The Dead Parrot

By Dr. Omar Ali

Originally published at wichaar.com under the headline “The Air Marshal’s incompetent bombmaker son”

http://www.wichaar.com/news/284/ARTICLE/20008/2010-05-07.html

The son of an air marshal ruined his own life and abandoned his wife and kids in an utterly incompetent attempt to blow up innocent people (some of whom were probably Pakistani cab drivers). Why is Pakistan is breeding so many Islamic fanatics (luckily for us, some of them are incompetent Islamic fanatics)? 

In some ways,  Islamic supremacism is not that different from Christian evangelism, Hindu revivalism or those Japanese rightwing nuts who go around in loudspeaker vans appealing to the emperor to restore Japanese honor and for everyone else to prepare to commit hara kiri. Its true that Christian fanatics and Hindu revivalists are not exploding in buses and trains in faraway countries, but psychologically the profile is very similar. In any case, in most places, STATES do most of the killing domestically as well as internationally. Or people fight the state locally. What is different about Islamist terrorism is that these killers are international in scope and action and they seem to have an endless supply of morons willing to ruin their own lives for the cause. But why are they headquartered in Pakistan? The ideology, after all, is more closely associated with Saudi Arabia. I think the reason is that the presence of Islam is not the critical factor. The road from ideology to actual explosion passes through state-sponsored education, an infrastructure of terrorism and a culture where this kind of bombing has become an accepted response to whatever is perceived as injustice. And the reason this infrastructure is headquartered in Pakistan rather than Saudi Arabia is because the elite has been uniquely stupid in Pakistan.

The people running India, Japan and the USA may be cynical, manipulative and greedy, but they still seem to have a vague grip on reality (and what human can hope for more than that?). Their worldview accomodates science, common sense, change and empirical evidence. The same is true even of the Iranian Mullahs and the Saudi Royal family. But in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the lunatics took over the asylum. They didnt really BUILD the asylum. It took the superior skills of the CIA to actually set up the infrastructure (though i personally dont think the CIA intended for it to be used beyond Afghanistan and maybe India, but who knows). But once the Americans had taught them how to blow up things, the students rushed off to start the neo-caliphate with wild abandon and the state security apparatus in Pakistan helped them, financed them, trained them, protected them and bless our souls, worked tirelessly to get them to the point where they can threaten the same state security apparatus. This level of stupidity may be unique in recent history. Maybe it was the result of the reverse selection procedures of the Pak army (selecting the dumbest people to become generals), maybe it was a result of the original millenarian fever that erupted at partition (look up millenarian on wikipedia by the way and you will not find partition listed there as an example, which just goes to show that even our advanced culture has its blind spots) or maybe it was just one of those things that happen in history; but whatever the reason (or reasons), for the last 30 years, THE STATE in Pakistan has been an active participant in this lunacy and the ideology has taken hold. Sons of air marshals are dreaming of setting off bombs in public places. That just takes the biscuit. I dont know what to say anymore. 

On a purely western and academic left wing blog, where no contrary opinion can sneak in, I would actually blame the CIA and orientalism and colonialism (not necessarily in that order) and go to sleep a happy man, but even in that echo chamber things are starting to fall apart. Where will this go next, Allah alone knows for sure, we can only hazard a guess. So I will.

My guess: When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. So I expect the state deparment to pass out more money to GHQ, I expect the CIA to fund some new insane lunatic fringe to counter their last lunatic fringe, I expect the pentagon to ask for more money for weapons and a good hard “shock and awe campaign”, I expect professors in San Francisco to blame colonialism, and I expect Islamists to blow themselves up with even greater devotion. In short, more of the same. Not really. I am just not in a good mood. I look forward to comments.

By the way, my criticism of mullahism or Zaid Hamid style burger jihadis or ISI-style sophisticated and underhanded jihadists is not primarily moral (it is PARTLY moral). My biggest complaint is that the parrot they are selling is DEAD! It died 800 years ago in Baghdad. He has ceased to be! he’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! His metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!! 

I am not saying the capitalism or imperialism or whatever is OK and only mullahism is a problem. I am saying this dead parrot is a bloody distraction from the LIVE debates we could be having. It may be hard to say what the morally correct choice is in case A or case B, but its much easier to dismiss the choices that are no longer viable and have already visibly decayed and started to rot. THIS Islamism  is not a viable parrot. 

Finally, I do NOT mean to imply that “Islam” is the dead parrot we are talking about. Islam is alive as long as Muslims are around and surely they are going to be around for a long long time (If I remember correctly, in the classic sci-fi novel Neuromancer, they are even floating around smoking ganja in that orbiting space station where the Tessier-Ashpooles live, though there were no Muslim characters in the original Star Trek; make of that what you will). Islam will continue to grow and evolve and will be adapted to many things, as it has been in the past. But the dead parrot of the caliphate and “return to original purity” is the mother of all dead ends. To waste time and lives trying to revive that particular parrot is a waste and I am sure we can all agree that waste is not good. 
The writer wishes to thank Monty Python for the dead parrot sketch and professor Mbokhari for first using it in relation to the late lamented caliphate.

13 Comments

Filed under Al Qaeda, Islamabad, Islamism, New Writers, Pakistan, state, Taliban, Terrorism, War On Terror

13 responses to “The Dead Parrot

  1. Zainab Ali

    Well, this dead parrot may not live again, but Muslims can of course get back on track of progress. We need to improve our image in the world, so that we don’t feel alienated.

  2. globetrotter

    Is Omar referring to the dead parrot story from South India? The players then were King Krishnadev Ray and his minister, the clever quick-wit, Tenali Ram.

    The king’s favorite parrot dies, but he has instructed that whoever brings this news to him will be executed. So the care-taker of the royally dead parrot seeks Tenali Ram’s advice. Tenali Ram approaches the king and tells how the parrot is meditating and sleeping and has decided to remain in seclusion and become a yogi etc. etc. and how happy the expression on its face is.

    The king realizes that the parrot is dead and exclaims “so he is dead then”! Tenali quickly replies “that is what you said your majesty, we never said it”.

    So too in the islamic world there is a dead parrot and no one dares speak about it.

  3. In my close to 30 years
    of life, i have come across with ..
     
    1)
    In Books, Magazines, Articles etc
     
    1a)
    Maximum 20 items where history of inter Muslim differences 
    (Fights B/w Ali & Muwayia, Shia views on Abu bakr , umar
    & Ayesha, tragic deaths of 3rd & 4th Caliph, What Umayyads did
    to Prophet’s lineage, and what abbasis did to umayyad, what Arab thinks
    of Iranis and What Hajjaj did to Muhammad Bin Qasim etc etc) has been
    discussed.
     
    1b)
    Probably over thousand items on Muslim unity and conquer of other
    Nations.
     
    2) On TV & Radio

    2a) Not a single item on Muslim hostility towards each other

    2b) Almost every day at one channel or other some gross
    mis-representation of Muslim history proving muslim nation (if there is
    such thing) is superior to other
     
    3)On Internet
     
    3a)
    Loads of stuff on muslim’s inter-faith diffrence on youtube ( Major
    source of such content is muslims groups). Many blog sites and books
    which points at undeniable historical facts about the Muslim  hostility towards each other.

    3b) 10
    times more stuff about Miracles of Allah, how world business is
    happening according to fixed destiny set by Allah, 
    how the whole world (including Qadiyanis & shias but
    surpsingly not ismailies) is conspiring against muslims, how rightly
    guides are jihadies, how jihadies are actually CIA agents, how jihadies
    are indian agents, how oppressed the pour jihadies are etc etc)
     
    ——————————————————————–
     
    No
    wonder, the ex-dead parrot is very much alive & breeding in
    “people’s minds”
     

  4. Apologies for mis-alignment and empty lines in previous comment. HTML is not my thing

  5. Hayyer

    This article is a continuation of the lively discussion about terror and Pakistan that is going on in other threads of PTH. The key question raised by Omar Khan is:-
    “Why is Pakistan is breeding so many Islamic fanatics (luckily for us, some of them are incompetent Islamic fanatics)?” The author’s answer is:-
    ” And the reason this infrastructure is headquartered in Pakistan rather than Saudi Arabia is because the elite has been uniquely stupid in Pakistan…..But in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the lunatics took over the asylum…… and the state security apparatus in Pakistan helped them, financed them, trained them, protected them and bless our souls, worked tirelessly to get them to the point where they can threaten the same state security apparatus…. THE STATE in Pakistan has been an active participant in this lunacy and the ideology has taken hold.”
    I can agree with most of this argument. There are a number of concurrent terror narratives connected to Islam-not all of them Islamist. There were nationalist Islamic narratives such as Palestine, Kashmir that started out as relatively secular movements and there were the Islamist struggles in the middle east between the Wahhabis, the Saudi royal family and the Muslim Brotherhood types that led to the take over the Kaaba by Saif ul Utaiba in opposition to the Abdul Aziz bin Baaz and the Saudi royal family.
    Pakistan’s special contribution is to have adopted and brought home all the narratives in its north.
    It may have wanted to create strategic space in Afghanistan, liberate Kashmir or make Pakistan the home of World Islam, or all three, I cannot say, but the effect is to give Pakistan the appearance of a terror hub.
    The deceased parrot analogy is amusing in explaining the bombings or shootings in the US, UK or Spain. But eastward it is the same old nationalist narrative of Kashmir.
    Muslim terrorists in America, even bunglers like wannabe Shahzad follow a vocation different from the ones that sneak into India.
    Terrorists within Pakistan want the Pakistani state to be faithful to the causes for which the infrastructure was created. Most Pakistanis it seems want the infrastructure taken out but continue to see the LeT and the JeM as a legitimate and viable strategy to pressurize India. Even so reasonable a commentator as Najam Sethi was on Duniya TV nodding approvingly over this context.
    It should be clear even to the most fervent promoter of such strategies that terrorism as a tool, is not working even for Pakistan’s Kashmir strategy.
    Al Qaida is disabled it seems, but the LeT and JeM can use its assets to carry on its business. Even the TTP now has ambitions abroad.
    The Pakistani state has to regain control over the franchise that it licensed out to religious groups, because otherwise it will take down a lot more than just Pakistan.

  6. PMA

    “But the dead parrot of the caliphate and ‘return to original purity’ is the mother of all dead ends. To waste time and lives trying to revive that particular parrot is a waste and I am sure we can all agree that waste is not good.”

    “My biggest complaint is that the parrot they are selling is DEAD! It died 800 years ago in Baghdad. He has ceased to be! he’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff! Bereft of life”

    “I am saying this dead parrot is a bloody distraction from the LIVE debates we could be having. THIS Islamism is not a viable parrot.”

    ———————————————————–

    Omar Khan is a nice man but in my opinion he has wasted too many words to iterate what could have been conveyed in few simple lines. On times he seems to be confusing ‘pan-islamism’, ‘islamism’ and the institution of Khilafat or Caliphate.

    It is not clear what or who the ‘parrot’ is. If by ‘dead parrot that died 800 years ago in Baghdad’ he means the Abbasid Caliphate of the thirteenth century then he should know that through out the width and the breadth of the Islamic Civilization today there are not many who think or dream of the revival of the Abbasid Caliphate.

    He should also know that the institution of Caliphate did not die 800 years ago. It expired one hundred years ago and was replaced by the European concept of ‘nation-state’. Today most Muslims, even the islamists are comfortable with this ‘nation-state’ concept. Even the mullahs of Iran or conservative Saudis are not interested in leading or setting up a world-wide Caliphate.

    And if by ‘parrot’ he means ‘islamism’ then that parrot is not dead at all. It is live and well and thriving throughout the Muslim World and beyond. Today the competition is not between the concepts of Caliphate and Nation-State but it is between Islamism and Secularism within the framework of Nation-State. From Turkey to Pakistan and From Egypt to Iraq the tussle is between the Islamist and Secularist forces.

    And pan-islamism and Caliphate are two very different things. Caliphate is an administrative and political entity whereas pan-islamism is an ideology; the coming together of the Muslims or Muslim states for a single or for multiple purposes. For pan-islamism to function, the interests of Muslim Ummah or the Muslim States have to converge. The concept had some currency at the time when most Muslim regions were under colonial control. With independence and emergence of Muslim countries its appeal is not that strong any more. The latest manifestation of pan-islamism is the setting up of the Organization of the Islamic Conference or OIC. It may not be an effective body but certainly is not a ‘dead parrot’.

  7. Rashid Saleem

    Faisal is a culprit of his own fears I believe. He has been injected with the notion of being an unfaithful servant of God and just to make up for the lost time, he went to this extreme. I guess.

  8. This is a very lopsided article, which might have been written by an American. Violence begets violence: the source of violence that we see in the world today lies in the USA. Just look at this lengthening chain of human death and misery, the new Holocaust : Vietnam, Palestine (in collaboration with Israel), Iraq, Afghanistan and, now, Pakistan. Just add up the number of deaths – they will GREATLY exceed the number of Jewish lives Hitler is supposed to have destroyed.

    To every action there is a reaction. People are no longer prepared to die with a whimper by the high tech weapons unleashed on them by the immoral Americans. They have decided to hit back by turning themselves into human bombs. If they are going to die anyhow, why not die by thumbing their noses at the Americans? So we have, on the one side, inhuman Americans in civilised garb confronting equally dehumanised killers calling themselves Muslim. They are both equally evil – you just cannot choose between them.

    A British-Pakistani perspective:

    http://sakibahmad.blogspot.com/2010/05/british-general-election-6-may-2010.html

  9. Sadia Hussain

    The perception that religious extremism is rampant in lower and middle strata’s of society is highly flawed. The proponents of religious extremism strive to penetrate these individuals as they can be instrumental in launching attacks abroad. Given the amount of propaganda it is vital that misconceptions regarding the war against terror are addressed.

  10. aliarqam

    @AZW
    The author name is Dr. Omar Ali not Omar Khan…
    This article is an edited form of his two articles compiled by the author himself named as “The Air Marshal incompetent bomber son” and “The Dead Parrot”.Both of his articles can be reached at criticalppp.org/lubp.

  11. AZW

    Ali:

    May bad about the author’s incorrect name. I have fixed the name now. Thanks for pointing out.

  12. Anon

    Both hit the headlines , Faisal Shehzad in US media,( and subsequently in international media) by planting a bomb at Times sq. and the other, Dr Faisal Shah, only in Indian media , by being ranked first in Indian Civil Services* exam ( this should have been spalshed in newspapers all over the world to show that there is no future in hatred and also that inspite of all it’s shortcomings and injustices, India has hope for all ).

    *About 300 to 400 candidates are selected each year out of the nearly 400,000.

  13. Chris

    >>>>>>>Just add up the number of deaths – they will GREATLY exceed the number of Jewish lives Hitler is supposed to have destroyed.
    >>>>>>

    Hate to break it to you, but where you are talking about lots of people dying its not really a numbers game where you try and reach parity or anything.