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Showing posts from July, 2007

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part XIII)

Jawaharlal Nehru died in 1964. Soon after his death, elements in Pakistan tried to start an uprising in Indian-held Kashmir by sending in infiltrators in 1965. ‘Operation Gibraltar’, as it was known, failed miserably because there was no assistance for these Pakistani infiltrators from the local population in Kashmir. The Indian army crushed the infiltrators and then launched a war against Pakistan. Religious symbolism and calls for jihad were used by the Pakistani military. When India launched its offensive, in his address to the nation, General Ayub said, “…The 100 million people of Pakistan whose hearts beat with the sound of ‘La ilaha illallah, Mohammad-ur-Rasool-ullah’ [There is no God but Allah and Mohammad (PBUH) is His messenger] will not rest till India’s guns are silenced” (Jafri, Rais Ahmad, Ayub: Soldier and Statesman, Lahore: Mohammad Ali Academy, 1966, p. 139).

The official media led the public into believing that Pakistan was doing well against the ‘enemy’, but when Gene…

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part XII)

It is interesting to note that in the US Department of State policy statement on Pakistan on July 1, 1951, the US had made it clear that “[a]part from Communism, the other main threat to American interests in Pakistan was from ‘reactionary groups of landholders and uneducated religious leaders’ who were opposed to the ‘present Western-minded government’ and ‘favour[ed] a return to primitive Islamic principles” (Jalal, Ayesha, The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan’s Political Economy of Defence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 127).

The reason why Pakistan is still in search of genuine democracy is because of the religion factor. “Building a democracy in a country devoted to religious tradition has been a problem in numerous states. The founding fathers of the US constitutional system acknowledged the problem in 18th-century Europe and it was their judgement that only by a strict separation of church from state was democracy attainable” (Ziring, Lawrence, Pakistan…

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part XI)

The rising strength of the mullahs perturbed the Socialist forces in Pakistan. Renowned leftist Mian Iftikharuddin’s newspaper, Imroze, voiced a dissenting note against this and asked if it was not time that a democratic system should be established in Pakistan. It was argued in the same newspaper that since Islam does not allow exploitation of the peasantry, shouldn’t capitalism’s and feudalism’s undemocratic values be reformed? This raised alarm bells for the Pakistani elite and Islamist forces. The communist movement, led by the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP), was now being perceived as a grave threat to the overall imperialistic culture prevalent in Pakistan, especially in Punjab. Since the movement asked for the rights of the peasantry, the feudal lords felt threatened by it and the mullahs denounced the Communists due to their non-religious views. The Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case – an unsuccessful attempt at a coup by anti-imperialist forces within the army in 1951 – gave the g…

Religious extremism in Pakistan (Part X)

There were only a handful of politicians who were committed to working for the new country with the aim of setting it on the road to a democratic polity. The rest were all feudal lords who had joined the Muslim League with the aim of preserving their exploitative reign of power when it became clear that a new Muslim state was in the making. They became part of the Pakistan Movement so that when the new state emerges, they could retain their original position of power and prestige, or even get more power. After Jinnah’s death, instead of trying to bring some semblance of stability to the new country by drafting a Constitution, these lemming-like creatures called ‘politicians’ tried to delay it as much as they possibly could. And after 18 months, all the Constituent Assembly had come up with was a half-concocted, “vaguely worded Objectives Resolution, which was contradictory in itself” (Zulfiqar Khalid Maluka, The Myth of Constitutionalism in Pakistan, p.77).

“The ulema (religious schola…