End of the military-jihadi nexus

By Dr Manzur Ejaz                     Daily Times 06 Jan 2010

 The military has no choice but to eliminate all types of non-state armed groups in Pakistan to save the state and its own privileges. The military may want to pick and choose among these groups, but circumstances will force it to take them out one by one.

Asia Peace, a discussion forum, opened the New Year with making predictions about the possible scenarios in Pakistan. Ultimately, the debate centred on the prospects for the military-jihadi nexus. An overwhelming majority believes that the military will keep its jihadi option intact by differentiating between good and bad Taliban and other extremist groups. A very tiny minority, including myself, optimistically believes that the military has no choice but to take out all kinds of jihadis. The military may wish otherwise and may not be fully cognizant of its limited choices but circumstances will force it to clean up the mess it created.

An overwhelming majority of discussants believed in the continuation of the status quo of military-jihadi cooperation. They pointed out that the security agencies have not touched major jihadist leaders like Maulana Azhar, Hafiz Saeed, the Haqqani group and many other extremist outfits; they are being saved for future proxy wars in Afghanistan and India. Pessimists maintain that the military is wedded to the jihadis in such a profound way that religious extremism will not be tackled.

My view has been that it is one thing what the military wants and it is another what it is forced to do in the historical process. The military may have wanted to continue striving for its desired strategic depth in Afghanistan and keep India on its toes through proxy wars, but it was compelled to do just the opposite. Furthermore, the military has not acted against the Taliban and other extremist outfits due to US pressure only, it has also moved to safeguard the state where they enjoy immense privileges.

Let us trace the military responses to the political crisis that came to surface after Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s revolt against the Musharraf regime. The military, as an organisation, did not try to save General Musharraf by using its force or its invisible vast resources. Under General Pervez Kayani, the military did not interfere in the 2008 elections in any manner. The political parties were given full space to contest the elections and form governments in the Centre and provinces. Later on, General Kayani helped the reinstatement of the deposed judiciary and sending General Musharraf abroad.

I do not see this altered military behaviour as a mere change of heart, suddenly making it sagacious. On the contrary, the military may have realised that if it goes on the same old path, the state may be faced with bigger disasters. Lawlessness and a collapsing economy may affect the military’s viability and its own privileges. Therefore, to save these, the military leaders may have concluded that a democratic discourse and rehabilitation of the state’s basic institutions is the only way. This is why the military let the legislative bodies be formed independently and helped rehabilitation of the deposed judiciary.

Indian economic growth and its emergence as a recognisable power at world forums may have forced the military to pause and re-evaluate its strategy. The military knows fully well that if India continues its stunning growth and Pakistan keeps on sinking, it will not remain competitive. Pakistan will thus be conceived as a basket case in the neighbourhood of a giant, India. Therefore, to compete with India, economic growth is absolutely necessary, which in turn depends upon strengthening of state institutions and elimination of lawlessness at all levels of society. This is probably the thinking that forced the military to hold fair elections and help reinstate an independent judiciary. Of course the military is trying its best to safeguard its own privileges as much as it can, which became clear in the Kerry-Lugar bill debate.

The proponents of a pessimistic scenario, arguing that the military-jihadi nexus will continue as it was, must step back and think if they believed that the military would ever launch a successful operation against the Taliban in Swat and South Waziristan? Further, did they really anticipate a lawyers’ movement, General Musharraf’s removal, military’s non-interference in the electoral process and behind-the-scenes effort to reinstate an independent judiciary? Many friends and readers of this column will remember that on the basis of the experience of the last days of the Ayub Khan regime, I have been predicting that a movement against General Musharraf was in the offing, though it was hard to point out the identity of the sections of the public that will spearhead it or the consequences of the uprising. I did not know how but I was always sure that the deposed judiciary would be reinstated. All such projections were based upon my reading of the historical process in Pakistan, which I outlined in my last week’s column.

I still believe that the military has no choice but to eliminate all types of non-state armed groups in Pakistan to save the state and its own privileges. The military may want to pick and choose among these groups, but circumstances will force it to take them out one by one. Tactically, it cannot go to war with everyone at once and it has to move cautiously. We may have to wait and see the process.

Furthermore, the military may be frustrated with the Zardari regime because of its slow movement in reinstating the sovereignty of parliament and other institutions that it has hoped for. The military does not want another Musharraf sitting in the President’s House in civilian garb. If the military has to accept another Musharraf, then why not one of its own? But it seems that this is not going to happen in the foreseeable future and the military may remain interested in strengthening state institutions to safeguard its own interests.

53 Comments

Filed under Army, Democracy, Islamism, Pakistan, state, Terrorism, Zardari

53 responses to “End of the military-jihadi nexus

  1. Mustafa Shaban

    @Manzur: Well the military has a strategic relationship with the Afghan Taliban due to its reliability in not allowing foreign influences to create instability in Pakistan through Afghan soil. Also the Taliban willl come bak to power in Afghanistan after the US leave, so might as well start building relations now.

    The Army has relations with some jihad groups but not with any terrorists that kill innocent civilians.

  2. Suv

    Dr Manzur thanks for writing on this critical topic. Pakistani military needs a rethink on jihadi startegy as it will hurt Pakistan more than India. Course correction is tough but it has certainly happened in past when Indian stopped its support for LTTE. Sadly though it is not occurring as of now. Paskitani army and Pakistan ranger are actively helping terrorists to enter the Indian territory in J&K by providing cover fire.

    I believe once support for jihadi elements in Pakistani army ends there is a hope for a durable peace in subcontinent but unfortunately due to past experience I feel pessimistic scenario pointed out by you is more likely.

  3. Suv

    @Mustafa
    “The Army has relations with some jihad groups but not with any terrorists that kill innocent civilians.”
    I don’t this statement is true. I am from J&K and have lost dear friends to senseless terrorism from JeM and LeT. Hafiz Sayeed and Azhar Masood cannot roam freely in Pakistan if they have no support from Pakistani security establishment. Dr Manzur has correctly pointed out that these guys are being saved for proxy wars against Afghanistan and India.

  4. Mustafa Shaban

    @Suv: Sorry about your friends, I did not know this. Are you sure that people like Hafiz Sayeed are behind this, because I dont see the motive.

  5. Gorki

    “Are you sure that people like Hafiz Sayeed are behind this, because I dont see the motive….”

    Is this a serious question?

  6. hoss

    I have to admit, I have never read Dr. Manzur Ejaz before. I don’t read Daily Times anymore.

    Dr. Ejaz seems to have a linear perspective of the situation in Pakistan. He knows a few things and then he allowed his optimism build on that little knowledge that he has acquired through perhaps word of mouth and not from serious studies. Or keeping with the Daily Times traditions, he needs to build the faltering army’s profile with over the top analysis.

    His optimism about army’s grand strategic thinking and flexibility in action is delusional and shows signs of dementia. He is suffering from cognitive dissonance.

    He argues that the historical process would force the transformation of the Pakistan army. He finds that the trigger that would initiate that change is India’s growing economic might. He thinks to compete with India; the army would force the civilian government to make meaningful changes in the economic as well as political system. Not only that, he thinks that due to the Indian situation the Pak army would abandon its jihad supporters that the army itself raised. Boy, isn’t he really delusional?

    The horrible hole in his thesis is his emphasis on India. What if I were to tell Dr. Ejaz that the Pak army is not all about India but it is all about self preservation, it is all about protecting its institutional interests and it is all about controlling the state to safeguard its above referred two objectives. Where does India come in to picture? India only figures when the army needs a horsewhip to beat the people of Pakistan when it sees that they (the people of Pakistan) are trying to encroach upon its two objectives.

    Our poor Indian friends worry about the army’s strategic depth plan as if it is against the aggressive Indian designs. Dr. Ejaz perhaps too is under the same chimera. He needs to go and ask someone what Strategic depth is and why the Pak army would never give that up.

    Maybe he needs to sit down with my friend Brig. Sharaf to learn a few things about the strategic depth before discussing the army in some forum.

    Well, I shouldn’t say that the army would never give up on the strategic depth because I do agree with Dr. Ejaz on historical process thingy he mentioned. The only thing I differ on is that the historical process would not make the army voluntarily give up its currently held views. The people have to force the historical truth on the army. So far it doesn’t look like that people would.

    He has illustrated some great examples of the army’s generosity of spirit like restoration of the civilian rule and the Supreme Court. Yeah, right! When five or six army generals including the current army chief were asking the SC CJ to resign, they were thinking that CJ’s resignation would be the Army’s vehicle to usher in civilian rule in Pakistan by way of free and fair elections. The elections were so fair in Karachi that voters were not even allowed to enter the polling booth but they all voted anyway. Yeah and the army forced Musharraf to leave but respected him so much that he was not only allowed to stay in the COAS house but was also given a guard of honor, the army never bestowed that honor on any civilian president in Pakistan.

    This in reality is a puff piece; full of warm and fuzzy feelings for our great army and its love of democratic traditions. What are a few jihadi here and there, army can always take care of them. God bless Pakistani English media and the world it lives in.

  7. PM

    Pakistan could not have been created without vilifying hindus and hinduism, and non-muslims in general. This is an indelible fact of history.

    Pakistan and Pak army need certain terror groups as a military, political, cultural and socio-psychological strategic necessity.

    Imagine a Pakistan wherein pakistani children learn good things about hindus, hindu history, hindu religion and India! That is impossible. It pulls the rug from under Pakistan’ feet. The very raison d’etre of Pakistan is lost if pakistani children are told that hindus are not evil or hinduism is also a good religion etc.

    Keeping up hatred against “evil” hindus is a necessity for Pakistan’s existence. Same about keeping up (at least some) violence in Kashmir. With China too interested in keeping up all this, the Pakistanis have a powerful protector internally and externally. China has a veto right in the Security Council of the UNO and China will use this to protect Pakistan’s terror strategies – so long Pakistanis agree not to support uighur muslims in Sin Kiang or talk about the Tibetan’s right to self-determination and freedom from chinese occupation.

    What pak army will work on is: how to support anti-hindu and anti-india terrorists more cleverly, more deniably. If retired pak army personnel (and many retire when they are less than 50 years old) can do that job then pak army will let it go on. When a criminal plans a crime the foremost thought on his mind is not whether it is bad to do it but : how to do it without getting caught.

  8. rex minor

    @PM
    “Pakistan could not have been created without villifying Hindus………………….This is ……….fact of history.
    I can assure you that this is not a fact of history, unless of course you have some evidence. what transpired after the partition could not have been imagined by any rational person.
    Regards,

  9. PM

    To rex minor

    I am not saying that (=vilifying hindus and hinduism) was the only factor in creating Pakistan. There were some positive dreams too. But these were just dreams and were as fleeting as dewdrops under the harsh sun of reality. Dreams and vilifications – both generally do not involve rationality in the least.

    E.g. Shaukat Ali (or was it his brother Mohammad Ali?) said of Mahatma Gandhi : even if Gandhi is morally the best among the hindus, he will be lesser than a faithful muslim even if the latter has committed a major crime. Some thing to that effect. (I can’t reproduce the exact words that he used). I read that quote in Rajmohan Gandhi’s book.

    As against that rational persons (even among muslims) did know what is going to happen after partition. It depends upon what you or I mean by “rational person”.

    Dalrymple quotes an older pakistani muslim (who had migrated from India in 1947 and wanted to remain anonymous) that he (the muslim) has now realized that islam is (sic) a totalitarian (sic) ideology and he has made his compromise with it now that he lives in Pakistan. Did islam become a totalitarian ideology only after Pakistan was created and someone realized it and said so in a secret interview with a foreigner? Can a totalitarian ideology work without vilification of some groups of human beings?

    If I ask : did hindus not vilify islam and muslims before 1947? You will say : yes they did. But then why are you shy of admitting that the otherway round it was and is equally true?

  10. PM

    Who is speaking for me?

  11. Aliarqam

    I couldnt understand what Dr Manzoor has to conclude
    -All of his assumptions as
    -Mush removal
    -CJ reinstatement
    -Non Interference in ’08 Polls
    -Swat and Waziristan Operations
    etc etc are mere shallow facts repeated again N again on the electronic media and Newspapers

    -Mush Removal but with guard of honour…the one who resigned as all the political forces were going to impeach him
    -CJ reinstatement…as the US officials said we had to
    make some phone Calls
    -No Interference in ’08 polls….I think the writer forgot the bogus rigging centres pointed out by Shaheed BB a few days before her death
    -Swat operation…killing hundreds of militants but the trapped and badly injured (as reported) Fazlullah is safe in Afghanistan, Shah Doran has a natural death in Bajaur, Muslim Khan and Mehmood Khan are in reserves and as for as Waziristan Operations is concerned…even the media(glamourizing every news with 3D graphics and animations n special effects) have lost interest in it…..Waliur Rehman is reported having a press conference, threatening us of more deadliest attacks while sitting himself in FC fort??

  12. Milind Kher

    The army is only taking out the terrorists that the US has asked it to. Till US tightens the screws, it will do nothing to the Let or JeM.

    By then, it may be too late. Clearly, the continuing terrorist attacks are demonstrating that the Pak army is being defeated. They started with a bang, and seem to be ending with a whimper.

    I genuinely believed they were making a sincere effort, but it is turning out to be an eyewash.

  13. PML

    Sorry to PM

    I signed in as PM not knowing that a PM is already there on this blog.

    Now as PML.
    So I repeat myself: “When a criminal plans a crime the foremost thought on his mind is not whether it is bad to do it but : how to do it without getting caught.”

    So too with the pak army. They need terrorists for many purposes (internal and external). Only, they will try to be more clever in managing them in future. The connection will be made more opaque.

  14. rex minor

    @PM
    Sir, I have no qualms about people’s views, opinions and prejudices. We are all humans but are made up of different D & A, chromosols mix and therefore our chemistry is not always compatable. We should therefore atleast try to state accurately as far as it is possible the historical facts.
    1) The villification, if this is the right definition , occured after the partition. The little men who voted in the referendum for Pakistan were not aware of any villification in the territories where muslims had the majority. Nor did they have any knowledge of the villification which went on between Hindus and Muslims in the rest of India.

    2) Now about the religion Islam. are you asking me or telling me?
    It is not right for me to discuss any religion on this forum with any one, and I pray that God forgives me. In any case, I shall try to answer you since you asked. Islam like other religions is a faith of Peace. There is one God, the creator of the universe and Mohammad is his Prophet and messenger. It is incumbent upon a muslim to be dutiful and follow the messages or commandments detailed in the holy book Quran.
    I personally could’nt care less about the old Pakistani’s views you refered to or the Pope’s views or any other distinguished muslim or non- muslim leaders’ views about Islam. Unlike christians, the muslims do not need a middleman to be able to understand and follow the straightforward commandments.
    I recognise that it is not very easy to understand the philosaphy of religions. Like Imannuel Kant said that he had to remove knowledge in order to make room for Belief.
    Do you really want to understand what it is all about Islam, then go to the waziri land and talk to a poor old man clad in torn clothes, eating one meal a day, fasting a month in a year, and yet happy and content. Ask him what is he aiming for? The answer you will receive is going to baffle you; in the next life after death God is very likely to spare him from punishment for he does not lie, steal or hurt anyone, and says his prayers five times a day and try to follow all the requirements to be a good muslim. All the stories one reads about muslims killing themselves to be rewrded with several women in a paradise are nothing but a pack of lies.
    Intelligence is not a science,but all of us were born with a common sense and this should be enough to understand our creator.
    Does it not surprise you that a guard at the American Prison of Torture converts to Islam after torturing the prisoners.
    Have a nice day.

  15. PML

    Romans tortured christians and then became christians themselves. Some one tortures muslims and becomes a muslim to atone for his bad conscience. Such a psychological short-circuit is not uncommon. That the christians and muslims are also torturers should not be forgotten.

    rex minor writes: “All the stories one reads about muslims killing themselves to be rewrded with several women in a paradise are nothing but a pack of lies”.
    So the pakistani newspapers are all lying?

    That every religion vilfies or ridicules every other religion is an old truth. There is no religion-text that does not single out certain human beings or groups for vilification, ridicule, humiliation, threats etc.

    Some muslims say that islam is a religion of peace – but what is important is performance and results. Some muslims even claim that the kuran contains the general theory of relativity and the theory of black holes etc. But I do not know of any real contribution by any kuran-only-is-the-source-of-knowledge muslim to the development of this theory.

    So stop making emotional propaganda fit for bucolic villagers.

  16. rex minor

    PML writes that some muslims say that Islam is a religion of peace- but what is important is performance and results.

    He is right, I pray that the muslims continue to show patience and humiliation for this will benefit all the humanity. However, I am not going to deny that the muslim armies onslaught in central Asia, the Indian sub-continent and the European Pensula was not undertaken to spread Islam, like the current christian Pope said, they went out to destroy everything which they considered un-islamic.
    Is the world going to witness once again the repeat? I am afraid yes! I have already given my prognosis on this forum and I stand by it. I see this occuring during the next fifty years.
    Mr PML, muslims are not required to justify Islam to any one!! You hang on to your faith and let others their privacy.

  17. PML

    To rex

    The kuran contains contradictions and ambiguities (the muslims will never admit this for ideological and doctrinary reasons). Islam has not succeeded in getting rid of tribalism anywhere. The kuran inculcates in the muslims a superiority complex or a victimhood-complex. Hence sectarian and tribal wars will always be an integral part of islam. Then there is the question of misogyny, machoism and violence-glorifying, painful and bloody rituals (animal slaughter in the name of a god, circumcision, shia rituals, glorification of blood of martyrs or so-called martyrs etc.)

    Muslims have to justify islam to themselves. Especially in the 21st century. And that is where the bigger faultline is. Justifying islam to non-muslims may be easy (for islamic propaganda) since many non-muslims are ignorant of the negative hidden aspects of islam. But justifying islam to muslims has become impossible, esp. in the 21ste century, and hence the huge amount of violence, sectarian violence and unsolvable bloody conflicts among muslims themselves.

    Before islam can become a religion of peace and justice muslims will have to take to the path of honesty and strict non-violence (why need a weapon when islamic allah sees and controls everything?) and allowing criticism and self-criticism of the basics of islam. Islam allows muslims only to praise itself, never even to think of criticism of islam. Hence islam can never be a religion of peace. Peace can only be brought about by someone who is ready to doubt his own strongest self-glorifying convictions and beliefs.

  18. Sameet

    PML, (aka G. Vishvas???), you are not doing a great job of convincing me, a hindu who has lost relatives to terrorist violence (islamic terrorists, if you may call it), about the evil aspects of islam, as you put it, with your posts. Dont think you will convince others out here at PTH. Anyway, your zeal to bad-mouth a religion is impressive, to say the least!

  19. PML

    To sameet

    Are muslims succeeding in convincing muslims about islam, and about which islam? Are muslims convinced about islam or are they just trotting out belief after belief after belief – out of fear of otherwise getting accused of being murtads?

    To present one’s belief (or beliefs) as truth (or truths) is a combination of deceit and self-deceit and a criminal manipulation of the naive.

    To call criticism and the expression of genuine concerns, doubts and fears as bad-mouthing (or blasphemy or phobia) is a typical propagandist trick to suppress EVERY criticism and create a society where there is no social improvement. Such a society will breed only yes-men (and women) and opportunistic flattery-experts. A god who needs or wants to be flattered sets a bad example for human beings in the 21ste century.

    Instead of trying to take the path of silencing criticism try to refute what I have written on the basis of real events and performances in real societies, especially of the ones where you would or would not like to live yourself (so two types of examples to take data from).

    Who is badmouthing what religion? I, or the ones who are ready to lie and kill for the glory of (their) religion?

  20. B. Civilian

    @sameet

    different city; hence the benefit of the doubt… for now. posters who cannot show that they are as interested in reading as they are in writing can only have the period of such benefit of doubt extended if they are capable of writing more than mere repititions, endlessly. GV obviously failed that test.

  21. B. Civilian

    they’ve obviously printed a strictly two-page pamphlet in nagpur, recently. and some people have read the whole two pages.

  22. PML

    To B. Civilian

    Why does the Pakistan govt. not publish its demographic historical figures then? Let us have an honesty competition. If the Nagpur guys are all wrong then Pakistan should have a light play in refuting them. I have not read the figures from Nagpur anyway.

    Is there some reason why the Pakistan govt. is not publishing these statistics (their “truer” statistics)?

  23. Sameet

    PML,

    You seem to be like a physician who (mis) reads the symptoms of a disease and then doesn’t provide a medicine for it. I have asked you before, and asking you again, how are you going to “reform” this religion?Anyway, as is your wont, you have again successfully dragged the theology surrounding Islam into a purely geopolitical issue which is the subject matter of this post. I think I say on behalf of many at PTH that we “get” your view-point, so no need to regurgitate it on nearly every post!

  24. rex minor

    @PML
    Ther are many fools in the world and muslim citizens are no exceptions. But I can assure you if you have not understood my previous comments “muslims do not have to justify Islam or Quran verses nor explain God’s commandments to anyone”. Those who do not understand Quran verses, the old testiment in the bible or the Tora, are not meant to understand it. Perhaps someone has not told you this secret. If they do not have a certain spirtual awakening, it is not even possible. The muslims have to prove worthy of being a muslim, capable of understanding the religion requirements and not the other way around. They are doomed if they have no fear of God and commit crimes against humanity or kill other human beings. I do not know if you are a believer or an atheist?
    I am not even sure how to approach your verbal accusations. I certainly would not permit you to sit in surgery classes if you have not completed the anatomy lessons. My sincere suggestion to you and G vishvas would be to ignore people’s faith and like you said look at their deeds. Now I have to be careful not to upset you but purely on an academic point of view, have you ever thought that your upbringing in your parents house was faulty or incomplete, or perhaps you are suffering from a chronic illness in your body which is not known to you. Only you would know the answer to these questions which could explain the strange line you take on people’s religion. My experience tells me that people’s strange behaviours could be due to the aforesaid reasons.
    Have a nice day.

  25. Sameet

    B.Civilian,

    “they’ve obviously printed a strictly two-page pamphlet in nagpur, recently. and some people have read the whole two pages.”

    Reminds me of my high school sanskrit exam preparation…I mugged up a 3 page essay in a language I had no clue about and put it down faithfully in the answer paper. Got the 3 rd highest marks in the class. The wonder that is Indian High School education🙂

  26. PML

    to sameet
    reforming a religion is possible only after some of the followers develop the intelligence to understand that there is something inherently faulty in it and have the courage to make their doubts public. Someone from outside can only keep pointing out to the faults and their evil consequences.

    rex minor writes:
    “Those who do not understand Quran verses, the old testiment in the bible or the Tora, are not meant to understand it.”
    So you do have a caste system even in islam! And your supposedly merciful and just god wants that some should go to hell, is it? God has pre-chosen some to go to hell.
    There is no need to fear god. I do not have a god-concept based on fear. God neither rewards nor punishes. To do that is the duty of society, state, government,judiciary.
    I am healthy and very jovial and read a lot. I am regarded as a very friendly person and invited in all their circles – no worry about that. I am a very very indepedent minded person. Not even god can buy or bribe or intimidate me into an allegiance to him (nor do I have any big quarrel with him).

    Definitions of god vary – and hence I may be regarded by some as an atheist. So long they do not try to manipulate me – it is ok with me.

    I read old and new testament and kuran and found them to be a waste of time. They speak of a god for manipulating human beings into slavery. No wonder the followers of these three religions have done so many criminal deeds. As I wrote earlier : (Faith in)revelation leads to a totalitarian arrogant closed-minded world-view and system. God can communicate with every person in his own language and he should do it (if god insists on giving revelations).

  27. Milind Kher

    There are people like Ali Ibn Sina and Ibn Warraq who bear an iveterate hatred for Islam.

    However, their arguments are intelligent and they have an immense knowledge of the faith. This is where they differ from the saffron hatemongers.

  28. vajra

    To present one’s belief (or beliefs) as truth (or truths) is a combination of deceit and self-deceit and a criminal manipulation of the naive.

    How true.

  29. Suv

    It is sad to see an important topic like this turned into Islam bashing forum. The main topic is how to wean Pakistan army away from Jihadi links. I think civil society in Pakistan can play a big role in it. Just as it has risen against Taliban in Pakistan, it must rise against support to Jehadi elements used against India or Afghanistan. Once this policy is reversed there is a good chance for peace and reconcialition and I think intractable issue like Kashmir can also be resolved. No country has ever succeeded by supporting militancy, a fact that India has learnt hard way by supporting LTTE.

  30. B. Civilian

    PML = Vishwas, as Luq, sameet and several others could see. i had the ip addresses mixed up. he writes from two different ip addresses, both based in pune.

    so he remains the minority of one. no alarming mass production of clones has been mastered… yet, thankfully.

    @G. Vishwas/PML/etc.

    hoss missed out ‘dishonest crook’ when describing you quite accurately otherwise. your posts will be removed, so, in future, don’t bother. trolls are not welcome here.

  31. B. Civilian

    @MK

    who bear an iveterate hatred for Islam.

    However, their arguments are intelligent

    both can’t be true, can they? not without a spontaneous confession by the arguer, quite separate to the argument(s).

  32. rex minor

    @Milland Kher,
    It matters very little to Islam if there are people who bear an inveterate hatered for it. What, if I may ask were the views of Ali Ibn Sina about Islam, and the immense knowledge of faith one ascribes to Ibn Warraq?
    regards,

  33. Milind Kher

    @BC,

    Many enemies of Islam use ahadith to vilify Islam. These are fabricated ahadith which have been adopted without proper examination. To enumerate them and discuss their merits/demerits requires a different discussion altogether. These very ahadith are then used against Islam. Similarly, people take Quranic verses and juxtapose apparently contradictory verses to assert that there are inconsistencies in the Quran. It takes a lot of scholarly work to be able to refute them.

    @Rex Minor. Go to their website and see. It is called w w w dot faithfreedom dot o r g

  34. rex minor

    @Milland Kher
    Sir, I hardly expected a misquote from you. Most of us fall into the trap of scholarly trash and start acting as Psychiatrists. Any scholarly discussion by the ancient or modern philosophers aiming to understand the completeness of God’s messages(brought to the mankind by God’s prophets) falls outside the realms of the religion. We know today that when a human being crosses the fine line of logic beyond a certain limit falls into the category of mental illness. Perhaps people like Ibn Warraq should be persuaded to undergo the modern medical scrutiny. These people existed at the time of prophet Moses and before and they are still with us. The only difference being that, due to the advancements in science, their mental illness can today be fully treated!!

  35. B. Civilian

    @MK

    using fabricated ahadith is hardly “intelligent argument”. dishonesty is the opposite of intelligence. just like lies are the opposite of knowledge. history is an imperfect science though. so my point is more about deliberate dishonesty than accusations of fabrication.

    re. ‘clever juxtaposition to create the appearance of contradiction’: this, otoh, is part of intelligent argument. all the protagonists have to do is prove it to be no more than an appearance and expose the juxtaposition as false. it would be a very dull world of course if we all agreed with each other about everything.

  36. Milind Kher

    @Rex Minor and BC,

    The people like Ibn Warraq and Ali Ibn Sina are more dangerous than people who just rave and rant against Islam, some of whom we have seen visiting PTH.

    These people do not invent ahadith themselves. They use some that already exist in Muslim books, but which we know to be false because they go contrary to what we know about Islamic ethics and the character of the Holy Prophet (SAWA).

    Therefore, it is very necessary that in the case of the religiously inclined, the correct knowledge should be given.

  37. rex minor

    It is not easy to discuss religion, yet somehow, one gets involved. The questuion one always asks, is he abeliever or simply a scholar who has deep interest in religions? If one is a believer, then, how can he describes human beings “more dangerous”! More dangerous for whom? For other humans or for the Creator? They are definitely a danger for themselves, their family and the community.

    All of them are poor souls, lost in the wilderness and looking for help from a religion. However, all religions(like human chromosols) are passive, they alone cannot provide solace to these people, their own deeds could.
    The holy books, in my view, are neither the Encylopedias nor Reference books for the religion. They contain the commandments of the Creator and are the living evidence of the existence of the One God. No one can claim the proprietry rights for the holy books nor has the absolute knowledge to provide their interpretations.
    Nevertheless, each of us has been granted enough common sense to live our lives within the now universally accepted guidelines. And therefore, no one has the right any longer to use the religion as a cover for the atrocities they commit, be it the political leader, the military leader or the resistance leader.
    Many have failed in the past and many are likely to fail in the future, but at least we can try, and try and try again, hoping that the future generation would be better than us and definitely better than the previous generations.
    PS. My prayers for the next decade;
    We are not machines nor analogue zombies, we are all human beings and were granted dignity and the common sense by our Creator. Let us protect it through our deeds and contibutions to the society we live in to enrich its laws and the code of conducts so that others accept us as civilised human specie of the 21st century.

  38. Milind Kher

    People who speak against a religion and know the religion well are dangerous for other followers who may waver in the face of apparently cogent arguments put forth by them.

    As far as ignorant bigots are concerned, they can just be written off.

  39. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    Have you noticed that in your formulation there is no space for opposition to organised religion at all? Is it accidental or deliberate? In a dispensation of which you have the ordering, what is to be done to those who choose not to follow your beliefs? Or those of others to whom revelations have been made?

    Just curious.

  40. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    If you wish, in place of ‘opposition’ and its belligerent overtones, you may substitute ‘rejection’ instead.

  41. Milind Kher

    @Vajra,

    People are free to believe whatever they may like to believe. I have merely indicated a note of caution. The implication is that those who may not be favorably inclined towards a religion may shake the belief of those who are vulnerable.

    Nothing is to be done to them. People are free to be agnostics or even atheists. We have to regard human beings as equal irrespective of caste, color or creed. Whether their belief is right or wrong is a matter for God to judge.

    This is also one of the reasons I believe in a secular state. There is no proof for religious belief, it is only a matter of faith. To thrust rulings based on this faith upon people who may not believe in it is unfair.

  42. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    No, that is not what I wanted to point out to you. Bear with me; the rest is a little dry.

    In your post, you mentioned those who were knowledgeable and opposed a faith, never mind which faith. In your words, those

    who speak against a religion and know the religion well are dangerous for other followers.

    Fine.

    You then mentioned that as far as ignorant bigots are concerned, they could be written off.

    Apparently no other categories exist, of those who are not followers. Only the knowledgeable cynics who shake the faith of the faithful, and the ignorant, who are bigoted.

    You are perfectly right in your defence when you state that no ‘action’ as such needs to be taken, that faith is a matter of individual belief, and it cannot be enforced by external dictate.

    However, what is of concern, what I sought to draw your attention to, is that in your system, it would appear that opposition to faith can exist only as cynicism, knowing the faith to be true but subverting it by a superficial greater knowledge of its externals, or as ignorant bigotry. There is no place for honest disagreement, at least not in your spontaneous, undefended answer.

    To develop this further, while a secularist dispensation, designed to be secular from the outset, can easily accommodate those of faith within its systems and procedures, a dispensation based on faith, any faith, or all faiths, cannot; it must necessarily define all who are opposed as either cynics or as the ignorant. At best, such opponents can be tolerated; knowing that they are either knaves or fools, they are properly to be eradicated, and sooner or later, the cry for their eradication will come.

    A secular polity can accommodate and allow room to flourish to those of faith; a polity based on faith cannot so accommodate and allow room to flourish those who are of different faiths or of no faith.

    Further, an Indian definition of secularism is a dangerous and wrong definition. The Indian definition of secularism is based on the validity of all faiths, all co-existing. This is clearly a piece of nonsense as it is impossible for any one faith to tolerate other faiths, simply because after the truth has been revealed, and revealed as the truth, all other revelations are then lies.

    The Indian formulation of secularism needs to revert to the western brand, to the expulsion of faith from public affairs.

    Please superimpose these conditions on our present conditions as we go along and consider the impact.

    I note with sympathy that as persons of faith, those who wish to allow space for others to exist, and have made it clear on numerous occasions that they support and seek tolerance and peace in all lands, are at a loss, and are looking to all sides for answers. The fact is that religion – any religion, all religions – are intolerant of others, being revelations of their own, nursed and kept alive by an elaborate system of hagiography.

    It cannot be pleasant to be a well-meaning person of faith, desirous of goodwill, but spontaneously responding with intolerance at the most unguarded moments, due solely to the raw logic of the matter.

  43. Milind Kher

    @Vajra,

    Let me clarify. I was addressing the issues only of those antagonistic to the faith and therein did I make the bifurcation of those who had knowledge about it, and those who did not.

    Those who have an honest disagreement with the faith are not harmful. They do not bear ill will towards the faith and do not wish to attack it unprovoked. With such people, one would agree to disagree to disagree.

    BTW, amongst atheists such as Richard Dawkins, there is a bigotry against believers which even a ferocious mullah would envy(in his case, the bias would be against unbelievers, of course) So, well meaning atheists would like to examine whether they are in agreement with his approach!

  44. Milind Kher

    @Vajra,

    I am devoting a seperate post to Indian secularism. It definitely merits a discussion. I agree with you. We need to adopt the Western model, and as far as legislation is concerned, take religion out of the equation altogether.

    And granting of sops to minorities should be refrained from, as it gives the saffron brigade material to fuel their hatred.

    India needs to definitely have a Common Civil Code, so that nonsense like the mullah stand on the Shah Bano case does not happen. I understand that they believed that a helpless divorcee like her did not deserve maintenance. Utter nonsense. Inhuman behavior.

  45. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    I appreciate perfectly your own position, focussed at that moment as it was on the issue of unfriendly critics of faith. It is just that it afforded me an excellent platform to point out the fundamental gulf between those who believe and those who don’t.

    You have indeed riposted effectively with the example of Dawkins; indeed, since I agree so strongly with him, it amounts to pointing out that those who are strongly opposed to systems of faith are themselves exclusionary in their own way. Perfectly well argued, and I cannot sensibly say that convinced secularists are more balanced in their views and judgements than the convinced faithful. My only counter is a weak statement to the effect that in practice, the secularist tends to be kinder to the faithful than the faithful are to the secularist, and hope very hard that no students of the history of the Soviet Union are reading this.

    On your points in your second mail, my spontaneous reaction is that these, while very sound and deep subjects for debate, are less immediate and relevant for the Pakistan situation than the points on which I sought to draw your attention. That is not to say that I am even slightly underrating the relevance of your arguments. We need a forum for this, and I also suggest that you enlist elders such as Hayyer and Gorki to consider these questions. Personally, it does not seem to be a fair subject for PTH.

    On the Shah Bano matter, you may be consoled and may be left with a more pleasant taste in your mouth if you read up how the Indian judiciary has interpreted the law that was passed very sensibly and rationally, and with the fullest application of mind, to achieve the objectives that any humane law-giver must have sought. If there was ijtehad, it must be this.

  46. Milind Kher

    @Vajra,

    Amongst those who do not believe, I personally prefer the approach of the agnostics to the atheists. They are not very doctrinaire in their approach and prefer to live and let live.

    Yes, the faithful are on the whole kinder to the seculasrists than the other way around. Understand, however, that your average secular is more evolved and mature than your average faithful.

    My take on the situation is that God is needlessly debated. For those who believe, no proof is necessary, and for those who do not, none is sufficient.

    God provides for all His creatures. Those who believe in Him and those who do not. It is us folks who differentiate.

  47. vajra

    I rather suspect that this is as good as it will get on a generalist blog such as this.

    Your opening formulation made me think. It would be fair to describe my current position as agnostic, but it does not convey the inveterate hostility to the professionally religious: those who depend on religion for their livelihood. Except for that hatred, my preference is to say I don’t know, and am never likely to know, so I would like to lead my life on the principles, strangely enough, first laid down by a Middle Eastern woman from Basra. On the principles, but not in her faith.

    Your second point? may be quibbled with; under different circumstances, in a context other than this present one, the debate on the end of the jehadi-military nexus, an end that is not going to happen, it is distracting to our larger purpose of drawing the attention of all law-abiding householders to the robbers lurking in the undergrowth.

    About debates about God: oh, absolutely.

    About God providing for everyone. Sure, no problem with that, but unfortunately, for that to be true, there would have to be a God, and I don’t know what to believe, frankly. So that’s begging the question a bit.

  48. Milind Kher

    If you study Pascal’s wager, you may find it more beneficial to believe in God🙂

  49. Majumdar

    Vajra da,

    The Indian definition of secularism is based on the validity of all faiths, all co-existing. The Indian formulation of secularism needs to revert to the western brand, to the expulsion of faith from public affairs.

    I dont necessarily see a conflict between the two definition. The first definition lies in accepting religion as the personal faith of a citizen and not as a source of statecraft.

    Regards

  50. karun1

    vajra thanks for raising a pertinent point vs milind’s statement.

    Yes i tend to agree with majumdar , non interference in personal matters and absence in statecraft will do.

    By the way , i dont think there is a uniform conformity to the idea of secularism in west.

    I think UK and France differ quite a bit in their interpretation.

  51. vajra

    @Milind Kher

    1. Even without the existence of a deity, living one’s life according to the terms of Pascal’s Wager is a good way forward, don’t you think? The other option is to be grim, lame Timur, but to be that takes considerable military talent, n’est ce pas?

    2. This discussion is becoming religious. Not a good idea.

    @Majumdar

    Yes, if it can be achieved. And to be fair, it is a conservative solution – minimalist. However, my understanding of the situation is that a number of believers are crowded onto a small stage, each trying to get maximum air time for his own set of beliefs and credulities, in competition with others. What suffers is the common interest; whether or not a kuthuvillakku should be lit takes time away from essentials. If we expel each other’s systems of faith from the public arena, there is less temptation to be diverted to indulge ourselves in just that last little flourish of piety before getting on to weightier matters. Put together everybody’s little flourishes and you get a lot of time and effort gone.

    While agreeing with your views, I believe that your policy will be susceptible to creeping encroachment from every direction, and that facts have shown that this is what happens in reality.

    @karun1

    Could I say I am astonished? However, taking you at face value, yes, there are considerable differences in the ways in which western society has interpreted secularism: the ‘multi-cultural’ approach of the UK, which so closely resembles our own approach, with exactly equally unfortunate results, the ‘exclusionary’ approach of the French, difficult to swallow, like strong medicine, but effective if administered, like strong medicine, with its own set of sociological baggage, unlike strong medicine, and the clearly theist and Christian Protestant approach of the United States, which at times does not seem to be secular at all from a European perspective. And then you have the Scandinavians.

  52. Milind Kher

    @Vajra,

    Let it not become religious. We shall conclude on the happy note struck by you🙂

  53. rex minor

    @Vajra,
    . In practice, the secularist tends to be kinder to the faithful than the faithful are to the secularist……….
    . The fact is that religion, any religion, all religions are intolerant of others……..

    These are very radical statements! So now we are back to Experience and not the metaphysics and the divinity. Imannuel Kant and nemerous other philosaphers, must be feeling very uncomfortable in their graves, who searched relentlessly for the relationship between the creator, the divinity, the morals and the conduct of humans. Away from the realms of personal experiences they were all trying to find a consenses on the moving codes for exploration of the human mind in relation to other humans and the universe. So you have found a simple formula, let us bar all the religions in a society and adopt secularism and this should solve the ills of the Society. I have no comments! It does remind me of the sayings”Act so that you treat Humanity , whether in your own person or in that of another, always as an end and never as a means only.