Clerics in Musharraf Trap Another lesson to learn

SOROOR AHMED says that beleaguered Musharraf, at war with Chief Justice, is successfully improving his image by long drawn conflict with simplistic clerics of Lal Masjid, who at will can be eliminated as sitting ducks. He laments that they do not know

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SOROOR AHMED says that beleaguered Musharraf, at war with Chief Justice, is successfully improving his image by long drawn conflict with simplistic clerics of Lal Masjid, who at will can be eliminated as sitting ducks. He laments that they do not know

Fools rush where angels fear to tread. And there is no dearth of fools in our rank and file. Without giving a thought to the consequences they rush to the trap laid down by their enemies, only to weaken the community and tarnishing the image of Islam further.
In the latest such incident a couple of politically naïve, ignorant and short-sighted clerics – Abdul Aziz and Abdur Rasheed Ghazi – fell into perfectly planned and executed trap of Musharraf. Not only they fell into the hands of police the whole exercise led to the killing of a large number of innocent young boys and girls, who got holed up inside the Lal Masjid for the last so many months.
The tragedy is that all this happened in the name of Islam, the faith which never allows a mosque to be converted into a battlefield in such a bizarre way.
Juda ho deen siyasat se to rah jati hai Changezi (Faith divorced from political wisdom is nothing but barbarism of Changiz Khan). The tragedy is that clerics like the two brothers and many others have failed to fathom as to what Allama Iqbal meant by the political wisdom and wittingly or unwittingly they end up indulging in barbarism.
It is unfortunate that these clerics never understand the much greater designs of the enemy. Whenever any terrorist act takes place in Pakistan or elsewhere western writers and journalists – and even some of their Muslim counterparts – start linking it with the Afghan War of 1980-88. Pakistan is paying the price for its involvement in that war against Soviet Union, they would propagate. The irony is that the West was at the back of Pakistan at the time of that eight years of struggle which led to the killing of about 1.3 million Afghans, besides thousands of Soviet forces. The Soviet Union got dismembered and no more remained a Communist state. Subsequently Communism collapsed in East Europe.
Linking all that is happening today with the Afghan  War amounts to oversimplification of history – a travesty of facts. The Soviet plan was simple. After Afghanistan it wanted to annex Baluchistan to reach the warm waters of Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean so that they could have a hold over the Middle East theatre, then and even now, the monopoly of the United States. Pakistan was then bound to fight that war for its survival, though the Left-leaning and the so-called progressive elements in the media and establishment in that country opposed their government’s involvement in that resistance. As the war strategically suited the United States it, in the later part, provided some material help for those involved in it. Though throughout the War the United States denied its involvement just after the withdrawal of the Soviet forces the Americans were the first to take the credit and deny Zia and Mujahideen the real credit.
The tragedy is that the Afghan War ended in 1988 and things were about to settle down when the United States got rid of General Zia as it wanted to keep the pot boiling. With nobody around in the subsequent chaos the US tried to fully capitalize this situation. The truth is that US played only secondary role in that war and lost not a single soldier – it only provided some material help to the Pakistanis and the Afghan warriors.
The Mujahideen – not all were really Islamists, but just Afghan nationalists – lacked political acumen and the US exploited this situation to its maximum advantage. The tussle for power sharing among different factions further aggravated the situation.
By early 1990s the scene changed completely. Zia was gone long back and Pakistan was in the hands of Benazir (twice), Nawaz Sharif and subsequently in the hands of Musharraf. It is ironical that the phenomenon of exporting Islam started in 1990s when these three corrupt personalities were in power or were calling the shots. They have nothing to do with Islam and they just wanted to get rid of the potential danger – the overzealous enthusiastic Islamic-minded youths. Though most of them might have been dedicated and honest people they lacked political foresight.
How can whisky-loving Musharraf be the hero of Islamic ‘Jehad’ in Kargil, as he tried to project himself?
The rigged election in Jammu and Kashmir already created a sense of alienation among the youths of the Valley in late 1980s. The un-Islamic leadership of Pakistan fully capitalized this situation in its favour. The secret agencies swung into action and gathered enthusiastic young boys of their country in the name of Islam and pushed them across the border. Till then India had its own quota of, militants in Kashmir. The purpose of the Pakistani establishment was not to create an Islamic state in Kashmir, but to get rid of the Islamists, push them out of their own country and encourage them to fight external battles.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, was a bit easy case as a large number of Taliban used to live and study in the madarsas in the bordering areas. With little support from Pakistan they easily captured power in Kabul and enforced Islam in that country. It needs to be mentioned that General Nasruallah Babur, who claimed credit for the installation of Taleban in Afghanistan on September 27, 1996, was also known as ‘the butcher of Karachi’ for his crackdown there. He was the home minister under Benazir government then. And Benazir’s ‘love’ for Islam is known to all. The irony is that in all these years none of these neo-jehadis of 1990s ever called for or worked for the overthrow of their own corrupt and un-Islamic regimes.
After 9/11 another such attempt was made to clear the country of the Islamists––some of them were really ignorant, but overzealous young lot. When the Americans started bombing Afghanistan on October 8, 2001 the ISI secretly encouraged thousands of young Pakistanis to cross over and fight against the Americans with mere Kalashnikovs in hand, though the country’s establishment was well aware that these people would get killed in the aerial bombardment. The purpose once again was to get rid of all of them.
The case of Lal Mashid and adjoining Jamia Fareedia and Jamia Hafsa is more or less similar. It all started in January when the Musharraf government ordered the demolition of several mosques and madarsas, including this one in Islamabad, on the plea that they have encroached the government land. Besides, it was alleged that they were the hideouts of terrorists.
Getting rid of terrorists from Lal Masjid was no big deal. The army could have cordoned off and laid siege for days compelling the clerics and students to surrender. But it seems that the intelligence people in Pakistan deliberately played a dirty game.
Devoid of any political sense the clerics were carried away by overzealousness and started threatening the establishment. The agencies befriended some of the clerics and students of the madrasa and helped them smuggle Kalashnikovs and some other weapons. The clerics never understood the plan.
According to Abdul Aziz the chief cleric, who was later caught while escaping in burqa, there were around 15 Kalashnikovs inside the mosque-madrasa complex. If it is true then how he dared to challenge the five lakh strong Pakistani army?
Musharraf ordered the crackdown just when he was getting cornered on the issue of removal of the Supreme Court chief justice, Chaudhary Iftikhar. The timing suited him further as some youth unsuccessfully tried to trigger blasts in Great Britain.
That there is something seriously wrong in the whole operation can be gauged from the statement of none else but the President of ruling Pakistan Muslim League, Chaudhary Shujaat Husain, who accused some officials of sabotaging the talks between the government and clerics of the mosque. There are also reports of serious infighting within the intelligence agencies over this issue.