Prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s political homeopathy through the 15th amendment and the Taliban’s military face-off with Iran have paved the way for a potentially more “puritanical” version of Pakistan than even under General Zia ul Haq. In the event, as General Zia’s spiritual heir, Mr Sharif’s new constitutional escalation of the Islamic agenda to save his skin is bound to tilt Pakistan towards social change that could prove to be terminal.
Mr Sharif has acted predictably. Last week, he convened the Ulema and Mashaikh conference in Islamabad and asked the clerics to attack the opponents of the bill. The diversionary nature of the tactic was so shamelessly transparent that even his Muslim Leaguers were compelled to squeal in protect because they were left out of the decision-making loop in Raiwind once again. But what could PML dissidents with a conscience do? The 14th amendment is designed to ensure that they remain tied to Mr Sharif’s coat-tails for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. Meanwhile, it might be recalled that the clerics who hailed Mr Sharif in Islamabad as Amir ul Momineen come from the same outfit which went abroad last year to collect dollars for the prime minister and then failed to reimburse the state’s kitty. The irony is that Maulana Sami ul Haq, who was once revealed by Mr Sharif’s sleuths in his first coming from 1990-93, to be Maulana Sandwich, is now his standard hearer in the battle against infidels.
Recently, Mr Sharif’s family advisor on Shariah, Dr Israr Ahmad, announced in Malakand that a new army of Islam would rise from the NWFP and Balochistan to conquer Jerusalem. He claimed that this had been predicted in the Holy Quran. Dr Israr’s anti-Shia views have made him close ranks with the Taliban. He is one of many such clerics who first condemned the Taliban as an American “proxy” in Afghanistan and then joined the frog chorus of the new political Islam when they witnessed the rising tide of the new warriors. Likewise, the Sipah-e-Sahaba leader, Maulana Azam Tariq, has been sending out messages from his Attock jail cell predicting the ultimate victory of his militant Deobandi brethren. And the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who swoop down from the Harakat-ul-Ansar (Mujahideen) camp in Khost to kill Shias in Pakistan, have decided to remove the new Amir-ul-Momineen from their hit-list.
A new configuration of power of relationships is clearly being prescribed by militant Islamicists. At the top of the new hierarchy is Maulana Sami ul Haq’s Akora Khattak because he has trained the most important batch of the Taliban under Mullah Umar. The second pillar of the new polity under the proposed amendment is Maulana Fazlur Rahman of the JUI because the JUI’s Taliban held Karachi hostage for a day not so long ago. The rebel mullah of Malakand-Dir, Maulana Sufi Ahmad, has also declared that if the new Islamic order is not established immediately, he will impose “dar-ul-harb” on his area and ask his Pakistani Taliban to do “hijrat” to Afghanistan to join their “brethren-in-arms”. Finally, the Panjpir seminary run by a brother of ex-ISI Major Amir (of Brigadier Imtiaz Bila fame) will provide warriors for both the Taliban and the new order under the 15th amendment.
As if this weren’t frightening enough, others are being asked by Mr Sharif’s agit-prop brigade led by Mushahid Hussain to “adjust” to the Taliban order. Qazi Husain Ahmad, for example, has been asked to join the jihad for the destiny of Pakistan. Reference has also been made to Maulana Akram Awan whose influence among middle-ranking army officers is well known. His participation in the holy enterprise unleashed by the prime minister will now square the circle and complete the “consensus” against civil society in Pakistan which has consistently voted against the religious parties with dull regularity. Mr Sharif, of course, remains on safe ground as far as the powerful intelligence agencies are concerned because the two jihads in Kashmir and Afghanistan are already farmed out to the Deobandi brethren of the Taliban. Therefore the few Leaguers who appear disgruntled will be forced to accept the new Taliban order. The judiciary, which is already half Deobandi and half Ahl-e-Hadith, partly out of fear and partly out of inclination, will “adjust” to the new facts of life sooner than many of us would like to believe. Meanwhile, an angry and warlike Iran will bring further boon. The ANP and BNP will also, in time to come, learn to heel because Dr Israr’s new Islamic army will be on the ascendancy in their two provinces. Before it conquers Jerusalem, this army will try to conquer Iran and that will net Mr Sharif the three billion dollars he needs from the Arabs.
It is clear, therefore, that Mr Sharif will have to impose greater disabilities on civil society in the light of the Holy Writ of Holy Warriors. This could mean that we might well suffer the spectacle of hands being cut, women who have been raped being stoned to death for adultery and Christians accused of blasphemy being dragged to death row for allegedly insulting the Prophet (PBUH). That is when Pakistan will plunge irrevocably into chaos, its currency rubbish and its economy choked off by international default as hostile armies backed by Russia, Central Asia and India gather on its horizons.
The application of the Afghan paradigm to Pakistan has begun. Unless it is reversed quickly and ruthlessly, Pakistan is fated to drown in it by the turn of the century.