Tuesday September 06, 2016
Pakistan's Two Serious Internal Threats: Politically Motivated Generals and Mullahs
Pakistan has always faced two most dangerous internal threats throughout its history: military takeovers by politically motivated generals and spread of mullahism. Military takeovers and mullahism have made devastating impact on Pakistan. If not checked, Pakistan may suffer incurable damage.
There cannot be two opinions about the devastation caused by military takeovers. Generals Ayub and Yahya’s takeovers dismembered Pakistan in 1971. General Zia’s takeover completely destroyed Pakistan’s social, cultural and political fabric. He introduced, abetted by mullahs, drugs, klashenakoves, smuggling of narcotics, and religious extremism.
General Zia institutionalized religious extremism and made it part of state apparatus by involving religious elements in Afghan war. During his regime, places of worship became breeding grounds for terrorism that spilled across Pakistani borders into neighboring states and beyond. No wonder, today, Pakistan’s all four neighbors complain about terrorists’ infiltration in their countries.
Until 9/11, Pakistani generals and Mullahs worked hand in hand with each other. They shared vision, philosophy, strategy and tactics. They reciprocated each other to pursue their internal and external goals. However, 9/11 changed the picture. General Musharraf who scornfully shelved Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s agreement with Clinton Administration to apprehend Osama Bin Laden calling it “infeasible, ” ended up making overnight ‘U-turn’ on Pakistan army’s so-called “strategic depth” Afghanistan.
Since then, general Musharraf and mullahs are apparently at odds. However, their motives are no different.
Unfortunately, Pakistani generals and mullahs have always worked very closely. In the larger scheme of things, it does not matter if generals and mullahs are allies or adversaries. They reciprocate each other to perpetuate their grip on power through coercive means. Generals subjugate Pakistan through military takeovers whereas mullahs use Sharia and Islamisation as tools of coercion and imposition of old Arab tribal values in Pakistan.
First, mullahism does not fit in Islam’s overall temperament. Mullahs did not exist in early Islamic periods. They grew as an institution during early kingships. Even at that time, they did not contend for power. They worked as socio-religious groups in various periods of Islamic history.
History also tells that mullahs always have been on the wrong side of the history. They did more harm to any cause they took-up than helping it. Particularly, India’s colonial and post-colonial history offers many examples to verify our claim.
In Pakistan, they have been constantly using the cause of Islamisation to impose something what they perceive as Islam. But it has nothing to do with Islam. The damage they have done to Pakistan and Islam through so-called Islamisation process is irrecoverable. Particularly, their notions about modern state are very liquid. In their view, formation of state is associated with imposition of Sharia and it can camp in one part of the world and if conditions change it can move somewhere else.
Jamat-i-Islami, the main proponent of Islamisation in Pakistan, is known for setting up youth wings throughout the educational institutions in Pakistan. Those youth wings used violent means to intimidate rivals and threatened college administrations thus infusing violence and extremism in Pakistani culture. Later on, other religious groups introduced parallel groups to match the Jamat backed violent groups. From educational institutions, religious parties enlarged their territories across the total social arena of Pakistan. First Afghan war provided further legitimacy to religious parties to imbibe violence in Pakistani society. Recent incidents in Peshawar, Gujranwala and Multan by Jamaat’s Shabab-i-milli workers show the continuity of same violent trends by religious parties in Pakistani politics.
It is about time that Pakistani generals and mullahs go back to their barracks and mosques and vacate politics for moderate elements of society to allow it to grow as a normal functioning state.
We agree with general Musharraf that there is no space for theocracy in Pakistan. But we do say, also, there is no space for military takeovers, illegitimate presidents who come in power through fraudulent referendums, and LFOs in Pakistan.
It was Jinnah’s model that gave birth to Pakistan. It is going to be Jinnah’s model that will save, develop and make Pakistan a dynamic state.
Both generals and mullahs should desist the temptation to make Pakistan either a military dictatorship or a theocratic state. Pakistanis are fed-up with both forces. They deserve a country where constitution is followed, rule of law prevails, democratic institutions work, and people enjoy social freedoms, have good healthcare and education systems, economic prosperity, better transportation facilities, plenty of fresh and clean water supplies and freedom to vote their rulers in and out.
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