This is a thoughtful guest contribution for publication here at the Pak Tea House. We may not agree with all the arguments presented but this could be an excellent vehicle for engendering debate on these issues. (Ed. Raza Rumi)
Bradistan Calling is a proud Pakistani in Bradford, West Yorkshire (Little Pakistan).
In order to understand the development of Islamic theocracy in Pakistan, we have to understand the different political forces present in pre partition North West India. It is prudent to restrict the analysis to right wing Muslim parties as, regardless of their stance on independent Pakistan; in post partition political spectrum ring wing became the mainstream. The left wing parties (nationalist and communists alike) were pushed to margins either banned from elections or went into collective involuntary underground to escape persecution and torture of their cadre by American backed civil and military dictatorships of the elite.
Pakistani left wing consisted of Muslim cadre of communist party of India, red shirt pushtun of afghan and Pakistani tribal North West frontier headed by “frontier Gandhi” Ghaffar khan a close ally of MK Gandhi of India.
Muslim right wing had three distinct groups:
Unionists: this was a lose grouping of Muslim feudal elite loyal to British crown.Post partition unionists amalgamated with Muslim league. Smaller grouping of Shia, ismaili and ahmediya Muslims from princely states of north India were associated with ML but in later decades they formed their separate religious entities.
Muslim league: a party formed in 1906 by Muslim nobility to counter the Hindu influence of Indian national congress of Gandhi. ML changed its stance from loyalist to separate homeland for Muslims in North West of India in1940s. ML was headed by MA Jinnah a British educated and whisky drinking secular ismaili Muslim barrister, although its worth pointing out that Jinnah was the defense counsel for a Punjabi Muslim fanatic ailmuddin who killed the Hindu publisher rajpal for publishing the biography of prophet Muhammad probably Jinnah wanted to use the sentiments of common Muslims for his religion-political cause of Muslim separatism in British India.
These parties were different in their character from Muslim nationalist leaders in congress who advocated for a secular united India. Jamal Islami (JI) and Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) were and still are the biggest Islamist parties in Pakistan. Pre partition they advocated pan Islamic caliphate of all countries under colonial rule. Labeling Pakistan as kafiristan and Jinnah kafir azam (great infidel). Post independence they captured the main ideological ground in the name of defending Islamic identity and statehood of country of pure (Pakistan in Persian language). Abu Ala Mududi the head of Jamat Islami was a theologian and ideologue not just for Indian Muslims but had strong influence and links with Egyptian Muslim brotherhood and salafi whaabi dynasty of al-Saud in Arabia, which helped jihad financially and in manpower in later history of Pakistan and Afghanistan. JUI had and still runs the biggest network of madrasah seminaries for Taliban (student in Arabic) in Pakistan .the main patrons of JUI were Saudi Arabia Libya and Iraq.
The history of shariah in Pakistan
1947 the independence of India was stained with blood and rape of millions of refugees trying to reach Muslim Pakistan or Hindu India. Gangs of Muslim and Hindu and Sikh fanatics killed and raped their own neighbours.
1948 saw the outbreak of Kashmir war, when Jinnah frustrated by non obedience of English officers order the fanatical pushtun tribesmen from Waziristan and Khyber to take Kashmir in the name of Islam, sadly Jinnah died of T.B without completing the Jihad. 1949 Pakistan legislative assembly amended the 1935 interim constitution to include Koran and Sunnah of prophet as the supreme law.
1951 saw the killing of the first prime minister in Rawalpindi at the hands of one of the tribesmen. Military officers, newspaper editors, communist leaders and frontier Gandhi were imprisoned and charged with treason, in order to curtail the politics of leftwing. Martial law was imposed in city of Lahore after the torture of followers of ahmadiyya (who believed in 19th century prophet Mahdi Messiah).
1950s was a period of disenfranchising the majority province of east Bengal where leftwing Hindu middleclass was 15% of the population and a Muslim cleric mullah bashahni was the head of political alliance of communists and Maoist peasants. The ruling elite was afraid of the majority. The martial law of Sandhurst educated dictator field marshal Ayub khan (the poster boy for American administrations in cold war era) banned independent newspapers and put left leaning politicians in jail and many communist sympathisers like hasan nasir were killed in torture cells of Lahore fort while the Islamists were free to preach and practice whatever they wanted.
Under pressure from Kennedy/Johnson administrations ayub khan introduced reforms in family laws of Muslim personal code, making it necessary for husband to seek written permission for a second marriage from the first wife. Women could sue for divorce and family inheritance in civil courts. Family planning was allowed. US aid was used to open girl’s schools in rural areas. All this infuriated the clergy.
The proverbial last nail in the coffin was the presidential election of 1965, local government councilors were supposed to vote for president ayub khan without any serious challenge. The left and the secular parties in East and West Pakistan nominated Fatima Jinnah, a spinster elderly sister of late Jinnah, as a consensus compromise candidate because she had popular support. The mullahs declared woman candidate for presidency un-Islamic.
In referendums involving sitting military dictators, like Zia ulhaq in 1984 or musharaf in 2002 and 2007, vote rigging and horse-trading of the turncoat members are used to turn a unfavourable electorate into a best possible result. There was a massive protest but, like 1984 siachen and 1999 kargil operations, military started a misadventure in Kashmir to divert the attention.
September 1965 war left economy in total collapse and military in ruin. American help was at hand, but economic aid, much like the 1980s afghan jihad and 9/11 war on terror package, was directed at the industrial and feudal families rather then the poor. The Poor got “low grade” Mexican Corn (Folklore still remembers as “too hard to chew”), and donkey(a symbol of stupidity) carts with American flags in their necks. These dictators (Ayub, Zia and Musharaf) and their cronies are scornfully known in street lexicon as “Ali Baba and forty thieves”. Every major crisis since then (be that burning of Al Aqsa mosque, siege of Mecca by militants or satanic verses and Danish Cartoons, and 2008 releasing soon Dutch films on Islam and American novel on child bride of Muhammad) mobs charged with religious zeal always burn symbols of America (American Cultural Centres, Citi Bank, KFCs and McDonalds) in Pakistan. 1960s was a time of war in Vietnam, Socialist marches in European capitals while in American the civil rights movement was making big strides under the leadership of martin Luther king. Students, felt that they can take on the Mullahs and the Military, brought the country to a standstill.
The Great Game:
Politicians were divided on geographic/ethnic lines. Punjabis were led by charismatic Sindhi feudal zulfikar Ali Bhutto, educated in Eton oxford and Berkeley. Bhutto had invented the slogans of Islamic socialism and food shelter and clothing for all citizens. In Bengal mujeeb rehman an ex socialist was leading a campaign of autonomy from the feudal/bureaucratic structures of Pakistan. Parting shot of dictators is usually an autobiography (“friends, not masters” by Ayub, “In the line of fire” by musharaf, sadly Zia exploded before/due to “a case of exploding mangoes” ghost written by Muhammad Hanif 2008) lamenting the abortion of their “true” legacy for greater Pakistan. Election resulted in majority Bengali parliament. The Punjabi army killed and raped thousands in Bengal. In December 1971 India invaded to strike a humiliating defeat and Bangladesh declared independence. Bhutto became the leader of remaining Pakistan.
1970s saw the nationalization of industries and piece meal reforms. In 1973 Bhutto gave Pakistan its first consensus democratic constitution. compromises made with feudals and Islamists in cities (among small traders and armed student wing JI)forcibly marginalised the silent majority.
Islamisation measures initiated by Bhutto (secular, whisky loving, and playboy) were supported by Saudi Arabian king Faisal’s generous visa policy for Pakistani labourers and military personnel who wanted to earn quick petro-dollars. Friday was declared weekly holiday, Sale/purchase of alcohol was banned to Muslims and restricted to Christian and Hindus via government permit only.Hotels with casinos clubs and discotheques were shut down.
The Law that declared ahmadiyya (sect of muslim messiah) as non Muslims. shifted the society from socialist reforms to demand for shariah. An agitation fueled by CIA dollars and Islamist manpower destabilised Bhutto . American administration was unhappy at the deal for French nuclear reprocessing plant and feared Bhutto was making “Islamic bomb” to avenge the humiliation by India.The martial law of 1977 was a copycat of the 1973 Chilean coup by General Augusto Pinochet at the behest of USA. Bhutto was hanged in 1979 by the Islamist military dictator Zia ul haq after a show trial which was termed as judicial murder (“If I am assassinated” by ZA Bhutto 1979)
Islamist General Zia unleashed state terror on politics. Hundreds of thousands of political activists, lawyers’ students’ leaders were imprisoned. Thousands were given Islamic punishment of flogging or hanged at the orders of military courts.1979 invasion of Afghanistan by soviet troops made Zia the most trusted ally of USA, Britain and Saudi Arabia. Billions of dollars in foreign exchange, latest military equipment and thousands of young fighters from Arab countries poured into Pakistan to fight the jihad against the evil soviet atheists.
The shariah began with the law of evidence where the testimony of two pious Muslim women was only considered equal to one male, thus declaring a woman only half a human in all matter of law. Hadood laws prescribed the Islamic justice of public flogging for consumption of Alcohol, cutting hands for robbery and most draconian of all was the stoning to death for adultery, even a victim of rape had to provide testimony of four pious male Muslim witnesses in order to prove her innocence. The case of a blind girl charged for adultery, who gave birth to “her sin” child while the rapist got Scot free due to lack of four male pious Muslim witnesses, got international publicity.
Muslims who did not pray during office hours or did not fast and anyone caught eating during the fasting of Ramadan faced prosecution. Zakat was compulsorily deducted from Muslim account holders in all banks, this created the biggest Shia demonstration Pakistan has ever seen. Shia sect refused to comply with shariah being imposed by general Zia and his Saudi mentors. Shias(20% in population) contemplated starting a civil disobedience, backing down after pressure from Shia clergy of Iranian revolution. Zia fearing a belligerent Iran and hostility from educated shias within military and civil bureaucracy exempted Shia from zakat deduction.
Iran created the shia militants (movement for enforcing the laws of imam jaffar), Saudi Arabia and Iraq responded by arming the “soldiers of companions of Mohammed”, an organisation openly calling shia as non Muslims and declaration of Sunni law in line with Saudi clergy.
While the sectarian killings continued by the two sides, Zia turned his attention to minorities (Ahmedis, Christians,Hindus) and forced them to declare their faith on identity documents and separate election system was devised for them(a bit like apartheid). Ahmedis were banned from preaching or observe Islamic rituals of sermon prayers, fasting or even greeting each other by Muslim salutation. They were ordered to remove all Muslim signage from their mosques. Anyone who did not comply with these rules suffered prison, fines and public flogging. The Ahmedi caliph and his clergy fled to London to save their lives, while militant groups turned their guns toward common ahmedi and christian who were living intermingled with rural Punjabi peasants.
The blasphemy laws with punishment of death sentence for anyone accused of belittling or ridiculing prophet Muhammad by their speech or action and anyone found to be disrespectful to Koran by improper question/speaking or disposing of papers containing Koranic verses. Police complaint by local clergy was needed as proof of guilt. Blasphemy law was used indiscriminately against ahmedis and Christians in Punjab and against Hindus and Sikhs in Sindh and frontiers to settle petty property disputes, in which the accuser walked away with war booty and the non Muslim victim stood to loose everything. Even obtaining a bail from court sometimes meant being gunned down by militants within few meters of police stations.
Individuals stood up against tyranny by committing suicide in public protest Pervaiz messiah a lowly Christian cleaner burnt himself alive while demanding democracy. Bishop John Joseph Shot himself in protest against death sentences awarded to Christian teenagers in blasphemy cases.
Lawyers, journalists, teachers and others who came out protesting against oppression, faced tear gas beatings and imprisonment and torture at the hands of police and army security forces. Civil society organizations like women action forum, Human rights commission, voice against rape and Pakistan India peoples forum for peace and democracy emerged out of the dark days of Islamic dictatorship backed shamelessly by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.
Benazir, the daughter of martyr Bhutto, came back after years in jail and exile to lead several million men marches against dictatorship. In April 88 Pakistani intelligence blew up the ammunition depot storing missiles, explosives and state of the art stinger launchers, to hide the illegal sale to Iran and other bidders and to stop US military audit finding out the full extend of scam. The resulting inferno and projectiles killed nearly three thousand civilians in cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. August 88 Zia’s aero plane was blown up in mysterious circumstances. Rumours circulated that Zia’s Coffin contained bones of American Arnold Raphael and Brigadier Wassem of US Army.
Benazir became the first female Muslim prime minister in the world despite Saudi grand mufti Shaikh Al Baz declaring her apostate from Islam.1990s was the see saw of power politics between right wing Nawaz Sharif(political heir to Saudis and Zia) and a compromised corrupt Benazir wife of Zardari(Mr 10%) .The notorious military Intelligence was busy creating the Frankenstein monsters we now know as Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Pre 9/11 Bin Laden gave money to Sharif MPs to oust Benazir and tried General Abbasi’s Islamic coup plot to establish caliphate in Pakistan. But the proto type of Global Islamism was perfected in Afghanistan with Arab manpower, money from arms and drug trade and clandestine connections in Muslim populations world over with mafia like tentacles. The rest, as they say, is history. Kashmir, Chechnya, Palestine and 9/11 New York, Iraq and London Madrid and Bali the template of terrorism was implemented by Jihadists.
Political Islam’s Globalisation
Tragically, Benazir (Book “Daughter of the East” 2007) died at the hands of a suicide bomber at the same spot where in 1951 the first prime minister was gunned down. Story of political Islam has completed the full circle with history repeating itself. The gains made by civil society in the struggle for democracy and freedom of judiciary ,achieved by street protest and activism are compromised in deal making and power brokering. Saudi Arabia, UAE and USA remain the guarantors and underwriters of power whether its the corrupt current president Mr 10% Zardari or the future (president in waiting) Mr Sharif of Mecca simpleton (sorry cannot write autobiography only reads phone directories) Tableeghi (Muslim Jehovah’s witness). A foreign journalist once said Pakistan Owes its existence to Allah, America and Army. The Army “greatest defender of Muslim faith and Islamic Atom bomb”, behaves like the band of mercenaries from “pirates of Arabian Sea”, switching sides from Islamists to Bible bashing American fundamentalists whenever the pay is right. At other times paddling their nuclear ware to rogue states like Iran Libya and North Korea.
For Jihad ,”The World is Flat”
All this is important because the disintegration of Pakistan will unleash the forces of evil, ranging from nuclear brief cases to training manuals and kits for “dirty bombs”. The civil society, the free media and satellite channels, human rights activist and professional middle class, is overwhelmed by the onslaught of Islamists which can result in balkanisation of Pakistan.UK can do well by strengthening the civil society and secular political parties because one million of British citizens/residents are of Pakistani origin coming from Kashmir and north west of Pakistan.7/7 suicide bomber mastermind Mohammed siddique khan prayed at Tableeghi(Mr Nawaz sharif ‘s mentors) Jamat’s HQ in Dewsbury. Thomas Friedman’s Theory “The World is Flat”, I hasten to add “World is a small place”, “what you sow, so shall you reap”.