Hurtling down the abyss

Published: December 22, 2011
When such rallies take place, there is cause for worry because an implication of their success is that the state is becoming dysfunctional.

When such rallies take place, there is cause for worry because an implication of their success is that the state is becoming dysfunctional.

The recent Pakistan Defence Council (PDC) rally in Lahore was ‘mammoth’, orchestrated as it was by some of the most organised religious parties in the country. The idea was to cross the benchmark established by Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf earlier — and it was probably crossed. The reigning presence was that of the Jamaatud Dawa (JuD), as its followers outnumbered the Jamaat-e-Islami ones, the next big cadre party in the country. In all, 30 religious outfits were present, including the single-leader party, the JUI of Maulana Samiul Haq. Imran Khan’s party was present in the person of a senior representative, who read out his party chief’s speech to the people gathered. There was Sipah-e-Sahaba too, its status made unclear — more or less like Jamaatud Dawa’s — through litigation after it was banned by the UN Security Council. There were the expected appendices from the non-religious world: Hamid Gul, Sheikh Rashid, Ijazul Haq, etc, who once represented the supremacy of the army in the country. This is what the leaders — led on the occasion by Hafiz Saeed of the JuD — said: “The rulers should immediately dissociate themselves from the US war on terror, permanently cut off the Nato supply line and prepare the nation for jihad in case the US dares invade the country”. The ‘mammoth’ show of force, seen after a long time since the disbandment of the MMA alliance, underlined yet another policy directive: don’t give the Most Favoured Nation (MFN) status to India and decide against allowing a trade route to India through Pakistan, because there are disputes to be resolved with India and revenge to be taken from it for the crimes it had committed against the Kashmiri Muslims and because it had tried to destroy Pakistan through a ‘water war’. The issue of Babri Mosque was added to the list of battle cries against it — and the solvent of all the challenges faced by Pakistan was jihad fought by the proxy warriors organised by the religious parties. Both the US and India were the targets of this pledged Armageddon.

It was the biggest Wahhabi-Deobandi gathering seen in a long while. The Barelvis were not there but Allama Tahirul Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), speaking elsewhere in the country, asked the Supreme Court to get rid of the PPP government by forcing a midterm election held under a neutral caretaker government prescribed by the honourable court. The message to the military was: if the Nato supply routes are reopened, the jihadis will attack the trucks. Maulana Samiul Haq raised the rather grandiose slogan: “We will attack Indian, US, Russian and Nato forces if they try to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty”. JuD leader Hafiz Abdur Rehman Makki was more specific: “Our men are trained to use rifles and Kalashnikovs. When they head towards India with weapons, no one can resist them”. Sipah-e-Sahaba’s chief, Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi, boasted that 4,000 young people he had sent for jihad had died.

This is the consequence of a number of vectors aligning themselves: the break between the US and Pakistan Army after the Salala attack; the consensus built by the PPP government in parliament in favour of the Pakistan Army against the US; the public mind as moulded by the media in favour of an isolationist policy under which jihad becomes possible; the memogate affair and the case related to it at the Supreme Court asking it to decide whether the PPP leadership was guilty of treason against the state by endangering its national security as represented by the Pakistan Army. Jihad, which has demonised Pakistan in the eyes of the world and given rise to proxy warriors gone haywire inside Pakistan after affiliating themselves with al Qaeda, is once again seen as the prescription. The power of the clerics who organised the ‘mammoth’ rally is beyond question. It is supplemented by militants fighting the military in Fata and by the synergy provided by a consensus for the demand that there be Sharia in Pakistan. When such rallies take place, there is cause for worry because an implication of their success is that the state is becoming dysfunctional, approaching the prototype of failed states like Somalia, where only jihad prospers.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Mir Agha
    Dec 22, 2011 - 12:47AM

    Expected rambling.


  • Mirza
    Dec 22, 2011 - 2:15AM

    The army has let loose its strategic assetts to pressure the US and elected govt that they are still the boss. The message is timely and loud and clear. “If you do not deal with us then this is the other option”.
    After the US caught the army red handed with OBL there were only two options. Contradict or accept they stayed quiet that means it was true. However, they did not show any remorse and started media campaign against the US and elected govt with the impression that they were framed. If they were framed then why would ISPR neverr come out and tell the world (if not Pakistanis) that the US is lying and OBL was never there. What the generals do not know that their gamble would not pay off. The first thing Western experts tell is do not bow down to a blackmailer. The generals who have lost many times (not personally but the country) should not overplay their hand. Recommend

  • Arafin Hossain
    Dec 22, 2011 - 2:33AM

    While trying to gain strategic depth in A’stan, we surely have provided Taliban and these nuts strategic depth in Pakistan!


  • tauseef
    Dec 22, 2011 - 3:49AM

    And the rally was held in the heart of “heart of Pakistan – Lahore”. I presume it took place with the approval of the state apparatus. there is no other explanation.

    Here we see the face of all the proxy forces waged by ISI and military to achieve foreign policy goals in India and Afghanistan.


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Dec 22, 2011 - 4:37AM

    An excellent editorial. Since the army has been regarded as an honorable institution, it should do the honorable thing by crushing these militants once and for all. Generals cannot play with the lives of their soldiers by using these religious fanatics as a shill for the army’s indispensable role as a national political arbitrator.

    Intolerance cannot be tolerated; otherwise Pakistan will pay dearly for this. It already has…


  • frank
    Dec 22, 2011 - 7:09AM

    When such rallies take place, there is
    cause for worry because an implication
    of their success is that the state is
    becoming dysfunctional, approaching
    the prototype of failed states like
    Somalia, where only jihad prospers.

    So a peaceful, medium sized political rally in Lahore means Pakistan is hurtling down the abyss towards failed state status? Good grief!


  • Noor Nabi
    Dec 22, 2011 - 8:02AM

    These are a bunch of thugs hiding behind the veil of religion. Using the name of America they want to disenfranchise women and take society back to the caves of darkness. Recommend

  • narayana murthy
    Dec 22, 2011 - 10:18AM

    What is wrong with these people? I know they are not very well educated or smart, but is common sense so expensive in Pakistan?

    Can’t they see from the past that every misadventure has backfired on them? How can they even take on NATO/US, when they have failed miserably with Indian BSF who are mostly ill equipped, demoralized and meagerly paid?

    One thing is certain though in a few years (Nobody can predict accurately), when Pakistan will seize to exist, it would have left behind a great chapter in the book titled ‘how NOT to run a country’ or ‘how to self destroy’.


  • Mad-Paki
    Dec 22, 2011 - 8:27PM

    Your conclusion, about Islamists turning Pakistan into Somalia, is really sensationalist without any solid analysis of the situation. First of all Somalia is divided by clan warfare not by religious extermism.Infact it is other way round since religious extermists are fishing in the troubled water and exploiting this situation.

    Bottomline, in a good democracy, one has to tolerate all kinds of opinion/rhetoric no matter how irrational or controversial it is. I think Europe is a good example. Majority of the EU population abhors neo-nazis but their governement still tolerate this fringe and allow them freedom of assembly and speach. So wether you agree or not, they have right to protest and speak their minds. Making such apocalyptic judgements is plain wrong and self defeating.


  • Arif
    Dec 23, 2011 - 9:05AM

    @mad-Paki, Mir Agha, and Frank,

    When confronted with reality (which contradicts ones views and beliefs), the mind refuses to accept no matter how overwhelming the evidence and shifts into a deluded state.


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