Some ulema suggest the government’s ‘pro-America’ foreign policy justifies the militants’ war against it. — Photo by AFP
Ulema and terrorism
By Muhammad Ali Siddiqi ||Jumadi-ul-Awwal 25, 1431, Monday, 10 May, 2010
Ulema and Alem’s Islam not detached from Terrorism. The proceedings at the Deobandi ulema’s recent conference in Lahore must be studied less for its expected refusal to condemn suicide bombings and more for the insight it gives into the psyche of a large section of our powerful ulema community.Of equal significance are the fissures that came to the fore between hardliners and harder-liners. Evidently, the latter carried the day.
It was gratifying that at least some ulema — among them Maulana Samiul Haq — were cognisant of the negative impact which acts of terrorism were having not on the nation but on the Deobandi image.
While the delegates did indeed plead with the militants to adopt peaceful and democratic means for the establishment of Sharia in Pakistan, a majority of the ulema, according to Nasir Jamal’s reportage (Dawn, May 2), said terrorism would continue to haunt Pakistan as long as “factors and causes” responsible for it continued. What was mind-boggling, however, was the principle some ulema propounded to establish a link between terrorism and government policies.
Briefly, the ulema at the Lahore moot said that the government’s foreign policy was pro-America, and this obedience to commands from Washington in their opinion was the reason behind the militants’ war against the government. That this war against the government and the army translates itself into a war on the state of Pakistan itself was an issue into which the ulema chose not go.
If one were to accept resort to terrorism as a justifiable means for registering dissent against government policies, then every country in this world must be ravaged by terrorism, because there is no government on the surface of the earth whose policies do not have critics. Let us, for instance, see the situation in two of Pakistan’s neighbours — Iran and India — where government policies have diehard foes.
The nuclear deal between America and India was first agreed upon in principle when Manmohan Singh met George Bush in July 2005. It took more than three years for the treaty to go through the various phases of America’s complex constitutional process and approval from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the nuclear suppliers’ group.
The treaty evoked opposition from key members of the Senate and House foreign relations committees, but to my knowledge no senators or congressmen or lobby groups resorted to terrorism or to threats of terrorism to express disapproval of this aspect of the Bush government’s foreign policy.
In India the treaty aroused intense opposition, not only from the traditionally anti-American parties of the Left but also from the extreme rightwing Hindu parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party. The press was equally divided, and influential sections of the print and electronic media came out with highly technical opinions from nuclear scientists who argued that the treaty undermined India’s nuclear programme.
The opposition finally called for the Manmohan government to obtain a vote of confidence, and it goes without saying that the vote saw a phenomenon we in Pakistan are quite familiar with — MPs were bought and convicts brought from prison to cast their votes. All along the intensely emotional debate, no party or group started killing India’s own citizens and blowing up markets and schools and temples and mosques because they thought the Manmohan government had sold India to Washington or to its corporate sector.
To our west, we have a theocracy in Iran, almost as obscurantist and ruthless as Ziaul Haq’s tyranny. The clerics have imposed an ideological dictatorship on Iran, the Internet is censored, foreign channels are banned or shown selectively, there is no opposition press and even government newspapers are often banned when they deviate from the official line.
The economy is in a mess, and crude-producing Iran imports half its oil because of lack of refining capacity. The parliamentary opposition does manage to put its views across, but the real opposition has gone underground. But no opposition group has started killing Iran’s men, women and children and blowing up shopping plazas in Tehran and bombing schools in Isfahan or mosques in Mashhad because President Ahmadinejad is pursuing wrong policies.
It is, however, in Pakistan that some sections of the ulema think that killing our own people is a justified way of expressing dissent against the government’s policies.
Mind you, the government’s perceived pro-American policies do not have opponents merely in the religious right. Even liberal sections of opinion — the recently formed Workers Party Pakistan, for instance — are sharply critical of a continuation of Pervez Musharraf’s war on terror by the PPP-led government. But none of these political parties and elements has justified blasts in Moon market or the blowing up of mosques or a girls’ university to register their protest against the government’s foreign policy.
The religious touch to the ulema’s anti-Americanism is laughable. Just the other day, they were head over heels in love with America, and any opposition to the CIA’s overt and covert operations in Afghanistan was considered heresy because there existed an “indissoluble unity” among the People of the Books.
The ulema know the hurmat Islam attaches to human life. In case some of them have forgotten, the blast in the Rawalpindi Askari mosque on Dec 4 last killed, among others, 16 children.
P.S: For some mysterious reason, ideologically motivated governments, movements and individuals, whether religious or secular — Nazi, Zionist, Taliban — are singularly devoid of the milk of human kindness. The attitude of a large number of Pakistani clerics today reminds us of the Christian church’s cold-bloodedness in burning purported heretics at the stake in medieval Europe.
Courtesy : DawnNews.