The recent statement of the opposition leader Mr. Nawaz Sharif proclaiming Ahmedis as his brothers and sisters has created a furor in the political and religious circles of Pakistan. Mr. Sharif is also the head of the second largest political party in Pakistan; Pakistan Muslim League – N. Such an assertion was made in wake of the horrendous attack on their community. Islamic militants literally butchered them by spraying bullets at close range while they were praying at their place of worship. Ninety five people died instantly while scores were injured. Although there has always been a deep loathing and hatred of this sect; however this was the worst ever massacre. The response of the Islamic parties was sickening. Nawaz Sharif came under scathing criticism for sympathizing with this downtrodden class. Maulana Ilyas Chinauti the head of movement of the finality of Prophet Muhammad had this to say:

“Ahmedis are traitors and they deserve no sympathy whatsoever. Nawaz Sharif is trying to please the US by showing sympathy for Ahmedis.”

Mr. Fareed Paracha; a leader of Jamat-e-Islami the oldest Islamic party declared:

“It was unfortunate that the PML-N had started toeing the line of the US. Paracha said Ahmedis could never be “brothers or friends” of Muslims and a “true Muslim must not develop any relation with Ahmedis.”

Islamic parties were in the forefront to protest violently against the opening of an insignificant competition of drawing Muhammad’s caricatures on facebook. On the contrary not a drop of tear was shed when so many innocent lives were lost. In fact Ahmedis have been accused of orchestrating this event themselves to gain support from different quarters. This is the height of apathy. Such xenophobic behavior can only be expected in an extremely religious society. This occurrence has once again proved that intolerance against this tiny community has now reached an alarming proportion. They have been ghettoized and live in constant fear. Their condition is almost similar to that of the Jews in Europe before the Second World War To the fanatics they are considered worse than Jews and Christians and must be put down through force.

Pakistan has a history of persecution of its minorities. Ironically the founding father of Pakistan; Muhammad Ali Jinnah believed in having a secular identity for this country. His vision of Pakistan was a homeland for Muslims where all minorities should be free to exercise their respective religions with out any fear or coercion. Unfortunately the clergy were gradually able to gain a foothold. They were the very same people who had actually opposed the creation of Pakistan.

The most famous Pakistani Ahmedi was Dr. Abdus Salam. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics and was the first scientist to have received such an honor in the Muslim world. Dr Salam was a visionary who wanted to contribute to the well being of the future generations. However the government prohibited him from setting up a centre of excellence of Physics in Pakistan. Disappointed and dejected by the reaction of the local authorities, he established this facility in Italy where it exists till to date. Pakistani students have been denied to benefit from this world class facility just because of the bigotry of our regime. The word “Muslim” was also erased from the tombstone of his grave in presence of a magistrate. Upon his death there were no eulogies or words of appreciation in the local media even though he was a world renowned figure who had brought laurels for his country. His only fault was that he was an Ahmedi.

Anti-ahmedi sentiment has been prevalent in the society since the birth of Pakistan. However it reached its zenith in late 70s when they were officially declared Non-Muslims by the Bhutto government to appease the religious parties. Later during the Zia era specific laws were enacted to target religious minorities. In 1984, General Zia-ul Haq, promulgated Martial Law Ordinance XX branding Ahmedis as criminals liable to fine and imprisonment if they practiced their belief in Islam, used Islamic terms or posed as Muslims. The punishment is up to 3 year in jail and a fine. These particular edicts have denied Ahmedis even their fundamental right to practice their religion.

A foundational belief of Islam is that Muhammad was the last Prophet. Ahmedis have been excommunicated from the fold of Islam because they do not believe in the finality of the Prophet Muhammad. The Ahmedis are the followers of Mirza Ghulam Ahmed (1839-1908). Accepting him as the prophet, Ahmedis reject the notion of finality of Prophet Muhammad and due to this difference have become separate from the main body of Islam.

Due to the sustained and unrelenting campaign of the clergy, prejudice against this small community has spread even among the general public on a mass scale. Recently a very famous TV anchor was caught on tape literally abusing them. Last year a televangelist inflamed the passion of his audience by announcing that Ahmedis should be killed. Consequently after watching his program two Ahmedi doctors were shot dead. That preacher was never reprimanded despite this horrendous tragedy. His program continues till today and his zeal for inciting his viewers has not abated.

One of the main purposes of a country’s constitution is to protect the majority from terrorizing against minorities. However our constitution in its current form has failed to fulfill this purpose. International Human Rights organizations such as Amnesty International have severely criticized our various governments for these discriminating laws. The current democratic government of Pakistan’s People party needs to take a bold stand and work for repeal of these dreadful laws. This will not remove the deep rooted hatred of the Ahmedi community among the general public but will certainly bring down institutional persecution. This will be the first small step in the right direction.

Finally sanity seems to have prevailed on the British legislators. Britain for far too long has been a breeding ground for would be terrorists due to its lax laws. Therefore the tough stance taken by the new British home secretary Ms Thersea May to ban the entry of self proclaimed Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik in United Kingdom comes as a breath of fresh air. The British authorities were quick to refuse admission to Mr. Geert Wilders, a respected member of the Dutch parliament on account of stoking inter community tensions. However this is the first time that Mr. Naik; a hate monger and a radical terrorist supporter has been denied a British visa.  Although Mr. Naik makes it clear that he does not advocate specific acts of terrorism; however his inflammatory speeches makes it abundantly clear where his sympathies lie. He seems to have a personal grudge against the west in general and a specific revulsion towards United States. This is what he had to say when questioned about Bin Laden

“But if you ask my view, if given the truth, if he is fighting the enemies of Islam, I am for him. I don’t know what he is doing. I am not in touch with him. I don’t know him personally. If he is terrorizing the terrorists, if he is terrorizing America the terrorist …. I am with him. Every Muslim should be a terrorist.”

This particular statement is an instigator for Muslim youth to commit different acts of terrorism. The American terror suspect Mr. Najibullah Zazi arrested last year for planning suicide attacks on the New York subways was reportedly inspired by the provocative and hate filled speeches of Mr. Naik on youtube.

Dr Zakir Naik has also been quoted as saying that western women make themselves more susceptible to rape by wearing revealing clothes. Such a sweeping statement explicitly clarifies his stance. The underlying message is that women should be controlled and put behind several layers of veils. They are inferior beings and their purpose in life should be to act on the whims of their husbands and raise kids. Mr. Naik expediently puts the entire onus on the shoulders of women. Men in his contrived view can carry on with their lustful activities.   This also runs opposite to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 article 1 of what states

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act toward one another in the spirit of brotherhood.”

This assertion by Mr Naik is also inconsistent with the facts. Developing countries have a higher rate of rape incidents. This is because of poverty, lawlessness and anarchy. In many Islamic countries rape victims refuse to report the crime because of the shame associated with it. There were actually laws in Pakistan known as the Hudood laws based on Islamic injunctions which advocated the incarceration of the rape sufferer in case she fails to provide the law enforcers with four witnesses. Several women were put behind bars using the pretext of these laws. These have now been amended. However the main gist remains intact. Ironically it was the Islamist parties who were its biggest proponents and tried their level best to delay legislation for their revocation.

Another heart wrenching story is of Dr Shazia Khalid. She was posted as a medical doctor at a hospital in a small town of Sui in Pakistan. She was an employee of Pakistan Petroleum Limited; a state owned oil Exploration Company. She was allegedly raped by an officer of Pakistan army who was actually a part of a military contingent guarding the state owned facility. Later she was prohibited to report the case. When the news finally went out, the authorities hounded her immensely thus forcing her to flee from the country. She was eventually granted political asylum in United Kingdom. Not a word in her support was uttered by any cleric or Islamic scholar. This is what one gets for being a modest and chaste woman.  Her dignity was after all restored in an infidel western country.

He is more of a show man who is able to impress his audience by memorizing and quoting directly from various scriptures and has been accused of inflaming communal feelings with this strident debating style. Mr. Naik is a proponent of death penalty for apostates. He should be completely barred from the western capitals until he changes his uncivilized behavior.

Historically speaking there has never been an alliance of Muslims. The concept of Muslim ummah or “commodity of Muslim nations” has always been a popular notion among the larger Muslim population. Today Al Qaeda’s aspiration for world domination is also based on the same approach. However unity among Muslims has been an elusive goal due to their internal feuds, treacheries and infighting.

Shias and Sunnis can never join forces because of their vast ideological differences. Shias idealize Ali (Muhammad’s son in law & the fourth caliph) claiming that it was his right to succeed after the death of Muhammad. On the contrary all four caliphs are held in very high esteem by the Sunnis.

The other and a very significant bone of contention between Shias and Sunnis relates to “The Battle of the Camel.” This clash took place in Basra, Iraq in 656 between forces allied to Ali (Muhammad’s son in law & the fourth caliph) and Aisha (widow of Muhammad). Aisha wanted to take revenge from the assailants implicated in the assassination of the third caliph Usman. Ten thousand men lost their lives on both sides. Two very close companions of the Prophet Talha and Zubair who had accompanied Aisha were also slain. Aisha remained unharmed till the end of the battle. However the seeds of discord were sown which exist till to date. Shias and sunnis even today are at each other’s throats due to this insignificant event of 7th century.

Currently there is a deep hostility, suspicion and animosity between Saudi Arabia; the citadel of Islam and Iran a country with the huge Shia population.  Both countries have been in competition for promoting their brand of Islam since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Pakistan has been at the receiving end of these games. The Salafi regime of Saudi Arabia sponsored hundreds of Madrassas (religious schools) in Pakistan which churned out religious zombies. These fanatics currently are not only fighting the Americans in Afghanistan but are also involved in hundreds of terrorist incidents within Pakistan. Similarly shia Iran supported the Shiite organizations in Pakistan both financially and logistically. This unhindered backing gave rise to the birth of sectarian monster resulting in numerous killings on both the sides.

Saudi Arabia at the moment just like Israel is also very concerned with the Iranian nuclear program. A nuclear Iran can not only affect the hegemony of Saudi Arabia in the Muslim world but also create trouble for it in the foreseeable future. According to credible press reports, recently the Saudi authorities have allowed Israeli fighter jets to use a corridor of its airspace for an aerial attack on Iranian nuclear facilities. This has been denied by the Saudi regime. However this is not mere conjecture and the Saudis are very likely to be silent spectators in case of an Israeli bombardment of Iranian nuclear installations.

Two million Muslims were killed by Muslims in the Iran-Iraq War. Three million Sudanese Muslims have been killed by Muslims. More than 300,000 Muslims have been killed by Muslims in the ongoing Darfur conflict. Iraq invaded Kuwait and Syria invaded Lebanon. As of June 7, a total of 29,105 Pakistani Muslims have been killed by Muslims over the past seven years.

Muslims are a divided lot. The need of the hour for them is to learn from Israel. This small country is surrounded by enemies. Despite very strong opposition, it has been able to with stand the onslaught of its Arab neighbors. It has decisively crushed its numerically superior foes during all the Arab Israel wars. The birth of Israel right after the holocaust was no less than a miracle. Jews were systematically and institutionally prosecuted and murdered during the Second World War. However it was their resilience, harmony, magnanimity and far sightedness that kept them together and eventually resulted in formation of the world’s first Jewish state.

The creation of this tiny country itself carries a very strong message for the Muslim population. It is essential for Muslim countries to reform, restructure, mould and base their societies on the universal principles of human rights, ethics and morality. The medieval scriptures of Islam have become redundant in this day and age. There can be no progress and reformation in their cultures until they let go off their obsession with religion.

NEED FOR SECULAR PAKISTAN

 

Pakistan these days is passing through a crucial phase in its short life of sixty two years. The world in general is predicting its imminent breakup. The country already lost its Eastern wing in 1971. David Kilcullen who is a key advisor to General Petraeus the Centcom Commander foreboded that Pakistan has six months before it fully disintegrates. Such a scenario is likely to dwarf all other world conflicts, given a high level of poverty and unemployment, a growing population, easy availability of weapons and a large stock pile of nuclear weapons. The tentacles of the insurgency are now spreading southwards to mainland Pakistan. The recent attack on Manawa Police Training Centre in Lahore again provides evidence about the outreach of these militants. 

            The basis of Pakistan has always been a conundrum. More than half a century later, it is yet to be decided whether it was supposed to be an Islamic theocratic state ruled by an Amir-ul-Momenin or a secular entity where rights of every community are protected. There is ample evidence that the use of religion in governance has led to wars, conflicts, chaos and anarchy. Religion itself is very divisive by nature. Therefore the use of religion as a rallying cry for the creation of Pakistan was in itself a very big folly. The consequences of this blunder are reverberating today at our doorsteps. The Afghan war was projected as an Islamic resistance movement even though it was a battle between two super powers fought and aided by American money.

            Amalgamation of religion with politics in the past has also led to devastating results. The mughal emperor Auranzaib Alamgir who is hailed as an extremely pious and righteous person in our history textbooks was actually a tyrant involved in a massacre of Sikhs on an unprecedented scale just because of their non-Muslim identity. The younger generations of the same Sikhs paid the Muslims in kind during partition of the sub-continent by butchering them in millions. On the contrary the reign of Emperor Akbar is known as the more peaceful and prosperous era in the Mughal dynasty because of his tolerance and acceptance of other religions.

            Pakistan has been unfortunate in the sense that religious intolerance and bigotry has been slowly creeping into the national polity since its inception in 1947. Quaid-i-Azam who himself was a very secular person explicitly stated in his address to the constituent assembly  about protecting the rights of every citizen irrespective of his caste, creed or religion. However Quaid did not stay long enough and the Objective Resolutions of 1949 finally sealed the fate for a secular Pakistan. Thus foundations for religious discrimination were finally laid down. The mullahs, who earlier had opposed the creation of Pakistan, gradually started asserting themselves in national politics by using religion. The 1950s riots against the Ahmedi community were a testimony to their growing influence on a larger scale. Bhutto who was the first democratically elected prime Minister also succumbed to their pressure by declaring Ahmedis as non-Muslims and Friday as weekly holiday instead of Sunday. After Bhutto, Zia used religion to solidify his grip on power. Several laws were introduced and amended to discriminate against minorities and women. After the success of Islamic revolution in Iran, Zia started focusing his energies on the activities of Shia sect. Several militant outfits such as Sipah-e-Sabha, Lashkar Jhangvi were given state patronage resulting in rising sectarianism and dichotomy in the society.

            It is also a sad fact that contributions of persons who have brought laurels to the country have never been fully acknowledged just because they belonged to a different faith. Sir Zafar ullah Khan, an Ahmedi and first foreign minister of Pakistan who very forcefully pleaded the Kashmir case in UN on behalf of Pakistan is hardly known today. Similarly Dr Abdus Salam, the first Nobel laureate in sciences in the Muslim world has always been denied his due share of praise and acknowledgement. His death was barely a news worthy item and there were hardly any publications eulogizing his contributions to the world in general and to Pakistan in particular.  Further he was not even allowed to set up a center of excellence for physics in Pakistan. This center was finally established in Italy. Cecil Chaudhary a decorated war veteran and an ace fighter pilot is on record telling his interviewer that he was denied a promotion by Zia because of his Christian faith. 

            There also is no system of governance in any religion. The holy scriptures define a vague set of rules but lack specifications. They are convoluted and complex and there are differing opinions about their interpretations. The result today is that even after 1400 years Muslims have not been able to come up with a single definition of Muslim. Within the Muslim community there are several sects; each with its own interpretation. Therefore there will have to be different set of laws for every sect if a system of governance based on religion is to be implemented. This however is not humanly possible. A case in point is the Zakat and Ushr Ordinance introduced by Zia to purify the society. Through this ordinance Zakat was made mandatory on every Muslim. However after several protests, an exemption was given to the shia community who had a different view about it. There are fifty seven Islamic countries in the world; none of which follows an Islamic system. Saudi Arabia is a monarchy based on Kingship while the Iranian model is based on British parliamentary democracy.

            The word secularism has been mistranslated by our religious scholars as “Ladeneyat” or “Without Religion”. Secularism in essence is the separation of church and the state, replacing laws based on religious scriptures with civil laws and eliminating discrimination on basis of religion. There is no bar on going to a place of worship in a secular society. Religion in a secular country is regarded as a personal matter. However no preference is given because of a specific religion.

With the imposition of Nizam-e-Adl in Swat, the country has fragmented further on religious lines. The state has capitulated against the Taliban. It is tragic that the entire National assembly surrendered before a bunch of gun totting terrorists, effectively canonizing them as true defenders of faith. This is also likely to set up precedence for other like minded groups to follow and have their way.  Moreover these regulations have actually endorsed the brutality, barbarism and savagery of these Taliban as no action is likely to be taken against them for the chaos and anarchy that they created in these areas. The policy of appeasement is unlikely to work in the present perilous circumstances. The infantile approach of defending these monsters in the name of religion will not get us anywhere. The need of the hour is the complete separation of religion from politics. Otherwise there will be little left of Pakistan to save.

The brazen and audacious attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team by a bunch of young boys in the heart of Lahore once again shows the complete failure of our intelligence agencies. The unpredictable and erratic nature of this task has clear hallmarks of Al-Qaeda or its local collaborators such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. Jammat-ud-Dawa an off-shoot of LET was put under intense pressure by the government as all fingers pointed towards its complaisance in abetting the Mumbai carnage. There was a strong need to keep tabs on such organizations as a very real possibility existed that disgruntled elements of these militant cadres might avenge the killing and arrest of their top leadership. The England match referee Chris Board was spot on, when he castigated the Pakistani authorities for not providing adequate security.  Television footage from different CCTV cameras clearly shows the militants shooting at the bus with not a single security personnel in sight. Such an attack was completely unanticipated as several policemen lost their lives in the fire fight. The consequences could have been devastating had it not been for the quick wit of the driver.

                        Pakistan today is faced with a growing insurgency which is devouring it internally like a cancer. There are myriad groups each with its own agenda. Pakistan today is branded as the most dangerous place on earth due to their terror tactics. Only precise and coordinated intelligence can help in averting this crisis. However performance of our intelligence agencies in this sphere has been quiet dismissal in the past due to their extensive involvement in the political arena right from the inception of this country.

                        The premier and most high profile intelligence organization ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) was founded in 1948 by Major General R. Cawthone Deputy Chief of Staff. The original mandate of this agency was foreign intelligence with added emphasis on India and other neighboring countries. MI (Military Intelligence) and IB (Intelligence Bureau) were tasked with the domestic arena. This changed significantly after Ayub Khan’s coup when all these agencies were put under the direct control of the C-in-C. There were numerous intelligence failures due to the diversion of these agencies towards domestic and political affairs. In 1965 war with India, these agencies were unable to locate an Indian armored brigade and opening of a second front by the Indian army came as a complete surprise to the Pakistani side.

                        After Ayub, Yahya Khan made extensive use of these organizations in East Pakistan. A sum of 29 lakh was specifically assigned to infiltrate Awami League; a party founded by Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman who was demanding equal rights for Bengalis. Irrational and hasty decisions -based on flawed intelligence led to an armed uprising against the Pakistan army resulting in a vast number of civilian casualties. The final result was the dismemberment of the eastern wing and creation of Bangladesh. Yahya wanted to stay on in-spite of the humiliating defeat at the hand of India. Ninety thousand prisoners of war were taken. However, a revolt by junior army officers forced Yayha to relinquish his seat and surrender his powers to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto whose party had emerged as a victor in the last elections. Bhutto took over as Chief Marshal Law Administrator and later became Prime Minister.  Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Bhutto also started using the intelligence agencies for his own domestic agenda.  To consolidate his hold on power, a political cell was formed in the ISI, thus legitimizing its role in political affairs. Bhutto appointed Ghulam Muhammad Jillani as the head of ISI who was one of his favorite generals. This decision proved disastrous as General Jillani played a very active role in planning and executing a coup against Bhutto which ultimately resulted in his death. Extensive use of ISI political cell was made during the 1977 elections. Ballot boxes were stuffed with bogus entries. Opponents were harassed, bullied and intimidated. All the opposition parities started a campaign of civil disobedience to oust Bhutto out of power. During the same era, ISI along with the regular army was used to put down the rebellion in Baluchistan. Leading balouch figures who were demanding more autonomy were picked up and incarnated by intelligence agencies on the flimsiest of charges. Bhutto by then had morphed into a dictator disguised in a civilian grab. There were country wide demonstrations against his rule due to his highly centralized and autocratic decision making which had put the country in a downward spiral.

            There was disillusionment and wide spread anger and frustration with the government policies. Taking advantage of the precarious situation, the military once again intervened. Zia-ul-Haq took over the reins of the country. He was initially treated as a pariah in the international community. However the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan changed everything. Pakistan became a front line state for fight against communism. Flood gates of military aid were opened. Pakistan became third highest recipient of American aid after Israel and Egypt. ISI again played a significant role in the Afghan war. General Akhtar Abdur Rehman headed this organization for eleven years until his death in an air crash in 1988. Scores of religious schools known as Madrassehs were set up along the border with Afghanistan where people were trained to fight a holy war against the infidels Russians. Different militant groups headed by religious clerics like Jalal Ud Din Haqqani, Gulbadin-Hikmatyar were armed, funded and supplied through ISI. The agency was also used to monitor the activities of PPP and other opposition parties. After the success of Islamic revolution in Iran, ISI focused on activities of Shia organizations. To counter the influence of Iran, several outfits and parties such as Jamat-e-Islami were promoted giving rise to intolerance and sectarianism in the society. In 1988 Operation Tupac was launched by Zia which was a three part action plan to capture Kashmir through proxy war. This ended in a disaster unable to achieve any of its objectives.

            A new democratic era ushered in with the death of Zia. Elections were held which brought Peoples Party to power. Benazir Bhutto was elected as the youngest woman Prime Minister of a Muslim country. Despite being the Prime Minister, the real control rested with the Army. Just before the elections, a conglomerate of nine Islamic parties was formed with the intent of giving a tough time to the Peoples Party. This was known as Islami Jemhoori Itehad. It was heavily funded through ISI. The then DG ISI Lt General ® Hameed Gul is on record accepting his complaisance in its formation. The military establishment was always edgy towards Benazir Bhutto. She was deemed too pro American and even a security risk. In 1989 Operation Midnight Jackels was launched o dislodge the government of Peoples Party.

            The history of ISI is also tainted with corruption scandals. The biggest among these is known as the Mehran Bank scandal. ISI funds were placed in Mehran Bank which was owned by Younus Habib, a close associate of the top military hierarchy. The bank was almost insolvent. However General Mirza Aslam Baig and DG ISI Lt General Javaid Nasir came to its rescue. A staggering USD 39 million was deposited in the bank to help it stay afloat. Later senior politicians and political parties were bribed by military and intelligence officers to destabilize the Peoples Party government. This act was also in clear violation of government rules which stated that such banking must be conducted with state owned financial institutions. This scandal came to forefront when Javaid Nasir’s successor Lt General Javaid Ashraf Qazi decided to shift these accounts back to state owned banks. The bank was unable to process this request and went bankrupt. A deal was struck with Younus Habib to return the money which never happened. Younus Habib was later picked up in January 1993 by a law enforcement agency. He was convicted of fraud and embezzlement and a given a sentence of ten year rigorious imprisonment. However the beneficiaries and main players such as Aslam Baig, Javaid Nasir, Asad Durrani went scot-free and currently are leading successful post military careers.

            ISI also played a pivotal role in continuation of the insurgency in Indian held Kashmir. Several training camps were set up in Azad Kashmir. The American administration placed Pakistan on the watch list of terror sponsoring states during the tenure of Lt General Javaid Nasir as DG ISI due to its very active and overt support to Kashmiri militant groups and for his refusal to return the unused stringer missiles used during the Afghan war.

            The agency again became very active in politics after the blood less coup of General Musharaf. Through arm twisting and bribery, it was able to bring together a disparate group of politicians resulting in formation of a new political party known as Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-i-Azam or PML(Q). This party actually created a façade of democracy while the shots were always called by General Musharaf. Pakistan also joined the American war of terror after the 9/11 attacks. To facilitate the Americans several people were picked up by intelligence agencies on suspicion of being Al Qaeda members without abiding by the due process of law. This came to limelight when Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary took suo-moto actions against these arbitrary disappearances. Several people were released due to his efforts. Most of the missing persons were Balouch nationalists who were demanding more rights for their province. Later Justice Chaudhary was pressurized to resign by Mushrraf and his intelligence chiefs when he started taking an independent approach while deciding several high profile cases against the incumbent government.  Chief Justice did not succumb to this pressure and went to fight for his rights. These incidents once again brought notoriety to these organizations.

            The Red Mosque stand off provided another proof of a nexus between our intelligence agencies and the militants groups. Barely located at a distance of few kilometers from the headquarters of ISI and in the heart of Islamabad; the armed brigade of Red Mosque was able to hold off the entire state machinery for more than a week. Amassing truck loads of ammunition with out the consent of authorities is perplexing. Moreover presence of an ex-ISI officer Khalid Khawaja also points to a cozy relationship between the two.

            The final political deal which allowed Benazir to return to Pakistan and contest elections was also facilitated through ISI. General Kayani who then was DG ISI accompanied Musharaf to discuss the technicalities of that deal. National reconciliation ordinance (NRO) had the complete blessings of the military establishment. General Kayani however took very positive steps on assuming his charge as the Army chief. Consequently Mushraf allies lost heavily in February 2008 elections as the public has been disillusioned by their pro-elite policies.

            Pakistan today is a full fledged functioning democracy after a lapse of nine years. There is even a larger need now to keep an oversight over our intelligence organizations. The military argument about an internal system of accountability does not hold water. There has to be a scrutiny of our intelligence agencies through our elected representatives. Regular in-camera briefings should be often held. Moreover ex-military service men who have committed horrendous crimes in the past should be brought to task. A complete change in military mindset is essential where it should understand that it is subservient to the parliament. General Kayani has given very positive signals by disengaging these organizations from politics. This policy of non-interference should continue. These intelligence agencies will only be able to protect and guard our borders by following their original mandate for which each of them was created

We Pakistanis are a strange commodity. People in general here are quick to point fingers and blame others for their follies despite mounting evidence to the contrary. The inability of our successive governments to properly investigate high profile crimes have led us to believe in conspiracy theories. Pakistan at the moment is passing through a crucial phase and is facing an existential threat. The time has come now to take a united stand against the scourge of terrorism. Living in a perpetual mode of denial and blaming India and the Jewish lobby will not get us anywhere. The fact needs to be accepted that there is a very strong network of home grown terrorists who are bent upon disrupting the common man’s way of life and impose their medieval and barbaric agenda on the entire country through the barrel of the gun. The irony is that a large number of these terror outfits were created and actively supported by our security establishment to be used as a proxy in Indian held Kashmir. Now these people have turned into a Frankenstein monster targeting their previous handlers. The situation has come to a point now where ordinary people are even afraid of going for shopping or a walk or even to a mosque. The handling of this crisis which is tearing apart the fabric of this society by the government is less than satisfactory.

There are hardly any examples of where sitting governments have entered into negotiations with terrorists. The repercussions of caving into the demands of terrorists have been quiet devastating. The Indian government set free three hardened criminals in exchange for securing release of passengers of Indian Airline IC-814 which was hijacked by militants and flown to Khandar, Afghanistan. One of them was Mulana Masood Azhar who upon his return to Pakistan formed a militant organization Jaish-e-Muhammad. Members of this group were later involved in several assassination attempts on ex-president Musharaf along with a brazen attack on the Indian parliament which brought the two countries on the brink of another war. The other criminal Omar Saeed Sheikh planned the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Denial Pearl who was later beheaded in the most brutal fashion. His only crime was that he was a Jew. Both these incidents not long brought a bad name to the country but once again proved to the world that Pakistan in a sanctuary for terrorists.

.                       However the current dispensation has already accepted the major demands of these militants. It has virtually surrendered Swat to the militants. This is likely to exacerbate the current situation. Maulana Sufi Muhammad who was earlier jailed as a criminal for taking hundreds of gullible people to Afghanistan to fight against the Americans is now being hailed as a hero. The people of Swat voted for the secular ANP to bring some semblance of peace to their troubled valley. Contrary to their expectations, Swat state will now be ruled by militant obstructionists whose claims to fame are beheading people, destroying schools, demolishing houses and destroying the thriving tourism industry. Cracks are already appearing in the agreement which is yet to be implemented. The murder of the Geo reporter Musa Khan Lala and recent incident of killing of two army jawans who were accompanying a water tanker once again goes on to prove that these militants care less for any deals or agreements. Nizam-Adel or any other system of governance is unlikely to deliver unless there is a complete revamption of the current judicial system. A parallel judicial system is no solution to this growing problem. Further this act of giving into the demands of the militant brigade by the government is likely to set up precedence for other organizations to follow, thus creating chaos and anarchy through out the region

                                    The ever growing influence of these types of religious vigilantes was recently demonstrated in Karachi whereby a musical night held in a DHA ground was disrupted by stick and bamboo holding boys from a nearby mosque. Later, instead of reprimanding these people, the police instead blamed the organizers for holding the event without permission even though no such permission was required in the past.

                                    The Mumbai attacks once again sent us back into a denial mode. Almost everyone from a common person on the street to TV analysts blamed India for orchestrating this plan to implicate Pakistan as a terror sponsoring state. Now after investigations from the lone surviving terrorist it is clear that these attacks were not only planned in Pakistan but the attackers actually were members of a Pakistan based militant organization which until recently was involved in sending its members to fight against the Indian security forces in Indian held Kashmir. The government was quick to point out that no state agencies were involved. However the fact remains that the perpetrators of this heinous act were recruited and trained on Pakistani soil. Similar reasoning was used by United States to declare war on Afghanistan after 9/11 even though not a single hijacker was an Afghani.

                        There is a strong need to build a consensus on the issue of terrorism. It is a menace which if not checked now will destroy the entire country. Burying our head in the sand like an ostrich will not get us anywhere. We need to come out of our siege mentality. The entire world is not out there to get us. The threat that we face is internal. Far more people have died in terrorist incidents than in the wars that Pakistan fought against India. Moreover our military needs to give up on the idea of strategic depth. We need to put our house in order before poking our nose into other people affairs. The government also needs to build a coherent policy. There should be massive funding for education, health and other social services. FATA and other under developed areas should be brought into main stream. Finally the state must have the will to crack down on groups like LET, LEJ and their Afghan and Pakistani collaborators. It is still not too late. This crisis can be tackled provided a unified stand is taken against it

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