New Age Islam Edit Bureau
December 5, 2015
• The miasma of hate
By Tariq Khosa
• Crash of civilisation
By Farrukh Khan Pitafi
• Forget all else but the real evil
• War on terror: more of the same — III
By Dr Saulat Nagi
The miasma of hate
By Tariq Khosa
December 5th, 2015
FANATICS flourish in the soil of hatred. The seeds of bigotry were sown in Pakistan unfortunately by none other than an army general. Let me share a personal account.
Earlier in my career as assistant superintendent, I was posted as sub-divisional police officer of Jhang city in 1981. Little did I know I had walked into the epicentre of developing sectarian tensions and conflicts. I found the Barelvi and Deobandi clerics hurling the choicest expletives at each other on their mosque loudspeakers.
Suddenly, we noticed the Shia community being targeted in tirades by the Deobandi clerics, chief amongst them one diminutive firebrand named Haq Nawaz. This rang alarm bells, especially in the wake of the Iranian revolution and the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. A proxy war, it appeared, was being fought on our soil between the international stakeholders. The Anjuman-i-Sipah-i-Sahaba was established in response to the formation of Tehreek-i-Nifaz-i-Fiqah Jafria. The name of the former was later changed to Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan.
Sectarian tensions promoted in Jhang in the early ’80s had horrible consequences for the rest of the country.
I was soon to see the fallout on law and order. Every year on Muharram 7, Shias take out one of the largest mourning processions in Jhang city. Some locations along the route traditionally entail tension which is resolved in advance through adherence to a code of conduct.
In 1981, while I was on duty for the procession, Maulvi Haq Nawaz reached a mosque en route and violated the code of conduct by launching into a provocative speech. This created unrest amongst the Shia processionists. They stopped near the mosque and refused to move forward unless the cleric was stopped. With a 40-men force, I was caught between the fury of the huge procession and the fire-breathing cleric. Deputy commissioner Shehzad Hasan Parvez and district superintendent police Ahmed Nasim arrived, entered the mosque and tried to persuade Haq Nawaz to put an end to his hate speech and leave the mosque, but he refused. The Shia youth became restive and wanted to attack the mosque.
It was time for a quick decision: stop the madness or allow a bloodbath. I asked the policemen to take off their shoes and we stormed the mosque, making a beeline for the rostrum where the five-foot ‘maulvi’ was making the congregation chant vitriolic sectarian slogans. Getting hold of him by his neck, we dragged him out of the mosque, put him in my police jeep and headed straight to the police station. Meanwhile, the procession started moving along its assigned route. I was in the process of filing a report of the incident when I received an urgent call from the deputy commissioner to reach his camp office.
When I reached there I found the DC and SP standing outside in the lawn looking worried. The DC told me he had received a call from Gen Ziaul Haq who wanted ‘Maulana’ Haq Nawaz to be released forthwith. I was taken aback. How could we do that while the Shia procession was on the move? What if the enraged mullah headed back to another mosque en route and resumed his incendiary campaign? As in charge of the law and order situation, I could not allow that to happen. “You mean you want to defy the orders of the chief martial law administrator?” asked the DC in a mocking tone, for he understood the administrative imperative of maintaining order rather than appeasing a mullah.
I told the DC and SP that it was for them to handle the military dictator while the police would fulfil their duty. Both of them supported my viewpoint and asked that the cleric be taken away from the police station located in the heart of the city and released on bail after the procession. I had no idea how they placated Gen Zia but in my heart I was beholden to them for not letting the police down.
This episode, fairly early in my career as a law-enforcement officer, made me wonder at the nexus between the mullah and the military developed in the early 1980s and sustained throughout that decade in furtherance of ‘national interests’ based on convoluted ideology and politics. I got promoted and left as SP Quetta and served in Balochistan for the next four years. Meanwhile, Jhang witnessed some bitter politics and sectarian violence. Maulana Haq Nawaz even won a provincial assembly seat. In an era of ‘controlled’ democracy, some militant mullahs were definitely enjoying state patronage.
The sectarian hatred unleashed in Jhang led to horrendous consequences all over the country with tit-for-tat killings in a matter of a few years. By the time I returned to the Punjab Police in 1989, the sectarian menace had spread everywhere. Haq Nawaz’s assassination in 1990 followed the deadly militant violence perpetrated by Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) formed by Riaz Basra, Malik Ishaq, Akram Lahori and Ghulam Rasul Shah (four diehard supporters of Jhangvi’s mission).
Riaz Basra was arrested in Lahore in 1992 under my command as police chief of the city. Despite my request for his jail trial, after my transfer in 1994, he was taken from prison to the Model Town courts complex from where he escaped from the judicial lock-up and unleashed a reign of terror for about 10 years as a fugitive.
On promotion, I got posted as deputy inspector-general of Faisalabad police range on Aug 11, 1997. Late IG Punjab Jahanzaib Burki gave me one task: arrest Malik Ishaq of LJ. Just about a month later, on Sep 13, Ishaq was arrested by Faisalabad police in a sting operation. But by manipulating a faulty criminal justice system which failed to protect the judges, victims, witnesses, investigators, prosecutors and prison officials, the dreaded LJ mastermind survived for long and was even suspected to have received patronage from some political and security elements.
In a nutshell, indifference, apathy and even collusion by elements of the state have resulted in our nation paying a heavy price in terms of violence and bloodshed. Now at last, another army general is trying to reverse the tide of sectarianism by hopefully breaking the nexus between obscurantist mullahs and the deadly militants, including all the non-state actors, and their erstwhile sponsors. He is fighting a defining battle for the soul of Pakistan.
Good luck, General.
Tariq Khosa is a retired police officer.
Crash of civilisation
By Farrukh Khan Pitafi
December 4, 2015
Even if you shout atop your voice, there are fools on both sides who just don’t want to listen. If there is no clash, they would want to manufacture it. If there is no civilisation other than the human one, they would like to create a few. It fits neatly into their agenda. The hate and war industries thrive on the definition of the cultural other. That which cannot be understood, can easily be dehumanised, feared and if lady luck is on your side, exterminated. Yet, I very deliberately call members of the hate industry, fools. They don’t realise that an environment of hate and paranoia, once created, cannot be reversed. This fire will eventually burn everything down.
The Muslim population of the world is approximately 1.6 billion. China’s population is almost 1.4 billion. If you count people of Chinese origin, the number rises further. If you add only the numbers given above, the result is three billion. Three billion out of a global population of seven billion. The Cold War mentality or even the world war mentality cannot be applied here. The world cannot abandon such a huge population by declaring it as the cultural other, the unknown or the enemy. Someone, after all, has to be the standard-bearer of the human race. The Western thought at its inclusive best is the answer. But those who oppose assimilation, integration and a middle ground do the Western intellect a disservice. Those who want cultures and religions to clash hark back to the Middle Ages, when fault lines were more pronounced among them and less within. Sadly, while the West kept moving forward and evolved some of the greatest ideas known to humankind, political insecurity in the Muslim world stifled critical thinking. Islam as a guiding spirit of life doesn’t impose too many limitations. It is the outdated version of ijtihad (interpretation) that has held Muslims back. And that is precisely why Muslims around the world have more to fear from the likes of the Islamic State (IS), al Qaeda, the Taliban and even the Hizbut Tahrir. The main reason is that Muslim leaders, elected or autocratic, religious or secular, do not have any serious counter-argument to offer against the pronouncements being spouted by such groups. When the evolution of thought and interpretation of faith stopped among Muslims, the political thought in the world was still evolving. The idea of nation states had not emerged yet. There was no treaty of Westphalia. Nor were there economic unions like the EU. It was the age of empires. Muslims knew of only one. The caliphate or whatever passed for it. Yes, there was another distant empire in the form of Muslim India, but it was too distant. While the thought stopped there, the body of an outdated idea kept dragging itself until the advent of the 20th century, in the shape of the Ottoman Empire. And when the empire unceremoniously fell apart, that didn’t put an end to the idea. Reactionary groups, since then, have tried to revive the same idea every now and then. No one pointed out that the idea of an empire was just a derived one, not an original one associated with faith.
Muslim thought needs investment, research and support to evolve. At the time of their cultural best, Muslim societies were inclusive, tolerant and productive. That can be the case now too. The problem is that the Muslim elite cannot achieve this alone because many among them are corrupt, authoritarian, divorced from ground realities of everyday life or are in suspended animation, being overawed by the proliferation of reactionary ideologies like that of the IS. The West and other cultures have the resources as well as a Muslim population that can help move things forward. As long as a few things are respected and not meddled with, Muslims may want to contribute in building synergy. These few things are the words and meaning of the Holy Quran, the finality of Prophethood, Islamic eschatology and a Muslim sense of perspective. As long as you are cognisant of these and a few other red lines, you will not find much resistance from mainstream Muslims. This is the age of software. Without updating the software and creating anti-viruses, you can drop as many daisy cutters and napalm bombs as you want, but that will not resolve the problem. What the world now needs to worry about is the crash of civilisation.
Farrukh Khan Pitafi is an Islamabad-based TV journalist and tweets @FarrukhKPitafi
Forget all else but the real evil
December 5th, 2015
THE killing of the two military policemen in Karachi was a grim reminder, if one was needed, of the existential challenge facing Pakistan despite the sacrifices, and battlefield successes, of the security forces.
Nobody in their right mind would have thought that the monster, the Pakistani state (read the military) nurtured for so long would be snuffed out overnight, even if the khaki leadership had decided in all earnestness to root it out.
Curbing violence in Karachi was always going to be more difficult as the whole operation needed to be intelligence-based here. It was impossible to replicate what was done in the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan-infested tribal areas where town after town was cleared of the civilian population and then the militants taken on.
It will take more than a mere meeting to smash militant networks in Karachi, given the multiple denominations they represent.
Here miles upon miles of narrow, winding streets in hundreds of settlements spread across the length and breadth of the city, meant those wanting to hide from the law-enforcement forces, or even take them on, had a perfect camouflage to operate from.
From the anecdotal evidence I was able to gather over a two-week period in November, after having talked to dozens of citizens belonging to different tiers of society it was not too difficult to surmise that the operation has so far yielded positive results.
There was a general sense of relief at the improved security situation. “You can’t believe how nice it is to leave home for work in the morning and not be filled with uncertainty whether I’d ever see my family again at the end of the day,” said my friend’s driver as we travelled across the city. This sentiment was echoed by dozens of others.
A Dawn colleague said one of her domestic staff had not taken his salary for years as he left for home in the evenings. He always took it in the morning and dropped it off at his home in one of the distant suburban abadis. “This month he happily asked for it as he was leaving in the evening saying it was safe to carry cash even after sunset.”
Admittedly, these are tiny windows to a bustling, complex metropolis and it would be foolhardy to imagine the whole picture based on these. But I must say it was after a very long time on my latest visit that I heard something positive being repeated by a number of people unconnected to each other.
Although hundreds of policemen have been killed in Karachi over the years, what captures the news headlines, the imagination of commentators and even the attention of those in charge is whenever an army soldier is targeted. This time was no different. The so-called apex committee was convened at a day’s notice and we heard in the news all it resolved to do.
It will take more than a mere meeting to smash militant networks in Karachi, given the multiple denominations they represent. From the religious extremists of the banned TTP to the secular gun-toting members of the MQM sectors’ set-up, you name it.
Taking their cue from the most powerful party in the city, other political parties seemed to realise that if they needed to maintain a toehold in the metropolis it would be impossible to do so without armed supporters. Thus, sprouted several other armed groups.
There are also suggestions that in the post-Musharraf era, when the MQM started to slip from its pre-eminent status in the eyes of the establishment, some intelligence officers posted in Karachi patronised armed gangsters in Lyari so they could pose a challenge to the Altaf Hussain-led party. The resultant mess is there for all to see.
Looking back to draw lessons from the past is justified. But its becoming a pretext to lament the present while letting inertia rule is unacceptable, even criminal. Given its complexities, Karachi may be a case in point but the whole country must remain in our focus.
One hopes that today’s local elections demonstrate to all political parties that it is possible to retain support and the committed vote bank without having to maintain an army of armed supporters. All parties in the city, and its largest in terms of representation must carry the biggest burden, must commit to politics without guns.
Once we see such a commitment manifesting itself in the politics here, there is no stopping Karachi. It may just be a pipe dream at this stage but imagine the scene if all parties in the country’s commercial capital compete in the provision of services to their voters. This has to happen.
A bigger evil is never far and needs to receive our full attention. It rears its ugly head every so often in the form of bigotry, intolerance, extremist violence. Whether it is the Safoora Goth massacre, or the killing of policemen, Rangers or soldiers or simply an attack on young women students playing cricket at a university campus, these are but different shades of the same evil.
Disunity or at least the appearance of discord among our civilian and military leaders strengthens such voices, emboldens such sentiments. Take for example last month’s statement by the prime minister that the future direction of the country would be liberal and democratic.
Many welcomed it vocally. Those not comfortable with the idea kept quiet. Then, a few days later, the often overenthusiastic ISPR complained about the government in a public statement, drawing a public rebuttal from the government.
Following speculation of a civil-military breakdown, a gathering of our ‘ulema’ at the Jamia Darul Uloom Haqqania, the alma mater of the late ‘amirul momineen’ of Afghanistan Mullah Omar, issued a warning to Nawaz Sharif against propagating liberal values.
Hope our leaders, both civil and military, are aware of the consequences of a public spat between them. Imagine what would happen if there ever was a falling out.
Abbas Nasir is a former editor of Dawn.
War on terror: more of the same — III
By Dr Saulat Nagi
December 05, 2015
After Napoleon, France has been striving to extend its hegemony yet again to Syria
The Paris massacre happens to be a multidimensional phenomenon. France, a land of revolution, is also notorious for exploiting its colonies mercilessly. Even now 14 African countries are paying tribute worth $ 500 billion to France as ransom money to keep their (sham) independence intact. In the 1960s, approximately one million Algerians were massacred by the French. In the recent absolute destruction of Libya, the role of France was more than evident. The French hegemony of Africa is indispensible for the former’s economy. In 1957, French President Francois Mitterand prophesied that “Without Africa, France will have no history in the 21st century.”
Since 1961 France has been holding the national reserves of 14 African countries, which include Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. After Napoleon, France has been striving to extend its hegemony yet again to Syria. Young Muslims from Europe were covertly encouraged to participate in a war meant to remove Assad as president. Whether these boys belonged to the same ilk that was once radicalised by the state and ultimately came home to roost will be proved or disproved later but the fact remains that every one of them belonged to European countries. Hence, they were not first generation migrants.
Akin to 9/11 and the more recent terror incidents in Australia, the suspects were very much known to the secret agencies of France. Did they intentionally decide to look the other way or were they dismissed as non-lethal suspects?
The very nature of this violence does not fit the description of a lone-wolf adventure. The whole act has a touch of grotesqueness. They came at a time of perfect choosing, they aimlessly murdered people and then blew themselves up. The calamity became a divine-sent opportunity to the French ruling class. During this difficult period of recession, war and mounting influx of refugees it provided the much needed spine to the dwindling repute of the party in power, which due to extremely unpopular measures named after ‘austerity’ and ‘rationalisation’ is losing its grip on power. One needs not to be remarkably prudish to know that this act will culminate in intensifying anti-immigrant sentiment among the masses, undermining the progressive forces, helping the state to cut down liberty in the name of security and unleashing the bourgeois terror against the working class of France. This is the modern face of fascism. Huey Long once said: “If fascism ever came to power in the US, it would be wrapped in an American flag.” This one is wrapped in French tricolour.
The wrath of the French state has already begun to unfold itself. Behind the facade of counter-terrorism its scales are imminently tilted towards the class interests of the bourgeoisie. According to The Independent, “[In] France, a state of emergency [is] declared for three months, allowing authorities to shut down websites and giving police sweeping new powers...The measures allow for anyone’s house to be searched, people to be put under house arrest without trial and any website to be blocked.” This is how the totalitarian state has decided to nullify an already half throttled democracy. It was Carl Schmitts, Hitler’s right hand man, who said “Sovereign is he who decides on the state of emergency.” In this case, not the democratic institutions but the capitalist state and its watchdog, the police, will be the only sovereigns. Prior to their occurrence, Roman poet Juvenal anticipated these vicious circumstances in his own time and asked “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (who will guard the guardians themselves?). No one, since this is how capitalism works.
The capitalist civilisation loves to glorify individuals as heroes and the same stands true for its institutions: the politicians who have lost their metaphysical character, the civil-military bureaucracy, an eternally corrupt invisible ruler, the judiciary, which usually denies justice, the nation, a mixture of people having divergent and opposing interests and the state, ruled by the owners of the means of production who look towards the army and the judiciary to salvage their interests while these two are dependent upon corporations that produce weapons and through indoctrination enhance nationalism and spirit of sacrifice among the masses through fear. This totalitarian terror is a glorification of the unglorified. This ‘whole’ hegemonic apparatus is made sacred. Under this shadow of Hades, people live in the hope of death or the afterlife. Is it not time this ‘whole’ is abolished so that people can breathe as living human beings?
The ball has yet again bounced back to the court of the working class of the world. The bell is tolling but for whom? The decision entirely depends on them. John Dalhuisen, the director of Amnesty International for Europe and Central Asia, has already sensed the nefariousness of these designs. He has unequivocally stated “Time and again we have seen emergency measures extended and codified until they become part and parcel of the ordinary law, chipping steadily away at human rights.” The battle cry remains the same, so is the slogan of the workers of the entire world to unite and transform this imperialist war into a class war. This is the only possible way to fight this international conspiracy hatched against them. Is there a chance of any success in the near future? “The critical theory of society possesses no concepts that could bridge the gap between the present and its future; holding no promise and showing no success, it remains negative. Thus, it wants to remain loyal to those who, without hope, have given and give their life to the Great Refusal.” The working class has done this in the past. To get out of this quagmire a continuous struggle remains the only option available to the workers. In this most inclement, polarised and hopeless circumstance through their untiring struggle “it may be that dialectic theory finds its present truth in its own hopelessness” (Marcuse).
Dr Saulat Nagi is based in Australia and has authored books on socialism and history. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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