During a pre-Eid (August 19, 2012) transmission, Sach TV had my favourite intellectual Mr Ghulam Akbar telling a rather timid anchor why the war against terrorism was not Pakistan’s war.
He refused to believe that it was the Taliban killing innocent Pakistanis: these were foreign agents working for foreign powers. He said they were killing Pakistanis with weapons provided by America, either through Afghanistan or through Pakistan courtesy the Nato supply route. He asserted that it will never be Pakistan’s war because, if it were, it will lead to self-destructive radicalisation.
He stated that no one in Pakistan ever threatened America, forgetting that 9/11 was planned in Pakistan; and a Pakistani leader of the Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, had got himself photographed with a Pakistani terrorist — son of a senior air force officer — before the young man tried to blow up the Times Square in New York.
Mr Akbar also said that the Pakistan Army ran the risk of alienating its own officers if it chose to confront the Taliban. He referred to the recently sentenced army officers who tried to overthrow the military leadership on behalf of the Hizbut Tahrir. He said the held officers had no ideological objection to the Pakistan Army. When asked if the officers were linked to the Hizbut Tahrir, he started talking about the Tahrir Square movement of Egypt. He thought the Hizbut Tahrir was a harmless manifestation of the Tahrir Square.
The Hizbut Tahrir was established in Jerusalem in 1948 by Sheikh Taqiuddin al-Nabhani (d 1977), who had been educated at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
In June this year, one Brigadier Ali Khan was arrested for his ties with the Hizbut Tahrir. Before that, Colonel Shahid Bashir, the then (serving) commanding officer of the Shamsi Air Force Base, was apprehended by the military police on May 4, 2009 for links with this banned outfit. Colonel Shahid Bashir was arrested along with a retired PAF fighter pilot, Squadron Leader-turned lawyer Nadeem Ahmad Shah, and a US-educated mechanical engineer and a green card holder, Awais Ali Khan.
The Hizb was banned in Pakistan in 2004, following a plot to assassinate President Pervez Musharraf by Hizb members. More recently, on October 22, 2009, it was banned in Bangladesh for ‘trying to destabilise the country’.
Syrian-born Umar Bakri, leader of the Hizb, was deported from the UK after 9/11. One evidence of Bakri’s involvement with the Hizb became public in Akbar S Ahmed’s book Islam under Siege: Living Dangerously in Post-Honour World (Polity Press 2003). Ahmed, who was also Pakistan’s High Commissioner to the UK for some time, wrote:
“In Britain, Sheikh Umar Bakri’s Khilafah, the journal of the Hizbut Tahrir, attacked Jinnah as a kafir and an insult for a Muslim. Moreover, it accused Jinnah of being an enemy of God and the Holy Prophet (pbuh) because Jinnah supported women, Christians and Hindus, and advocated democracy” (p113).
Umar Sheikh, a British national now under death sentence for the murder of Daniel Pearl, had his beginning in England with the Hizbut Tahir. He was caught in India trying to exchange British tourists that he had kidnapped in New Delhi for Harkatul Ansar terrorists held by India. He was released together with Jaish-e-Muhammad leader Masood Azhar in 1999 after the hijacking of an Indian plane.
After his release, Umar Sheikh kidnapped journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi with the help of Jaish activists. Pearl was later beheaded by Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the top al Qaeda fund-raiser. Umar Sheikh was also said to have been involved in Khalid Sheikh Muhammad’s transfer of funds to the terrorists who flew two aircraft into the World Trade Centre buildings in New York on 9/11.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.