By Saleem A Sethi, WEEKLY PULSE MAGAZINE, November 11, 2013
If a nation is collectively bent upon annihilating its state and society, nobody can help it otherwise. At least this would be how one would like to summarize the events and reaction after the November 1 drone attack that killed Tehrik-i-Taliban chief, HakimullahMehsood.
The nation apparently went into frenzy. Some of the media persons and Taliban apologists, aka new generation political leaders, tried their best to mold public opinion in his favor. MujiburRahmanShami praised him like a hero and termed him brave, patriotic Pakistani (like the rest of the tribesmen) and a soldier. Imran termed the attack on him as a part of the perpetual conspiracy of the US against Pakistan and threatened blocking NATO supplies. MaulanaFazlurRahman couldn’t lag behind in his support for the dead man. Interior Minister ChNisar termed it a ‘drone strike on the peace process’[sic] and promised a review of Pak-US relationship by the government. And to complete the madness, MunawarHasan of Jamaat-i-Islami took the ultimate step and declared him a martyr – a ‘Shaheed’.
One wander why it is that when some internationally infamous terrorist is taken out, Pakistani nation as a whole feel betrayed and victimized and the state’s relations with the US and the world at large take a disastrous turn. Is it because the people of Pakistan now feel ideologically more like one and the same with Taliban rather than their country? Is it that its leadership has gone into the hands of those who don’t know anything about politics, statecraft and diplomacy? Or that they (the leaders) are extremely frightened of Taliban? Or is it that they themselves are the product of the past 30 years’ indoctrination and propaganda run at the behest of the powers that be? Or is it simply that we have achieved the ultimate in mixing religion and politics, where religion has turned into a rival of the state and where only one has to prevail?
To anyone who had some understanding of the real life picture, Hakimullah was a dead man walking. He was directly and indirectly responsible for thousands of Pakistani civilian and armed personnel’s death and the gravest law and order situation in the country. He had his hands in the killing of foreign troops inside Afghanistan with an unspecified role in an attack near Khost in Afghanistan in which seven CIA employees were killed and which is considered the deadliest of such attacks on CIA since 1983. Going by the rules of the game he was one of the most wanted men on both sides of the divide, with a price tag of Rs. 50 million from the Pakistani government and $ 5 million from the US government on his head. So, does it come as any surprise that he was killed the moment he was spotted? Or the real surprise is that Pakistanis are deliberately led to believe that his person was like a silver lining of peace in the dark clouds of violence and terrorism?
It seems all the dormant and active factors are contributing to the confounding confusion simultaneously. The state was founded in the name of Muslims. Though Quaid-i-Azam announced the cessation of the movement and the start of a nation state on the eve of independence, Liaqat Ali Khan and other leaders of the time, who had no constituency in the new state, nullified the vision of Mohammad Ali Jinnah by introducing a weird document called ‘The Objectives Resolution’ (OR) to the nascent state’s political landscape. The process of so-called Islamization didn’t stop for a moment after that and everyone felt proud of it. OR became a ‘preamble’ to the constitution of Pakistan that came into being 5 years after the passage of the Resolution itself.ZiaulHaq pulled the OR from the political to legal domain by making it an ‘operative part’ of the constitution. And the march toward exhibitionist Islam accelerated.
The defeat of 1971 also played an important role in instilling religiosity among the masses. The military had no logical and reasonable excuse to offer to the people because they were made to believe that their army was enough to defeat all the armies of the world put together. How could it explain to the people now why has it lost more than half of Pakistani population to the Hindu army? And why and how more than 90,000 of its soldiers surrendered to the ‘Bunyas’? Oh! Yes. This wasn’t a defeat of the army or the strategies or non-strategies of its generals and officers or their indulgence in politics for more than a decade. This was the result of moral degradation of a few evil persons; General Yaha Khan, General AqleemAkhtar Rani and Queen Noor Jehan, and a handful of garlanded ‘tamashbeens’ were solely responsible for the greatest defeat in the Muslims’ history. How bad they were? Boozing, dancing, waywardness from the path of God; and look at the results! This was propagated with the help of Jamaat-i-Islami in the shape of which the military had recently discovered a new ally in Bengal. The alliance now was in the interest of both the parties. For JI because it had no standing at the popular level and liaison with a powerful institution could bring it nearer to the revolution its founder had predicted. And for the army, because this effort not only helped wash the stains of a shameful defeat but also paving the way for future intervention in politics.
So, the army was back in the saddles within the short span of only 5 years; this time with a pronounced Islamist agenda, later backed, promoted and supported by the US and the West on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and domestic religious and sectarian allies on the other. From that time onward people were told that if they wanted to be good Pakistanis, they must prove themselves to be good Muslims – though it was the state’s official policy in a benign form after The Objectives Resolution. Unfortunately, the initiators did not know that this was a contradiction in terms; and that at some point in time the state and religion will come face to face demanding the loyalty of the poor citizens. It shouldn’t have been the case in the first place because belief in God and one’s religion is one thing, making it into a rival to the state is something different. But then this is the natural corollary of mixing state with religion or vice versa. The consequences are obvious; split loyalties of the citizens, existence of Taliban mindset everywhere, strengthening of clergy and losing of the initiatives by state to that same clergy.
Three internal factors have played important role in bringing the state to this stage;
- The effort of the migrated people to cling on power without any constituency.
- The desire of the army to rule the country and keep politicians under its thumb and using religion for this purpose.
- The role religious parties played for their self-interest and on behalf of the army and of the outside powers.
The first factor, though seemingly not so crucial, is the mother of all evils. Because this was the insecurity of the people who made sacrifices for the creation of Pakistan and migrated here from India that made “Pakistaniyat” stringed to being a good Muslim. And who could be a better Muslim than the one who migrated for the cause of religion? The message was clear, they had migrated following the tradition of the Holy Prophet; therefore, they should be left to rule without any election. And mind you, this was the second such exodus for the cause of religion in the history of Islam. This shortsightedness not only led to ‘democratic tragedy’ in Pakistan but sowed the seeds of religiosity here.
The second factor, of course, is more crucial because in this instant the army snatched the religious drum from the so-called politicians and started beating it. So-called because the tug of war from 1947 to 1958 was not among politicians as such; this was among the Urdu-speaking Nawabs, bureaucrats, politicians and other such ‘educated’ entities. Inciting religious sentiments of the people helped the military to have a moral upper hand vis-à-vis the political class. The objective was achieved through the infamous, but informal, Mullah-military alliance. But if it strengthened the military on the one hand, it gave disproportionate importance and power to the religious lobbies (Mullah) on the other. ZiaulHaq, Afghan war, strategic depth and Taliban completed the process.
The third factor was the indigenous as well as mercenary role of the religious personalities, parties and groups. The narrative which was first stated by the early leadership of the country and then promoted by the military establishment was bound to help the clergy more than the ones who wanted it to be used (or abused) only for political purposes. The initiative had to be lost to them; which we ultimately seem to be witnessing now.
The great debate of whether the death of Hakimullah was ‘Shahaadat’ (martyrdom) or a good riddance, is in fact not about a single individual sent to hell. It is about the future of Pakistan itself. This debate will decide whether if Pakistan will remain as a state or will turn into a religious movement – the fate of which will be decided later on, i.e. after the Clash of Civilizations comes to an end in the unforeseeable future. Whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not but we are in the process of deciding if we want to send the future of this country to hell or we preserve it as a dignified state in the comity of nations.
As for Jamaat-i-Islami, it is no secret that the party and its founder apposed the creation of Pakistan tooth and nail and called Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader) with the derogatory ‘Kafir-i-Azam’ (Great Infidel). After independence, the party considered it its laboratory. It entered into an unholy alliance with the military junta of the Yahya Khan and played its role in the dismemberment of then Pakistan. Now it wants to declare the enemy of the people, the army and the state of Pakistan as a martyr in order to bring a permanent end to it and make the dream of its founder come true.
This is not for the first time and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Fact is that Taliban are only practically trying to practice and impose what MaulanaMaududi preached through all his writings. Today’s Jihadist philosophy is how he interpreted ‘Jihad’ in his books and with which USA and ZiaulHaq helped indoctrinate the minds of Afghans to fight Soviets and the tribal people who were required to accommodate them in the name of religion and culture (Islam and Pukhtoonwali). In true sense, Taliban are fighting Jamaat-i-Islami’s and MaulanaMaududi’s war and not vice versa, as we look at it.
It is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this land of the pure that we have stooped so low to discuss whether the slayer of thousands of Pakistanis and army officers and gentlemen is a martyr or not. It is an insult to the blood of our Shuhada who sacrificed their lives for the cause of their country and its people. It is an insult to intelligence of the living Pakistanis.
The government should come out of its ‘opposition’ mindset. It should desist from knee-jerk reactions to serious situations which have far reaching consequences for the country. Imran Khan should be admitted either to political kindergarten or some mental asylum before he declares war on federal government and the US. If this state claims to exist, it is time to show it to the people that it is alive. That it is capable of dealing with people who do not recognize it writ. Or who stands in revolt against it. It should start with MunawarHasan if it cannot lay its hands on Taliban terrorists operating somewhere far away in the jurisdiction of this state. And the army should learn its lessons, too. It should declare once and for all that it won’t team up with clergy in future. That it won’t categorize terrorists between good and bad. And that it won’t use religion against politics, politicians and democracy. Or the next time, it won’t find even as less people as it is finding on its side this time around. Just a little push or encouragement more from it and people will be standing on other side of the ‘divide’ – right now they are just on the other side of the ‘fence’.