crisis erupts in Pakistan. The first was dominated by civil society
with lawyers and judges demanding a separation of powers and an
independent judiciary. Simultaneously a group of preachers in
an Islamabad mosque began to take direct action of a violent sort
and demand the full implementation of the shariah (religious laws
to further increase the social control of women) and a special
religious police to ensure their implementation. A mosque under
extremist control in the heart of Islamabad has been the spearhead
of these demands. It is situated not too far from government buildings.
they have got the valuable urban land and built the mosque and
madrassahs over two blocks without government support at some
stage? They didn't. The father of the two preachers who have led
the action worked for military intelligence long before Musharraf
appeared on the scene.
Having been once helped and funded by the State they were later
declared illegal and are hence short of funds. Even a year ago
they might have been bought off, but no offers were on the table.
Now it was too late. Armed jihadis began to shoot at police and
soldiers. Musharraf sent in his favourite fixer to broker a deal,
but neither side could accept the demands of the other. The militants
challenged the regime and it hit back early July 9, 2007.
It is worth
noting that there has been no mass mobilisation to support either
the Judges or the jihadis. The multitudes remain silent and passive,
seeing neither struggle as being fought in their interests. The
alliance of religious parties that has provincial power in the
North-West Frontier province has not defended the group that transformed
the mosque and its adjoining madrassah into an armed encampment
apart from requesting that the lives of innocent women and children
an eruption of a
mass movement from below
could change the landscape,
but the people are wary.
They have been betrayed once too
often by General and politician alike.
should they sacrifice
their lives in vain?
issue raises an old question: what is the degree of Islamist penetration
of the military? It can only be fear of exacerbating divisions
in the military and its agencies that resulted in the extraordinary
caution displayed by the regime several months ago when it was
obvious that the jihadis were plotting mayhem. And, ask the cynics
inside the country, whose brilliant idea was it to organise the
jihadi kidnapping of Chinese nationals thus making it impossible
for the regime to hold back any longer? Since the country's national
interests were now at stake firm action could no longer be postponed.
came to power in 1999 pledging a set of reforms that would transform
the country. He failed to implement any of them, did deals with
cliques of discredited politicians and was further weakened when
he agreed to become a local point-man for the United States. The
country at large continued to rot leaving a vacuum for jihadis
this was happening inside the country the 36 opposition political
parties, big and small, were meeting in London to map a common
strategy to restore civilian rule. The conclave ended without
reaching an agreement, symbolising its political impotence.
reports of a new attempt on General Musharraf's life last week.
too, is safe for the moment. Pakistan, alas, remains a complete
Only an eruption
of a mass movement from below could change the landscape, but
the people are wary. They have been betrayed once too often by
General and politician alike.
they sacrifice their lives in vain?
Tariq Ali's new book, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Axis Of Hope,
is published by Verso. He also wrote Rough Music: Blair,
Bombs, Baghdad, Terror, London (Verso); Street Fighting
Years (new edition) and, with David Barsamian,Speaking of
Empires & Resistance. He can be reached at [email protected]
here to order Tariq Ali books.
Other articles by Tariq Ali:
Adieu, Blair, Aideu
The Khyber Impasse
The War Is Already Lost
Venezuela And The Bolivarian Dream
A Bavarian Provocation
A Protracted Colonial War
On The Death Of Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Iraq's Destiny Still Rests Between God, Blood And Oil
A Despised Leader Suffers His First Loss
Pakistan Will Never Forget This Horror
The Logic Of Colonial Rule
A Viler Barbarism
The Price Of Occupation
The New Ultra-Imperialism Of The World
"They Think God Runs The IMF"
Imperial Delusions: "Domocracy Promotion" And Resistance
The New Model Of Imperialism: Saddam On Parade
The Importance Of Hugo Chavez: Why He Crushed The Oligarchs
Getting Away With Murder
The War Is Not Going Well For Bush