By Khama Bagosh Madazallah, New Age Islam
May 28, 2013
Though some references to the growing Salafi extremism in Pakistani army can be found in the books written by some foreign journalists and analysts, the Pakistani writers have abstained from writing on the topic due to the self-censorship imposed by themselves. The simple reason for this is that no one wants to axe oneself because in that event his ultimate loss is inevitable. Salim Shahzad who regularly wrote on the involvement of the state or non-state elements in the jihadist activities in Afghanistan and Kashmir may have received threats but his life remained safe. But when the situations changed and he wrote on the terrorist attacks on the centre of the Navy in Karachi, the Mehran Base and the causes behind it, death started chasing Salim Shahzad. An official order was issued on behalf of Ahmad Shuja Pasha from the central office of the ISI to teach Salim Shahzad a lesson which was executed by Col. Khalid Raja, the right hand of Shuja Pasha in the form of the death of Salim Shahzad. Later it was learnt that the order was only for breaking his bones but the poor Salim Shahzad could not bear the pain of broken bones and died in the torture cell of the ISI in the outskirts of Islamabad. Later Khalid Raja and his colleagues dumped the dead body of Salim Shahzad at a deserted place in Mandi Bahauddin and this way the story reached its logical conclusion. Salim Shahzad’s killer Col. Khalid Raja gave Shuja Pasha his full support to the extent that he transferred black money to Dubai and opened a hospital with a local Arab for Ahmad Shuja Pasha in the name one of his close female relatives. Thus everyone except Salim Shahzad was successful and safe. The report of the Salim Shahzad murder case was changed so much before its release that the reader could not make out anything despite efforts.
Salim Shahzad’s main crime was disclosing the secret of negotiations between the Al Qaida and the Navy in Karachi. The Al Qaida was busy in negotiations with the higher officials of the Navy through a negotiating team formed under the leadership of Ilyas Kashmiri because the Al Qaida was demanding the release of the 17 employees of the Navy whom the secret agencies had removed from service and had put them behind bars on the grounds of their links to Al Qaida. The Al Qaida was demanding their release but the Navy was declining the demand. When the issue assumed controversial proportions, Al Qaida attacked the Mehran Base and inflicted irreparable damage to the defence of Pakistan. Salim Shahzad made eye-opening disclosures about the cadre of Al Qaida in the Navy and the reach of the extremists in Pakistani forces and thus signed his own death certificate. Basically the investigative reports of Sallm Shahzad disclose how the extremists have got a stronghold in the Pakistani army and to what extent Pakistan’s links to the Jihadi organisations in Afghanistan and Kashmir have posed a threat to the state.
The systematic beginning of the Islamisation of the army in Pakistan came about during the dictatorship of Gen Ziaul Haque when he declared the certificates of the graduates of the madrasas from all across Pakistan equivalent to the degrees of the government universities. In the first blow, thousands of such madrasa students were appointed as imams and preachers in the positions of non-commissioned officers in the army. Since the confederation of the madrasas affiliated to the Deobandi school of thought was already present in Pakistan, in the first batch, the students of madrasas affiliated to this organisation were recruited in the army, and through them the work of the propagation of a particular school of thought started inside the army. ‘Jihad fi sabilillah’ (Jihad in the path of God) was included in the motto of the army. An army which had fought three wars with India and had suffered humiliating defeats against a bigger and more resourceful Indian army, gradually transformed into a Jihadi army instead of a professional army. The war cry of jihad had already been raised in Afghanistan and the adventure-loving dictator of Pakistan pushed the secularly trained army of Pakistan into this jihad imbroglio.
On the one hand, Pervez Musharraf was worried over the growing number of extremists in the army and the suicide attacks on himself, on the other, Gen. Kayani became the head of the Pakistani army amidst this menace. In the beginning, the heads and other higher leadership of the armed forces could realise that the topmost reason behind the growing anger inside the army was its support to the US, and Pervez Musharraf who had been showered with praises by all the Jihadi organisations for his adventure in Kargil, fell from the grace after the 9/11 attacks and the situations came to such a passé that the point of view of the extremists about the army changed. Attacks on the soldiers and higher officers of army started. The most successful and important attack on the army was the planned attack on the army mess near the Mangla Dam. Though the attacks on the Meharan and Kamerah bases had also inflicted irreparable damage to the Pakistani army, the attack on the Mangla mess was devastating and worrying in the sense that more than a dozen highly trained army commandos had been targeted in it, particularly the group that had been used in the Lal Masjid operation in Islamabad. The suicide bomber was an officer and a part of the group. After that people of general and brigadier ranks also were targeted and a time came when the army officers were prevented from coming out of the barracks in uniform to avoid being targeted by the extremists.
Those writing on the Islamisation and Talibanisation in Pakistan do not have the statistics to show how many serving soldiers took to the path of extremism and left the service to join the extremists. The reason for this is the army’s strategy to keep such issues extremely secret. Recently, an interview of Adnan Rasheed was published in Al Qaida-Taliban’s mouth piece in which Adnan Rasheed has disclosed in detail how the supporters of Al Qaida in the Pakistani army, particularly in the Navy have continued their activities and how the higher officials skip standard rules to provide them facilities to join the Jihadi training.
The intensity of the growth of Salafism in Pakistani army can be gauged from the fact that the mouth piece of Pakistani army, Hilal is filled with the writings of those who in principle instead of raising the professional standards of the army, prepare the mentality of the soldiers on the lines how they have to destroy the Hindus of India and the Jews and Christians of the world who cannot tolerate the existence of a nuclear Pakistan. This is the point of view of the extremists as well but they do not match the status of the state army. The monthly magazine Hilal is so sensitive towards its status as an atomic power and its Islamic identity that sometimes there seems to be little difference between the journal of the Pakistani army and that of a Jihadi organisation and it appears that both journals are the product of the same pen and mentality. Reports circulate all too often that the training of the Jihadis of Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammad and Hizb ul Mujahideen is undertaken under the serving and retired commandos of the army, and the Jihadis especially prepared to cross the borders get the information about their targets from these persons. (To be concluded)
About Khama Bagosh Madzallah: A confused Muslim, unable to understand the real definition of Muslimhood. Is a Muslim the standard bearer of Islam in reality? Or just an enemy of fellow Muslims? What is the Islamic ideology about rest of the world? What is its culture and history? Why the Muslims are in a conflict not just with other religions but other cultures as well?