International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research IDSS Singapore
Have Pakistanis Forgotten Their Sufi Traditions? (Part 3)
By Rohan Bedi, April 2006
9. However…History May Support Reform 13
10. Pakistani Education Reform Agenda 14
. Correct Direction?
. ICG Evaluation of Madrasa Reforms
. US Evaluation of Madrasa Reforms
. SDPI Islamabad 2003 Report on the Public Education System
11. The Indian View of Pakistan and Pakistanis 18
12. Way Forward 20
9. However…History May Support Reform
General Musharraf is well aware that throughout Pakistans history no religious leader had been able to translate the possibility of a mass-based Islamic revolutionary movement into reality.
Although some religious parties have participated in elections they have never done well. It is often said that they have never won more than 5 per cent of the vote albeit in 1970 the three main religious parties won the support of over 14 per cent of the electorate in the areas that now make up Pakistan (excludes Bangladesh) and in Punjab they won no less than 20.5 per cent of the vote. In 2002, against the backdrop of the American-led offensive in Afghanistan, the radicals achieved 11 per cent and formed the local government in the NWFP and Baluchistan. However, the religious parties have never come close to winning power in Pakistan on a national level and, in terms of their influence on national politics they have consistently punched above their electoral weight. Nonetheless, the religious parties, especially Jamaat-e-Islami, have always had a reputation for being able to organize impressive displays of street power even if this has not translated into significant electoral power.
10. Pakistani Education Reform Agenda33
Under international pressure, Pakistan has taken several steps on education reforms albeit with weak enforcement, and much remains to be done. The Islamic philosophy being propagated is untouched:. The Pakistan government’s National Plan of Action for education is projected to cost about US$7.2 billion over the period 2001- 2015. . In December 2001, the government launched an Education Sector Reform (ESR) with seven main goals, among them significantly increasing the national literacy rate; providing universal education with increased completion rates and reduced gender disparity; improving education quality through curriculum reform, teacher training, and assessment reform. . An "Education for All" project was launched in 2001 and funded with about US$20 million in 2003. English language classes are now compulsory in all of Pakistan’s public schools. Also among the stated ESR goals is bringing madrasa curriculum into the mainstream of Pakistan’s general education system through the inclusion of "secular" subjects such as science. . In August 2001, the government created a Pakistan Madrasa Education Board to establish a network of "model madrasas" and regulate others. The official statement is that admission to the model madrasas would not be on sectarian grounds, nor would the teachers and the administration belong to one school of thought.34 . A 2002 law requiring adrasas to audit their funding and foreign students to register with the government. The number of foreign religious students has since dropped from thousands to hundreds as the government issued and renewed fewer visas to religious students. . A five-year, US$1 billion plan introduced in 2003 aimed at putting secular subjects on syllabuses and bringing madrasas under the purview of the Education Ministry. Under the madrasa reform program, a special committee will be constituted, headed by a government functionary, which will oversee education, financial matters and policies. . The government states that the five madrasa education boards (madrasa wafaqs) made up of senior clerics have agreed (albeit with much resistance) to the mainstreaming plans, though the program is being rolled out slowly as a pilot project in 320 schools. The message (for right or for wrong) that the government is giving is that “we are not touching religious education, but your child needs to be educated in modern subjects to see the other side of the world as well." While the wafaqs agreed to introduce the proposed courses, the
President of the ulema’s united front stated “But we’ll develop our textbooks and syllabus and will not follow the government prescription blindly. Secular and atheist views cannot enter the adrasa.” 35. The government had banned direct foreign aid for madrasas ie, private donors and charities were to route monies through the interior ministry and the Pakistan Madrasa
The madrasa system is perhaps the only means by which much of the poor can get a free Education today.
Education Board (PMEB). However, the actual implementation was a much watered down version. The USAID is implementing a five-year, US$100 million bilateral agreement (signed in August 2002) to rehabilitate public schools, with an emphasis on the Balochistan and Sindh provinces.
The reform process is a difficult one and the issues require time as there are no quick fixes.
Change will not come without stiff resistance. The madrasas believe that in the entire Muslim history, they have always remained free from government intervention and have functioned independently. Muslim charities, the main component of Islamic economics, have been the financial source for the institutions, never government funding. The institutions argue that it is his financial and political freedom that has allowed them to keep Islam’s jurisprudence free from the whims of political rulers. The secretary-general of the Wafaq-ul Madaris, the largest education board charged with overseeing 8,000 Deobandi madrasas asks "When they cannot run their own educational institutions properly then how can they run madrasas?"36 Corruption-free and proactive institutional capacity has always been difficult to create in South Asia, especially in Pakistan.37
There are critics to above education reform program. Prof. Anita Weiss of the University of
Oregon, who has visited Pakistan several times to study madrasas, says that Pakistan should invest in mainstream public schools rather than reforming madrasas “Numbers are important; every dollar spent on modernising madrasas should be invested in mainstream education.” 38
Prof. Weiss believes that the focus should be shifted from "wasting Pakistan’s resources and the US taxpayers’ money" on madrasa reforms, to providing quality and affordable education to all. The author of this paper sees merit in Prof. Weiss’s line of thought; however, given the fact that madrasas are part of Islamic culture, they will continue to exist. This focuses the issue on the ind of madrasa being funded. Preference should be for the Sufi-minded Sunni-Barelvi sect as the belief system of the 60% majority. The current funding demographic anomaly needs correction. Mudassir Rizvi, a political analyst who has worked extensively on madrasas, also takes a dim view of the government's cautious approach to reforming the seminaries. "The introduction of only elementary subjects in madrasas cannot make them models. Now, terrorists speak English fluently and can use the computer very well. The main issue is to remove sectarian tinges and extremist views from the syllabi of madrasas and to hold clerics accountable for the massive funding they use to run madrasas. Unfortunately the key issue has remained on backburner due to the pressure of the clergy."39 The author of this paper agrees with this view. It is not enough to remove the violent jihad messages. It is also important to propagate a moderate and tolerant philosophy – one that does not breed dislike for non-Muslims in its world view. The Barelvi Sufi tradition is exactly this.
International Crisis Group (ICG)40 - Evaluation of Madrasa Reforms
The ICG 2002 review is quite harsh “The madrasa reforms in Pakistan make registration voluntary and there is no effective enforcement mechanism. The reforms reflect the military’s patron-client relationship with the Pakistani clergy and are cosmetic and lack substance, legal muscle or an intent to institutionalise long-term change.” “This ordinance lacks specific measures to check foreign funding for militant madrasas. Moreover, foreign funding is rarely routed rough formal channels and requires more intrusive methods if it is to be traced and controlled. Does the government seriously expect private donors and charities voluntarily to send donations through the interior ministry and the PMEB?” [Comment: ultimately a much watered-down version has been implemented]. The ICG believed that to control financing a compulsory audit was needed.
The ICG clarifies that it is not recommending imposition of a blanket ban on Islamic charities and is instead in favour of making distinctions “between funding for educational, development and philanthropic causes and for terrorism. Moderate Muslims run most Islamic organisations, mosques and charities based in Western countries. They can be educated on this score.” In July 2005, ICG came out with another harsh review “Musharraf’s promises came to nothing. His military government never implemented any program to register the madrasas, follow their financing or control their curricula. Although there are a few "model madrasas" for Western media consumption, the extremist ones account for perhaps as many as 15 percent of the religious schools in Pakistan and are free to churn out their radicalized graduates.” 41 Supporting him ICG view, the Pakistani press uncovered that a deal has been struck between the Musharraf government and the fundamentalists on the issue of regulating madrasas. It now appears that financial reports will have to be submitted annually, but the sources of their finances will not have to be provided. 42 News reports in September 2005 had quoted umbrella organizations as declining to provide details of their income and expenditures.43
US Evaluation of Madrasa Reforms
However, a recent US Department of State report44 seems to exonerate the Government on the registration issues stating that “Out of an estimated 13,000 to 15,000 madrasas, only a few hundred are not registered [Comment: see ICG July 2005 review given above that says the opposite; news reports in Sept 2005 quote umbrella organizations that continue to resist registration and the official deadline is December 2005 ie, the US statistic appears incorrect45] with one of the five independent madrasa boards and/or directly with the Government. The
Government and the independent madrasa boards have agreed to a phased introduction of modern subjects, including math, English, and science at all madrasas. Wafaqs also mandated the registration of foreign students with the Government and restricted foreign private funding of madrasas [Comment: the much watered-down version has been the program that was actually implemented].” It also adds some criticism:. “No unregistered madrasas have been shut down. . . While the boards have required their affiliated madrasas to move forward, disbursement of promised government funding (for modernization) to support the process has been slow. Registration and examination issues (eg, compulsory registration; audit of the actual financing) remained under active discussion with the Government.
Some unregistered and Deobandi-controlled madrasas in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and northern Balochistan continued to teach extremism. . Similarly the Dawa schools run by Jamat-ud- Dawa continued such teaching and recruitment for Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a designated foreign terrorist organization.” The US is putting forth the relationship between religious schools and state authorities in the US, as a possible model for Pakistan.
SDPI Islamabad 2003 Report on the Public Education System46
Pakistan's public education system has an important role in determining how successful it shall be in achieving the goal of a progressive, moderate, and democratic Pakistan. However, a close analysis by a group of independent scholars at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) shows that for over two decades from the 80s, the curricula and the officially mandated textbooks in these subjects have contained material that is directly contrary to the goals and values of a progressive, moderate and democratic Pakistan. On the March 2002 revision of curricula undertaken by the Curriculum Wing of the Ministry of Education, the report states – “The post-reform curricula and textbooks continue to have the same problems as the earlier ones. Reform has not been substantive.” The curriculum wing is controlled by Deobandi Islamists. The SDPI Report notes "four themes emerge most strongly as constituting the bulk of the curricula and textbooks of the three compulsory subjects (Social Studies/ Pakistan Studies, Urdu and English). that Pakistan is for Muslims alone; . That Islamic teachings, including a compulsory reading and memorization of Koran, are to be included in all the subjects, hence to be forcibly taught to all the students, whatever their faith;. That Ideology of Pakistan is o be internalized as faith, and that hate be created against Hindus and India; and. Students are to e urged to take the path of Jihad and Shahadat (martyr’s death).” The 'Ideology of Pakistan', the Report notes further, is Islam, and curricular policies insist, is to "be presented as an accepted reality, and never be subjected to discussion or dispute" or to "be made controversial and actable." Furthermore the reports states: "Associated with the insistence on the Ideology of Pakistan has been an essential component of hate against India and the Hindus. For the upholders of the Ideology of Pakistan, the existence of Pakistan is defined only in relation to Hindus, and hence the Hindus have to be painted as negatively as possible.” The report prescribes “experience shows that attention to detail, clear milestones and independent oversight will be needed to achieve successful reform of the Ministry of Education The Curriculum Wing, and the Textbook Boards.” The SDPI report stirred up a huge controversy in Pakistan albeit SDPI never diluted its position.47 Furthermore, Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy’ s searing indictments of Pakistan’ s higher education system clearly reflect the congruence between education and fundamentalist Islam in Pakistan’ s universities, as well as the incompatibility of fundamentalist teachings and modern education. 48
The Indian View of Pakistan and Pakistanis
KPS Gill, India’s leading former cop who fixed the Sikh insurgency, says in his book ’Freedom from Fear’ - “ The ‘footprint’ of every major act of international Islamist terrorism invariably asses through Pakistan, right from 9/11 – where virtually all the participants had trained, resided or met in, coordinated with, or received funding from or through Pakistan (The 9/11 Commission Report, July 2004 states “Almost all the 9/11 attackers travelled the north-south nexus of Kandahar–Quetta–Karachi”) – to major acts of terrorism across South Asia and South East Asia, as well as major networks of terror that have been discovered in Europe.” Gill says that
Pakistan has chosen the pathway of nuclear escalation to secure incremental aid from Western donors and this strategy is “at the heart of Pakistan’s case for concessions, aid and a heightened threshold of international tolerance for its sponsorship and support to Islamist terrorism. Pakistan has made a big case out of the fact that some of the top line leadership of the al Qaeda has been arrested in the country with the ‘cooperation’ of the Pakistani security forces and intelligence. The fact, however, is that each such arrest only took place after the FBI and US investigators had effectively gathered evidence to force Pakistani cooperation, and little of this evidence has come from the Pakistani agencies.” Some Western media reports support the above view49 - “The enormous Islamic extremist infrastructure that the military maintained before September 11 to fight its wars in Taliban controlled Afghanistan and Indian Kashmir have not been broken up, only put to temporary sleep while clandestine training camps still spring up at new locations.” On the arrests of militants and Musharrafs speech asking the public to join him in a “jihad against Islamic extremism”, the medias comments are “Pakistanis now respond to such speeches with a wave of the hand and a bored look, commenting that it is all for the gallery of Western onlookers. Madrasas controlled by militant Pakistani groups who work for al Qaeda continue to function freely. One of the Largest extremist groups in the country, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, has members who have helped al Qaeda. It now operates under a new name and has even changed the look of its largest madrassa complex to become a model it can show to the Western press.” While in fact 600 al Qaeda operatives and foreign militants have been apprehended (around 300 killed) since September 11 and transferred into US custody, including some important leaders, the vast majority of those captured – nine out of ten, are reported to be non-Pakistani. Nonetheless, the government has cracked down on domestic terrorism with full vigour including the few jehadi Kashmiri groups also linked with domestic violence. However, its broader approach to other jehadi Kashmiri groups has been “hesitant” with arrests followed by quick releases.50 Media reports state “…those arrested are invariably freed after 90 days in jail. Other reports suggest that most detainees are low-level organization members. Also, the government does not present enough evidence in court resulting in the release of any key leaders’ arrested51. Furthermore, the extensive madrasa system has been left untouched. India has a larger Muslim population (total 170 million) than Pakistan and Kashmir combined, second only to Indonesia. Interestingly, there are no Indian Muslims in al Qaeda or the Taliban. “The two probable reasons are firstly the assurance of a level-playing field for all citizens in India because of the success of the democratic system. India's 'noisy democracy' ensures that all segments of public opinion — anti-US, pro-US, neutral — are routinely aired. The second is the absence of American influence on Indian policy all through the Cold War years and, to a large extent, even now. A majority of the terrorists come from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and some of the North African countries. What is common about these countries is the lack of a genuine democracy, despite the adherence to form, and longstanding virtual patron-client links with the US. These two factors are interconnected. The result was that while the governments of these countries were pro- American, most of their people were not.” 52 A review of online Blogs further underscores the difference in the psyche of Indian Muslims and Pakistani Muslims today. It is apparent that the more extreme-minded educated middle-class Pakistani’s are interested in befriending/ influencing/ patronising Indian Muslims. But the Indian Muslim is increasingly mistrusting of Pakistani motives. The middle-class educated Indian Muslim is increasingly secular and content in a robust democracy/ economy, proud to be called an Indian, and treats the Pakistani approach with suspicion. This is not something the more extreme minded Pakistani Muslim likes, or even understands, as it contradicts with the Islamic concept of the umma (‘family’ of believers). In fact, in many of the Blogs, there is a clear expectation by extreme-minded Pakistani Muslims from Indian Muslims that their loyalties should be towards Pakistan and not India because of the brotherhood of Islam. The total lack of involvement of any Indian Muslim (outside of Kashmir) in the Kashmir struggle provides a clear answer. ‘Historically, the Indian Muslim's perceived sentimentality for Pakistan (eg, at cricket matches) was seen as vindication of the concept of Pakistan. However, today, to the Pakistani hard core jihadi, Indian Muslims have become too nationalistic and India-centred, as against the Pakistani archetypal of a Muslim fundamentalist first and foremost, and a Pakistani merely by accident of geography. The Indian Muslim has been tethered, for all these five decades, to the concept of democracy and secularism in its fullest sense. The Pakistani, by contrast, has been raised on militarism which sees democracy as an aberration at best. The Pakistani mind, dulled in its senses due to a relentless barrage of religious sermons castigating nationalism for being hostile to Islam, cannot simply understand, much less appreciate, that a shared democratic and secular experience cuts across religious divide as much as any. And much as the Jehadis and their militant ilk may remonstrate, the Indian Muslim has not, to an iota, compromised or diluted his basic religious values by being moderate and non-fanatical.’ 53 From the Sikh insurgency to the repeated terrorist attacks in India across the years – the role of the Pakistani ISI in instigating, sponsoring and training fringe Indian Islamic radicals; has been both alleged and in many cases proven. The desecration and destruction of sacred Sufi shrines and religious artifacts has been an objective for sectarian Sunni terror groups in Pakistan. In the Indian Jammu & Kashmir state, Sunni Muslims are in majority (60%) and Shia- Sunni tensions exist in the Kashmir valley aggravated by Wahabbi influences on the Sunni community. Kashmir has historically had a rich tolerant Sufi Islamic culture developed over the last one thousand years. Indians believe that if
Kashmir is allowed to fall into the hands of the Deobandi-Sunnis who dominate Pakistan today, this Sufi culture and heritage may not be allowed to survive. The impact of militancy on this culture of tolerance is already being experienced in the valley. Having said all the above, many educated Pakistanis live abroad; they are little different from educated Indians and many are moderate in their approach. But these are just a handful and do not accurately reflect the masses being indoctrinated through the public education system and the madrasas into a puritanical Islamic viewpoint.
The US would have to fund Barelvi madrasas to propagate the moderate Sufi traditions of the majority in Pakistan/ correct the demographic anomaly.
12. Way Forward
In conclusion, any effort to fight terrorism in Pakistan must be broad based and must focus on a number of fronts: Education Reform. Significantly reform the agenda of the madrasas to bring in a modern pluralist worldview besides reforming the educational content. . Correct the ratio of the madrasas to represent the demographics of the population. The Barelvi Islamic tradition needs to be propagated as this is the belief system of the majority of 60% of the population (with Shias also being influenced by Sufism). The Pakistani government is taking the middle road of removing extreme messages but not going beyond this to relook at the basic philosophy which actually only represents 19% of the Deobandi-Salafi-JI population propagated through over 70% of the madrasas. In line with the above demographics argument, the Saudi charities need to be replaced as the source of funding madrasas so that more madrasas of the tolerant sufi-minded
Barelvi sect can be setup. The key countries that can provide such funding is of course the US and its allies. The reality is that like the Saudis, the Americans can only control what they fund. Iranian funding would similarly need to be reviewed. US strategists have also talked of “backdoor” US support to reformers tied to Sufism54 – the author does not like this approach at all. The US has got itself into this mess in the first place through such backdoor approaches in
Afghanistan. A forthright and transparent approach is needed. . The controls on the process of setting up new madrasas including a pre-screening process and registration of the madrasas need focus on as does the control on foreign donations through compulsory audits of madrasas. The more extreme of the puritanical Deobandi – Salafi – JI madrasas should be closed down. The current registration process is a voluntary one and there is no mechanism of enforcement or punishments for violations. Direct and permanent oversight, rather than occasional raids and crackdowns, is required if the madrasa system is to be kept free of militancy. Furthermore, madrasa reform should not be confined to urban areas but also cover small towns and villages.55
. Invest more in mainstream public schools. The madrasa system should not be thought off as a replacement for public schools and are only a system for educating Islamic clerics. The USAID project will hopefully help in this direction by offering the poor an alternative. Girls are largely out of the madrasa system and focus needs to be put on their education and empowerment. While in India 65 percent of the population is literate, and the number rises every year; in Pakistan only 42 percent are literate and the proportion is falling. Instead of focussing on education, the Pakistani government is preoccupied with the Kashmir issue/ defence spending. . Successful reform of the Curriculum Wing of the Ministry of Education, and the Textbook Boards is needed in line with the SDPI 2003 Report. Textbooks need to be purged of sectarian material that promotes or undermines specific sects. Importantly change must be genuine and not just cosmetic; controls should be there to ensure sustainability/ transparency. As the founder Muhammed Ali Jinnah said "the importance of education and the right type of education cannot be over-emphasised” “ his is also particularly important nsidering that while two-thirds of the al Qaeda leadership has been captured or killed, iminishing their organizational capacity, this has not done anything to diminish their global following. The struggle against violent extremism starts with the battle of ideas” 56. Once a man has grown into a terrorist, reversing this process may prove impossible – eventually they would probably be either captured (and locked up) or killed – this is a stark reality. Control Jihadi Propaganda
The government must be more effective in limiting jihadi propaganda and ability to disseminate such ideas through newspapers and other publications. Renounce Terrorism. Though many welcome changes in Pakistan’ s strategic direction under General Musharraf have been made since September 11, they have not extended to completely renouncing terrorism as an instrument of national policy. Hence, it is critical to consider a solution for the Kashmir problem as part of the Global war on Terror in order to remove the cause from the root rather than just treating it superficially. The solution is difficult to see but economic dependencies and free travel/work rights (for pre-screened persons fulfilling economic criteria) between India and Pakistan may yield results. Minorities Rights. While the government has taken various steps to bring in the minorities and women into the main political stream, the Punjabi bias in the political sphere and in the army needs to be focused on to better represent the ethnic communities so as to give them more equity/power and thereby stop exploitation by the Punjabis. . The government should provide constitutional and political rights to the FATA and the Northern Areas57. . The government should ‘repeal all laws,
penal codes and official procedures that reinforce sectarian identities and cause discrimination on the basis of faith, such as the mandatory affirmation of religious creed in applications for jobs, passports and national identity cards’ 58. . The government should take firm action against abductions and forced conversions of non-Muslim women to make a credible public statement that the world can hear. The standard used to prosecute such cases should be “reasonable grounds to believe” rather than the prosecution standard of “knowledge”. Harsh criminal sentences and fines are the only way to stop this. Armaments and Army. Regulate the arms industry in FATA to prevent the proliferation of weapons countrywide59. . De-Islamise the armed forces by changing the kind of person being recruited and change the armed forces preachers to the more moderate Sufi-minded Barelvi’ s to ensure that the forces of radical Islam do not have an opportunity to key over the government through the support of the army.
Repeal Certain Laws. Propagate religious tolerance, including removal of blasphemy laws by which non-Muslims could easily be imprisoned on fictitious charges of anti-Islamic behaviour. Islamic laws propagated in Pakistan are those of the Sunni-Deobandi sect. In line with a progressive approach, repeal Islamic laws that are not modern/moderate or wrongly interpreted. (For example, rape is to be punished by the public flogging of the woman as well as the man. This anomaly is because the legal definition of zina (sex outside marriage) blurs the distinction between zina and rape (Hudood ordinance).60 The government has taken some cosmetic action on this issue although activists are not satisfied – “Pakistan has not only systematically failed to implement and enforce laws to protect women from violence, but the system that is in place re victimizes victims of violence rather than delivering justice.” 61
Controls on Terrorist Financing. Both jihadist fund raising from Pakistani citizens and also their travel/networking e.g. with the Saudis, need focus on. The latter appears unlikely with the current policy on Kashmir. In the absence of proper madrasa controls, monies can also be taken by these groups directly from the donations to the madrasas they control. . ‘A nexus of private, unregulated charities has also emerged as a major source of illicit funds for international terrorist networks. In light of the role that private charities have played in terrorist financing, Pakistan should develop a system to regulate the finances of charitable organizations and to close those that finance terrorism.’ 62. ‘Smuggling, trade-based money laundering and physical cross-border cash transfers are prevalent methods used to launder money and finance terrorism in Pakistan. The proceeds of narcotics trafficking and funding for terrorist activities are often laundered by means of the alternative remittance system called hawala. Pakistan needs to exert greater efforts to track and suppress cash couriers and trade-based money laundering. Pakistan should become a party (both sign and ratify) to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the UN International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing, and the UN Convention Against Corruption. (62) Controls on Fatwa Issuance. As part of the agenda, reform the process of Fatwas being issued across all sects, to ensure proper controls and balances so that there is adequate debate on issues. Fatwa issued should reflect a modern and moderate viewpoint. [This point needs a separate paper to come up with a workable model specific to Pakistan’s circumstances.]
Of course the whole package is not an easy one to implement and needs political will along with significant financial support. Terrorism has become an industry with powerful vested interests in sustaining it. When General Musharraf took over in 1999, he underestimated the task ahead. In spite of his Indian agenda, Musharraf remains the best bet for the US and its allies in his professed belief in a progressive Islamic state. The issue is whether the system will allow him to survive? And how genuine is he really?
The US is working with many Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia on reforms. Importantly, US foreign policy has to focus more on the cause side of the cause and effect relationship. ‘In Pakistan over the next five years, the US will provide more than US$3 billion in security, economic, and development assistance to enhance counterterrorism capacity and promote continued reform, including of the education system’ .63 While funding the public education system, it must proactively replace Saudi Arabia charities as the source of funding madrasas so as to be able to legitimately control the Islamic philosophy being advocated in these institutions to bring it in line with majority beliefs. Just as important is the whole issue of accountability for funding monies to ensure that there is no misuse and leakage. Of course, the US should also continue to work with Saudi Arabia to enhance the functioning of the Charities Commission to regulate all charitable donations leaving the Kingdom/ bring in better anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing standards. Correct the focus. The US must take a firm stand to ensure that the Wahhabi philosophy does not get propagated disproportionately in Muslim countries around the world particularly in Pakistan. The US must ensure that the philosophy of Sufism is given the share of voice that it deserves as the belief system of the majority. ‘In a 2004 study 80% of Pakistanis held an “unfavourable view” of Jews and 62% on Christians. The new education minister, a former ISI head has stated on record “The Jews are the worst terrorists in the world.” Osama Bin Laden is viewed favourably by 65%.64’. This sort of world view must be corrected. Rohan Gunaratna Director of the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, IDSS Singapore adds “When critical, the US government engaged other governments like Pakistan but not their people. Pre-2003, the US government was reluctant, unable, and unwilling to engage in public diplomacy in the Muslim World albeit this changed with the need for propaganda to support the Iraq war. American leaders have understood that future threats to the US are primarily from non-state actors spawned, strengthened and influenced by virulent ideologies preached by nongovernmental leaders. The future will see more public relations campaigns addressed to the Muslim world.” There is also work back home in the US and the UK: Since the London bombings there has of course sprung to centre-stage the notion of a sense of hopelessness or alienation, combined with the impact of particular religious mentors or role-models, as a significant cause of terrorist commitment among young, second generation immigrants who have not succeeded in their new world but who have lost the cultural moorings of their old. We are dealing with a complex, multidimensional phenomenon, which demands a complex, multi-layered response.” 65
Broader Reforms in Pakistan
More broadly, for anti-terrorism measures to be effective in Pakistan, there is a need for wider reform such as significant land reforms to reduce the powers of feudal landlords, empowerment of the judiciary, reform of the civil service, literacy, education and empowerment of women, and a long-term phased democratization process that puts emphasis on anti-corruption measures and institutions. The ICG underscores that “Ultimately, terrorism can only be eliminated through pluralistic democratic structures”. The 9/11 Commission report states “Economic openness is essential. Terrorism is not caused by poverty. Indeed, many terrorists come from relatively well-off families. Yet when people lose hope, when societies break down, when countries fragment, the breeding grounds for terrorism are created. Backward economic policies and repressive political regimes slip into societies that are without hope, where ambition and passions have no constructive outlet… Economic growth expands the middle class, a constituency for further reform.” Ultimately, the fruits of modernity and economic progress need to be more widely available for the benefits of a progressive Islamic state to be transparent to the masses.
Accountability for US grants for education reform is a key control.
In spite of this paper’ s overall critical review of Pakistan, the researcher must add that no leader in Asia, perhaps in the world, has survived the number and magnitude of political crises and threats to his life that General Musharraf has endured in his tenure in office. To not acknowledge that he has perhaps the toughest job in the world would be unfair. His personal bravery as a soldier has clearly reflected in his role as the President of Pakistan. However, the world is counting on Musharraf to help steer South and Central Asia from local chaos to regional security. His role is that of a world leader in a world war. Whatever his past may have been, whatever his personal views and agenda on Kashmir, he has to cast these aside and rise to the occasion. It’s not about Islamic Pakistan, it’s about humanity. The Pakistan government has done a lot for the US in its fight against al Qaeda and has also cracked down on domestic violence. However,
Kashmir remains as the national core issue as a result of which very little has been done to curtail jihadi Kashmiri groups, or to reform the ideology being propagated through the education system – whether public schools or madrasas. Enforcement has been weak. There is much misrepresentation with statistics being used to project a half-truth while keeping the Kashmiri jihadi movement alive on the side. Without a complete resolution of the Kashmir issue, the author of this paper does not see any final solution to the problem of world terrorism which has a key supplier in Pakistan. In the current scenario, peaceful Sufi type philosophies will surely be slowly eradicated from Pakistan in order to keep up the jihadi Kashmiri movement. The US must act fast with a focus on the correct issues including reform of the education system to bring in Sufi type Islamic thinking. India also needs to necessarily get involved including being open to new approaches on Kashmir, even if they tilt to what was unthinkable a decade ago. More than India and Pakistan, the people of Kashmir deserve a solution In summary, while the symptoms of global terrorism are being treated, a key root of the problem remains in the unresolved Kashmir issue.
32 Pakistan: Madrasas, Extremism and the Military, ICG Asia Report No 36, 29 July 2002 as amended on 15 July 2005
35 Pakistan: Madrasas, Extremism and the Military, ICG Asia Report No 36, 29 July 2002 as amended on 15 July 2005
33 ‘Cohen speaks on Pakistan’, The Nation, September 17, 2005; ‘How charity begins in Saudi Arabia’, Asia Times, Jan 2004; ‘Pakistan, US take on the madrassah’, The Christian Science Monitor, August 24, 2004
34 The official Pakistan Government fact sheet on madrasa reforms can be found at: http://www.embassyofpakistan.org/pb7.php
36 ’Pakistan, US take on the madrassahs’, The Christian Science Monitor, August 24, 2004
37 Transparency Internationals Corruption Perception Index 2005 ranks Pakistan in the 144th band, scoring better than only 9 countries of 159 total 38 ’Madrassa statistics based on unscientific surveys: speaker’, Daily Times, April 06, 2005
39 ‘Pakistan, US take on the madrassahs’, The Christian Science Monitor, August 24, 2004
40 Pakistan: Madrasas, Extremism and the Military, ICG Asia Report No 36, 29 July 2002 as amended on 15 July 2005
41 Pakistan: Still Schooling Extremists, By Samina Ahmed and Andrew Stroehlein of the ICG, Washington Post, July 17 2005
42 ’Can Pakistan Reform?’, Robert T. McLean, FrontPageMagazine.com, January 5 2006
43 ‘Pakistan: Madrasahs Reject Government Crackdown Efforts’, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 13 September 2005
44 International Religious Freedom Report, US Department of State, November 2005
45 ‘Pakistan: Madrasahs Reject Government Crackdown Efforts’, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 13 September 2005
46 ‘The Subtle Subversion: The State of Curricula and Textbooks in Pakistan’, www.sdpi.org, July 2003
47 See ‘Twisted truth: Press and politicians make gains from SDPI curriculum report’, Dr A H Nayyar, SDPI Research and News Bulletin, Jan-Feb 2004
48 ‘Can Pakistan Reform?’, Robert T. McLean, FrontPageMagazine.com, January 5 2006
49 ‘Nothing will change until Musharraf closes Pakistan’s militant madrassas’, Ahmed Rashid; Telegraph UK, 22 July 2005
50 ’The Terrorist Threat and the Policy Response in Pakistan‘, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 11, September 2005
51 ’The Terrorist Threat and the Policy Response in Pakistan‘, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 11, September 2005
52 ’Why no Indian Muslim is in Al-Qaeda’, Amulya Ganguli (IANS), Hindustan Times, July 31, 2005
53 The Muslims of India and Pakistan- two different peoples, By Karamatullah K. Ghori, The Milli Gazettee, 1 Sept 2001
54 ‘Hearts, Minds, and Dollars’, David E. Kaplan, U.S.News, 25 April 2005
55 Pakistan: Madrasas, Extremism and the Military, ICG Asia Report No 36, 29 July 2002 as amended on 15 July 2005
56 ‘The Global Response to Terrorism’, International Crisis Group Lecture, University of New South Wales, 27 September 2005
57 The state of sectarianism in Pakistan, ICG, Asia Report No 95, 18 April 2005
58 The state of sectarianism in Pakistan, ICG, Asia Report No 95, 18 April 2005
59 The state of sectarianism in Pakistan, ICG, Asia Report No 95, 18 April 2005
60 Zina, rape, and Islamic law: An Islamic legal analysis of the rape laws in Pakistan, KARAMAH: Muslim women lawyers for human rights
61 Pakistan Must Protect Its Women, Yasmeen Hassan, Washington Post, and October 6 2005
62 International Narcotics Controls Strategy Report, US Department of State, March 2006
63 ‘Fact Sheet: Progress on the 9/11 Commission Recommendations’, White House, and December 2005
64 ’Can Pakistan Reform?’, Robert T. McLean, FrontPageMagazine.com, January 5 2006
65 ‘The Global Response to Terrorism’, International Crisis Group Lecture, University of New South Wales, 27 September 2005
This paper is written by Rohan Bedi (www.rohanbedi.com)
Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are the authors own and does not represent the organisation in which he works and is/was associated with. i Rohan Bedi is closely associated with the ICPVTR and has coauthored a July 2005 paper “AML/CFT – New Policy Initiatives” with Arabinda Acharya, Associate Research Fellow and Manager Strategic Projects, ICPVTR, IDSS, Singapore. ii References - this paper is based on facts from the book ‘Pakistan – Eye of The Storm’ (2002) by Owen Bennett Jones and other sources credited separately in the footnotes. The book is a detailed account of the history, politics and religious beliefs of
Pakistan and is an excellent and riveting reading. The author of this paper makes no claim on being an Islamic scholar and has used the different sources attributed in the paper to construct an agenda for reform. He believes that the problem of terrorism in Pakistan must be viewed in a historical context with an in-depth understanding of the religious sects and the philosophical beliefs of the majority of Pakistanis.