The Confused religious mind

Confused minds

TAHIR ALI

(Business Recorder, June 02 2010):

In their effort to avoid taking clear line on the issue of terrorism in the country, the religious/rightwing parties in Pakistan are making statements that not only reveal the superficiality of their thoughts, but also speak of their confused minds.

With their self-contradictory statements on terrorist incidents in the country, they are not only confusing themselves but are also creating confusion in the country. On the one hand, they accuse Mossad, RAW, CIA and Black Water – the Israeli, Indian and American spy agencies – of carrying out the terrorist incidents and thereby absolving the extremists of any blame. On the other, almost simultaneously, they attribute suicide attacks, bomb blasts and the rise thereof to Pakistan’s pro-US ‘flawed’ foreign policy

“It is Pakistan’s support to the US and its allies that has brought about terrorism in Pakistan. If Pakistan exits the coalition and distances itself from the US, there will be no terrorism in the country,” they argue.

This clearly means that the actual culprits, as per their own confession, are not the foreign hands but the local extremists who, being unhappy over the pro-West Pakistani foreign policy, are attacking the ‘allies of the infidels’.

Yet some of them, mostly in private conversations, even allege that terrorists are being used as puppets by ‘agencies’ and supported to create conducive atmosphere for more military operations, to malign the Islamists and earn dollars.

Terrorism can either be the work of foreign agencies or is committed by extremists who are unhappy with the foreign policy. It cannot be two things at the same time. If it is the work of the former, there should be no reason to attribute rise of terrorism to our alliance with the West and to suggest withdrawal from the coalition as the pre-requisite for peace in the region. And if it is committed by the extremists for their rage against alliance with the US, the ‘foreign hand and local ‘agencies’ get automatically cleared.

They probably fail to comprehend that if terrorism is the handiwork of foreign powers, as they allege, and Pakistan comes out of their alliance, as they suggest, the powerful foreign agencies, being annoyed, might make things even worse for Pakistanis. The argument demands that to save itself from more terrorism, ‘funded and organised’ by the foreign hand as they allege, Pakistan should toe the line of the US-led alliance more.

Being exponents of democracy and legal and peaceful means for achieving political goals, they can’t support the extremists who are fighting these values. But they are so ambiguous in their parlance that you can’t be sure about their position. While they criticise the government, it is not clear whether they support the extremists or oppose them.

Even if, as they say, Pakistan’s alliance with the West is the only reason for terrorism in Pakistan, does this justify the strategy adopted by the extremists? They have yet to declare unequivocally as to whether the TTP’s strategy is just and Islamic or otherwise.

Again, they are silent on that whether the extremists would first have to surrender themselves to the state authority before any dialogue takes place or it is only the government that will have to capitulate to the extremists.

Their policy vis-à-vis the army action is also characterised by ambiguity. They are against the army action and urge that dialogue with the militants is the only viable option to tackle the problem.

The call for dialogue with militants seems unwarranted when viewed in the backdrop of their assertion that terrorists are being used as ‘pawns’ by ‘agencies’ and also unrealistic as dialogue has been a miserable failure in the past. But there are conflicting signals on this issue. On the one hand, they continue their rhetoric against the army action and, on the other, it was none other than a religio-political leader, who had warned of an imminent fall of Islamabad when he said that Taliban were just 70kms away from Islamabad after they had intruded into Buner. What that practically meant was that the Taliban were at the threshold of Islamabad and about to capture it, the government, in his opinion, was in slumber and not alert to the threat. Hence, by his statement, he wanted to make it realise the gravity of the situation, wake up and thwart their movement. How on earth could he oppose the military operation later when it was started as per his argument?

Religious parties are caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, out of political compulsions, they have to be part of the governments that have pro-America credentials, and on the other, they have to maintain anti-US rhetoric to please, control and increase the religious voters. They talked of democracy and tolerance but simultaneously attacked New Year nights, signboards displaying female models, cinema houses, and music functions. They also ran Jihadi training centres and held Jihadi conventions, picture/video conferences that lured youngsters to Jihad in Afghanistan, Kashmir and even beyond. One may recall that the Qazi Husain Ahmad-led JI was especially vocal on Jihadi concepts and invited Chechen, Kashmiri, Afghani, Arakani and leaders of other militant outfits. Some religious parties actively campaigned against internet, cable network, pictures, NGOs and other modern manifestations, but are now silent on these fronts. They talked of turning the CM, governor and PM houses into museum and universities and making mosques the centres of authority but then gave up the ideas as impractical. They were vocal against ‘Western’ education, but then it were they who spearheaded the ‘Westernisation’ and privatisation of education. They were against women rule and politics, but then had to make an alliance with Benazir Bhutto and now most have their women members of parliament and women wings of their parties. They agitated against the Nato supply trucks through Pakistan but only when they left power corridors in the Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Balochistan. It had continued un-hindered during their tenure.

While the founder president of JI Maulana Maudoodi may have no charm for most of the liberals, the fact is that private Jihad had simply no place in his philosophy. He had even outlawed ‘Jihad’ in Kashmir in 1948, for Pakistani had allegedly infiltrated private fighters without formal declaration of war. Had he been alive, he certainly would not have allowed JI opting for militancy in Kashmir, Afghanistan and other places.

(The writer is a freelance columnist and educationist) (tahir_katlang@yahoo.com)

 



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About Tahir Ali Khan
I am an academic, freelance columnist, writer and a social worker.

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