstwhile colleagues and the then administration went for the overkill and the elections were massively rigged.
The PNA declined to accept the results and demanded resignation of Bhutto and holding of fresh elections under the supervision of the judiciary and the armed forces. The PNA picked up the slogan of ‘Nizam-i-Mustafa’ to infuse religious fervor in the movement that it launched to remove Bhutto.
The call for establishment of ‘Nizam-i-Mustafa’ became a rallying point and the urban populations, especially the bourgeois classes, were mesmerized by the romanticism of the utopia offered.
The workers of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and the pupils belonging to the madrassah/s of Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Islam (JUI)) spearheaded the PNA agitation to remove Bhutto from power.

With the involvement of foreign hand, the movement gathered momentum and the government became ineffective in maintaining law and order. Even the use of troops failed to stop the processions chanting slogans of ‘Nizam-I-Mustafa’ that daily poured out from the mosques. As a last resort, Bhutto agreed to introduce ‘Islamic system’ in the country and announced ban on gambling, wine, floorshows and the like.
There was to be no more racecourse or nightclub culture in the country. He declared Friday ___ the Muslim equivalent of Sabbath ___ as the weekly holiday.
Bhutto’s announcement to introduce ‘Islamic’ measures was taken as his weakness and a last ditch effort to save himself. Ultimately, as a result of the negotiations that had been in progress, the PNA and the PPP came to terms on holding of fresh elections in October 1977.
The agreement to this effect was to be signed at noon on 5 July; but in the early hours of that date the Chief of Army Staff, General Mohammad Zia-ul Haq, imposed martial law on the country.
In his very first address to the nation on 5 July 1977, General Zia stated:
“I must say that the spirit of Islam demonstrated during the recent movement was commendable. It proved that Pakistan, which was created in the name of Islam, will continue to survive only if it sticks to Islam. I consider the introduction of Islamic system as an essential prerequisite for the country.” [3]
General Zia had no qualms in exploiting the fair name of Islam for his political ends, i.e., survival at all cost; and JI had no scruples in supporting the most ruthless military ruler of Pakistan in his design to self-perpetuate himself.
In JI’s view, he was a messiah or Saladin destined to redeem the country that had gone astray after independence. With mosque and military as his constituencies, General Zia played havoc with the state institutions and the civil society during his eleven-year stint.
Commenting on General Zia’s rule, The Encyclopedia of Pakistan observes:
“In attempting to restructure . . . state and society into a theocracy, the government undertook two kinds of initiatives:First, measures designed to (be) subordinate to executive authority, institutions of state and civil society such as the judiciary and the press, which if allowed to function independently could check governmental power.
“The second set of measures towards a theocratic state sought to inculcate obscurantist views and induced a narrowing of the human mind. It involved a suspension of the sensibility of love and reason underlying the religious tradition signified in Pakistan’s folk culture.” [4]
Retracting from his solemn pledge to hold elections in October 1977, shrewd, cunning and deceitful, General Zia initiated a process of so-called accountability of politicians and sought legitimacy in his ‘Islamization’ program, which was more cosmetic than substantial.
In February 1979, General Zia fixed a fresh date for holding of general elections and promulgated the so-called Hudood Ordinance 1979 (a unfair, unjust, un Islamic and intrinsically a draconian law) that dealt with the offences of drinking, adultery, theft and false allegations.
After a trial that lacked transparency and procedural propriety, and against all judicial and human norms, Bhutto was sent to gallows in April 1979, on the false charge of ordering the murder of a political opponent.
Once the purpose of eliminating Bhutto was achieved, the general elections scheduled for November 1979 were postponed indefinitely.

Simultaneously, General Zia unleashed a reign of terror against his detractors and publicly flogged the PPP workers, students, journalists and lawyers who opposed his draconian measures.
In 1979, General Zia also promulgated Zakat and Ushr Ordinance that authorized the government to deduct what may be referred to as Islamic wealth tax at the rate of 2½ % from bank deposits that fall under the category of savings. The amount so deducted was to be distributed amongst the needy through some 32,000 zakat committees.
Those who became members of these committees developed a vested interest in prolongation of Zia’s rule.
In line with his ‘Islamization’ program, General Zia constituted in 1980 a Shariat Bench in each of the High Courts with the power to declare as repugnant to Islam any existing law, excluding fiscal laws.
Subsequently, in the same year, a Federal Shariat Court (FSC) was established to replace provincial Shariat Benches probably to simplify the structure of the judiciary and avoid pronouncement of conflicting judgments on matters related to shariah.
The FSC also had appellate jurisdiction in cases decided at lower levels under the shariah laws. The final judicial authority in the shariah matters was to be the Shariat Bench of the Supreme Court.
This brought about great elevation in the position of the ulema and they reached the corridors of power.Husain Haqqani, who, once worked with Zia, observes: “To serve alongside Western-educated jurists, Zia nominated representatives of the Islamic parties as judges of the Federal Sharia Court, the first time traditionally educated ulema had held that position since the introduction of English common law under British rule.” [5]
Under the instructions of General Zia, the performing arts were discouraged and strict censor was imposed on cinema and TV programs. The women artists and anchors on TV were to cover their head with dupatta (Hijab) and wear dresses that were not sexually attractive.
The themes of drama were changed to depict conservative values. The number of programs presenting Hamd (praise of Allah), Naat (praise of the Holy Prophet P.B.U.H.), Tilawat (recitation of the Holy Quran) and Tafseer (explanation and exegesis) were, qualitatively and quantitatively increased.
The radio and TV started airing the Azan (call for prayers) regularly. Advertisements in newspapers and on hoardings were not to carry photographs of women that may be considered obscene. Women were banned from participating in sports before the male crowd.
The Zia Administration issued directives to its various departments to arrange for observance of prayers and take break for that purpose.
Special sites were designated for observance of congregational prayers in government and semi-government offices and public places, including airports, railway stations, parks, markets, hospitals, educational institutions etc.
The sanctity of the month of Ramdhan (Holy month of Fasting) was strictly observed. The cafes and restaurants remained closed during the daytime. Even hawkers were not allowed to sell eatables during fasting hours.
For this purpose, Ehtaram-i-Ramazan Ordinance was promulgated in 1981, which prescribed punishment for violation of Ramazan’s sanctity.

With effect from 1 January 1981, the banks were required to introduce profit and loss sharing accounts that were claimed to be interest-free.
Subsequently, Banking and Financial Services (Amendment of Laws) Ordinance, 1984, was promulgated that introduced various concepts of so-called Islamic banking, including mark-up, hire-purchase, rent-sharing, licensing, leasing, musharika, modaraba etc.
In the field of education, the Quranic verses were used to describe natural laws and phenomena in textbooks of physical sciences.
The subject of Pakistan Studies became a vehicle for creating hatred towards the Hindu community and the students were indoctrinated in so-called ‘ideology of Pakistan’, for which truth was compromised and history murdered. [6]
The textbooks of Islamiat became a source of controversy between various sects of Islam. The isnads (degrees) conferred by madrassahs were made equivalent to university degrees, on the basis of which appointments were made in educational institutions.
There was talk of opening of separate girls’ universities. Urdu was made medium of instruction in government schools that effectively closed the minds of students by placing constraints on their access to knowledge.
General Zia’s ‘Islamic’ measures appear to be hypocritical. He never attempted to introduce the substance of Islam i.e., social and economic justice. Instead, the feudal lords and industrialists were given free hand to exploit the people. Unlike Bhutto’s time, the gap between the haves and have-nots increased rapidly under Zia.
As expected, General Zia’s program of ‘Islamization’ became controversial and imparted irreparable damage to the social fabric.
In Islam, there are various versions of shariah known as fiqahs since more than a thousand years. There are also several sects or maslaks (schools) that differ on beliefs of secondary nature but quarrel as if these differences are related to the fundamentals of Islam.Often the ulema hailing from these various maslaks do not hesitate from issuing the fatwa (religious decree) of takfir (infidelity) against the rivals.During the freedom struggle, Jinnah had taken due precaution not to get involved in sectarian issues. [7]Zia’s legislative measures purportedly conformed to Sunni-Hanafi school of Islam and were at once resented by the minority Shia community that adhered to fiqah-i-jafaria.As early as April 1979, an All Pakistan Shia Convention was held at Bhakkar to discuss the implications of General Zia’s legislative measures for the Shia community. It was on this occasion that Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Fiqah-i-Jafferia (TNFJ) was founded under the leadership of Mufti Jaffer Hussein, which became the most representative of Shia organizations.
Encouraged by the Iranian revolution of 1979, Pakistan’s Shia community adopted a tough stand on the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance of 1979 and refused to allow the government to deduct any amount from the deposits of Shia account holders.
On the call of Wifaq-i-Ulema-i-Shia (Federation of religious Clergy of Shia) Pakistan and Imamia Students Organization, the Shias converged in Islamabad on 5 July 1980 and virtually seized the capital city until the government conceded their demand of exemption from zakat deduction.
Under the Islamabad Agreement signed on the occasion, the government also promised to prescribe separate courses of studies in Islamiat for the Shia students.
Imam Khomeini played an important role in resolving the issue and obtained assurance from General Zia that the Shia demands would be met. (8]

The Iranian Revolution had inspired Muslims throughout the world by successfully confronting the United States and presenting a practical example of Islamic polity. Its radicalism was a threat to anachronistic regimes of the neighboring countries where despots ruled without popular participation or consent.
Pro-American Saudi monarchy particularly felt threatened from the trend set by the Iranian Revolution and feared that its spillover effects might destabilize the region. The show of strength by the Shias in Pakistan disturbed the Saudi dynasty and soon the Saudi government decided to counter Shia influence in Pakistan by supporting Sunni jihadi organizations that had been emerging since 1979 in the backdrop of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
In August 1983, Mufti Jaffer Hussein died and TNFJ faced split in its ranks. One faction of the party called a conference at Bhakkar in February 1984 and elected Allama Syed Arif Al Husseini as its President.
Allama Syed Arif Al Husseini was able to secure support of Imam Khomeni and was appointed the Imam’s representative in Pakistan. [9]
Since the Islamabad Agreement had not been fully implemented, the TNFJ under Al Husseini resorted to agitation in which several shias were killed in July 1985 and the situation became very tense. The politics of TNFJ was seen with misgivings by the Sunni ulema.
In September 1985, Maulana Haq Nawaz Jhangwi, Maulana Ziaur Rehman Farooqi, Maulana Eesarul Haq Qasmi and Maulana Azam Tariq, all known for their anti-Shia views, founded Anjuman-i-Sipah-i-Sahaba, which was subsequently renamed as Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP).
Apart from sectarian differences, the emergence of the SSP represented class conflicts. An analyst has observed, “A feudal system has been operative in jhang (a District of Southern Punjab) for a very long time and most feudal landlords in this area belong to the Shia sect.
Opposed to this the majority of investors, industrialists and businessmen of the area are Sunnis. Divergence of interests led to confrontations in Jhang and Chiniot.” He has further claimed:
“Independent sources and police records confirm thatAnjuman-i- Sipah-i- Sahaba was created by a group of eighteenbusinessmen from Jhang and discussions were held with MaulanaJhangvi to set down the outlines and goals of the organization.
The businessmen wanted to give a religious outlook to the organization so that the sympathies of the majority Sunni public could be gained against the Shia feudals.” [10]

Another theory is that the SSP was founded at the behest of General Zia who wanted to wean away popular support from the PPP in Punjab and simultaneously intended to counter the growing influence of Iran.
The SSP accused the TNFJ and other shia organizations of receiving financial assistance from Iran with a view to convert Pakistan into a Shia state. It alleged that the Shia ulema insulted the companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in their sermons and publications, which could not be tolerated.
The SSP claimed that it wanted to institute Khilafat in Pakistan and demanded that the country should be declared a Sunni state.
Apparently the SSP received Saudi funds and enjoyed backing of Pakistani agencies, or the elements within, those were averse to the growing influence of Iran in the country.
Within a short period, the SSP managed to establish a large number of madrassahs in the length and breadth of Pakistan that indoctrinated their pupils against the shias, claiming that the shias were non-Muslims and should be suppressed or even killed for showing disrespect to prominent sahaba (Companions of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH), in particular the first three Khulfa-i-Rashideen.
To counter the SSP, the shias founded their own militant organization Sipah-i-Mohammad in 1993. The leaders of the SSP went a step further and created several terrorist outfits, including Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Jhangvi Tigers, Al-Haq Tigers, Al-Farooq, Al-Badar etc.
Although the conflicts between the TNFJ (or TNJ, as it was renamed), and the SSP and their respective offshoots failed to instigate Shia-Sunni riots at popular level except in Jhang, Chiniot and some nearby places, they resorted to target killings of prominent persons, including professionals, and planned attacks on mosques and Imam bargahs that have led to innumerable casualties during last the two decades.

Violence begets violence and it is a pity to note that apart from the commoners, a large number of Shia and Sunni ulema lost their lives in sectarian killings.
The legacy of General Zia continued to haunt even after the Providence removed him from the scene in August 1988.
The period 1988-1999 witnessed some of the worst spate of sectarian killings. After 9/11, the Musharraf government outlawed the TNJ, the SSP and various terrorist-sectarian organizations operating under them.
Even these measures have failed to eliminate the phenomenon. There is no escape saying that the sectarian violence in Pakistan began largely due to the short-sightedness of General Zia’s policy of so-called ‘Islamization’ of laws without first evolving a national consensus. Subsequently, the Shia-Sunni conflict was further flared up and sustained by the turf war between Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the two archrivals vying for influence in the region.
General Zia’s policy also strained relations between the various maslaks of the Sunni sect. He was particularly close to the Tableeghi Jamaat and attended its annual congregations.
At popular level, the Dawat-i-Islami, representing the Barailvi maslak, and the Tableeghi Jamaat are viewed as staunch rivals.
Pakistan government’s support to Deobandi, Wahabi and Ahle Hadith outfits in the wake of the Afghan jihad enabled the followers of these maslaks to increase their say in the Ministry of Religious Affairs and they were also embolden to take over many mosques belonging to Barailvi maslak.
This led to the creation of the militant Sunni Tehrik in 1990 to safeguard Baraivi interests. Apart from sectarian conflicts, another manifestation of religious extremism in Pakistan is in the form of militancy or jihadi culture. Its origin is well known and may be briefly summed up.
On 17 July 1973, Sardar Muhammad Daoud toppled the government of King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan and declared the country a Republic. He raised the issue of the Durand Line ____ the boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan ___ and supported the cause of Pakhtunistan, a concept of self-governing or independent homeland for Pakhtuns, comprising Pakistan’s North-Western Frontier Province and northern parts of Balochistan.
At that time a nationalist insurgency was going on in Balochistan and Daoud’s policy posed a threat to Pakistan’s security. Prime Minister Bhutto decided to counter Daoud’s move by supporting the militias of Jamiat-i-Islami led by Burhanuddin Rabbani and of Hizb-i-Islami led by Gulbadin Hekmatyar.
These organizations had links with Pakistan’s Jamaat-i-Islami and the Middle East’s Muslim Brotherhood. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was made responsible for the conduct of the covert operation designed to strengthen the Islamists in Afghanistan. [11]
Concerned with this unpleasant development in the region, the Shah of Iran used his good offices and persuaded Bhutto and Daoud to commence dialogue.
While negotiations were in progress, General Zia seized power in July 1977 due to which the dialogue was disrupted. After a short break, the negotiations began between General Zia and Daoud and it was expected that the differences between Pakistan and Afghanistan over the Durand Line and the Pakhtunistan issue would be amicably resolved [12].
However, before that happen Daoud was killed on 27 April 1978 in a coup staged by the Afghan Communists under Nur Muhammad Tarahki.
The establishment of a Communist regime in Afghanistan changed its traditional character of a buffer state between Russia / the Soviet Union and the South Asian Subcontinent. In December 1978, Afghanistan and the Soviet Union signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, which contained provisions concerning defense and security.
India had already concluded a similar treaty with the Soviet Union in 1971. Iran was also in turmoil where the fall of the Shah looked imminent. In this backdrop, General Zia sought to revive Pakistan’s military ties with the United States, which were in the doldrums because of Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear program.
Simultaneously, Pakistan decided to enhance its assistance to the Islamists who led the resistance against the Communist rule.
Pleading Pakistan’s case forcefully, General Zia stated in an interview to Klaus Natrop of Frank-furter Allgemeine Zaituny:
“The Soviet Union signed a Friendship Treaty with India in 1971 and later Pakistan was dismembered and Bangladesh was created. The Soviet Union went into a Treaty of Friendship with Ethiopia and Somalia was threatened . . . . The Soviet Union went into a Treaty of Friendship with Vietnam and Kampuchia is gone. The Soviet Union has now entered into a Treaty with Afghanistan. I do not say Pakistan will go but it certainly creates a threat to Pakistan.”
General Zia contended that the guerilla movement in Afghanistan “should get support it needs from China, from America, from Western Europe. Of course, it has to pass through Pakistan but Pakistan at the moment is not in a position to give them the support they need, because Pakistan will only be burning its own fingers that way.” [13]
As the resistance against the Communist regime in Afghanistan became strong with Pakistan’s covert support to the Islamists and the country plunged into a civil war.
Thousands of Afghans began crossing the Durand Line to take refuge in Pakistan. On 16 September 1979, Hafizullah Amin, the Afghan Prime Minister, captured power in a coup that led to the assassination of Tarahki. He too failed to control the situation in face of stiff resistance.
Not satisfied with Amin, on 27 December 1979, the Soviet Union moved its troops into Afghanistan and installed Babruk Karmal at the head of the government at Kabul.
Confronted with grave threat to Pakistan’s security, General Zia made loud appeals for American assistance to strengthen Pakistan’s defense and to force the roll back of Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.
With half-hearted commitment, U.S. President Carter offered an aid of $400 million to Pakistan, which General Zia rejected as a ‘peanut’. In the American Presidential elections of 1980, the Republican candidate Ronald Reagan was successful.

With Reagan as the US President, a new era of cooperation between Pakistan and the United States dawned and the United States offered Pakistan a package of $ 3.2 billion over next six years.
Together General Zia and Reagan decided to use Islam as a weapon against the Soviet occupational forces in Afghanistan and thus began the biggest covert operation in the history of CIA.
For the success of joint CIA-ISI venture, it was necessary to promote religious extremism or jihadi culture in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and this they did.
With the American financial and military assistance, Pakistan became a conduit of arms supplies to Afghan counter revolutionaries who were now called mujahideen.
Western Europe, Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also provided funds to carry on guerrilla war against the Soviet occupational forces in Afghanistan.
Initially these mujahideen were recruited from Afghans and Pakistani Pashtuns. As the scope of jihad widened, the Arabs, the Chechens, the Uzbeks and others joined the resistance.
Pakistan government encouraged the Deobandi ulema belonging to JUI to establish madrassah network in the Afghan refugee camps and Pashtun areas of Pakistan.
JI recruited warriors from the NWFP and cities of Punjab and Sindh where its cadres were strong.
By mid 1980s, several jihadi outfits were operating in Afghanistan and they enjoyed sanctuaries in Pakistan. Abdullah Azzam, the mentor of Osama Bin Laden set up his office in Peshawar to assist in jihad and was at a later stage visited by Bin Laden himself.
The madrassah and the mosques inspired the youth to participate in jihad. Even the children were mentally prepared for the great cause. Highlighting the tactics used by the United States to indoctrinate the Afghan children for future role, Kathy Gannon states:

“The United States also pumped out inspirational literature of its own for the Afghan refugee camps, where U.S.-printed school books taught the alphabet by using such examples as:
J is for Jihad, and K is for Kalashnikov, and I is for infidel. Mathematical problems would be something like: ‘If you had fifty Communist soldiers and you killed ten, how many would you still have?’ ” [14]
After the introduction of U.S stringer missiles on the part of the mujahideen, the Soviet Union fully realized that it could neither win the war nor bear the cost of the military adventure.
In the end, the proximity talks that had been taking place between Pakistan and the Communist regime of Afghanistan came to fruition in the form of the Geneva Accords under which the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by February 1989.
Once the Vietnam War was avenged and ‘the Evil Empire’ defeated, the United States lost its interest in Afghanistan. It unceremoniously ditched the jihadis and showed cold shoulder to Pakistan.
Although General Zia was no more at the helm of affairs when the Soviet withdrawal was completed, but his Legacy that was well entrenched had, a vision of having strategic depth for Pakistan by controlling Kabul through some proxy and to have access to Central Asia. They were also driven for strategic depth owing insecurities and living under constant threat from its neighbor with whom it had full scale wars and its eastern flank.
They were also encouraged by success in Afghanistan to expand the jihadi network to Indian Occupied Kashmir.
In Afghanistan, the Communist government of Najibullah survived till April 1992. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, its fall seemed only a matter of time.
Despite Pakistan’s best effort, peace remained elusive in Afghanistan, where different jihadi organizations fought among themselves.
Pakistan failed to see Hikmatyar ___ its man ___ at the head of government in Kabul. In the absence of strong central authority, the writ of the Afghan government remained confined to Kabul and virtually innumerable warlords controlled Afghanistan’s territory.The situation deteriorated to a point where different warlords imposed taxes on movement of goods and people through their respective domains. The Taliban were born in 1994 as a reaction to this highhandedness of the warlords. [15]
Although the emergence of the Taliban was accidental, they proved their mettle in a short span. Fortunately for Pakistan, many of them had received religious education in Deobandi madrassahs run by the JUI.
The ISI had first-hand experience of the Taliban in October 1994, when it helped recover a Pakistani trade convoy that was destined to Central Asia. In the Taliban, the ISI could see the potential of fulfilling Pakistan’s dream of strategic depth and access to Central Asia.
With the support of the ISI, the Taliban were able to take over nearly 90% of Afghanistan’s territory, including Kabul, by 1996.
In Indian occupied Kashmir, the ISI successfully orchestrated a jihadi campaign based in Azad Kashmir and Pakistani territory. By the late 1990s, the ISI-sponsored low intensity war in Indian occupied Kashmir engaged nearly seven hundred thousand Indian law enforcement personnel and regular troops.
The drain on Indian economy from this low intensity war in Kashmir was enormous and Pakistan hoped to bring India to a negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute or bleed it indefinitely.
Pakistan’s Afghanistan and Kashmir policies made it imperative that the jihadi culture remained strong in the country.
The mosques and madrassahs sermonized on the importance of jihad and the JI and JUI, with their close nexus with the Pakistan armed forces, continued to recruit young people for the jihad in Kashmir. To train the recruits, necessary facilities were set up in Azad Kashmir, the tribal belt and the NWFP.
Although various individuals and institutions made huge contributions, one could routinely see the stalls of jihadi out fits distributing jihadi leaflets and collecting donations after Friday prayers.
Several daily, weekly and monthly publications were brought out with ISI sponsorship to propagate jihad. A large number of foreigners who had stayed in Pakistani tribal belt after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan also joined the mujahideen in Kashmir.
The 9/11 changed the entire scenario. After the Taliban refused to handover Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect of attack on the World Trade Center, Pakistan had to ditch its erstwhile ally and join the so-called American war on terror.
Since then Pakistan government has handed over to the United States scores of Taliban and Al Qaeda supporters, including several prominent Al-Qaeda figures.
Pakistan has also periodically launched very costly military operations in its tribal belt to eliminate militants and check cross-border incursions into Afghanistan from the Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements.
However, Pakistan cannot afford to allow a pro-India government in Kabul or to go on suppressing its tribal people for an alien cause.
In view of its strategic interests in Afghanistan and internal, existential societal, religious and political ground realities, Pakistan can ill afford burning its boats and has, of necessity to have a discreet nexus with the Taliban and politico-religious parties, JUI and JI.
Simultaneously, the jihadi infrastructure for Kashmir needs to be kept in tact to be reactivated if India drags its feet on the Kashmir issue too long.
The question to ponder over is not only how the jihadi outfits manage to recruit people or how do they operate. The question also is why the Muslims opt for jihad? Why so many young Muslims offer to become suicide bombers?
Is it not surprising that those who participated in attack on the World Trade Center were not madrassah students?
The answer is to be found in the arrogant and rogue behavior of the United States and Israel. It is to be found in the blood of innocent Palestinian Muslims that is being shed daily in Gaza and the West Bank and now the massacre of innocent Lebanese, mostly defense less infants, children elderly people, women in the name of taking on Hizbullah.
It is to be found in the American protection to dictatorial regimes that rule the Muslim countries. It is to be found in the ruthless suppression of the Kashmiri, Chechen, Uighar and Moro Muslims.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has lost all sense of propriety in dealing with the Muslim world. It has stationed its forces in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Gulf Emirates with the ‘permission’ of unrepresentative regimes.
It has occupied Iraq and Afghanistan and routinely, on daily basis, resort to indiscriminate killing of the innocent people of these countries.
It is threatening Syria and Iran without any justification. Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and Batgram prisons have become symbols of its savagery and barbarity. These acts cannot go unanswered.
What the West calls ‘terrorism’, Islamists call it jihad. And the jihad would continue if the United States and Israel do not vacate aggression from the Muslim land.
Presently, Pakistani society is a divided entity. There are those who find great attraction in the pop music, cable TV and consumerism, and yearn for a life of peace, comfort and enjoyment.
They would like Pakistan to be another Egypt or Turkey. For them religion is confined to a few rituals and that’s all.
At the other end are those who can never ignore the fact that the West is bent upon destroying Muslim ethos. Some of them revert to pacifist tradition of Islam. They recoil and withdraw, and attend the congregations of Dawat-i-Islami and Tableeghi Jamaat in the hope that better days would come.
For them, their maslak and fiqah is everything. But there are elements that consider jihad as ‘farz-i-ain’ and suicide bombing a legitimate war tactic.
They would continue to respond to the call of jihad. And yes, there are still others whose hatred for the United States and Israel accepts no bounds, but they think that without first equipping the Muslim World with science and technology and the art of modern ware-fare, the jihad in the form of qital is premature. [16]
While concluding it may be noted that there is no denying thefact that the ground realities those are confronting Pakistanand the eventual compulsions, in the after math of 911, thoseexacted the diametric changes in Pakistan’s policies were inkeeping with the diktats of the time and our objectives. Hencethe people at the Helm of affairs did the best that theycould.
Having said that, it may be pointed out that there is much that needs to be done in terms of changing the internal dynamics of society in Pakistan.
It could be achieved by formulating and executing long and short term policies those could result in catering to the conventional and non-conventional polar extremities in the society and those could build bridges and arrive at a new social contract that articulates our societal behavior in harmony with the changing internal, regional and global environment in league with Pakistan’s Ideological aspirations of finding and place in the comity of nations as a Muslim, democratic and economic power.
The civil society in Pakistan needs to rise to the occasion and contribute towards bridging the polarity gap by “throwing up moderate enlightenment from within and not imported enlightened moderation.
This Paper was, first published in in August 2006.
Notes and References
1. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, “The Constitutional Future of India”, Time and Tide, London, 9 March 1940. Jinnah had entitled the article “Two Nations in India”; but the editor of Time and Tide changed the title. The article has been reproduced in Waheed Ahmad (ed.), Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah: The Nation’s Voice (Speeches and Statements, March 1935-March 1940), Karachi: Quaid-i-Azam Academy, 1992, p. 475.
2. The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Debates, Karachi, volume 1, number 2, 11 August 1947. p.1
3. Dawn, Karachi, 6 July 2006.
4. The Encyclopedia of Pakistan, Karachi: OxfordUniversity Press, 2006, p.3485. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, Lahore: Vanguard Books, 2005, p. 149.
6. See K.K. Aziz, The Murder of History in Pakistan, Lahore: Vanguard Books, 1993.
7. In reply to an inquiry by Maulana Husain Ahmed Madni, the leader of the Jamiat-i-Ulema-i-Hind, as to what were Muslim League’s future plans for the Muslims of the Subcontinent, Jinnah had said: “We shall have time to quarrel ourselves and we shall have time when these differences will have to be settled, when wrongs and injuries will have to be remedied. We shall have time for domestic programs and policies, but first get the government. This is a nation without any territory or any government.” Khalid Bin Sayeed, The Political System of Pakistan, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1967, p. 59.
8. Muhammad Amir Rana (translated by Saba Ansari), A to Z of Jehadi Organizations in Pakistan, Lahore: Mashal Books, 2004, p. 405.
9. Ibid., p. 406.
10. Ibid., pp. 193-194.
11. Husain Haqqani, op.cit., p. 103.
12. Ibid., p.175.
13. President of Pakistan, General Mohammad Zia-ul Haq, Interviews to Foreign Media, volume II (January-December 1979), Islamabad: Directorate of Films & Publications, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan, no date, pp. 31-33.
14. Kathy Gannon, I is for Infidel, New York: Public Affairs, 2005, p. 141.
15. For the emergence of the Taliban, see ibid., pp. 28-31.
16. Bernard Lewis,his What Went Wrong?Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, would greatly help the inquisitive reader in understanding Muslim mind.

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