Zaid Hamid is a name thrown about quite a bit these days. Who is he and what does he want? Well I am sorry to disappoint his fans and supporters but Zaid Hamid is a small time nutcase and an Afghan war veteran who has probably been picked up some foolish schemer in the ISI to strengthen right-wing pro-Islamic ultra-nationalist sentiments described by them as “Deeni Ghairat”.
Somewhere towards the end of the Musharraf regime, when it was being vociferously challenged by the people’s movement, Musharraf sought to create a new constituency for himself. A “Musharraf lovers” body was formed and another group started agitating for Musharraf’s picture on the currency. During this time entered onto stage one Ahmad Quraishi and one Zaid Hamid. Former was an opinionated super-nationalist Musharraf lover and the latter presented himself as a defense and economic security analyst who in general promoted military rule over civilian rule. Of these two the odd-looking Zaid Hamid with his red beret, small beard and rabble rousing style clearly won the day.
Since 2007, the Zaid Hamid franchise has attracted some what of an audience amongst Pakistan’s upper middle class. His message is simple and appeals to the uninitiated mind- Pakistan has a divine and manifest destiny for which has come into existence.( It just cannot be that Pakistan is just another nation state formed out of political discord and conflict.) That destiny shall be fulfilled through a final battle – to be known as Ghazwa-e-Hind- where the forces of Islam shall be pitted against Hindu Zionists and Jewish Zionists, where lo and behold the forces of Islam shall triumph. Zaid Hamid has a rather interesting technique when it comes to appealing to your regular westernized young Pakistani teenager and young adult: he says openly that he doesn’t care if you drink or party but so long as you are aligned on this fundamental belief i.e. Pakistan’s divine and manifest destiny as being created for Islam’s final triumph over all kufr, you are welcome.
To this end all his media appearances are with young and nubile female TV anchors. He has recently won over to his side Maria B, Pakistan’s leading fashion designer, who between organizing Lahore Fashion Week and Karachi Fashion Week takes to preaching Pakistan’s manifest destiny of hoisting the flag of Islam on Delhi’s Lal Qila. Other champions of the movement include musicians like Ali Azmat, Pakistan’s quintessential rocker. Ali Azmat and his former band Junoon was in 1997 reprimanded and even banned by the Nawaz Sharif government for making statements prejudicial to Pakistan’s “ideology”. Ali Azmat had famously said then in a BBC interview “coming to India, I have lost my natonality”. Today Ali Azmat is the champion of the same nationality and same ideology.
Ali Azmat and Zaid Hamid conducted a widely popular show on Aag TV- a youth oriented channel owned by Jang Group- called “Iqbal Ka Pakistan”. The idea was to revive Pakistan on the lines of Allama Iqbal’s thought. Iqbal- who is used selectively by Pakistan’s military establishment- has been used as a counter-weight to Jinnah – whose belief in civilian supremacy is inconvenient for the army. Allama Iqbal first was raised to the exalted position of an alternative founding father after Ayub Khan faced stiff challenge from Fatima Jinnah in 1965 elections. Fatima Jinnah was not only abused in public by Ayub Khan and his family, the election party after the hugely rigged election of Ayub to another term in office had old female dog with a lantern (Fatima Jinnah’s electoral symbol) as its mascot. It was during this period that Iqbal was brought up to be an equal of Jinnah in the national pantheon. It is therefore no surprise that Zaid Hamid has been using Allama Iqbal shamelessly in his campaign against democracy.
Disturbingly – the establishment is now backing Zaid Hamid’s newest scheme: A march on Minar-e-Pakistan on the 23rd March, 2010 i.e. comemoration of Lahore Resolution/Pakistan Day and pass another resolution called “Takmeel-e-Pakistan Resolution” or the completion of Pakistan resolution. An ad/promo found on Youtube has General Zia’s voice calling forth for the completion of the mission of Pakistan on one of the 23rd March speeches. What do you want to bet Zaid Hamid hasn’t even read the original Lahore Resolution? The brief resolution adopted by the Muslim League in 1940 speaks of the need for a constitutional compromise and solution between Hindus and Muslims whereby Muslim majority areas would be autonomous and sovereign. There is no reference to a millennial prophecy or a dream or a promise that Zaid Hamid is likely to harp about on the 23rd.
More recently though Zaid Hamid seems to be losing the support of the rabid right wing and opposition has come from an unlikely body. Lashkar-e-Taiba’s front end body –i.e. Jamaat-ud-Dawa recently made noise against Zaid Hamid, automatically activating “Tahafuz-e-Khatme-Nabuwat” movement, another old ISI backed body, which has called into question Zaid Hamid’s past in particular his affiliation with Yusuf Ali of Lahore aka Yusuf Kazab. Yusuf Ali was a claimant of Prophethood from Lahore who was ultimately murdered in jail. Zaid Hamid was proclaimed his first caliph. This is enough for hordes of rabid Mullahs to rise up against him. It seems that Zaid Hamid’s ISI handler did not do a background check.
The appeal of fascism and militarism to self taught Islamic revivalist “scholars” is not a new phenomenon. One is forced to make a comparison between “Hakeem” Zaid Hamid and Allama Inayatullah Mashriqi from the pre-partition era. Mahriqi’s Khaksar movement imagined Islam to be a military organization and prayer a military ritual. He was highly impressed by Adolf Hitler who he had met I 1926. Yet beyond a few urban centers, Khaksar Tehreek flopped badly. So shall be the fate of Zaid Hamid as well. However he is at the moment doing irreparable damage to young and immature minds who have taken to his simple theories about the creation of Pakistan. Beyond that however he is not a threat to anyone as some imagine him across the border.