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Islamists vs moderates: The battle within Pakistan security establishment – by Pejamistri

Editor’s note: Pejamistri’s post suggests that Pakistan army is an institution with diverse composition and possibilities. Generals come and go but the overall direction will only change over time. A non-Islamist or moderate General like Musharraf will shore up like minded Generals (and certainly that is desirable). When needed, Generals will go with the Deobandi Taliban as well. Whether the Army is run by an Islamist General or a non Islamist General, the operational priorities are largely determined by perceived strategic priorities. For the foreseeable future Army continues to have a proxy role in Kashmir and Afghanistan, so “good” Deobandi and Salafi Jihadis will continue to be nurtured.

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The composition of Pakistan military is as diverse as Pakistan itself. However since the beginning, the top brass of Pakistan military has acted as a mafia whose objective was to keep the country under their control. The sole objective over years had been to strengthen and enhance their rule.

The military rule of General Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988) gradually transformed the military into a more ruthless and tyrant mafia that could govern its subject not only through terror but also via religious bigotry and deception. This made the military mafia much more powerful and dangerous. The adoption of Islamist (dominant Deobandi and Salafi Wahhabi) ideology by the military mafia however exposed it to inherent danger of rift due to the composition of young officers. It was almost impossible to stop the elevation of non-Islamist (i.e., moderate Muslim) officers to rank of general and ultimately the don of the mafia.

In the post-Afghan Jihad era, General Pervez Musharraf became the first non-Islamist (moderate or secular Muslim) don of the military mafia. Before 9/11, Pervez Musharraf acted as a Don whose goal was to protect the rule of the mafia, but later on the war on terror caused strong rift in the ranks of military. This rift was impossible to contain and it culminated in the shape of Laal Masjid incident bringing the Islamist and non-Islamist factions of the mafia face-to-face. This battle between Islamist and non-Islamist military factions caused the ultimate confusion amongst the democratic forces in Pakistan. I won’t go in details of how democratic forces took part in ‘Lawyers Movement’ initiated by the Islamist faction of the military mafia in order to replace the non-Islamist Don with an Islamist Don.

Pervez Musharraf had created a very strong group of non-Islamist military generals in the top brass of military mafia. This group despite being defeated by the Islamist Don General Kyani kept resisting the hold of Islamists. PPP’s regime under the leadership of Asif Zardari with the help of United States and West tried to make sure that the non-Islamist group is not completely defeated.

Maulana Samiul Haq Deobandi, Qari Saifullah Akhtar Deobandi, Jamia Binoria, Jamia Haqqania and other Deobandi-Salafist madrassas and militants are Jihadist partners of Pakistan Army.
Maulana Samiul Haq Deobandi, Qari Saifullah Akhtar Deobandi, Jamia Binoria, Jamia Haqqania and other Deobandi-Salafist madrassas and militants are Jihadist partners of Pakistan Army.

Islamist military mafia, however, used the five years of Zardari rule to consolidate their power and formulate the post Zardari strategy. Islamist military mafia was eyeing Afghanistan yet again after the withdrawal of US and NATO. For this they needed to have a regime in Pakistan that will provide them maximum support in implementing the strategic-depth doctrine. Therefore they started investing in Nawaz Sharif who due to his younger brother’s rule in Punjab was the most attractive asset for them. PML-N was injected with radical or takfiri Deobandi elements and Shahbaz Sharif was provided the necessary support by ASWJ, LeJ and other extremist parties in Punjab.In order to maintain a proper balance as well as acting on the “doctrine of best deception”, Islamist military mafia planned that Imran Khan the other viable force is also kept under check. For this purpose they injected Jamaat Islami and Javed Hashmi like people into PTI. Imran Khan himself was lured into false propaganda of drones and civilian deaths.

The 2013 elections were conducted by Taliban with Iftikhar Chaudhary as the de factor chief election commissioner and the for-sale tools such as Najam Sethi as facilitators of rigging. Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) with the help of ASWJ, LeJ, JuD and other extremists parties provided the election machinery to control the elections. Private media channels like Geo (Jang Group) were utilised at their full capacity to create a conducive environment for the desired results in the elections. Commercial liberals working for Deobandi Mafia acted as lobbyists and propagandists of Nawaz Sharif. This included Najam Sethi, the caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, and a known ‘liberal’ anchor of Geo TV. Islamist military mafia was afraid of PPP victory and they planned for its defeat. Islamist military mafia expected a land slide victory by Nawaz Sharif after successfully cornering PPP by targeted killing of PPP supporters/candidates and vicious media campaign.

To the surprise of Islamists military mafia, on the 11th May 2013, people of Pakistan once again rejected the Islamist candidates of Nawaz Sharif. This created ultimate panic in the mafia causing them to resort to massive rigging immediately. Despite the blatant rigging and direct telecast on the free media channels, Islamists expected that people of Pakistan will somehow accept the elections as this rigging was not against PPP but against a more rightwing leader Imran Khan, whom they thought they would be able to easily manage. After the elections things appeared relatively calm. Military mafia decided to turn the suicide bombing switch off to give people Pakistan a semblance of security and peace. Saudi Arabia and other Islamist (Salafi Wahhabi) nations started giving enough money to provide a temporary relief to economy. Imran Khan got his government in KP. In order to keep KP government under control, military mafia planted Jamat Islami in the government.

There was however another risk in store. Nawaz Sharif despite being helped to win the elections, was still a bloody civilian leader. Based on the past experience, mafia would never trust him. Therefore it was imperative to mitigate this risk as soon as possible.

On the other hand, non-Islamist faction of the military mafia was not going to retreat so easily. Ex-Don Pervez Musharraf was now a free man without any restrictions of a don. Soon there were ripples in the otherwise vacuum of the Pakistani politics. Arrival of Pervez Musharraf panicked the Islamist military mafia. As the US withdrawal approached near military mafia had to execute their plans in a hurry. One of the immediate action was to bring Nawaz Sharif under control, for that purpose they lured his brother into a trap where he got himself involved in the murder of Bralevi muslims in model town Lahore massacre. This was the start of new round of battle between the democratic forces and the military mafia. This time however the battle lines were blurred and Islamist military mafia tried to create as much confusion and chaos as possible. For that they were ready to take any risk and go to any lengths.

Islamist military mafia had two immediate objectives; first to trap Nawaz Sharif as a hostage so that during his remaining tenure he does not cause any problems. Second to get rid of the non-Islamist high ranking officers in the military. The second objective was risky as that could have caused the first ever mutiny in the otherwise perfect mafia. And that was the reason for the activation of all the propaganda channels and sleeping cells. First objective has been almost achieved although there is still an element of risk that despite being blackmailed and under a hanging sword (literally) on his head, the bloody civilian Nawaz Sharif may at any time decided to revolt. The second objective however is yet to be achieved.

The non-Islamist (or moderate) military faction is fighting the battle of its survival, they are ready to go to any lengths except the mutiny. When Islamist military mafia tout journalists talk about the hand of military in the current sit-ins by Imran Khan and Qadri, they refer to hand of non-Islamist faction of the military mafia. On the other hand when they refer to the support of military to the democracy and Nawaz Sharif they refer to the Islamist faction of military mafia. Islamist military mafia has invested a lot in the past 8 years in Nawaz Sharif. His exile in Saudi Arabia provided him the best training the doctrine of deception and Islamism. Islamist military mafia would not let their investment wasted in Nawaz Sharif. Hence this battle was so intense.

As usual current battle is one of millions of battles that Pakistanis have to fight in the war to democratic, liberal Pakistan. One of the major achievement of democratic forces in this battle is the exposition of sleeping cells of Islamist Military mafia in the civil society. I call it a Commercial Liberal Deobandi Alliance (CLDA). The battle has also brought a major milestone of involving the urban lower middle class in more affective way in this battle. Likes of Imran Khan and his followers now their vital role in this battle. This round has significantly weakened the Islamist military mafia control in the urban areas of the country. The battle lines are now less blurred, the alignment of the forces is clearer.

Although military mafia has survived the immediate threat of mutiny and a possible defeat, but there is now clear and present danger of defeat. Pakistan army consists of large number of non-Islamist persons, and if there is a clear battle between Islamist and non-Islamist forces as we are seeing in the past 8 years, there is a significant chance of such an outcome.

And as I have always said the battle is on for liberal, democratic Pakistan and now with an additional objective of saving a four thousand years old civilisation from the cancer of dark civilisation that threatens the whole human race.

About the author

Taj

Ali Abbas Taj is the Editor of Let Us Build Pakistan.
@aliabbastaj on Twitter

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  • Veteran Pakistani columnist Ayaz Amir recently highlighted the tension between takfiri terrorists and anti-takfiri moderate forces in Pakistan.

    “Another under-appreciated point about PAT and its allies in the Sunni Ittehad Council and the Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen (the leading Shiite political party) is that together they represent the moderate, liberal Islam of the overwhelming majority of the Pakistani people. This Islam, the Islam of Bulleh Shah, Shah Hussain, Ghulam Farid and the great Ali Hajveri, patron saint of Lahore, is anti-Taliban Islam, anti-Takfiri Islam. For too long this Islam was relegated to the political sidelines because it lacked a political voice. The Sheikh-ul-Islam, after a lifetime of preparation, has given it that voice.

    The fight against the Taliban is not just a military struggle. It is also an ideological struggle between moderate and Takfiri Islam. The army can use its tanks and guns but for all-out victory, for success on the ideological front, for Pakistan to return to its moorings, there has to be a meeting of minds between the army and moderate Islam. And if there is such an understanding, conscious or otherwise, Pakistan will never go the way of Iraq or Syria. No Salafi brand of fitna (discord) can arise on its soil.” http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-9-266655-As-the-end-approaches