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Friday, 28 September 2012

The British State Loves the Pakistani State
Introduction: What is Pakistan?

Is Islam at the heart of the problem that is Pakistan?

Is Islam at the heart of our problem with Pakistan?

I would say that it is.

Islam is also at the heart of the problem for millions of Pakistani Christians, women, Ahmadiyya, secularists and even Shia Muslims. In any case, the formidable expert on all things jihadist, Gilles Kepel, almost states the obvious when he says that

Without Islam, Pakistan would not exist. Islam was the only element that united the population and justified the state’s separatism from India [in 1949]. Other than Islam, very little else was held in common by the Pashtuns, Sindhis, Punjabis, Baluchis…”

Clearly there were - and still are! - consequences to this focus on Islam in a nation. Those consequences are political, psychological and social. Or, as Kepel goes on to say:

When national identity is directly dependent on Islamic identity, those who can define the latter most cogently will be the best qualified to maintain the nation’s cohesion.”

Ahmed Rashid, in his Descent into Chaos, also notes this absolute reliance on Islam when it came to the formation of Pakistan. He too, like Kepel, hints at the sizable problems with this, as it were, national monomania. He says:

[The] ‘two-nation theory’, which was to form the basis for the Pakistan movement, disregarded ethnic and linguistic differences and considered a separate religious identity sufficient to create a nation.”

And if Islam is the be all and end all of all things Pakistani, then it is not surprising that not only is Islam of vital importance to both the Pakistani state and to Pakistani identity, but that these very facts invariably lead to Islamic extremism and ultimately to Islamic terrorism.

Bearing all that in mind, it should not be a surprise either that such monomania on Islam, like the Nazis and National Socialism of 1930s Germany, should permeate every aspect of Pakistani life, from the state and the Pakistani Intelligence Service (ISI), to how women are treated in the home. The Indian novelist V.S. Naipaul offers how own example of this monomania for Islam in Pakistan. Take history as it is taught in Pakistani schools. Naipaul writes:

History, in the Pakistani school textbooks I looked at, begins with Arabia and Islam. In the simpler texts, surveys of the Prophet and the first four caliphs and perhaps the Prophet’s daughter….” – New York Review of Books, January 31,

The British State Loves the Pakistani State
It was always a surprise - to all those who knew about Pakistan - when the media used to focus so much on Bin Laden and al-Qaeda when Pakistan terror groups were just as prolific as the former and that these groups owed nothing, ideologically or organisationally, to al-Qaeda. Not only that. Pakistani terror groups have, up to now, been largely separate from al-Qaeda and relied far more on the Pakistani state itself – one of the topics of this piece.

On the same theme.

If we go back to the intervention in Iraq, in 2003, at that time the Pakistani state (rather than the terror groups to which I have just referred) had closer relations with Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaeda than Saddam Hussein or indeed any other Iraqis.

Most commentators know that Pakistan is a terrorist state and a terror-supporting state. Even the British state itself knows this but in its real politic and old-Etonian-diplomat way plays a dangerous game with the Pakistani rulers.

(The British state has supported the Pakistani state (with a few hiccups here and there) since its creation in 1947. Indeed Britain was strategically and politically involved in its creation.)

Politicians don’t seem to know - or don’t act upon what they know! - about the Pakistani state. This navel commander, at the Defence Academy (in 2006) knows:

[The Pakistani] army’s dual role in combating terrorism and at the same time promoting the MMA [the coalition of religious parties] and so indirectly supporting the Taliban through the ISI [Pakistani Intelligence Service]… Pakistan, through the ISI, has been supporting terrorism and extremism…”

The Time correspondent, Mark Kukis, in 2006, also knows:

“… at worst, the Pakistan military is actively involved in the training of [terrorists]. At the very least, the military rulers in Islamabad allow military to carry on terror training in the territories they control.”

It is not surprising, then, that in 2005 there were over 55 terrorist-training camps in Pakistan, at least according to Indian intelligence.

At the heart of the British state’s love affair with Pakistan is the former’s belief, or pretend belief, that among the Islamic nations, Pakistan alone is committed to what President Musharraf called “enlightened moderation”. But, according to Ali Bayan Hasan (?), who was a specialist for Human Rights Watch, wrote:

“’Enlightened moderation’ is a hoax perpetrated by Musharraf for international consumption.”

Hasan then goes on to explain this in terms of the “mullah-military alliance”. That alliance “remains deeply rooted, and the Pakistani military and Musharraf continue to view ‘moderate’ and ‘liberal’ forces in politics and society as their principle adversaries”.

Despite all that it was still the case that, in December 2006, PM Tony Blair met Musharraf “to share a common agenda to promote enlightened moderation and to combat the forces of extremism”.

More to the point. Tony Blair never criticised Musharraf’s policies and neither did he attempt to put pressure on the Pakistani President to stop “secretly” supporting the Taliban. (This was in 2006 when British forces in the Helmand province were ceaselessly under attack from the Taliban.)

Later, in 2007, Foreign Minister Geoff Hoon continued with the bullshit by waxing lyrical about “Musharraf’s commitment to promoting enlightened moderation”.

In the same year the next Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, said that Pakistan and the UK “shared commitments to global issues, ranging from terrorism to climate change”.

Not long after that statement to Parliament from David Milliband, Musharraf imposed martial law on Pakistan, suspended the constitution and arrested political opponents (including lawyers). Yet again, in 2007, Gordon Brown still praised Pakistan as “a major ally in the global effort to combat terrorism”.

Thatcher Loved General Zia. Blair Loved General Musharraf

Just as terrorism is a logical consequence of Islam, so too is authoritarian or even totalitarian rule. So here I will comment upon British support for two Pakistani presidents both of whom imposed martial law on Pakistan as well as supported Islamoterrorism. Indeed even after the imposition of martial law the British government still supported these two Pakistani presidents.

Let’s deal with General Zia first.

He ruled Pakistan between 1978 and 1988.

Zia was trained in the British Indian army and was always a strong supporter of fundamentalist Islam. From the very beginning he wanted to ‘Islamise’ Pakistan.

General Zia never had a popular base in Pakistan. As a result of this he sought the support of the mullahs and the extremist Jamaat-i-Islami. (A political party with strong connections with British Muslims and the Respect Party.)

Zia imposed martial law on Pakistan in 1979. This included complete press censorship. However, what is of relevance to this piece is that he thought that the Pakistani state should incorporate “the spirit of Islam”. As a result and amongst many other things, he banned women from athletic sports contests and physically forced Muslims to obey the various Islamic fasts.

As a result of his position on women, for example, Ms Farkander Iqbal, of Lahore, wrote:

“Ever since Zia gave power to the mullahs, it seems as though every man feels he can get hold of any female and tear her apart.”

(This was, or do Islamist females endorse a part-explanation for the terrible situation for women in Pakistan – much of it.)

More relevantly, when the British government was supporting Zia, two important terrorist groups were created that both had the states and Zia’s support. One of which was Harkat al-Jehad al-Islami (HUJI), which was set up by the Tableghi Jamaat (also big in the UK). Pakistan’s ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Service) also worked with HUJI’s leadership.

President Musharraf

Musharraf also had his British connections – just like Zia. Before he took his place as the head of the Pakistani army, he had had two periods of military training in the UK.(This can be placed against the fact that 36 Pakistani military officers underwent training in the UK in the year 2000 alone.)

General Zia had actually chosen Musharraf because he was a devout Deobandi and had strong contacts with Jamaat-i-Islami. (The JI’s network of Deobandi religious schools, or madrasses, educated and Islamised thousands upon thousands of young people across Pakistan in the 1970s and 1980s.

However, it is in the Islamic nature of Pakistan that “moderate”, or even “secular”, governments not only toe the Islamic line generally, but often the Sharia line too.

Take President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who ruled from 1970 to 1977.

This leader also brought about measures banning alcohol, horseracing and nightclubs. He even once claimed, in ?, that Sharia law would be fully implemented in Pakistan within six months of his rule. However, before he could fully achieve that, General Zia overthrew him in July 1977 and hanged him in April 1979. Ironically, Zia implemented full Sharia himself, instead of Bhutto.

His brand of Sharia law went even further than Bhutto’s. Indeed he examined all existing laws to see if they conformed to Sharia. He then introduced an Islamic penal code which included corporal punishment or hudud, (the severing of thieves’ limbs, stoning adulterous women, whipping drinkers of alcohol) and, more importantly perhaps, the Islamisation of all aspects of education. Even every aspect of the economy, of all things, was given the full Sharia treatment.

From what has been said about the British government’s love-in with the Pakistani state/government, it should come as no surprise that both PM Thatcher and PM Blair accepted Zia’s and Musharraf’s promises to return Pakistan to democracy. (Return Pakistan to democracy?) This went along with the parallel view that Pakistan’s military rulers were, in fact, pro-Western forces of stability in the region as well as being fierce opponents of, yes, Islamoterrorism.

So let’s jump forward to 2006.

The Defence Minister at the time, Adam Ingram, had this to say about Pakistan:

“Pakistan is critical to achieving many of HMG’s international objectives, including counter-terrorism, human rights and engagement with the Islamic world.”

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