Turdy Rubin’s article in Philadelphia Inquirer (Miami Herald, Posted on Sat, Nov. 10, 2007) is a classic example of the minds working under the huge influence of anti-Islam propaganda.
The analysis begins with criticising Musharraf’s military regime and the way it sacked and jailed the judges of the Supreme Court and arrested a number of lawyers and human rights activities. She rightly says that “Islamist parties” in Pakistan “have never won more than 11 percent of the vote” and the real threat in Pakistan are “not the Islamists.”
Then she moves on to the twisted facts propagated for the sake for anti-Islam propaganda. She writes: “The real threat in Pakistan today is not that Islamists will triumph at the polls. The threat is the creeping ”Talibanization” of areas of Pakistan, where home-grown jihadis are expanding outward from their bases in tribal areas along the Afghan border.”
The fist point is that why call religious parties “Islamists” who don’t share the same goal; who do not share the same strategy; who are hardly different than their secular counter parts; who are more supportive of the US-backed, secular military regime than any other party. They are as much exploiting the banner of Islam as much was Zia Ul Haq doing the same for the US. Why was Zia not called Islamist and Jihadist? This is just a simple indicator of total ignorance of the Western analysts, writing under the influence of an unimaginable amount of disinformation about Muslims and Islam.
The unfortunate reality is that even those who are seriously critical of the military regime in Pakistan find it hard to get out of the influence of the years long propaganda. No doubt excesses were committed during the Taliban reign. However, it is absolutely wrong to invent labels such as “talibanization” and use them where the objective is to make people untouchable, unpardonable and evil.
One has to understand the phenomenon which is being labelled as Talibanization. Almost 90% of the so-described Talibanization is resistance to the military regime’s aggression in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Local people are reacting to the high-handed approach –” rather enemy making adventures –” of Pakistani military so that it could keep the myth of al-Qaeda alive and let the US believe that it is fighting a “war on terrorism.” Without this approach the US support will dry up and the military regime will be doomed.
Whatever is happening in Bara and Swat, on the other hand, is the total failure of Pakistani military and civilian feudal elites in establishing a true Islamic welfare state at it was envisioned before the creation of Paksitan. Both the military and the religious political parties successfully used the slogan of Islam, but didn’t work seriously to make Pakistan a model Islamic state, which could remove the morbid dread and totally misplaced misconceptions about an Islamic state.
The US also successfully used the desire of masses to live by Islam, first in the 1970 to throw Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto out through financially (and otherwise) supporting a religious movement for establishing Islam in Pakistan. It was called Tahreek-Nifaz-e-Islam –” almost the same slogan as we hear in Swat these days. That exploitation of Islam by the US was followed by the US playing with the peoples’ feelings for Islam by promoting Jihad against the Soviet Union and communism, whereby Muslims were told that if communism succeeded, they won’t be able to practice religion and live by Islam. That’s exactly what the US wants them to do now.
After defeating the Soviet Union, the US didn’t need to exploit the peoples’ genuine hankering for living by Islam any more. So it started promoting secularism and sufi Islam. Like Zia, who followed the US in using the banner of Islam for safeguarding US strategic interests, the new dictators in Islamabad is using the banner of secularism to serve the US interests by keeping Muslims away from Islam. Both Generals engaged in doing what the US wanted them to do to perpetuate their rule for the US hegemonic designs in the region.
In the process, however, the people’s desire to live by Islam in an independent, sovereign state never diminished. A majority of the masses still want self-rule and living by Islam as much they wanted before 1947. The same desire was effectively used for the creation of a separate, independent state for Muslims.
So, observing the failure of government after governments in Islamabad, and seeing no progress on the front of establishing living by Islam, some individuals took it upon themselves to do as much as they could in this regard.
Lal Masjid, Bara and Swat are some of the examples. These individuals and the people associated with them may have committed mistakes. They may have committed excesses. They might be totally wrong as well. However, did anyone listen to these people as to what do they want? They might be doing what they want to do in a wrong way, but are their demands also wrong? Are they against the law of the land? Are they against the constitution of Pakistan? Did anyone discuss and debate with them? Did anyone try to do, whatever they demand, in a right way? The answer to all these questions is: Absolutely not, simply because that is not a priority for them.
In the absence of a dialogue, discussion, debate, negotiations, the issue will remain alive. Call it “Talibanization” or whatever you may like, the need for which Pakistan was established will remain. There will always be people willing to struggle for exercising their right to self-determination and self-rule in a society which they believe would not allow violation of the very basic principles of Islam.
What is labelled as Talibanization is actually the polarization in Pakistan, where on the one hand are the feudal elites and their secular supporters who believe that living by the basic principles of Islam is not possible in 21st century. On the other hand are the people who believe that if given a peaceful opportunity, they can demonstrate to the world that living by Islam is not oppressive; it does not violate human rights; it does not advocate totalitarianism; it does not violence and nihilism; it does not promote anti-Westernism for the sake of it, and it does not allow anyone to do whatever myths have been associated with Islam.
The bottom-line is that the basic principle of the Islamophobic Bush-Mush approach is to not even listen to the people who don’t agree with them; don’t give them a chance to prove what they claim. According to the neo-cons strategy and belief, since living by Islam will be oppressive and a threat to the humanity, they are justified in using oppression and crimes against humanity to deny others a chance to prove that what they want will not be oppressive or a threat to the humanity.
It simply confirms the Islamophobes’ belief that their existing and present danger, their factual terrorism, oppression and nihilist approach is good as long as they can make their people believe that they are fighting a presumed threat of Talibanization which will be more oppressive than the oppression employed against them.