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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Why does Pakistan behave like this ? Part - II

So, there were two streams of thought within the demoralized Muslim community of the Indian subcontinent in the late nineteenth century {See the earlier part here}. One was to wage a jihad against the infidel colonial ruler to retrieve the lost power and pelf of the Mughal Empire, and hence that of Islam by implication. This stream was represented by the likes of Ahmed Berelvi and Jamaluddin Afghani though the latter was not an Indian. The other stream was more realistic. This group realized that the reforms in governance being introduced by the British in India in early twentieth century had to be shaped in such a way that the majority Hindu community did not end up with all the powers in their hand. This group was represented by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan of Aligarh. The latter therefore decided to adopt a cooperative approach with the British to achieve their goal. In the final analysis, it was the latter group that succeeded in creating Pakistan but the former sowed the seed for all the present day problems of terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism in Pakistan. The success of the latter group meant that they were indebted to the British and later the Americans as the British handed over their hegemony to the Americans. The approval by these two western powers to Pakistan to use jihadi extremism against India (in c. 1947) and Afghanistan (in c. 1979) has resulted in the terrible situation that India, Afghanistan and other countries face today from Pakistan.

The Indian muslims were greatly perturbed by the turn of events in the nineteenth century when the regional Mughal empire finally ceased to exist and by the early twentieth century when the global Ottoman Caliphate itself was also dissolved formally. The ruthless manner in which the War of Independence in c. 1857 was put down by the British, the shabby manner in which the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, was treated leading to his deportation to Burma (now Myanmar) where he died four years later (c. 1862), and the cruel manner in which his sons and grandson were killed had created revulsion in the minds of Indian Muslims. The dissolution of the Caliphate rendered them further insecure and helpless while raging with impotence. The decline of the Muslim power appeared absolute to them. These two seminal events were the results of centuries of decline for several reasons.

In India, it was Emperor Aurangzeb's (d. 1706) fundamentalist rule of extreme cruelty inflicted on the minorities, especially the Hindus and the Sikhs, that laid the foundation for the decline of the Mughal Empire. Distant Chennai was not under Muslim rule but the equally distant Bengal was, and the incursion of the Christian British East India Company (BEIC) there resulting in the defeat of Nawab Siraj-ud-Dowla in Plassey in c. 1757 started to fray the Empire at the edges. In Europe, the inability of the Ottoman janisarries (the armed forces) to breach the Habsburgs and the Tsars set the ball rolling for their eclipse in the late seventeenth century itself. In the next century, the Habsburgs and the Tsars expanded their empires threatening the Ottoman. Added to this was the foray into Egypt by the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte in the late eighteenth century followed later by the occupation of Algeria. The Caliphate too was fraying at the edges. The janissaries and the ulema combined to depose the Caliph and his bureaucrats in early nineteenth century. These are the same class of players who have usurped and re-usurped power in Pakistan in the last six decades. It is the combination of the military, ulema and the bureaucrats (the evil alliance, euphemistically referred to as the 'Establishment' in Pakistan) who ruled the Ottoman as they have succeeded to do so in Pakistan.

For a Pakistan, which has been fascinated by Turkish history and which yearns to emulate that country and become the leader of the ummah, the coups and palace intrigues might be all déjà vu and even considered as steps to achieving the Caliphate. Since ijtihad {creative interpretation of the Koran and the Sunnah in light of modern thoughts and events} has been closed by the tenth century after the codification of the Koran into the four schools of thought, no modern interpretation is possible and current events have to be somehow fitted into the unalterable framework. Again, the Islamist scholars of the Ottoman Caliphate decided that their decline was not because of any superiority of the Europeans but rather due to Muslims deviating from the strict Islamic code prescribed by the Koran, the Hadith and the Sunnah. This is the same argument that we have heard in Pakistan too every time a tragedy strikes that country or that country blunders itself into yet another disaster. The call from Turkey for the ummah to unite resonated strongly among the Indian muslims too. After the loss of the Mughal empire, the Indian Muslims appealed to the Caliph to be their protector, an impossible task by the Caliph who was himself rapidly sinking.

The Indian Islamic scene during these turbulent and trying moments was dominated by a few personalities such as Ahmed Berelvi, Jamaluddin Afghani (d. 1897), Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, and curiously a Hindu kafir Mahatma Gandhi. Surprisingly, Jinnah, the founder of Islamic Pakistan was not in the picture. He was to gain prominence only in the 1930s.

Ahmed Berelvi (d. 1831) was a disciple of the son of Shah Waliullah Dehelvi (1702 - 1762) who helped the Afghan king Ahmed Shah (also known as Ahmed Shah Durrani or Ahmed Shah Abdali) to overcome the Mahrattas in the Panipat war in 1761. Berelvi introduced militancy into Indian Islam for fighting the Hindus, Sikhs and the British. He created Tariq-e-Muhammadiyah (or, The Way of Muhammad) that combined sufism and orthodox Islam. Sayyid declared jihad against the Sikh rulers and wanted to establish an Islamic state in the Indo-Afghan border where he emigrated to with his followers in circa 1826, a la hijra of Prophet Muhammad. The local Yusufzai tribes rebelled against him for his attempts to enforce rules contradictory to their traditional Pashtunwali code. Maharajah Ranjit Singh, the Sikh Maharajah of the Punjab who had annexed Afghan territories and also Jammu & Kashmir, exploited the situation and his army ambushed the forces of Berelvi near Balakot and killed his followers along with the grandson of Shah Waliullah, Sayyed Ismail. Berelvi was defeated and then executed by the Sikhs in circa 1831. There is evidence that the British, in order to protect their geopolitical interests, actually helped Berelvi to fight the Sikhs, especially because the Sikh rulers had turned to the French. Balakot is today a hallowed spiritual ground for Berelvis of Pakistan. Most Pakistanis are Berelvis and it therefore would not be surprising for them to entertain similar thoughts against infidel India.

Jamaluddin Afghani influenced people in Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Afghanistan and India with his clarion call for resisting the colonial western Christian powers. He stood for ijtihad, militant Islam and pan-Islamic nationalism while being a die-hard opponent of the Western powers. His anti-British ideas were formulated when he first visited India in the aftermath of the failed 1857 uprising. His call for a revolt against the British in Egypt saw him being expelled to Hyderabad, India and then Calcutta while being constantly surveilled by the British. He was a complete anti-thesis of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan of Aligarh and opposed his policy of British sycophancy vehemently. His prime disciple was Muhammad Abdu whose disciple was Rashid Al Rida. Rashid al Rida's salafi ideas were germane for the creation of Ikhwan al Muslimeen (or, Muslim Brotherhood) movement who have wrought havoc in many countries, especially Egypt. After a long line of autocratic military leaders, the first whiff of democracy has brought the Muslim Brotherhood back into power in Egypt now. Two of the leading lights of Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al Banna and Syed Qutb have influenced Islamist ideologues all over the world, including in Pakistan. The works of Syed Qutb and Mawdudi,as the two most important modern Islamist theologians, have influenced militant Islamists that we find in Pakistan today.

While these Islamists had set forth on one particular stream of thought to restore the glory of Islam in the Indian subcontinent, the other group, the elites of the Ganga-Jamuna belt had other ideas for achieving the same. It was in Delhi and its surroundings as well as the fertile Gangetic plains to its south-east extending upto the borders of Bengal that the Mughal Empire had established authoritatively its rule. The remnants of the defunct Mughal empire, the nawabs and other aristocratic elites, decided to face the emerging problem politically. Before looking at their approach, we need to look at the political scenario in India at the turn of the century. After the 1857 War, the British Empire had taken over the governance of India from the hands of the British East India Company (BEIC). The Raj, as it was known, was running this huge country through a three-tier mechanism of the Viceroy, the Governors at the Provinces and the Collectors at the districts. The Raj introduced electoral reforms in 1880 when municipal councillors were allowed to be elected. The Minto-Morley reforms of 1909 extended it to the Provincial level. Later, the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms (Montford Reforms as they were to be known) extended the electoral process even further up, though the Raj was ruling the country still with an iron grip centrally. These reforms were aimed at more securely ruling the country and securing Indian support for the war efforts rather than introducing natives to modern models of governance as a precursor to the Raj eventually leaving the shores. For example, Morley-Minto Reforms were initiated to address the great tumult following the partitioning of Bengal by Lord Curzon.

Traditionally, the land owners were the pivots through which the Mughal Empire reached out to the common folk in the country side. The land owners, by virtue of possession of land, enjoyed power and also acted as collectors of land revenue for the Empire. This was a practice the British Raj also continued with. As in the Mughal courts, so too in the British bureaucracy, land-owners contributed much to manpower and held important positions. Among the four British-controlled provinces, it was in the Ganga-Jamuna belt that the land ownership by the Muslims was significant and unsurprisingly so due to historical reasons. It was therefore no wonder that insecurity was fanned among the Muslim landowners as the wind of reforms in the electoral process began to blow.

It was in this milieu that, at the turn of the twentieth century, that a group of Muslim elites from this core region of the erstwhile Mughal Empire decided to stake their claims politically even as they foresaw the shape of things to come. Lord Minto, the successor Viceroy to Curzon, declared to the elite group of Mussalman who called upon him on October 1, 1906 at Simla that the Muslims of India “were descendants of a conquering and ruling race” forgetting conveniently that but for a minuscule descendants of Turks, Persians, Pathans or Mughals, the vast majority of the Indian Muslims were converts from the Hindu religion. This description by Lord Minto has resulted, among other things, for an everlasting desire among Pakistanis today to hoist their flag on the Red Fort at New Delhi, the symbol of the Mughal Empire. The 'All India Muhammedan Deputation' that met Lord Minto asked for separate electorates for Muslims and asked for a 'due share' in government jobs. In an analysis published by New York Times on October 26, 1906, the newspaper presciently called this as “an incident in the history of India which may prove of great and lasting importance”. It further said that the Mohammedans consider the majority community “with jealousy, suspicion often with contempt, and with an ineradicable animosity that is held in control only by the British Rule”. Among the delegation that called on Lord Minto in c. 1906 was the founder of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who said “No Mohammedan can say that the English are not ‘people of the Book’ (ahl-e-kitab). No Mohammedan can deny this: that God has said that no people of other religions can be friends of Mohammedans except the Christians. . . . Now God has made them rulers over us. Therefore we should cultivate friendship with them, and should adopt that method by which their rule may remain permanent and firm in India, and may not pass into the hands of the Bengalis. This is our true friendship with our Christian rulers . . . for we do not want to become subjects of the Hindus instead of the subjects of the people of the Book." No wonder then that the AMU at Aligarh has played a significant role in creating Pakistan through subservience to British interests and causing permanent divide between the Hindus and the Muslims.

After the 1857 War of Independence, the British relied on the Punjabis more than ever before as it was the Punjab component of the Army that was used to crush the uprising. As a result, the British Raj adopted different policies for security reasons (and it was for the same reason that Maharaja Ranjit Singh's youngest son, Maharaja Dalip Singh, was forcibly taken away to England) in the Punjab, and land owners began to appear there as the Raj developed extensive irrigation facilities and began to parcel off pieces of land for those who served the Imperial power loyally as well as the retiring service personnel. We continue to see the disproportionate amount of clout enjoyed by landowners in Pakistan even today, a country where land reforms have not been successfully implemented, even struck down by the ulema as un-islamic. Most of the top Pakistani leaders, even when they spoke of socialism, were unabashed feudalists and continue to remain so. Their feudal mindset is apparent in domestic as well as foreign policies. Similarly, the province of Punjab dominates the political, military, economic and terrorist scenes over the other three provinces of today's Pakistan. By the mid nineteenth century, the British began to treat the province of Punjab differently from the rest of the Indian Union for two different security reasons. One was that the Punjab contributed significantly to the British India Army and the other was that the sensitive Punjab province was abutting the restive North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) and Afghanistan. This practice has continued in the current state of Pakistan as well. Another practice that the British introduced in the Punjab was the 'sense of entitlement' among the service personnel for benefits, especially the allocation of land. The well known Pakistani analyst Ms. Ayesha Siddiqa writes in her book, "Military Inc. - Inside Pakistan's Military Economy", the following, "Land entitlement varies from 240 acres for generals to 100 acres from lieutenants to majors to 32 acres for non-commissioned officers (NCOs)." Punjab was also the region where the British introduced separate Muslim electorates for municipalities much before they were introduced three decades later all over India as part of Montford Reforms.

So, where did the kafir Hindu Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi fit in this Islamic fervour ? Gandhi was the rising star within the Indian National Congress (INC) at that time and he seized the opportunity the Khilafat movement presented to catapult himself into the national scene. Whether it was done with a design or out of genuine concern for the perceived plight of Muslims of India at that time or as a convenient tool to pressurize the beleagured British with, is debatable. By the turn of the first decade of the twentieth century, there emerged from the Aligarh Mahommedan Anglo Oriental College, an institution founded by the Muslim elites especially Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, two brothers, Mohammed and Shaukat Ali who militantly advanced the cause of the rapidly dismantling Ottoman Caliphate. They were imprisoned in c. 1915 by the British government and their cause was taken up by Mohandas Gandhi in a big way. Thus, a pan-Islamist frenzy was whipped up across the country by a kafir ! The August 1918 Congress Session at Bombay found the Montford Constitutional reforms shallow and asked the British to adopt the Lucknow Pact as the basis for reforms. This was the time that there was widespread terrorism against British interests and symbols of power all over India. The British introduced the Rowlatt Act (also known as Black Act) in 1919 and Gandhi emerged on the scene with his new weapon of hartal against these acts. There was also the Jallianwallabagh Massacre at this time. The Khilafat Day was observed on March 19, 1920. The terms under which peace was offered to the Ottomans on May 14, 1920 angered the Muslims and Gandhiji decided that his movement of non-cooperation, that he was planning for sometime then, should be launched immediately. He returned the Kaiser-e-Hind Gold medal, the Zulu war Medal and the Boer War Medal bestowed upon him by the British for the ‘unscrupulous, immoral and unjust manner’ in which the Imperial Government had acted in the Khilafat matter. When Gandhi's non-violence did not result in the release of the Ali brothers, the Khilaftists lost faith in his approach and the ulema hijacked the movement.

Ironically, Jinnah, who was opposed to Khilafat, said that the Hindu leaders did not realize that the pan-Islamic Khilafat movement would dilute the nationalism of the Indian Muslims. Jinnah’s fears came true when in August 1921, the Moplah rebellion took place in Malabar, Kerala when innocent Hindus were massacred, raped and forcibly converted to Islam. It was widely believed that the speeches of Mohammed Ali (the younger of the Ali Brothers who were dramatically released by the British after being charged with sedition) in the South, and the prevailing atmosphere of non-cooperation movement helped their fanatical cause. Earlier the new Viceroy Reading had accused the Ali brothers of extra-territorial loyalty and encouragement to violence through their speeches at the All India Khilafat Conference at Karachi in August 1921. Reading asked Gandhiji to make the Ali brothers apologize, which he did. The Ali brothers soon fell foul of Gandhiji (and Shaukat Ali, the elder brother, called Gandhiji’s attempt at Swaraj as Hinduraj. He urged the Muslims to boycott the Dandi Salt March in circa 1929). Thus, Gandhi's association with the Khilafat movement resulted in unifying Muslims for a pan-Islamist cause and also sowed suspicions that an emerging India would be to the disadvantage of the Muslims.

The two approaches, that I noted at the beginning of this post, while differing significantly in the means adopted to achieve their common goal, had some significant overlaps too. While the goal was one of re-establishing the pre-eminence of Islam in the Indian subcontinent and restore the Muslims as rulers, it was these overlaps that led to an identity crisis that has befuddled generation after generation of Pakistanis. The overlap and hence the confusion came in several forms.

Abu Ala al Mawdudi acted as the bridge between the two streams, one of boundaryless Caliphate and the other of bounded nationalist movement of Pakistan. The pure Islamists only looked at Islam and the nationalists looked only at politics (though they used Isalm and its symbols for this end) while it was Mawdudi who married Islam and politics in the context of the Muslim narrative in the Indian subcontinent, through his Jama'at-e-Islami (JI). Mawdudi was educated in Deobandi madrasseh and hailed from a family which served, with pride, the Mughal court and after its decline, the Nizam of Hyderabad. The decline of Islamic power and more importantly, the imminent rise of the Hindu power perturbed him a great deal, just as it did the Aligarh group. The most common approach of all Islamists, whenever they perceive any threat to Muslim power, has been to call for the Believers to protect Islam which was imminently in danger. They thus equate Muslim power with Islam or in other words meaning that unless Muslims were in power Islam would be in danger in that nation-state. The solution adopted by the Islamists therefore was to always dig deeper into Islam and make the Muslim populace more fundamentalist by dinning into their ears that it was their waywardness and deviation that led them to the sorry state in the first place and they should therefore return to a purer version of Islam. Thus, the more the troubles or perceived troubles, the narrower the interpretation of Islam that was prescribed as the solution. This was magically supposed to cure all the ills and restore the slipping glory. Mawdudi was no exception either. However, he differed from the two streams in that he did not want to abdicate India and create a new nation, but, he rather wanted to stay put in India and face the Hindu majoritarianism and convert the whole of India to Islam. He derived inspiration from the way Prophet Mohammed was able to not only protect his small group of followers from the much larger Pagan, but also eventually convert the latter successfully. Thus, he was initially opposed to the Muslim League which by c. 1940 had almost proposed a separate nation. Later, when he was won over to Pakistan, Mawdudi added to the prevalent confusion in Pakistan by suggesting a 'theocratically democratic Caliphate'. It was this form of governance that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to implement in his second term (and crown himself as Amir-ul-Momineen or Leader of the Faithful) before his rule was cut short by a more ambitious army General.

Mawdudi had to face challenges in defining the particular strain of Islam he wanted Pakistan to be engulfed with. One of them was Gen. (later Field Marshal) Ayub Khan. Many Pakistani leaders had this propensity to see themselves as Ataturk of Pakistan. Jinnah himself was a great admirer of Ataturk and so was Ayub Khan. Jinnah, a non-practitioner of Islamic rites and rituals, nevertheless used Islamic and Islamist symbolism extensively both just prior to and after the creation of Pakistan. Except for that one speech of August 11, 1947 where he vaguely referred to secularism, he was not known to have done anything at all in that direction. Gen. Ayub Khan disliked the mullahs and even removed the term 'Islamic' from the name of the nation state simply referring to it as 'Republic of Pakistan'. Of course, all this lasted only a while and soon he turned to Mawdudi for support. Thus a Mawdudi, who had been condemned to death once in Pakistan, was restored to full glory to propagate his poisonous ideas. Similar to Gen. Ayub's was the approach of Gen. Musharraf, another great admirer of Ataturk. He cobbled up the most virulent Sunni Deobandi Islamist political group, the MMA (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal) that was allowed a free run in the volatile NWFP (North Western Frontier Province, now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) during the crucial period of 2002-2008 that enabled the Taliban to entrench themselves there escaping from Afghanistan and demand shariah and almost marching into Islamabad by c. 2008. Thus, this fatal and alternate attraction to nationalism (as exemplified by Ataturk) and jihadi Islamism has been a source of another confusion to Pakistan. This led to great churning within Pakistan and even a determination of 'Who was indeed a Muslim', a question that two Supreme Court judges of Pakistan set forth to answer in c. 1953 after the first anti-Ahmedi riots, but which remains unanswered to this day.

This confusion has not escaped the armed forces also. As the Pakistani Army is the most visible of the three branches of the armed forces, we will see how this confusion affected the PA. Until c. 1971, the PA deceived the nation by claiming manufactured victories in wars and skirmishes with India. But, the 1971 defeat was too massive to be brushed under the carpet. The PA needed a reason that could be believed and swallowed by the masses so that it could escape the ignominy. The masses, who had hitherto had been fed on a diet of cowardly Hindu India which needed 10 soldiers to match even one Pakistani soldier, or how Islam would defeat Hinduism etc. found it hard to digest the massive defeat inflicted on an Islamic nation by a kafir army and that too within a fortnight. They were also looking forward to a credible excuse to salvage the pride. While several reasons were trotted out such as Hindu bania conspiracy, traitorous behaviour of cowardly, short, dark and rice-eating Bengalis, or even the refusal of the US to come to Pakistan's help under various treaties, the nation was convinced by the ulema that Pakistan had been punished for deviating from Islam. The reprieved PA's motto was thus changed from “Unity, Faith and Discipline(Ittehad, Yaqeen aur Tanzeem as coined by Jinnah)” to Iman-Taqwa-Jihad fi sabilillah (Faith, Fear of Allah, Jihad in the way of Allah as coined by Gen. Zia-ul-Haq). The PA was tasked additionally with 'defending the ideological border' and every Prime Minister and President since then has taken pains to reiterate this aspect to both the PA and the Nation. The PA took on board the jihadi terrorists as their 'first line of defence' and also as a tool to 'inflict a thousand cuts to bleed India to death', though the PA had used Islamists in earlier wars as well as in the genocide in East Pakistan. The idea of 'strategic depth' through a pliant Afghanistan government was also conceived and later implemented. The use of jihadi terrorism and strategic depth are now institutionalized and are deeply ingrained and immutable within the PA. Since in Pakistan, the PA 'possesses' the nation rather than the other way around, the narrative set by the PA largely becomes the narrative of the nation and therefore, the national identity became enmeshed with jihadi extremism, and hatred for the Hindu India. The nation was already frothing at the mouth corners against the Jews. After 1965, Pakistani political leaders, starting with Z.A.Bhutto, began to ascribe a villainous role to the Americans even while accepting billions of dollars of aid and a third component was added to the hatred list, the Christians.

The Army believes that they are the defenders of the “Ideological Frontiers of Islam” and they are the “Army of Islam” and so anybody fighting the Pakistani Army was indeed fighting Islam itself. An example would help. At the peak of the Taliban insurgency in May 2008, the Commandant of the Mehsud Scouts appealed to the tribal people thus: "This (Pakistan Army) is the army of Islam. This is the army of Pakistan. But there are forces, which want to divide the army and the tribal people. My soldiers recite the Quran everyday and say prayers five times a day. How can they fight for foreign forces? This Islamic army will guard Islam. How can this army go against Islam or join hands with anti-Islamic forces?"

So, today it is the triad of hatred for the Yahud, Hunud and the Nazara that propels Pakistan. Thus, the efforts of Berelvi and Afghani have finally come to fruition. That is why one says that the efforts of jihadi Islamists from before Pakistan's Independence have succeeded though Pakistan itself was created by the remnant elites of the Mughal empire.

One of the most significant confusions has been, if Pakistan was demanded as a separate nation on the basis of a borderless and seamless Islamic religious identity, then the concept of a nation-state militated against that very basis or vice-versa. The founders of Pakistan were unwilling to allow unlimited migratiion of Muslims from dar-ul-harb of India to the newly-established dar-ul-aman of Islamic Pakistan and finally actually stopped migration in c. 1951. In this, they differ significantly from the Jewish state of Israel even as the Pakistanis proudly claim that they were the only other state founded on solely religious identity. Such confusion manifested itself in every sphere of the State's activity, from Constitution-making, to economic planning to day-to-day governance to political activities etc. While Jinnah and his Muslim League were transfixed on bisecting India to get a Muslim majority nation without taking on the Imperial colonial British power, they paid scant attention to details over how such a nation would be managed. Even when they got an opportunity to govern undivided India along with the Congress in c. 1946, they were more interested in thwarting the government's proposals rather than in gaining experience in governing the nation. After the creation of Pakistan, various competing sets of Islam were thrust upon the people by political and military leaders to perpetuate their own hold on them. For example, Jinnah himself yielded space to fundamentalist Deobandi ulema which ultimately led to the passing of the Objectives Resolution under the weaker leader of Liaquat Ali Khan. Thus it was that Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah prepared the ground for fundamentalism by promising all sorts of things to Deobandi clerics, pirs and the ulema in order to create Pakistan; his successor Liaquat Ali Khan caved in meekly to Deobandi extremism; Gen. Ayub Khan tried to introduce a 'modernist Islam' along the lines of Ataturk which was defeated by Mawdudi's Jama'at-e-Islami (JI) party; Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a feudal to the core, tried to introduce 'Islamic socialism' but without any success; Gen. Zia-ul-Haq enforced a 'literalist Islam' of wahhabi variety quite successfully; Nawaz Sharif was partial to a similar approach and wanted himself to be the 'Amir-ul-Momineen' but was thrown out before he could succeed; and Gen. Musharraf feebly attempted to re-introduce Ataturk's 'modernist Islam' but quickly gave up and allowed the Deobandi and wahhabi clerics to take over the country. It is thus a complete confusion in Pakistan among traditional sufi edition, a modernist enlightened edition, an abbreviated edition of Islamic socialism and a salafi medieval edition of Islam. The fog may be clearing there now with wahhabi, deobandi and salafi versions gaining ascendancy over the Berelvi sufi version.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why does Pakistan behave like this ?

What behaviour, one may ask. That may best be explained by some of the ways Pakistan has been described in recent times, 'international migraine'(Madeline Albright), 'epicentre of terrorism' (Man Mohan Singh), 'a mortal threat'(Hillary Clinton), 'a fire inside its own house'(Pierre Lellouche, French Special Envoy for Af-Pak), "the headquarters of Al Qaeda’s senior leadership"(Gen. David Petraeus), 'main terrorist threat'(Lord Malloch-Brown, Foreign Office Minister for Africa and Asia, UK), 'the biggest source of instability'(Annual Review, IISS), 'a rat hole'(Howard L Berman, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman), 'epicentre of extremism'(Senator John F Kerry, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee), 'epicenter of global terror'(Country Report on terrorism, 2009, US State Department), '[hosting] more terrorists per square mile than any place else on earth'(Bruce Riedel), 'Wal-mart of proliferation' (El Baradei) etc.

And, yet, Pakistanis are not perturbed in the least by such epithets, adjectives and descriptions. They dismiss all these with a wave of their hand, as simply motivated attempts by infidels to run down the only Muslim country with nuclear weapons. Pakistanis are more concerned by the 'image' of honour and dignity rather than by real honour and dignity which unfortunately lies in tatters. Something is etched, imprinted deep in their minds and they are resolutely unwilling to shake it off or erase that and move on with times, redefining their goals and strategies. Why should they go to such extraordinary lengths of even placing the future of their nation in great peril ? At every crisis, they end up creating a bigger crisis for themselves, for their neighbours and the world at large because they resolutely cling to their false and manufactures pre-Independence theories and myths. They simply refuse to see the writing on the wall. Why should a nation be so irresponsible to itself and the rest of humanity ?

With great perspicacity, a former Spanish ambassador to Pakistan is said to have made this statement, in the 1960s, “. . . this country [Pakistan] will drift from crisis to calamity, from calamity to catastrophe, and from catastrophe to disaster.” While I derive no schadenfraude from what is happening in Pakistan today, one cannot but admire Perico, Duke of Amalfi, for his ability to look far ahead and so early too.

Pakistan has gone through a tortuous course since its Independence and almost all of that is its own making. Military coups, economic meltdowns, superpower playground, terrorism, fundamentalism, Islamic sectarianism, wars, secession, genocide, duplicity, fraud . . . you name it and Pakistan has done it all or is continuing to do them all with no signs of any abatement, in the span of six-and-a-half decades. What ails this country and why is it unable to unshackle itself from these vicious things that immobilize Pakistan from behaving like a normal nation state ?

In the context of the 'enduring hostility' between India-Pakistan (which should be more appropriately called, 'enduring-one-way-rivalry-with-India-by-Pakistan'), Pakistan went to war with India in 1947, 1948, 1965, 1971 (Western front) and 1999. In 1947, they could not achieve their goal of walking into Kashmir on October 26 to celebrate the Eid. In 1965, India went almost up to the outskirts of Lahore. In 1971, they lost more than half their nation within a fortnight and India took 93,000 PoWs (Prisoners of War). In 1999, they had to seek American intervention to extricate themselves after suffering massive casualty that even led to revolts in some places within Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). So, what did they learn from these various wars and defeats ? Nothing, would be the only answer. A revisionist Pakistan, instead of re-aligning its goals vis-a-vis the status-quo power India, decided to simply do more of the ruinous same after every calamitous outing. More money was therefore spent for the military at the direct cost of the welfare of the people of the impoverished country.

The policymakers of Pakistan realized quite early that Pakistan could not defeat India militarily and hence went in for military pacts with other powers to achieve their irredentist dreams against India. This brought Cold War to the Indian subcontinent in the 50s. The devastating 1971 defeat taught the Pakistanis to go in for nuclear weapons even if the people were 'to eat grass', and employ jihadi terrorism as an instrument of state policy. The 'secret jihad' that Pakistan has been waging against the Indian state since c. 1947, got further impetus after the US set up the Bear Trap for the Soviets in Afghanistan with Pakistani assistance in c. 1979. The mujahideen tanzeems and their tactics were transferred to the eastern front of Pakistan after c. 1989. The euphoria that followed this event made even a moderate leader like Ms. Benazir Bhutto thunder “Azadi, Azadi, Goli chalao” (Freedom, Freedom, Shoot) in a public meeting in Muzzafarabad (POK). The 1999 defeat taught Pakistan to give a lot more support to terrorism against India using non-state actors, to subvert a growing Indian economy through fake Indian curreny notes (FICN) etc. The new CEO of Pakistan Gen. Musharraf, who came via a military coup, said in Muzzafarabad on February 5, 2000 that jihad had decisively shifted from Afghanistan to Kashmir. What he meant was probably the whole of India, not Kashmir alone, because it was in his regime that too many audacious terrorist attacks were mounted on various cities of India by the ISI. After the events surrounding 9/11, the Pakistani Army and its notorious intelligence agency, the ISI, have even given up all pretensions to their earlier policy of 'plausible deniability' and have been openly involved in supporting the terror activities against India by the various jihadi tanzeems. Thus, the French proverb Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (The more it changes, the more it remains the same) fits the Pakistani situation exceedingly well.

While it will be too difficult to find a single silver bullet or even possibly several of them for such incredulous behaviour by Pakistan, one must look deep into the background to the creation of Pakistan itself to partially understand today's events.

By the turn of the Twentieth Century, the Muslims were acutely aware of the fact that they had seen better days and their glory was on the wane irrecoverably. The previous two centuries had seen the European powers like Great Britain, Russia, and France vanquish Muslim rulers in India, Central Asia and parts of North Africa respectively. By early Twentieth Century, the Ottoman Empire was disintegrating. Muslims all over the world, and especially in India, were introspecting and came to the conclusion that their misfortune was because of moving away from Islam. In India, Emperor Akbar’s accommodation of Hindu philosophy had already raised the ire of the fundamentalists. The backlash came swiftly in the form of his successor Emperor Aurangazeb who implemented a strict form of Islam and treated the Hindus as dhimmi. Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi, who was a religious teacher of Aurangazeb, ensured fundamentalist ideas were firmly entrenched in governance. This later led to the emergence of such hardcore fundamentalists as Sheikh Waliullah and Ahmed Berelvi who took his volunteers to Afghanistan border to fight the British and the Sikh kings, in an act reminiscent of Prophet Muhammad’s hijra from Makkah to Medinah. The Afghan borders have never been the same after this emigration by Ahmed Berelvi. While some Muslims raged at their impotence to fight the British, others plotted to regain power through an association with the British. The Indian muslims were thus divided into two groups. The First War of Independence in c. 1857 by Indian soldiers (in fact, many would say that the First War of Independence was in c. 1807 when sepoys mutineed in the Vellore Fort) under the flag of the Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar and the ruthless manner it was put down followed by his deportation to Burma where he died eventually unsung, created revulsion in the minds of Indian Muslims. Later in c. 1915, a Deobandi cleric Ubaidullah Sindhi was sent to Afghanistan to contact the Turkish and German missions there and organize an uprising against the British in India. However, the Afghan King, Habibullah Khan, the son of the founder of modern Afghanistan Abd-ur-Rehman, refused to allow any anti-British plots from the Afghan soil. In c. 1920, when the Khilafat Movement in India was at its peak, several thousand Indian Muslims wanted to emigrate from the British-ruled Dar-ul-Harb to Muslim-ruled Afghanistan of Dar-ul-Aman but this time too, the Afghan Government, led by Amir Amanuallah Khan, son of Habibullah Khan, turned them back.

The Berelvi (also known as Ahl-e-Sunnat) influence in Pakistan was widespread in 1947. Slowly, that influence was overtaken by Deobandi and later Wahhabi interests. The Deobandi influence began to wax when the Deobandi clerics overwhelmed Liaquat Ali Khan and succeeded in passing the Objectives Resolution (‘Qarardad-e-Maqasid’) in the Pakistani Constituent Assembly in c. 1949. The Wahhabi influence began to wax when the Saudi oil money began to play an important role in Pakistan consequent to the Afghan jihad.

(To be Continued . . .)