Tag Archives: military-jihadi nexus

Mosque versus state

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

THE mosque in Pakistan is now no longer just a religious institution. Instead it has morphed into a deeply political one that seeks to radically transform culture and society. Actively assisted by the state in this mission in earlier decades, the mosque is a powerful actor over which the state now exercises little authority. Some have been captured by those who fight the government and military. An eviscerated, embattled state finds it easier to drop bombs on the TTP in tribal Waziristan than to rein in its urban supporters, or to dismiss from state payroll those mosque leaders belonging to militant groups.

Very few Pakistanis have dared to criticise the country’s increasingly powerful mosque establishment although they do not spare the Pakistan Army and the country’s political leaders for their many shortcomings. For example, following the Army Public School massacre, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s promise to regulate the madressahs was immediately criticised as undoable. Had he instead suggested that Pakistan’s mosques be brought under state control as in Saudi Arabia, Iran and several Muslim countries, it would have been dismissed as belonging to even beyond the undoable.

The state’s timidity was vividly exposed in its handling of the 2007 bloody insurrection, launched from inside Islamabad’s central mosque, Lal Masjid, barely a mile from the heart of Pakistan’s government. It was a defining point in Pakistan’s history. The story of the Lal Masjid insurrection, its bloody ending, and subsequent rebound is so critical to understanding the limitations of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism that it deserves to be told once again.

Very few Pakistanis have dared to criticise the country’s increasingly powerful mosque establishment.

In early January 2007, the two head clerics of the Lal Masjid demanded the immediate rebuilding of eight illegally constructed mosques knocked down by the civic authorities. Days later, an immediate enforcement of Sharia in Islamabad was demanded. Armed vigilante groups from Jamia Hafsa and nearby madressahs kidnapped ordinary citizens and policemen, threatened shopkeepers, burned CDs and videos, and repeated the demands of tribal militants fighting the Pakistan Army.

At a meeting held in Lal Masjid on April 6, 2007, it was reported that 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Sharia. On April 12, in an illegal FM broadcast from the mosque’s own radio station, the clerics issued a threat to the government: “There will be suicide blasts in every nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death….”

The brothers Abdul Aziz and Abdur Rashid Ghazi, who headed the Lal Masjid, had attracted a core of militant organisations around them, including the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region, Jaish-e-Mohammad. Their goal was to change Pakistan’s culture. On April 12, 2007, Rashid Ghazi, a former student of Quaid-i-Azam University, broadcast the following chilling message to our female students:

“The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-i-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam…. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it.

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Military courts

By Gul Bukhari

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

The agencies are not interested in convictions of extremist guys.” Every week, the prosecutors would get a visit from ISI and military intelligence officers to discuss the terrorism cases, to find out how many were being tried, how many pending. “And always they’d say, ‘Why are you going after good Muslims?’ or ‘What is the case against [Lashkar-e-Janghvi leader] Akram Lahori? He is working for Islam. Why are you working against him?’” – Buriro, prosecutor of Sindh ATC to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on prosecuting terrorists.

“Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

Buriro produced the video in open court. He cross-examined the defendants’ witness, an ISI colonel. The prosecutors withstood anonymous phone threats; they turned down bribes to let the case return to the regular courts, where it would fade away. The security apparatus was especially furious that uniformed men were being tried in the anti-terrorism court. ‘During the process of the case I was threatened by the naval agencies. I was threatened by the ISI,’ Buriro said. The prosecutors were excoriated for not damaging evidence in the case as instructed.” – Buriro to CPJ on his prosecution of Rangers men for shooting to death unarmed Sarfaraz Shah in a park in Karachi in 2011. They were caught on camera and the case became a publicized one.

CPJ’s full report on the roots of impunity in Pakistan is a horrifying, heart-stopping indictment of primarily the military and its intelligence agencies. Political parties and governments, in particular the MQM, are not spared either, but the clear illustration of how intelligence agencies perpetrate atrocities and prevent justice through civilian law enforcement and courts is petrifying. The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

The blood runs cold reading how journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif reporting on a Taliban hideout being only two kilometers from the Salala Checkpost on the Pak-Afghan border was murdered. Mukarram’s reports on Deewa Radio were pointing to the possible reason the Americans attacked the Salala checkpost killing 24 Pakistan Army soldiers. His reports came too close to exposing the military-militant nexus, and the military’s double games. The people of the country were rightly angry the Americans had killed innocent soldiers of the Pakistan Army, unprovoked. However, the people of Pakistan were to be prevented from understanding what actually led to the accident.

Yet, in response to the massacre of 140 children in the APC Peshawar attack, the most significant anti-terror measures announced by the Prime Minister, and acquiesced to by the rest of the parliamentary parties, is to cede ‘justice’ to the military and to lift the moratorium on death penalty for terrorists. Both were dictated by the military.

‘All day on Wednesday, according to a participant of the meeting held at the PM House, the military leadership stressed the need to set up military courts as the “(civilian) justice system had failed to deliver.” – front page of Dawn, December 25th. In light of the CPJ report, which merely acts to confirm what many of us have known, are military courts then the solution? Is the military the solution or part of the problem? The narrative being built for the justification of military courts is wrong: that the civilian judges and law enforcement agencies are too weak, inept, and cowardly to convict terrorists. All, I repeat all, terror groups, be they of the Taliban ilk (whom the military has for sometime turned against) or sectarian in nature like the SSP and LeJ, were formed by the military for its various domestic and foreign security policies. And the police’s and courts’ intimidation by the military intelligence agencies is in no small part responsible for the broken civilian justice system. One cannot exonerate the political elite for not trying to strengthen the policing and courts systems, but in the face of the powerful army, and with having to watch over their shoulders’ every moment for the next coup, one cannot blame them entirely either.

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Pakistan: End of the military-jihadi nexus

by Dr. Manzur Ejaz

WASHINGTON DIARY: End of the military-jihadi nexus

by Dr Manzur Ejaz

Courtesy: Wichaar, January 6th, 2010

The military has no choice but to eliminate all types of non-state armed groups in Pakistan to save the state and its own privileges. The military may want to pick and choose among these groups, but circumstances will force it to take them out one by one

Asia Peace, a discussion forum, opened the New Year with making predictions about the possible scenarios in Pakistan. Ultimately, the debate centred on the prospects for the military-jihadi nexus. An overwhelming majority believes that the military will keep its jihadi option intact by differentiating between good and bad Taliban and other extremist groups. A very tiny minority, including myself, optimistically believes that the military has no choice but to take out all kinds of jihadis. The military may wish otherwise and may not be fully cognizant of its limited choices but circumstances will force it to clean up the mess it created.

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