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Finally, the Deobandi awakening against Taliban terrorists?

No condemnation
Dawn Editorial
Monday, 03 May, 2010

There is little doubt that there still exist, across Pakistan, mosques, schools of religious learning and other religious centres that continue to spew hate. Unless that infrastructure of hate is shut down, and clearly some in attendance at the Lahore conference would oppose such a move, Pakistan will never win its struggle for internal peace. – Photo by AP.

An extraordinary gathering of top Deobandi leaders was arranged in Lahore in the hope of getting religious leaders, scholars and politicians to speak with one voice in condemning, with no ifs or buts, suicide bombing and militancy in Pakistan.

The reason for the gathering was that the government and army have realised it is an important part of the counter-insurgency strategy to isolate the militants ideologically and expose them for what they are, i.e. murderers using religion as a cover to grab power and further their millenarian beliefs. Unfortunately, though perhaps not unpredictably, the Deobandi leadership baulked, preferring instead to focus on the ‘other’ causes of militancy in the country. These ‘other’ reasons are well-known: the American presence in Afghanistan, the lack of a ‘true’ Islamic system of governance in Pakistan, the Musharraf government’s support for the ‘evil’ Americans, drone strikes in the tribal areas, etc. In short, everyone but the people actually using bombs, suicide bombers, IEDs and beheadings to kill and maim Pakistanis are to blame for the security crisis in the country.

Not everyone who is a critic of American foreign policy in the region is a fanatic. Not everyone who questions the role of the Pakistan Army and state in the current state of affairs is a religious ideologue. Not everyone who supports talks and peace negotiations is a militant. But when a group of religious leaders comes together to discuss the issue of militancy, it is odd, to say the least, that it can find a voice to condemn everyone other than the militants themselves. Of course, not all those who attended the Deobandi conference in Lahore could be labelled as extremists. Indeed, observers have noted that ‘moderate’ voices were present, but in the end they were perhaps too intimidated by the hardliners in attendance to speak their minds.

Therein lies the great danger that still lurks inside Pakistan. Experts in counter-insurgency have long pointed out that a military response alone will not win this war against militancy. What’s needed is for the infrastructure of hate and religious bigotry to also be shut down. Branding all madressahs as incubators of hate and violence is wrong. But there is little doubt that there still exist, across Pakistan, mosques, schools of religious learning and other religious centres that continue to spew hate. Unless that infrastructure of hate is shut down, and clearly some in attendance at the Lahore conference would oppose such a move, Pakistan will never win its struggle for internal peace.

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  • Badi Dair Ki Mehrubaan Atey Atey…

    These peoples have lost their credibility for their turns and twists and apologetic stance…instead of wasting time on them, they should be avoided and dont let them milk the concern sectors. They will spread further ambiguity with their if and buts…
    Simply Govt. Should monitor their foreign unaudited aids and mark those elements in the corporate class who by giving a share of their tax stolen money and earned through anti labour tactics get a “Halal” approved certificate from them…
    Invest some of it through Banks with affixes as Islamic…in this way indirectly benefiting the elements affiliated with their madressas through big sums as consultancy fees….

  • These religious leaders seriously disappointed the vast majority of Pakistanis who wanted them to give a Fatwa against suicide bombing. Unless the source of funding for these religious schools is severed, there won’t be any change in the mindset of these extremist Mullahs.

  • All the religious factions need to be united on a single platform to curb terrorism. Without everyone on board, the fight against terrorism can prove to be unfruitful.

  • Ulema and terrorism
    By Muhammad Ali Siddiqi
    Monday, 10 May, 2010

    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.

  • Back to sleep?

    Darululoom Deoband bans Indian Muslims from working in banks

    LUCKNOW: A powerful Islamic seminary in northern India has issued a fatwa against Muslims working in banks, a spokesman said on Friday, deeming it a violation of Islamic law.

    The ruling by the Darululoom Deoband, India’s oldest Sunni-run seminary, in northern Uttar Pradesh state, was issued last week but made public on Friday, Mufti Shakeel of the “Fatwa” department said. “According to the tenets of Islam, Muslims must not work in banks because as employees they would have to deal with transactions involving interest and also make interest entries in bank ledgers,” Shakeel said. “That is a violation of sharia,” he said. “Interest is strictly banned under sharia law. Anyone having anything to do with interest is clearly committing an illegal act,” he added. Muslims leaders and professionals described the decree as “impractical”.

    “The fatwa is in keeping with our religious beliefs but as India does not offer Islamic banking services, it is an impractical move,” Kamal Farooqui, an accountant and member of the autonomous All India Muslim Personal Law Board, told AFP. afp\15\story_15-5-2010_pg7_2

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