Tag Archives | Muslim

The Pakistan fight-club

Who is taking a pounding from whom: Ahmedi from Muslim, Shia from Sunni, Barelvi from Wahabi, secular Sunni from rabid Barelvi and so on…

Maniza Naqvi at 3QuarksDaily:

…Pakistan where matters are so far gone that if the father of the Nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah were alive today he would not be able to go about freely for fear of being shot to death for being a Shi’a.  Or the men who bank rolled the fledgling state of Pakistan with their wealth, M.M. Isphahani and Habib Ishmael, would if they were alive would be in danger. Or Mohammad Zafurallah Khan, who represented the Muslim League, upon the request of Jinnah, at in the Boundaries Commission which decided the borders of India and Pakistan at Partition and was the first foreign minister of Pakistan, if he had been alive today he would have been threatened with death for having the name Mohammad as his first name. Or Jogendra Nath Mundal the first law minister of Pakistan who would have also been threatened. Or the first finance Secretary Sir Victor Turner, the Christian, English Pakistani in the first cabinet. I fear that if any of them were alive today, they would surely have been in danger of being killed. Or the great poet Iqbal had he been alive he would have been targeted for his poetry in praise of Ali and views on Islam; the poet for whom the myth has been created by the State of Pakistan, that he dreamt of a state of Pakistan.[Link]

Cyril Almeida actually puts it more bluntly:

It began with the founding theory.

A country created for Muslims but not in the name of Islam. Try selling that distinction to your average Pakistani in 2012. 1947 was another country and it still found few takers.

Pakistan’s dirty little secret isn’t its treatment of non-Muslims or Shias or the sundry other groups who find themselves in the cross-hairs of the rabid and the religious. Pakistan’s dirty little secret is that everyone is a minority.

It begins with Muslim and non-Muslim: 97 per cent and the hapless and helpless three. But soon enough, the sectarian divide kicks in: Shia and Sunni. There’s another 20 per cent erased from the majority.

Next, the intra-Sunni divisions: Hanafi and the Ahl-e-Hadith. Seventy per cent of Pakistan may be Hanafi, five per cent Ahl-e-Hadith.

Then the intra-intra-Sunni divisions: Hanafis split between the growing Deobandis and the more static Barelvis.

And finally, within the 40 per cent or so that comprise Barelvis in Pakistan, there’s the different orders: the numerous Chishtis, the more conservative Naqshbandis and the microscopic Qadris.

In Pakistan, there is no majority.

There’s the terror that every minority lives in: non-Muslim from Muslim, Shia from Sunni, Barelvi from Wahabi, secular Sunni from rabid Barelvi — the future is now and it is bleak.[Dawn]

How ironic is that, considering the very quest that supposedly sustained Pakistan’s statehood was self-identification as Muslims in lieu of persecution under Hindu India.

MJ Akbar explains it rather well:

What is the difference between Indians and Pakistanis? The answer is uncomplicated: There is no difference. We are the same people, with similar personality strengths, and parallel collective weaknesses. Why then have the two nations moved along such dramatically different arcs in the six decades of their existence?

India and Pakistan are not separated by a mere boundary. They are defined by radically opposed ideas. India believes in a secular state where all faiths are equal; Pakistan in the notion that a state can be founded on the basis of religion.

The two-nation theory, which was the basis of Pakistan, did not separate all Muslims of the subcontinent from Hindus; nearly as many Muslims live in India at this moment, without any hindrance to the exercise of their faith, as live in Pakistan. Pakistan was created on an assumption, which had no basis in either the political or social history of Indian Muslims, that they could not live as equals in a united, Hindu majority India. It was a concept that flourished in the wasteland of an inferiority complex.[India Today]

In other words, beware of the mistake made by our dear candle-wallas. The similarities between Indians and Pakistanis shouldn’t blind us to the radical differences between India and Pakistan.

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The General’s beard

On the Islamisation of Pakistan Army

Question: Who was the first Pakistani general to have a full-grown beard against the tradition of having only clean-shaved generals in the Pakistan Army?

Answer: Lieutenant General (retd) Javed Nasir who was the Director General of the Inter Services Intelligence from March 1992 to May 1993. [Update: A commentator observed that this picture looks like a bad photoshop job. Perhaps true.]

This website, which claims to be “Pakistan’s first unofficial source on Pakistani Directorate of Inter Services Intelligence”, has more:

Without having any doubt about his personality, he is a true Muslim and a true patriot. He has written over 100 articles. His pro-Islam, anti-US and anti-India stance has created a very large readership in Pakistan and abroad. He symbolizes the institutions of practicing Muslims through his association with the non-political and peaceful Tablighi Jamaat. He was noted for being the first Pakistani general to have a full-grown beard against tradition of having only clean-shaved generals in the Pakistan Army after joining the Tablighi Jamaat.[link]

That was in 1993. And this is what the Time magazine stated in 2003, while asking the perennially unanswered question: Is Pakistan a Friend or Foe?

For years, the top brass drummed into midranking officers a sense of Islamic mission. A Prophet-length beard helped an officer’s promotion, as did praying five times a day. Now, says Masood, “the army is taking measures against officers who are too religious minded.” Those deemed overly fanatic are discreetly steered into nonsensitive or dead-end jobs, he says, and a soldier needs permission from his commanding officer before he is permitted to grow a beard.[Time]

Alas that may not be completely true. Two instances will prove how radicalisation has seeped into the core of the Pakistan Army. One, when Pakistan Army moved in to Swat for Operation Rah-e-Haq in 2007, it was a great challenge for the army to explain to its troops (315 Brigade)  as to why the soldiers had to fight fellow Muslim jehadis who were merely asking for the Shariah, an Islamic religious law (see this blogpost).

More recently, Ahmed Rashid quotes the current Pakistan Army Chief, General Kayani, to explain the Pakistan Army’s silence on the killing of Governor Salmaan Taseer or Minister Bhatti on the Blasphemy Law issue.

For its part, the army has so far failed to express regret about either Bhatti’s murder or Taseer’s. The army chief General Ashfaq Kayani declined to publicly condemn Taseer’s death or even to issue a public condolence to his family. He told Western ambassadors in January in Islamabad that there were too many soldiers in the ranks who sympathize with the killer, and showed them a scrapbook of photographs of Taseer’s killer being hailed as a hero by fellow police officers. Any public statement, he hinted, could endanger the army’s unity.[NYRB]

For many years, it has been said that Pakistan Army controls the Islamist jehadi groups in the region. Then, it was seen as a military-jehadi complex in Pakistan. That is also passée now. Perhaps the balance has now completely shifted to the other side. It is the jehadis and the Islamists which control the Pakistan Army now.

And yes, not to forget, it is the very same army which has 110 nuclear bombs in its arsenal.

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India and the OIC

An inconsequential and non-existent relationship that India should continue to snub.

When it comes to Kashmir, among the plethora of multilateral organisations on this planet, there is only one that consistently takes a strident anti-India line with its pronouncements on the subject. That body is the Organisation of The Islamic Conference (OIC). It has provided an international platform to the Kashmiri separatists, issued statements against Indian government over Kashmir, and has even announced a special envoy for Kashmir. Although this hasn’t made India’s position on Kashmir untenable, it has been somewhat of a minor irritant for New Delhi.

Of course, India is not a member of the OIC. But it was a part of the Islamic Summit Conference held at Rabat in September 1969, which led to the birth of the OIC [see Hamid Ansari's op-ed from 2006 in The Hindu, from which this blogpost draws heavily]. The provocation for that gathering was the desecration of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. King Faisal of Saudi Arabia was personally instrumental in having India invited to the Conference. He accepted the argument that the desecration of the third holiest place in Islam was a matter of concern to all Muslims, not merely to “Muslim states” and that India, with its very large Muslim population of 120 million, was entitled to be concerned. However, since the gathering was an inter-governmental one, only the Government of India could be invited. Consequently, India participated in the third session of the Conference, on the afternoon of September 23. The Chairman of the Conference, King Hasan of Morocco, interrupted the scheduled order of speakers to give the floor “to the Ambassador of India who is representing his country after the Conference has decided that India should be represented.” The speech of the Indian delegate forms part of the official transcript of the Conference.

Subsequent developments, and the antics of the then President of Pakistan, Yahya Khan resulted in the forcible exclusion of the Indian delegation from the subsequent sessions of the Conference. Arshad Sami, an aide to the then Pakistani President has recounted in great detail how it took a boycott call by Yahya Khan for Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco to beat a hasty retreat and banish India from OIC. Yahya decided to feign illness and threatened to fly out of Rabat without attending the plenary session of OIC, which would have been the death knell to the incipent organisation, if the world’s then largest Muslim country walked out. King Hassan, in his capacity as the chairman of Islamic Conference decided to withdraw the invitation extended to Indians and bar the Indian delegation from entering Morocco. Furthermore, the Declaration of the Conference was ingeniously crafted to show them as “Representatives of Moslem Community of India.” In fact, subsequent delegation to OIC from India, led by Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, did not make it beyond Rome. No invitations were extended to India in subsequent years and the domestic political backlash of the Rabat incident persuaded most people in India to wish away the OIC and its activities.

It was only after the Pakistan-backed insurgency started in Kashmir in 1990 that Pakistan started using the forum of the OIC to produce strident anti-India resolutions. They were a source of embarrassment for India till the world-view on Islamist terror turned around after 2001. Meanwhile, India was able to contain the armed insurgency in Kashmir, especially after 2004. In 2006, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia suggested that India, like Russia, could get an observer status in the OIC. But Pakistan strongly objected to the proposal and India also did not evince any interest in pursuing the lead.

Is there a case for India to seek engagement with the OIC now? After all, realpolitik dictates that India must engage with an organisation that purports to represent a majority of Muslims of the world. Muslim countries and societies form the immediate and proximate neighbourhood of India and have a bearing on our strategic environment.

The argument for seeking a limited association via an observer status goes thus: After all, the US and Russia have an observer status there. So why not India? It might just prevent us from the embarrassing ritual of statements on Kashmir. But the situation has already gone beyond that. The OIC unilaterally announces an envoy for Kashmir and India would be legitimising its stance by seeking any association there.

Moreover if the debate over India’s association with the OIC is to be reopened, it needs to go back to the beginning. If India was an original invitee, the question of offering it an observer status now should not arise. Instead, it should be a simple matter of restoring the founder-membership that was taken away from India by a sleight of hand that did no credit to those who did it, or assisted it in any manner. In fact, the offer and acceptance of an alternative status would revalidate what was done in 1969. For this reason alone, any offer of an observer status should be rejected.

Also, OIC is not a monolith or a regional association like the ASEAN. It has little geo-strategic value. India, with its emergent economy, is being courted by all the countries and sticking to bilateral relations with individual countries is working best for it for now. Among multi-lateral organisations, India must focus on the G-20, ASEAN and perhaps the UNSC to improve its geopolitical standing and ignore sniping by the OIC as a minor irritant that it can afford to live with.

The world has changed dramatically since 2001. What does India stand for and what does the OIC stand for? There are no commonalities between the two as India, in contrast to a majority of OIC member countries, stands for a plural society, secular polity and a democratic state structure. The incompatibility is further pronounced because India’s aim in the OIC, as it is with the rest of the world, will be to show not the Muslim face of India but the Indian face that has a Muslim dimension also.

The whole debate is actually academic for an offer, either for observer status or for full membership of the OIC, is not coming India’s way in the foreseeable future. It is also not something India has craved for and there is a slim chance that India’s approach to the OIC is going to change any soon. In any case, not having India as a part of the OIC is today more of a loss for the OIC than it is for India. If the OIC realises this, it will make the first move. India can then choose to respond. Till then, let the status quo prevail.

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Why fight my Muslim brethren

The average Pakistani soldier has already psychologically crossed over to the Jehadi side. It is impossible to convince him to undertake military action against his co-religionist brethren.

New York Times eventually discovers, albeit belatedly, that the average Pakistani is not ready to believe that their home grown jehadis could be behind the recent spate of terror attacks in Pakistan. This explains the pressing need for the Pakistani government officials to fabricate evidence of an Indian hand in South Waziristan. It is another matter that Bill Roggio can easily disprove both the theory of an Indian hand and the purported evidence put forth by the Pakistani versions of Comical Ali.

While satisfying the popular opinion by producing such evidence may be a compulsion for the Pakistani political establishment, the challenge for the Pakistani Army is equally grave. How does the Pakistan army justify the action against fellow Muslim brethren to its troops, that too in an Islamic Republic, with a past history of associating closely with these Jehadis? Well, it has earlier resorted to claiming that the jehadis in Swat were actually Jewish.

There are many who believe that this is all a figment of fertile Indian imagination and a professional Pakistan army faces no such challenge. For those naysayers, here are a couple of slides from the presentation given by a Pakistan army officer, Major Ali Iqbar in a Workshop on Counterinsurgency Leaders held at US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center, Fort Leavenworth from 27 to 29 October this year. Major Iqbar was the operations staff officer of 315 Brigade in Swat when the Pakistan army moved in there for Operation Rah-e-Haq in 2007.

Swat Slide 47

After identifying the crisis — of finding an explanation for the soldiers to act against those demanding Islamic Law in an Islamic state — Major Iqbar identifies the foremost challenge for the Pakistan army at the start of the operations.

Slide Swat 49

The good Major doesn’t venture further to explain how his brigade commander and unit commanders successfully overcame this challenge. Perhaps because they did nothing except blame it on a Indian-Zionist conspiracy to destabilise the only Muslim state with a nuclear bomb!

As long as the bones of military aid and equipment are bring thrown by the US, the dog that is the Pakistan army, will have to continue with this charade of acting against certain sections of not-so-friendly Taliban. However even against these so-called enemies of Pakistan, Pakistan army will have to continually invoke the bogey of an Indian hand to motivate its soldiers — drawn from a radically Islamised society — to undertake military operations. When the average Pakistani soldier has already crossed over to the jehadi side — not physically but psychologically — no goading by the brass can force the average trooper to lift his weapon against his own co-religionist brethren.

There is no better way to understand the psychological make-up of an average Pakistani soldier than by going through this anecdote by Londonstani at Abu Muqawama’s blog.

In terms of perception of religious observance and its role in public life, there seems to be a shift towards the more severe and less tolerant. This doesn’t necessarily translate always into practice, but more a shared understanding that more severe and more rigid must equal more righteous, and that those who are very severe (or even just look it) must be deferred to.

Now, where this gets scary is when you hear a conversation like:

Person 1: “The Taliban couldn’t have blown up the market in Peshawar because a Muslim wouldn’t do that.”

Person 2: “No, the Americans did it. But you know, the market that got blown up catered for women. And you know it’s haram for women to go out of the house.”

Person 1: “oh…..yeah”[AM]

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Many failed Pakistans

Do not revisit history now.

As it turns out, happenings in Swat and Lahore have led some commentators in Pakistan to revisit their history and reminisce about “independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign” which later became Pakistan.

…the Lahore Resolution of 1940, also known as the Pakistan Resolution, envisaged NOT a unitary state for Muslim India but a number of “independent sovereign states” a proposition which, if heeded, would have ensured in 1971 the survival of the perforce loosely aligned Islamic Republic(s) of Pakistan and may still prevent a meltdown of what remains.[The News]

While it is a tacit acknowledgement of the failure of Jinnah’s idea of Pakistan, why should India and the world suffer a multitude of  failed & fragmented Pakistans when a single failed entity has become an international migraine.

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What… Reformers in Pakistan

Milband and others of his ilk are pinning their hopes on a non-existent civil society in Pakistan.

David Milband has been causing quite a ruckus with his inchoate thoughts about terrorism, Pakistan and Kashmir. The government of India has rightly taken offence and rebuked him for his views on Kashmir.

No, I’m asking Indians to do the right thing for themselves and for Pakistan.[Hindu]

As a rhetorical turn of phrase, Milband’s cliché sounds fine. But the right thing for the Pakistanis and the right thing for Indians is not the same. India does not look at Pakistan as an existential threat. Pakistan wants to bleed India with a thousand cuts.

Milband’s prescription flows from a inveterate myth about the Pakistani society. He is not alone in believing that a silent, modern civil society exists in Pakistan that can overcome the vocal, radicalised minority.

…there’s a debate between those who recognise that there is a serious need for reform in Pakistan and those who are, to use your words, ‘in denial.’ It’s very important that the reformers win.[Hindu]

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Where are the reformers in Pakistan today? Zardari, Sharif, Imran Khan and their acolytes; Pakistani army, which stands fully radicalised today, and the ‘Zia bharti’ that has come to occupy higher ranks in the organisation; the non-entities and socialites who light candles at Wagah every August. Nah, there are no influential reformist voices in Pakistan today.

The problem is with the completely Islamised society that produces politicians, soldiers, judges, media persons and intelligentsia of the ilk dominating Pakistan today. This groundbreaking piece by Pervez Hoodbhoy in Newsline would be an eye-opener for David Milband and others from his school of thought.

For three decades, deep tectonic forces have been silently tearing Pakistan away from the Indian subcontinent and driving it towards the Arabian peninsula. This continental drift is not physical but cultural, driven by a belief that Pakistan must exchange its South Asian identity for an Arab-Muslim one.

…This change is by design. Twenty-five years ago, the Pakistani state used Islam as an instrument of state policy. Prayers in government departments were deemed compulsory, floggings were carried out publicly, punishments were meted out to those who did not fast in Ramadan, selection for academic posts in universities required that the candidate demonstrate a knowledge of Islamic teachings and jihad was declared essential for every Muslim. Today, government intervention is no longer needed because of a spontaneous groundswell of Islamic zeal. The notion of an Islamic state – still in an amorphous and diffused form – is more popular now than ever before as people look desperately for miracles to rescue a failing state.

…Islamisation of the state and the polity was supposed to have been in the interest of the ruling class – a classic strategy for preserving it from the wrath of the working class. But the amazing success of the state is turning out to be its own undoing. Today, it is under attack from religious militants, and rival Islamic groups battle each other with heavy weapons. Ironically, the same army – whose men were recruited under the banner of jihad, and which saw itself as the fighting arm of Islam – today stands accused of betrayal and is almost daily targeted by Islamist suicide bombers.

Pakistan’s self-inflicted suffering comes from an education system that, like Saudi Arabia’s system, provides an ideological foundation for violence and future jihadists. It demands that Islam be understood as a complete code of life, and creates in the mind of a school-going child a sense of siege and embattlement by stressing that Islam is under threat everywhere.

Milband and his friends are smug in their romantic notions of a liberal and modern civil society in Pakistan overcoming the ills perpetuated by military dictators and Islamists. Only if such an evolved civil  society existed today in Pakistan!

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Amnesty International should read Moynihan’s law

As expected, Amnesty International has criticised the new anti-terror laws passed by the Indian parliament as one that “jeopardise human rights”. The Communists have also levelled a similar criticism against these laws. They will soon be echoed by some Muslim organisations and recited by sympathetic media houses.

The folks at the Amnesty International are educated and intelligent people. They might have heard of something called the Moynihan’s law, coined by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

The amount of violations of human rights in a country is always an inverse function of the amount of complaints about human rights violations heard from there. The greater the number of complaints being aired, the better protected are human rights in that country.

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Celebrating Vijay Diwas

Even 1971 had a Jewish connection, while the Indian government today conveniently forgets Nariman House in the UNSC.

India celebrates Vijay Diwas today. Don’t ask which one. This is the original Vijay Diwas, celebrating India’s only decisive military victory over Pakistan.

Many will remember that Lieutenant General JFR Jacob was the Chief of Staff of the Eastern Army that rode into Dhaka this day in 1971. He happens to be a Jew.

As Retributions reminds us today, the Indian government conveniently “forgot” to mention the terrorist attack at Nariman House and the killing of the Jewish Rabbi and his pregnant wife in its presentation to the United Nation Security Council. The government was ostensibly afraid of offending Muslim sensitivities. This blogger actually believes that the average Indian Muslim gives a damn to the Indian government legalese in the UNSC. No sane person can deny that Nariman House happened and the jews were specifically targetted there by the terrorists.

If Mrs. Indira Gandhi had thought in 1971 the way this government thinks now, then India would have never gone to war in 1971. And Lieutenant General Jacob would certainly not have been the Number Two in the Eastern Army. Somehow, we seem to have only moved backwards on many fronts in these 37 years.

Anyway, Happy Vijay Diwas!

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It is up to the senior military officers

…to prevent incidents like Malegaon, says Major General (retired) Afsir Karim.

In a wide-ranging interview on secularism in the Indian Armed Forces, Major General Karim answers the most pertinent question facing the defence services today —

How do you prevent incidents like this where army men get involved?

Yes, it’s extremely important to prevent such incidents in future. There should be strict vigilance in the army. In the last 10 years a lot of communal divide has taken place and we have to win away these people who are affected by communal thinking.

It’s not difficult in the army. The regimentation is quite good if it’s properly enforced. If your senior officers are weak, only then is the army in trouble. It is the CO’s moral authority and discipline that counts. The senior officer has to be secular to enforce the same sentiments in his junior officers. By and large, Indian jawans are extremely secular.

But, society is changing. There will be an effect on the army. We should take greater care. There is no need for alarm. In the army you are not made to feel like a Hindu or a Muslim but the army man of the regiment you belong to. I have never felt as a Muslim in the army. I belonged to my regiment being an Indian. I think if the senior officers are proper, nothing will happen to the Indian Army.

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