Pakistan is in a strange situation. On one side, its citizens are seeing their country move rapidly towards abyss, and on the other side, they – despite their opposition – cannot (or will not, at least completely) back the banishment and complete destruction of the Jehadi system. Jehad is not the product of some people, but a system. And this system is sustained by the mindset and an ethos. Unless the Jehadi system is tackled, the run to the abyss of self destruction cannot be halted for Pakistan.
BRICS Declaration and Chinese Slap
In the recently concluded BRICS summit, thanks to some deft diplomacy of Modi-Doval combine, China had to fall in line with India’s call to isolate Pakistan and the Jehadi organizations in that country. This is what the declaration said:
“We, in this regard, express concern on the security situation in the region and violence caused by the Taliban, ISIL/DAISH, Al-Qaida and its affiliates including Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement, Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, TTP and Hizb ut-Tahrir.”
China signed on to this declaration which named clearly the organizations residing and located within Pakistan! Something that China was loathe to do earlier.
Post this, even Khwaja Asif, the Pakistan Foreign Minister called for some reality check within his own country.
During an appearance at Geo News channel, he admitted that outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are operating from their soil. According to an India Todayreport, Asif said, “we should impose some restrictions on the activities of the elements like LeT and JeM, so that we can show the global community that we have put our house in order.”
But there are many forces within Pakistan, who don’t see this slap from BRICS – and signing on by China – as anything bad or even worth noting! The Defense Minister had a very different take from the Pakistani Foreign Minister:
“We reject the declaration (released by member countries) at the BRICS Summit,” Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir said during a meeting of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence.
Dastgir claimed that Pakistan has no “safe haven” for terrorists on its soil.
Note the same always repeated lie of “no safe haven” when we all know that Hafeez Saeed has launched his own political party – to “make Pakistan a real Islamic State”!
So who is Dastgir kidding really?
China, on the other hand, is now trying to balance things out with its “friend” (or is it vassal state?) Pakistan by saying things like – Pakistan does not get “full credit” for its efforts to battle terrorism by “some countries”.
Of course, recently Donald Trump has made his intentions to be tough on Pakistan very clear! He has asked Pakistan to “do more on terror”, which hasn’t gone down well in Pakistan.
In a stern speech Aug. 21, the U.S. president laid out a new militarized policy for the region, saying he would send more American troops to Afghanistan and insisting that Pakistan must “do more” to rein in Islamist militants or face possible sanctions, such as cutting aid or revoking its status as a major non-NATO ally.
Now, the Trump administration has also shut down Habib Bank’s NY offices and slapped a fine for its involvement in terror financing. Habib Bank is Pakistan’s largest bank!
In another jolt to Pakistan, the US has shut down the country’s largest lender Habib Bank’s operations in New York and slapped a fine of $225 million for its failure to comply with laws aimed to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other illicit financial transactions.
So, naturally a sense of isolation is seeping in within the society in general. The world knows and it is not happy about the terrorism from Pakistan! Watch this panel discussion on Pakistani TV.
In this scenario, I have noticed in the past few years at least, a raising of voice by many concerned citizens in Pakistan, who are asking uncomfortable questions. These voices are those who can see what is wrong, and are getting the consequences correct as well. They know that any more pussy-footing on part of citizenry and the state machinery in terms of Jehad and terrorism and Islamist ideology can only spell doom.
Is it “Islam vs Pakistan”?
I aver that they are still falling short. And they know that as well. My view is that the very fight between these few – though increasing – voices and the Jehadi system (which includes state and non-state actors working in tandem) is a skewed fight. For, the fight is between Islam and Pakistan.
As absurd as this suggestion may seem, the people on the two sides of the divide have very familiar arguments. On one side are these fresh (and increasingly strong) voices who argue that they want their country to be strong, and it wouldn’t be so, unless the entire economy is strong etc. I call them Nationalists. They are for a strong Pakistan.
On the other side are those who maintain, sustain and grow the Jehadi system. They argue along the beaten down lines of how Islam and Muslims are in danger and how it is an affront to Islam that the world is ganging up against it by blaming Muslims. I call them Islamists. They are for a strong Islamic Ummah (Pan-Islamic “Nation”).
By a quirk of its own inherent nature and structural history, Pakistan’s survival and Islam’s thriving are inversely related. If the Jehadi system, which hopes to unleash Islam in its purest form – imagined or otherwise from centuries way past – succeed, Pakistan – with its progressive populace and society – will have to be dismantled. A Pakistan with modern and westernized citizenry overrun and governed by a Jehadi System is not a possibility. They are contradiction.
I know many will say, that the Islam of Jehadi System is not Islam. In the grand scheme of things, however romantic and politically correct that argument may sound, it is irrelevant. There is no alternative articulation/authority of Islam which can posit an Islam which can possibly save Pakistan or any progressive country (Malaysia/Turkey).
A Muslim country can remain progressive, as long as it doesn’t follow Islamic dictats as per Sharia or it remains rooted in the pre-Islamic local culture. Malaysia and Indonesia are two good examples.
Jehadi system: What is it?
Jehadi System, is an important thing to understand. Jehadi system is not just defined by the suicide bomber who goes and kills or maims hundreds, but those who then try and isolate him from the larger societal ethos, to suggest that he is a quirk as opposed to being a product of that ethos.
If Kasab, an illiterate and poor kid, was taken from obscurity and pinned on the world stage as the devil who cold-bloodedly killed scores without any remorse, then he carries the ethos of the society which made him. Even those who are moderates and who argue that he is “a minority” (euphemism for being a “quirk of the system”, an aberration) – are quiet but strong sponsorers of that Jehadi system. The Jehadi system formulated and created by the Islamists stands on the shoulders – unbeknownst to them – of such apologists.
To clearly witness the dichotomy, one should seriously view the videos at the end of the post. The two sides – knowingly brought, but not labelled as such – argue along consistent lines.
Is soul searching going on in Pakistan? Yes. Most definitely. Every program you see coming out from there, although has strong elements of the popular articulations of the Jehadi System, also provides the stage to the people who “lay it out” pretty clearly.
People like Hassan Nisar, Imtiaz Alam, Marvi Sirmed, Ali Chisti, Pervez Hoodbhoy and Raza Rumi among many others are not shy of taking on the beast of Jehadi System. They are spear-heading the “Soul searching”.
And, their efforts are not in vain. Many more people are joining their point of view and trying to look at things openly.
Will they be able to save the “run to the abyss”? I hope they do. But my personal conviction is that they cannot because the battle is so screwed up. When Islamic Republic of Pakistan fights Islamists – the latter will always exploit the former’s hesitation to take on the Islamic element on the latter. The motivation of the latter group cannot be put down unequivocally. It will be an opportunistic fight. As long as one is arguing larger worldly issues, they will be against the Islamists, but as soon as the battle shifts on the very character and ethos of Islam and a society based – rather driven – by Islam, they will have to bow down.
I am not saying that they are dishonest or they aren’t serious about what they are doing. Quite the contrary. What they are doing is Herculean! Yet, they have an internal contradiction of purpose and ethos in their own journey, not perhaps completely appreciated or at least dealt with by them.
Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb
I have often said that the real battle within Islam has been between Dara Shikoh and Aurangzeb. Dara Shikoh was the elder brother of Aurangzeb. He was one of the first ones (probably the first) to have translated Vedas and Upanishads into Persian. He was a Spiritual Master in his own right, as per many. Aurangzeb was brought upon Islamist based ethos. He eventually usurped the thrown from his elder brother, killed him and unleashed a reign of mindless bloodshed and killings.
In Islamic world, Dara Shikoh has never won. Over the years, he has dared to raise his head but has been killed. And in his daring act, the worst he did was to point to the Aurangzeb and say, that wasn’t the correct Islam. That was enough. He didn’t even repudiate Islam. He merely tried a little to put it in the company of other beliefs / faiths.
Buddha didn’t care about the existing belief systems. Neither did Nanak. But as long as their own ways yielded great spiritual results, that was fine by the existing believers of Hinduism. In fact, many Hindus consider Buddha to be the 10th Avatar of Vishnu. Such is his greatness.
That element is what is needed is an Islamic society. Can any Dara Shikoh, EVER go further than the original and do a Buddha?
Unless a Buddha happens in Pakistan and not just happens, but is allowed to live and thrive – above all, worshipped – until then, Pakistan has no future from the onslaught of Islam. Islam will eat the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It is a reality waiting to happen.
Updated Article – Originally Published on: May 16, 2012