Pakistan – Islam and Terrorism

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Ambassador (Retd) Salim Nawaz Khan Gandapur


Air Marshall Masood Akhtar.[1]


(Pakistan faces the twin menace of terrorism and an insurgency.  Along with the threat from the east, both sap national energies and resources and pose an existential threat to the state. No quick end to this war in the near future is in sight. Pakistan’s political and military leadership must find a suitable strategy to rapidly end this complex conflict. There are many possible strands to such a strategy. One central component is to de-radicalize Pakistan from the scourge of extremist right of center thinking. The answer would lie in determining how the nation came to be radicalized initially, and then turning it around. This war is, foremost, a battle for hearts and minds. Autrhor)

Islam is a religion of surrender to the Divine will, a complete code of life, encompassing both the material and the spiritual, the outer and the inner, aspects of human existence. It is tolerant, pluralistic, and ready to coexist-and even collaborate- with other belief systems and world views. The Holy Quran states “We have willed you to be a community of the middle way”(ummatunwasta).[i]The Muslims are ordained to maintain a just balance between extremist views of all hues, advising goodly conduct and discouraging evil ways.

The Holy Quran was revealed to the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) over a period of 23 years, until shortly before his demise.There existed no sects or schools of jurisprudence during his life. Indeed, it is stated categorically, in one of the later revealed verses, “Today I have perfected your RELIGIOUS LAW for you, and have bestowed upon you the full measure of My blessings, and willed that self- surrender( Islam-author) unto Me shall be your religion”.[ii]

The creation of various Sects and schools of jurisprudence, (FIQH) are indisputably a later development.  Thesecame only after the end of the rule of the four rightly guided caliphs who succeeded the Apostle(PBUH). Some Sects date back to just the 19th Century.

Yet, Muslims today are tragically divided, each adhering to his own Sect /Fiqhbased interpretation of Law, as if these were the sole Divinely Ordained Instructions. Most extremists consider other Muslims dangerously deviant. All too frequently, such attitudes morph into hatred and even mortal enmity.

This is particularly true of the Al-Qaeda doctrine of “Takfir”, which deems valid the elimination of those whom they label as” deviationists”, based on their excessively narrow, exclusive, self-styled and erroneous interpretation of the Divine Message- the so- called “doctrine of abrogation”, derived from Surah2/Verse106-“Any message which We annul or consign to oblivion, We replace with a better or similar one”.[iii]Only a small minority of theologians endorse thiswrong stance.

Mohammad Asad , in his authoritative Tafsir (detailed interpretation of the Quran), titled “ The Message of the Quran,” demolishes Takfir in his note relating to the above Surah2/Verse 106 “an erroneous interpretation—some scholars conclude that certain passages of the Quran have been abrogated-theredoes not exist a single reliable Tradition – that the Prophet ever declared a verse to have been abrogated-the abrogation relates to the earlier divine messages(Bible- author) and not to any part of the Quran itself”.[iv]

The argument against Takfir is clinched by another Quranic Verse”Behold, it is We Ourselves who have bestowed from on high,step by step, this reminder( the Quran): and behold, it is We who shall guard it (from all corruption).[v]

Pakistan faces the twin menace of terrorism and an insurgency. Along with the threat from the east, both sap national energies and resources and pose an existential threat to the state. No quick end to this war in the near future is in sight. Pakistan’s political and military leadership must find a suitable strategy to rapidly end this complex conflict. There are many possible strands to such a strategy. One central component is to de-radicalize Pakistan from the scourge of extremist right of center thinking. The answer would lie in determining how the nation came to be radicalizedinitially,and then turning it around.This war is, foremost, a battle for hearts and minds.

Pakistan’s founding fathers envisioned it to be a moderate, pluralistic liberal democracy. Our legacy, from early days of Islam to independence in 1947 and immediately thereafter, gave us this direction. Where did we go wrong, towards today’s fratricidal divisiveness and rage, where radical sects are at war amongst themselves and with the nation? The answer lies in the faulty definition of nationhood, whereby our political elite ignore the Islamic and universal ways of defining national values.

Our Founding Fathers’ Vision (FFV) had repeatedly affirmed a common national identity based on the values of total human equality i.e. of a “Pakistani-Pakistan”, pursuing a policy of “Peace at Home and Peace Abroad”, as defined in the Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association’s (PESA) ‘Suggested National Security Strategy’ published in the lastissue of “The Criterion.[vi]

Unfortunately Ayub and the succeeding leaders took the nation towards the right. These extreme right non-state-actors (NSAs) today seek victory by imposing their way of life. They were empowered during the Afghan jihad and feel taller than the state today, despite suffering some reversals due to the War on Terror (WOT). Fanatical in their extremist beliefs, battle-hardened through experience in Afghanistan and Kashmir; and armed to the teeth, terrorism is their biggest instrument of coercion in imposing their brand of Islam upon the moderate majority of tolerant Pakistanis.

The Tehrik i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the North West believe they can cause a revolution and use terrorism along with war to try to overthrowthe governmentin the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), as a first stage towards taking over the state. The so called Punjabi Taliban who are less powerful, resort to  terrorism as a tool to terrify the population in the rest of Pakistan to accept their way of life which is based on values antithetical to democracy, freedom, human equality, tolerance and social justice; as given in article 4 of the Objectives Resolution.[vii]

The Genesis of Terrorism in Pakistan

How did this danger afflict us? Following the Quaid’s early death and the incompetence of our politicians, we moved towards military/bureaucratic domination. Ayub Khan took Pakistan into the Western camp by supporting the US Containment Doctrine. In the 1980s, Americans paid and persuaded us – as “People of the Book” –to fight  the Sovietsin a proxy war for them. We mindlessly strengthened the extreme religious right in the process.

The Soviet Union left in 1989. The Afghans initiated a bloody civil war until the Taliban takeover in 1996.  The deadly militias operated freely on both sides of the Durand Line. We failed to defend our undefined abstract Vital National Interests (VNIs). Post 9/11, the US obliged us to reverse course. We were now forced to try to crush the very NSAs the state had itself helped create alongwith the CIA. In strong reaction, theempowered groups unleashed an unending wave of terrorism through outPakistan. Armed with deadly weapons and fanatical religious beliefs, these NSAs found Suicide bombing an asymmetric force multiplier which greatly circumscribed the conventional advantage of themilitary.

Globalization also indirectly helped these religious fanatics. Defined as the confluence of three democratizations: that of money, technology and information, it also enabledthe democratization of violence. The NSAs utilize the free flow of money, technology and information to further their own ends.

Absence of a central sense of national direction and the lack of beliefs and values among state actors (politicians and bureaucracy) makes the task more difficult. The police are scared and the security agencies wary of handling these NSAs. Likewise, the judges and the lawyers avoid prosecuting the extreme right actors, for fear of vengeful retaliation. Most worrisome is the fact that the state is not able to reintroduce the FFV or the true teachings of Islam into the syllabi,to wean the nation back to moderate centrist views, for fear of the wrath of the Islamic parties and the militants. The NSAs have begun to target even their erstwhile mentors. They have attempted two suicide attacks onMaulanaFazalurRehman and struck a Jamaat iIslami rally in Peshawar.

The situation demands immediate steps to start de-radicalization of Pakistan. This will take time.

Pakistan must wage a war of ideas alongside the war of weapons. That this is primarily a battle for hearts and minds.

The majority of Pakistani Muslims are tolerant, moderate and pluralistic in their religious beliefs.Yet the terrorist and often suicidal mayhem let loose in Pakistan today, must be urgently understood, managed , opposed and where intransigent , combated and eliminated. How? The 19th Century reformer Jamaluddin Afghani’s prescription is simple and sufficient-“every Muslim is sick and the only remedy is the Quran”

How to proceed on from here? No doubt many of Pakistan’s problems plaguing it are exogenous, originating outside our borders: the war in Afghanistan, ties of deep and abiding hostilemistrust with India, the imperial hubris of the US, and its desire for “full spectrum dominance” globally, the inequitable international economic system et al. But the solutions must mainly be confined to examining Pakistan’sendogenous problemswhich, of necessity, have to be cured at home. Foremost among them being “Poor Nationhood”- the result of the pervasive and near total absence of understanding in depth the true, benign spirit of QuranicIslam, as well as the historical necessity of the creation of Pakistan.This will cure many apparently intractable problems. We also need to open uninterrupted dialogue with the terrorists and attempt to revert them to true Islam

A good example of our collective lack of attunement with contemporary reality is that we do not realize the similar desire of both Islam and Socialism to provide a genuine social and economic safety net to the least privileged and the most deprived in society. But the cobwebs of misunderstanding and false assessments must be erased first.

In order to properly analyze,assess and deal with Pakistan’s dire contemporary predicament, it would be appropriate tostudy the early history of Islam, understand the real spirit of the Quran, how Muslims prosperedand led the World for centuries in power, governance,science, the arts and architecture- indeed in civilization. AllamaIqbal, the national poet, describes the epochal advent of Islam thus “The Prophet of Islam(PBUH) seems to stand between the ancient and the modern world. In so far as- revelation is concerned he belongs to the ancient world; in the spirit of his revelation – he belongs to the modern world- The birth of Islam- is the birth of inductive intellect.”[viii]

With the passage of time, the Muslims started to lose focus and ideological clarity, began indulging in the ephemeral pleasures of power and of the flesh, degenerated into an authoritarian modeand, in order to perpetuate their arbitrary, often hereditary,misrule, created the unholy nexus of a contaminated Mosque-State/ Monarchy, a concept alien to Islam, and proceeded to brutally and systematically exploit the Muslim masses. How can monarchial rule, dictatorships, hereditary rule or an Emirati set-up, be compatible with egalitarian Islamic governance is beyond the comprehension of thinking moderate Muslims. Few even dare to ask this question as it is bound to annoy the powers that be.

MEESAQ-I- MADINAH(Covenant of Madinah)

The Holy Prophet Muhammad(PBUH),after enduring years of abuse and oppression migrated to Madinah, to escape the tyranny of his townsmen , in particular of his kin, the Quraish of  Makkah. Neither whose threats nor whose inducements could deviate him from his divinely ordained mission.

Shortly after he was welcomed as the Apostle and acknowledged as leader- in both the spiritual and mundane aspects of life,-he forged the “Meesaq-e Madinah.”The Covenant, an agreement concluded, inter alia, with resident Jews and others, is extremely instructive for a true comprehension of the hugely tolerant, indeed, the pluralistic nature of Islam which flies in the face of the fictitious, misled claims of the  ill guided, narrow minded and bigoted “Literalists, Jihadists and self-styled Revivalists,” who don the garb of the champions of Islam and “Defenders of the Faith,” while theythemselves do not comprehend Islamic tenets , and are blinded by the rigid confines of various  sects/ Firqahs.

The very use of the epithet –“UmmatunWahida “ ( one nation), in the Document, should provoke a serious rethink about Islam, both in the minds of its critics and. even more so, in the consciousness  of many complacent ,well intentioned Muslims,  including Pakistanis , woefully misinformed /misled about  the essential underpinnings of their own religion.

(By ZiauddinKirmani)[ix]

The Prophet (PBUH) chalked out a Charter of Rights for the citizens of Madinah, laying the foundation of a city State, wherein various elements in the body politic pledged to cooperate on the principle of coexistence in the common cause of security and welfare of the State. Dr. Hameedullah, in his scholarly work, Al-vathaa-‘equassiyasiyyah (Cairo), has re-constructed some 47 clauses of the pact from the available texts.   Salient provisions of the historic pact are rearranged below to highlight the prominent features of the Muslim polity in its earliest stage.

“This is a document on behalf of Mohammad, the Prophet (PBUH), as between all Muslims from the Quraish and the Madinites and those who follow them-“

One Nationof Muslims andJews: “They from one community (‘UmmatulVahidah”) apart from other people-“

Pluralism and Freedom of Religion: “And the Jews of BaniAuf form one community (Ummah) along with the Muslims-shall have their own religion and the Muslims shall have their own religion – their associates as well as themselves-”

Equal Rights: “And for the Jews of other (mixed) tribes (named in the document) the rights and obligations shall be the same as for the Jews of Bani Auf – “And the associates of the Jews shall be considered at one with them-”

Apart from the main Jewish tribes living on the outskirts of Madinah, the idolatrous tribes within the city too had quite sizable Jewish content. Separate alliances were signed later with the three main Jewish tribes. These idolatrous tribes then lived peacefully as well knit social units.

This historic pact reveals the most catholic basis of the Muslim polity—that if non-Muslim agreed, of their free will, to cooperate with the Muslims to promote and defend a society based on the socio economic principles enunciated by Islam, then various religious communities could co-exist in an Islam-oriented ideological State as equal partners under a covenant welding them into one political entity and guaranteeing full protection to the religion, culture and personal law of each contracting community, subject only to overriding considerations of human values, public morality and decency. The clear expressions of ummatunvahida’ andUmmatunma’al-momineen’(nation alongside the Muslims) bear great significance.

Meesaq-i- Madinah is, indeed is the legitimate prototype of the genesis of Pakistan as accurately envisioned by our founding fathers, foremost among them the Quaid-I-Azam and AllamaIqbal.

Contrary to the almost universally held belief  about contemporary( including South Asian) Islam, Muslimsdo not enjoy a special status and sole entitlement to lasting bliss in the eyes of the Creator—intention,sincere faith and goodly conduct is the only touchstone of entitlement. This is amply borne out by the Quran”Verily, those who have attained to faith (in this Divine Writ) as well as those who follow the Jewish faith, and the Christians, and the Sabians, (seemingly amonotheistic religious group intermediate between Judaism and Christianity) — all who believe in God and the Last Day and do righteous deeds- shall have their reward with their Sustainer; and no fear need they have, and neither shall they grieve.”[x]

(It is worthwhile to note that the printing and wide, free distribution of the above QuranicTafseer(detailed commentary) has been undertaken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, home to the deeply conservative sect-the Wahabis)

The explanatory note accompanying the cited translation merits close attention, “The above passage-which recurs in the Quran several times–lays down a fundamental principle of Islam.  With a breadth of vision unparalleled in any other religious faith,the idea of`“ salvation” is made conditionalupon three conditions only: belief in God, belief in the Day of Judgment,and righteous action in life. The statement— is warranted by the false Jewish belief that their descent from Ibrahim(AS) entitles them to be regarded as God’s chosen people.”[xi]

The lastQuranicSurah, entitled “Men”( Mankind- author)- reads, inter alia, :”Say : I seek refuge with the Sustainer of men, the Sovereign of Men, the God of men—.”[xii]
It defies the imagination to believe,therefore, that Allah would countenance serious harm unjustly perpetrated by any one religious group- foremost the Muslims- upon any other.  Yet, we regularly have ourGojras.  “Therepeated killing recently of Shia pilgrims enroute to Iran from Quetta—triggering a call for Governor’s Rule, even by ruling M.Ps- is a blot on the fair name of Islam and a simultaneous testament to failed governance in Pakistan. It is antithetical to the insane belief that such acts lead to salvation; much more likelya path to damnation- for the murder of innocents. Naturally, it can work only to the detriment of relations with our western Muslim neighbor Iran, worsen Sunni-Shia mistrust and seems in congruence with various terrorist agendas for the region and the larger Muslim world.


Towards the end of the 6th year of Hijrah( the Prophet’s(pbuh) pilgrimage to Madinah from Makkah), he decided to perform ” Umrah” or the lesser Pilgrimage. The Makkans, violating centuries-old traditions of peace during the 4 Holy Months, decided to resist by armed might.The Muslims moved westwards to Hudaibiah and set up camp. Prolonged negotiations led to a truce, which allowed the Muslims, inter alia, the right to perform Umrah the following year. Many Muslims, including some of his closest companions, felt the Treaty was unequal- Allah revealed Surah Al Fatah(48th Surah-Victory) at that time, to demolish all doubt.

Verses 1-3thereof  read  “ Verily (o Muhammad) We havelaid open before thee a manifest victory, so that Allah might forgive all thy faults, past as well as future, and( thus)bestow upon thee the full measure of His blessings, and guide thee on a straight path(and) show that Allah will succor thee with(His)mighty succor.”[xiii]

The Treaty ended warfare and restored contact between Madinah and Makkah. Scores began converting to Islam- within 2 years, the Holy Prophet(pbuh) conquered Makkah, almost without a fight—an unforgettable lesson of History- of the value of rational discourse and pacific resolution of conflict- leading to success-as opposed to the mindless violence which today’s terrorist in Pakistan believes is the sole method of victory/martyrdom.

Fath-i-Makkah( The conquest of Makkah)–

The Holy Prophet and the Muslims returned triumphantly to Makkah within 2 years of the peace agreement at Hudabiah. They met little resistance. In what has been termed by Western commentators as, simultaneously, the Prophet’s (PBUH) greatest victory over himself, he forgave the residents of the city in which he had been reviled, insulted, bodily harmed, nearly assassinated,expelled and treated as a mortal enemy.He ordered punishment for a few heinous crimes only.This magnanimity brought more converts to Islam than any mass punishment, reparations or vengeance ever could have.

No doubt the Quran inspired the Prophet’s conduct-“and who respond to(the call of their) Sustainer-; and whose rule(in all matters of common concern) is consultation-; and who when tyranny afflicts them, defend themselves. But ( remember that an attempt at)requiting evil may, too, become evil-But withal, if one is patient in adversity and forgives- this, behold, is something to set one’s heart upon”.[xiv]

Let us juxtapose this alongside the propensity of the terrorists to destroy mosques, markets, schools, buses trains, et al indiscriminately, taking heartlessly the lives of worshippers and even innocent children.

In his introduction to the above Surah, Muhammad Asadwrites”this surah stressesthe reality of divine revelation,-all prophets,at all times, preached the same eternal truth-the oneness of God–which makes it imperative that all believers in God, whatever their historical’ denomination’ should regard themselves as‘one single community’”.(Applies to those, including the AhleKitab- People of the Book –the Jews and Christians- who believe in Unity of Deity).[xv]

Last Khutba(Address) of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) at the Haj.

The Holy Prophet (PBUH) summarized the Islamic world view in this unique farewell address to the Muslims. Revolutionary in nature, these values were given to humanity over fourteen hundred years back, long before Rousseau and Voltaire espoused“equality, liberty, and fraternity” in the eighteenth century.

“All praise is due to Allah, so we praise Him, and seek His pardon and we turn to Him. We seek refuge with Allah – from the evil consequences of our deeds. Whom Allah guidetharight, there is none to lead him astray; and there is none to guide him aright whom Allah leadeth astray. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah – His is the Sovereignty and to Him is due all praise. He grants life and causes death and is Powerful over everything-

“O People, listen to my words for I know not whether we shall meet again and perform Hajj–”Human Equality. “O People!  Allah says: “O People, we created you from one male and one female and made you into tribes and nations, so that you may know one another. Verily in the sight of Allah, the most honoured amongst you is the one who is the most God-conscious- There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for a non-Arab over an Arab,or for the white over the black or for the black over the white, except in piety. All mankind is the progeny of Adam and Adam was fashioned out of clay-”[xvi]

Dr. Muhammad Iqbal

Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, the architect of the idea of a separate homeland for Indian Muslims, beside being the national poet, was a philosopher, a mystic in the true spirit of Islam, both a visionary anda man fully conversant with  and observant ofthe practical world,a canny student ofhuman nature and history and one of the greatestthinkers of our religion . He came closer to apprehending the true spirit of Islam and the Quran than most Muslims in the last few centuries.

He delivered a series of renowned lectures entitled” The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”[xvii]in English, for an international as well as Muslim audience. Therein, he performed a tour d’horizon of global philosophical and religious thought, in the Western, the Eastern and Muslim realms,lamenting the utter stagnation of Islamic thought in the last half millennium.

His stirring poetry- in both Urdu and Persian-helped awaken the Ummah from centuries of slumber. The Iranians consider him one of their own– the Tajik National Anthem is a Persian poem by the Allama. An urn containing some soil from the mausoleum of the great Turkish mystic MaulanaRumi  atKonya is placed next to Iqbal’s eternal resting abode in Lahore. Iqbal has written a famous poem in the form of a dialogue between the Pir-i-Rumi(the sage of Rum) and Murid-i-Hindi(the Indian disciple), wherein he receives guidance on how Muslims can shed centuries of slavish stagnation.

Thus he is recognized and admired beyond South Asia as a genuine Pan- Islamist,and yet simultaneously also as a man who repeatedly enunciated his firm belief that the fundamental prerequisite to a utopian united entity called the “One Ummah”was the prior consolidation of individual Muslim nations, each stable,prosperous,self confident and egalitarian in its own right, and an authentic,contributing member of the comity of nations. Only thereafter could their dream of Muslim territorial unity be contemplated, naturallynot without the unanimous consent of each constituent unit (now 57) as an essential precondition.

Iqbal’spoetry defines the pathetic state of his contemporary Muslims- an assessment  still valid today:

“Two centuries of slavery has destroyed their (Indian Muslims’) confidence,

Discover some remedy for their mental confusion”[xviii]

Yet ,in the contemporary Muslim World , including Pakistan, we witness literalist and extremist dreamers , quite dethatched from reality , pursuing the creation of a unitary Ummah through violence, bloodshed , coercion ,sabotage and brainwashing of insufficiently educated Muslims ,whose knowledge of their own religion is at variance with the consensus of centuries of Islamic scholarship and isbased mainly on false and misleading sectarian belief systems and misinterpretation of Quranic edicts. Do they not realize that an unavoidable prerequisite to the creation of the Ummahis the breaking up of over 50 sovereign states? The ensuing instability and chaos, at this juncture in history, is not hard to envision!

Every day,voices on the Internet call upon Pakistan Armed Forces personnel to mutiny against their “infidel superiors”.  Would this not promote disunity, instability, mayhem,utter chaos and threaten the nation existentially? How many other contemporary Muslim entities today are pining to submerge their national identities into a nebulous united Muslim state? Should not the repeated failures of much less ambitious mergers attempted in the M. East in the 1950s and 60s(the United Arab Republic was only one such impractical illusion) give us pause?

AllamaIqbal’s Allahabad Address-25th Session, All-India Muslim League, 1930

Iqbalpresented the idea of Pakistan, besides multiple conceptual ideas for securing the rights of Muslims within a United India. These comprised exploration and evaluation of ideas like nationalism vs. internationalism, national identity/ purpose/ culture and rights of minorities, etc. The big question is: have we utilized these ideas in the conduct of national affairs, to deal with Pakistan’s multi-faceted and complex problems and crises in difficult times? Can we retain Islam as an ethical ideal and reject it as operative in a polity (a state, society, or institution regarded as a political entity), in favor of national polities in which religious attitude is not permitted?

Islam an Inclusive Concept.

Iqbal declares Islam to be an inclusive concept. In his Allahabad Address he goes on to say “…Islam has furnished those basic emotions and loyalties which unify scattered individuals and groups; transform them into a well-defined people, possessing a moral consciousness of their own.”[xix]

Unfortunately, instead, our leadership declared Islam an exclusive doctrine and started to restrict people within the fold of Islam.As a natural consequence, all narrow based groups started to exclude one another. Today, the most militant sect considers others as non-Muslims and has declared the Barelvi Muslims as deviationist. The rulers allowed this to happen in order to prolong their rule. But they forgot the law of nature that, anyone who deems himself to be exclusive shall be excluded one day. As a result, all our Prime Ministers and Presidents were virtually booted out in disgrace and ignominy. Almost all passed away unnoticed and in disrepute. The resultant sectarian clashes in the post-911 environment have resulted in deadly terrorism in Pakistan.


Iqbal went on to propose solutions to our problems that led to the present wave of terrorism. He alluded to Ijteahd when he said “…Never in history has Islam had to stand a greater trial than today. It is open to a people to modify, reinterpret or reject the foundational principles of their social structure; but it is absolutely necessary for them to see clearly what they are doing before they try a fresh experiment. That is the answer to our sectarian differences and consequent wave of terror. That is the way to move away from the narrow vision of literalist or contextual Islam. Led by able, visionary and courageous leadership, while keeping the strategic principles intact, the nation must interpret and reinterpret Islam in the light of present day difficulties.”[xx]

Full and Free Development of Cultures: Communal Development-Right of every Community

Speaking about culture he went onto say “…I have no hesitation in declaring that if the principle that The Indian Muslim is entitled to full and free development on the lines of his own culture and tradition in his own Indian home-lands, is recognized as the basis of a permanent communal settlement, he will be ready to stake his all for the freedom of India. A community which is inspired by feelings of ill-will towards other communities is low and ignoble.”[xxi]

What he meant was that every community should have the right todevelop and evolve its culture under the overarching Pakistani culture of equality and liberty as enunciated by our FFV. It is a tragedy that our leadership never cultivated these values into our (actually practiced)culture resulting, in extremist, sectarian clashes and terrorism.

Respect for Other Communities

Iqbal opined about the attitude towards other religious communities “…I entertain the highest respect for the customs, laws, religious and social institutions of other communities. Nay, it is my duty, according to the teaching of the Quran, even to defend their places of worship, if need be. Yet I love the communal group which is the source of my life and behavior; and which has made me what I am by giving me its religion, its literature, itsthought, its culture, thus recreating its whole past as a living operative factor, in my present consciousness.”[xxii]

Unfortunately this was not to happen in Pakistan because of strategic flaws in our National Security Doctrines. That induced insecurity in the minds of all communal groups leading to divisiveness and later terrorism.

Internationalism at Home and Abroad

The great visionary said in this crucial address “…But the staunchest internationalist recognizes that without the fullest national autonomy it is extraordinarily difficult to create the international State. So also without the fullest cultural autonomy – and communalism in its better aspect is culture – it will be difficult to create a harmonious nation.”[xxiii]

A state which is at war with itself shall clash with all others outside. Consequently, when there is a terrorist bombing anywhere in the world, its origins are unfortunately often traced to Pakistan. The oft quoted phrase that “you first lose internal sovereignty and as a result you then lose external sovereignty” is what seems to have happened to Pakistan.

Islam Aimed at One World-One Nation

Stating one of the most remarkable concepts in the Quran Iqbal said “…Indeed the first practical step that Islam took towards the realization of a final combination of humanity was to call upon peoples possessing practically the same ethical ideals to come forward and combine.”[xxiv]

The Quran declares: “O people of the Book! Come unto that tenet which we and you hold in common”(belief in one Creator).”[xxv]

Explaining as to why this concept could not work he said “…The wars of Islam and Christianity, and later, European aggression in its various forms, could not allow the infinite meaning of this verse to work itself out in the world of Islam. Today it is being gradually realized in the countries of Islam in the shape of what is called Muslim Nationalism.”  Iqbal stated in a monumental Urdu verse:

“The biggest god amongst all small gods indeed is nationalism;

Whatever be its apparel, shall kill the ethos of religion”[xxvi]

Common Identity & Purpose

Finally Iqbal emphasized one common identity when he said “…I cannot but impress upon you that the present crisis in the history of India demands complete organization and unity of will and purpose in the Muslim community, both in your own interest as a community, and in the interest of India as a whole…”[xxvii]

Thus every community must be enabled to have their own identity under the overarching national identity that must in turn be compatible with the universal and Islamic values of equality, liberty and fraternity. That is the way to a prosperous nation, a secure region and a stable world.

Three Pakistan Resolutions

There are three versions of Pakistan Resolution. While we celebrate the March, 1940Lahore Resolution year after year, ironically we have implemented the one revisited at Delhi. While the former clearly called for a loose federation, the latter recommended a unitary centralized state. The second resolution at Madras also called for “Independent States as Muslim Free National Homelands in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.”[xxviii]

Have we been negligent in disregarding the smaller provinces legitimate desire for genuine autonomy?

Additionally, all three resolutions called for adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards to be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities, in both Pakistan and India. This, regrettably, has not happened. We must critically compare these concepts with those provided in other documents like the Objectives Resolution and the (much amended)1973constitution.

Are these anomalies partly responsible for our woes? To what extent have these acts of omission played into the hands of the terrorists and ill-wishers of Pakistan? We need to remember the universal principle that errors made at the grand strategic or strategic levels shall often cause disasters at the operational and tactical levels. Only those tenets from the resolutions with security implications for Pakistan today are mentioned.

Lahore Resolution: 1940

Those geographically contiguous units are to be demarcated into regions:

Which should be so constituted, with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary,

That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India, should be grouped toconstitute ‘Independent States’ in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign-

Adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution:

  • For minorities in these units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them
  • And in other parts of India where the Mussalmans are in a minority, adequate, effective, and mandatory safeguards shall be specifically provided in the constitution for them and other minorities for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests, in consultation with them.

This session further authorizes the Working Committee to

  • Frame a scheme of constitution in accordance with these basic principles,
  • Providing for the assumption finally by the respective regions, of all powers such as defence, external affairs, communications, customs, and such other matters as may be necessary-”[xxix]

Madras Resolution: 12th April 1941

“Resolve that the following amendment be made in the aims and objects of the All-India Muslim League and for Section 2 (a) of the Constitution and Rules of the All India Muslim League the following be substituted:-

  • The establishment of completely Independent States formed by demarcating geographically contiguous units into regions
  • Which shall be so constituted, with such territorial readjustments as maybe necessary,
  • That the areas in which the Mussalmans are numerically in a majority,

As in the North Western and Eastern zones of India, shall be grouped together to constitute Independent States as Muslim Free National Homelands in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign

That adequate, effective and mandatory safeguard shall be specifically provided in the constitution:

  • For minorities in the above mentioned units and regions
  • For the protection of their religious, cultural , economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them;

That in other parts of India where the Mussalmans are in minority, adequate, effective, and mandatory safeguards shall be specifically provided in the constitution for them and other minorities for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights and interests in consultation with them-”[xxx]

DELHI: 1946

(Deserves particular notice as it lays down, inter alia, the rationale of the” Two- Nation Theory”)

Raison D’être (reason to be a nation) “whereas in this vast subcontinent of India:

  • A hundred million Muslims are the adherents of a faith which regulates every department of their life (educational, social, economic and political), whose code is not confined merely to spiritual doctrines and tenets or rituals and ceremonies and,
  • Which stands in sharp contrast  to the exclusive nature of Hindu Dharma and Philosophy which has fostered and maintained for thousands of years a rigid Caste System resulting in the degradation of 60 million human beings to the position of untouchables, creation of unnatural barriers between man and super-imposition of social and economic inequalities on a large body of the people of this country,
  • And which threatens to reduce Muslims, Christians and other minorities to the status of irredeemable helots, socially and economically
  • Whereas, the Hindu Caste System is a direct negation of nationalism, equality, democracy and all the noble ideals that Islam stands for

Two Distinct Nations Whereas, different historical backgrounds, traditions cultures, social and economic orders of the Hindus and Muslim

  • Have made impossible the evolution of a single Indian nation inspired by common aspirations and ideals,
  • And whereas after centuries they still remain two distinct major nations;

Whereas the Muslim are convinced that with a view to save Muslim India from the domination of the Hindus and

  • In order to afford them full scope to develop themselves according to their genius,
  • It is necessary to constitute a sovereign independent statecomprising Bengal and Assam in the North-East zone and the Punjab, N.W.F.P. Sind and Baluchistan in the North-West zone;

That the minorities in Pakistan and Hindustan be provided with safeguard on the lines of the All-India Muslim League Resolution passed on the 23rd March, 1940, at Lahore;-”[xxxi]

Quaid’s Address to The Constituent Assembly-11th August, 1947

It seems that theQuaid-e-Azam- what he stood for in life, his heroic struggle and his crowning achievement – Pakistan-receive scant appreciation today-particularly among the Western influenced liberals- who, in turn, have scant knowledge about their own religion, despite being citizens of a state founded on an ideology, an indisputable fact.

Perhaps a brief quote or two from one of his biographers, Stanley Wolpert’s1983 Book(Preface)” Jinnah Of Pakistan”, might put things in perspective, and evoke essential introspection.

“Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with the creation of a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three—Jinnah virtually conjured that country into statehood by the force of his indomitable will- as enigmatic a figure asMahatma Gandhi,more powerful than Pandit Nehru, Quaid-i- Azam was one of recent history’s most charismatic leaders and least known personalities.”[xxxii]

One can only lament the spectacle of contemporary liberals and extremists/terrorists alike deprecating his legacy- the former failing to acknowledge his founding a state where Muslims could live their lives free of the influence of a Congress leadership whose enmity to Pakistan is still palpable– the latter wishing to undo the result of his life’s achievement, by force if necessary, in the false utopian vision of an Ummah ready to spring into life out of nowhere! No matter if Pakistan is obliterated in the pursuit of their aims.

And what does one make of  the TTP’s latest gem-“Taliban won’tside with Pakistan in case of US attack” (The News, October 03, 2011) . Support will not be” impulsive” but may result after due deliberation.One might well ask-what is their agenda, seeing that they target only Pakistan, and who is pay rolling their vast network and its militant terror? Is the real prospect of an attack on us and resultant Pakistani casualties still not enough for them to stop calculating where their own narrow interest lies?

Addressing the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August,1947, the Quaid gave definite guidelines on the envisaged future national course. He also cautioned about pitfalls that could harm Pakistan. This address is considered greatly significant. Have we heeded his advice?

“Sovereignty: Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly has got two main functions to perform:

  • The first is the very onerous and responsible task of framing our future Constitution of Pakistan and-
  • The second of functioning as a full and complete sovereign body as the Federal Legislature of Pakistan. — It, therefore, places on you the gravest responsibility as to how you should take your decisions.


This mighty sub-continent with all kinds of inhabitants has been brought under a plan which is titanic, unknown, unparalleled. And what is very important with regard to it is that we have achieved it peacefully and by means of an evolution of the greatest possible character

– You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a Government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State

Equal Rights, Privileges and Obligations

  • Equality and Fraternity If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed-  If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State, with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end  to  the progress you will make. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community – because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on Vashnavas, Khatrisand among the Hindus you have Brahmins, , also Bengalis, Madrasis, and so on– will vanish-

LibertyTherefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State ofPakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State-

Absolute Equality

-Thank God. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste and creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State-


Now- you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”[xxxiii]

Objectives Resolution, March 7, 1949

This document was approved by the Constituent Assembly as the Preamble to the constitution of Pakistan.  Does it ensure total human equality as per the spirit of the Quran, the Last Sermon and Meesaq-e-Madinah? Does it conflict with the Vision given for Pakistan by the Quaid in his Presidential Address to The Constituent Assembly on 11th August 1947? Does it differ in some ways with the equality and internationalism (and not nationalism) envisaged by Iqbal in his Allahabad Lecture? We must reconcile all these differences to ensure a secure Pakistan amongst the comity of nations, in these tumultuous times.

When the Resolution was made a substantive part of the constitution, the word “freely” was innocuously removed from the relevant Article, which has since not been restored despite petitions in the superior courts. The constitution has the word “freely” mentioned in the preamble, but the same is omitted in the Annex which is referred to by Article 2 a as the actual document.

Ironically, the inscription on the Pakistan Monument carries the word “freedom” in three languages. Is this in keeping with the spirit, say, of the Meesaq-I Madinah? Why not? Because the non- religious elites of Pakistan cannot stand up to the” religious literalists” as they are ignorant, indeed indifferent, about their own religious tenets/edicts,  and ready for any compromise, as long as they can perpetuate their own misgovernance?

Article 1: Sovereignty

“WHEREAS sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Allah Almighty alone, and the authority which He has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust”,

Articles 2: Quaid’s Declaration

-“Pakistan would be a democratic State based on Islamic principles of social justice,”

Article 3: Resolve of the Assembly

“AND WHEREAS the Constituent Assembly, representing the people of Pakistan, have resolved to frame for the sovereign independent State of Pakistan a constitution”.

Article 4: National Purpose

“WHEREIN the principles of democracy, freedom, equality, tolerance and social justice as enunciated by Islam, should be fully observed”,

Articles 5 & 6: Total Equality vs. merely Adequate Provision for Minorities.

“WHEREIN the Muslims of Pakistan should be enabled individually and collectively to order their lives in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam, as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah”,

“WHEREIN adequate provision should be made for the minorities (freely) to profess and practice their religion and develop their culture”,

(Questions: The word “freely” is omitted. What are the implications? Maltreatment of minority citizens as children of a lesser God?)

Article 8: Fundamental Rights“WHEREIN should be guaranteed fundamental rights, including rights such as equality of status and opportunity, equality before law, freedom ofthought, expression, belief, faith, worship, association and social, economic, and political justice, subject to law and public morality.”

Article 9: Independence of Judiciary

WHEREIN the independence of the judiciary should be fully secured”,

Questions: Why are judges made to feel so insecure? Why are the Supreme Courts’ myriad judgments treated with supreme disdain?

Article 10: Adequate Provision for Minorities

“WHEREIN adequate provision should be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and backward and depressed classes-”[xxxiv]

In order to better understand our operative values, let us undertake a honest look at ourselves through our history since independence. Salient events will be selectively highlighted, not to flatter ourselves but to face the bitter, unsavory truth which we have thus far ignored, to our collective peril.

Post- Partition Pakistan      After the tragic genocide of Partition(1947), the influx of a staggering number of refugees from a perennially hostile India, and the early death of the Quaid in 1948, we lost a united sense of purpose and direction, with individual self- interest becoming paramount. Premier Liaqat Ali’s assassination in October 1951 further accelerated the disarray. KhwajaNazimuddin , his East Pakistani( erstwhile) successor, was unceremoniously dismissed. The Bureaucracy and – progressively the Army -started to dominate the exercise of power. The Urdu controversy and anti Ahmadiriots, leading to partial Martial Law , further destablised national institutions. G.G. GhulamMohammad , so incoherent that only his English nurse could decipher his conversation , was the new arbiter of the ship of State.

By 1954, we had chosen to join the Western camp, with repercussions that haunt us to this day. C- in- C Ayub Khan was  soon appointed Defence Minister , paving the way for military dominance over other national institutions including , of course, our inept and corrupt politicians .

So divided was the ruling elite that we took 9 long years to adopt a constitution. Its mover in the National Assembly,Premier Mohmmad Ali, had to resign his post.A competent East Pakistanipolitician, the upright Mr .Suhrawardy, met a similar fate. In 1957, the Deputy Speaker of the then East Pakistan Provincial Assembly was killed on the floor of the House.

Conditions led to Martial Law, with Ayub Khan soon packing off Gen. Mirza and becoming President. He EBDOed a large number of politicians,abrogated the Constitution,later gifting us with his own version in 1962. The salient feature was managed ‘Basic Democracy”, used in 1964 to defeat the Madar-I Millat ,in a rigged election.

“Operation Gibraltar”, an illconceived misadventure into I.H .K, led to the 1965 War, at best a stalemate, despite the much vaunted “ Pakistani quality vs Indian quantity”( Time magazine).  It started Ayub Khan’s downfall and triggered Foreign Minister  Z.A. Bhutto’s resignation. The latter lived another 13 years before his judicial murder, without revealing details of Ayub Khan’s  traitorous “ sellout” at Tashkent, despite repeated promises. Following months of demonstrations against his unpopular rule in 1968-69, Ayub violated his own Constitution , handing over the reign to Gen. Yahya Khan , instead of  the N. A. Speaker.

All these events reveal a divided nation ,an elite out of touch with the masses and , above all , a complete lack of institutional decision making.  A few individuals , elected or otherwise, made ill-thought-through decisions ,leading to the Country’s dismemberment in 1971, after a humiliating surrender- preceded by the organized, avoidable,mass killing of fellow nationals. In the annals of war, it must be exceedingly rare that the Naval C-in- C learnt of the outbreak of war on Radio.

One might well ask- who authorized Mr. Bhutto to tear up the Polish Resolution in the U.N.S.C— which could have led to a peaceful parting of ways. Was it an institutionaldecision, or a melodramatic and suicidal theatre, aimed at political advancement at the cost of national unity?But, of course,we shall never know the truth in “the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

Mr.Bhutto wasa man full of self-contradictions.  He was a brilliant,socialist leaning, feudal who took many major steps, not always beneficial for Pakistan.  He nationalized industryand sent the army into Baluchistan because he could brook opposition. He had the Ahmadis declared a non-Muslim minority in 1974, banned liquor,declared Friday as a holiday, not through conviction but as political opportunism and, one suspects,a fear of the religious right whom he despised but never understood. The setting up of the FSFas the militant wing of the PPP was afascist andnot a democratic,step.His choice of Gen. Zia as C-in-C, over the head of several seniors, does little credit to Mr.Bhutto’s acumen as a goodjudge of human character.

Some of his significant achievements  were:  the unanimous 1973 Constitution ,the Simla Agreement , the substantial restoration of national confidence , the certain  psychological empowering of the masses, the reaching out to the Muslim World , the promotion of job opportunities for Pakistanis in the Gulf and farther afield ,  the convening of the 2nd Islamic in Lahore in Feb. 1974( although it was also cleverly utilised for the recognition of Bangladesh), and above all his initiation of the nuclear program. But they were diluted,to a considerable extent, by his feudalistic mindset,the rigged 1977 elections and his rigid refusal to read the political writing on the wall,his failure at rapid negotiations with the opposition parties, and futile arrogance towards the man who deposed him which led to his tragic judicial murder, a development with repercussions for national solidarity and mutual trust which linger to this day.


Lest weforget,this has been the consistent pattern in our national history, with individuals, and not institutions,acting as arbiters of our fate, most often for the worst. So the 1940s brought with its end the demise of the Quaid, the1950s ended with Martial Law and the 1960s by riots and another Martial Law.The 1970s led to the breakup of the country and exposed yet again the failure of our politicians to resolve mutual disputes without gridlock-the inevitable result was a third Martial Law, and the judicial assassination of a former Premier. A deeply traumatic history, indeed.

Zia’s dictatorship started off by a false promise to hold elections. His brutal religiosity soon combined with his illegitimacy, made him an international pariah. But then two epochal events occurred in quick succession, with profound and lasting implications for West, Central and South Asia, which changed the geopolitics of Pakistan and Asia, with concomitant global repercussions, right up until today.  They were the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan.Both events resulted in terrorism becoming a permanent unremitting menace in Pakistan to our enduring detriment and instability.

When the Iranian people got rid of a Dictatorial Monarch-after removing Premier Mussadaq in 1953, for the crime of nationalizing the Oil Industry – revolutionary fervor unfortunately started to flow into neighbouring Afghanistan and Pakistan, both with substantial Shia minority populations.The export went beyond ideology, and took the form of money and weaponry, provoking a Pakistani Sunni backlash. Sectarian violence became common, and Zia’s religiosity, combined with the US-Saudi Arabian support for extreme right wing Mujahedeen,destabilized both of Iran’s eastern neighbors, and lead to a proxy Pak- Iran conflict in Afghanistan.

Despite the brutal crushing of the MRD, lashings, torture and long jail sentences to dissidents, and the fraudulent 1984 “referendum”, Zia had to restore “non-party democracy” in 1985.Premier Junejo turned out to less than subservient, particularly over the Geneva Accords, which revealed bitter discord.So he was sacked. Zia perished in a mysterious air crash, still shrouded in controversy and mystery.

By now, Pakistan had been inundated by a culture of guns and drugs, and flooded with millions of ill- regulated Afghan Refugees. 1987 brought more terror to Pakistan than the rest of the world put together! While the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan resulted in civil war in that unfortunate country, the Americans, denied us the annual Presidential certification,in the nuclear non- proliferation context, leading to a cut off of aid under the Pressler Amendment.They temporarily, albeit unwisely, left the region to its own fate.

Benazir Bhutto, who returned from exile in 1988, became premier after Zia’s crash.  Her government was overthrown in1990.Nawaz Sharif replaced her, after a 3 month interim set up. The President dismissed him in April ’93; the Supreme Court reversed the decision in May. By July, both President and Premier were induced to resign, because of theinability to co-exist. An imported Pakistani national,MoinQureshi, long resident in the US, served as interim Premier, because the political parties could not agree to a single resident in this role. BB returned to office in October.Her government was sacked for corruption in October 1996, this time by a President who had been a PPP loyalist.  Only a month earlier, the police had killed her brother,MurtazaBhutto,in a shootout. The judicial trial that followed brought the Judiciary no great credit.After yet another interim constitutional set up, Nawaz  Sharif was back in the saddle in February 1997. His eventful rule witnessed an attack on the Apex Court by his followers, leading to the removal of the Chief Justice. Sharif then demanded that the COAS resign, for having floated the idea of a National Security Council. All this time, while the politicians remained engaged in mutual feuding, the terrorist genie in Pakistan continued to prosper.

India went overtly nuclear in May ’98. Pakistan reciprocated shortly thereafter. While Indian Premier Vajpayee bussed his way to Lahore soon after, pledging his country’s acceptance of Pakistan at the Minar-i-Pakistan, our Commando COAS launched the Kargil misadventure. We lost face in the international community. The Kashmir cause received a crippling blow-it was now associated with cross border terror, losing much of its international legitimacy as a war of liberation. Sharif rushed to Washington for damage control, in the process further eroding our sovereignty.  Three months later, Sharif was in jail, eventually to endure 8 years of exile, while a commando assumed the role of our new savior by imposing the fourth Martial Law in our turbulent history.  As always, the dictator had little difficulty in enlisting support of many politicians.Pakistan was yet again an international outcast.

We had earlier compounded our isolation by being the first country to extend recognition to the Taliban regime in Kabul in 1996, amid persistent charges of complicity and support.  Although the installation of the Taliban did bring the Afghan civil war to an end, their medieval outlook resulted, inter alia, in the destruction of Buddha’s Bamiyan statues, which the preceding rulers in Kabul had tolerated for centuries. It deeply woundedthe Buddhist community globally, while yielding no compensatory benefit.

Such acts did, however, boost our fundamentalists and literalists and strengthened the acceptability in Pakistan of the terrorists and their deeply skewed world view. Who is to be held responsible for this turn of events, which has further radicalized our people?

The 21st Century.

Dictatorial Pakistan, under US sanctions, remained an outcast. Musharaf, the self-styled Chief Executive, promised much but delivered precious little. In an ironic historic twist, another seminal event bailed out another of our dictators- the 9/11 attacks on the US.  In response to an outraged super power assertion,“you are either with us or against us”, Musharaf seized the opportunity to concede more than the US had demanded. Pakistan gave air bases, over flight rights and land- supply routes and joined the “global war on terror” without any regard for the price- 35000 lives lost, far greater numbers injured, the Army ingress into FATA for the first time, approximately US dollar 70 billion economic losses, and alleged Pakistani terrorists in unspecified numbers handed over to the US in return for money.

Our Non- NATO ally status has cost us very dear, even though sanctions were lifted. Total aid/reimbursements are far from a compensatory amount. The worst consequence was that terrorism came to haunt the nation, particularly after theLal Masjid tragedy, which could have been resolved peacefully.While both sides displayed rigidity, dictatorial bravadoextracted a terrible cost, dividing and destabilizing the nation, radicalizing large numbers, stifling voices of reason, boosting the terrorist narrative and rendering Pakistanis even more fearful, confused and divided.

Musharaf’s ouster in 2008, after his utility for the US ended, led to the induction of simply the most corrupt and inept government,as a consequence of the universally reviled, foreign brokered and illegally arranged N.R.O. As a result, Pakistanis are now enduring the most dismal conditions: pervasive terrorism, violence, lawlessness, power outages, corruption, inflation, complete lack of governance, an ineffective parliament, and an intransigent executive defying the restored Judiciary. Baked by the ruling political parties in Sind, mafias rule Karachi.  Baluchistan is restless and being destabilized by foreigners.We are rudderless, and facemounting US pressure to “do more” by attacking the Haqqani network’s alleged presence in N. Waziristan. With a compromised leadership, sovereignty is routinely violated, by air and ground incursions and by fifth columnists.

How to de-radicalize Pakistan?

In order to eradicate the menace of terrorism,the following essential tasks are identified. The list is not exhaustive and Pakistanis are invited to supplement it:–

  1. Understanding the truly tolerant, just and pluralistic nature of Islam and, thereafter, educating Pakistanis about its complete abhorrence for terrorist, extremist, sectarianism and other divisive beliefs and actions.
  2. Emphasizing the demands that Islam imposes upon its followers- model citizenship, pacific settlement of disputes, complete rule of law, justice for all, no discrimination on any grounds, support of the downtrodden, the deprived, the poor and the disadvantaged, equitabledistribution of national resources, alleviation of poverty, etc.( duties indistinguishable from the civic obligations of the citizens of  most advanced and civilized contemporary societies),

The Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association(PESA) has already published a detailed Paper titled, “A Suggested National Security Policy Of ‘Peace At Home And Peace Abroad’For Pakistan”, which appeared in the June- September 2011 issue of “Criterion”. Pakistanis in general and political parties in particular were invited therein to debate our suggestions as a basis for evolving a national consensus on ways to surmount the dangers facingus.  PESA has also personally briefed some political parties.

Let us look at some conceptual issues first, before tackling specific remedial actions required against the terrorist threat we face. The Quranstates “Verily God does not change men’s condition until they change their inner selves.”[xxxv] In contemporary Pakistan, this task falls to the educated elites, particularly those well versed with Quranic teachings, besides the Government, which lacks vision, will and clarity of purpose. The Bible says, “Without a vision, the people perish.”[xxxvi]

Iqbal’s poetic warning must also be heeded:“Nature may choose to ignore (here) the misdeeds of individuals But It never forgives a Nation’s collective sins!”[xxxvii]

Iqbal’s guidanceis as valid today as it was in 1930-!”The task before the modern Muslim is, therefore, immense. He has to rethinkthe whole system of Islam without completely breaking with the past.”[xxxviii]
This monumental task is a long-term undertaking. What is to be done now?If the Government’s recent convening of the All Parties Conference (APC) is analyzed, then nationaldespair, rather than hope, is the more natural response. Convened to counter growing US threats of “do more” against the Haqqani group “or else”, the APC resolution tabled by the Government, in matters with direct implications on domestic terrorism, was feeble. Sadly, a few political parties were arbitrarily not invited; a couple of parties from Baluchistan declined. It was left to some parties not represented in Parliament, to play a certain role.

Post APC bickering has sent the political temperature sky rocketing. MQM is back in Government and will join the Cabinet. PML(Q), some of whose members resigned on Oct.04, has decided to ally with PPP to contest the next elections. This effectively means the government and the politicians cannot be relied upon to lead any movement toward reform. All patriotic and concerned Pakistanis will themselves have to come forward. A replay of the 2007 civil society proactivism is the need of the hour.

The civil society- intellectuals, the media ,community leaders, teachers, NGOs(Pakistani run and funded, moderate in outlook) and right thinking politicians-should begin by calling upon genuine leaders of the earlier movement to jointly take the lead. An institutional framework is required. The people must no longer passively allow social evils to continue unchecked. They must again take to the streets to demand, foremost, the rule of law. There is need to devise schemes to deal with the tax evaders, the monopolists, the hoarders and the mafia.

One highly effective steprecommended is to compile the numerous recent ‘Fatwas” passed by respected religious leaders worldwide, including in Pakistan, unequivocally condemning and rejecting terrorism as totally unacceptable in Islam- and use all modern means of communications to publicize them, targeting and educating fellow Pakistanis. Let society challenge the hate mongering Maulvi, if necessary in the mosque.

Let the citizens adopt action plans of peaceful protest, not excluding civil disobedience, to pressure the government to urgently contain crime, inflation, corruption, abuse of power, sectarian killings, and anti-social and anti-Islamic practices. These ills strongly contribute towards creating an atmosphere where extremist hate agendas can be sold to the down trodden, the poor and the exploited members of society, the segments from which so many of our suicide bombers are recruited.

People have sometimes protested violently against terrorism, load shedding, inflation, unemployment etc., but this is harmful to Pakistan and usually peters out. Action has to be planned, coordinated, peaceful and sustained. The duty is that of the once active civil society which must gird its loins again. Can it afford further inaction?


The 29Sept,2011Resolution contains the clause, “Pakistan must initiate dialogue with a view to negotiate peace with our own people in the tribal areas, and a proper mechanism for this beput in place”.A poor choice of words which seems to imply that our FATA citizens are intransigent terrorists. In fact they are the hapless victims of mayhem- perpetrated by foreign sponsored terrorists, as well as Pakistani extremists, against whom the Government has failed to protect FATA residents.Only a minority of local criminal elements collaborate in terror.

In addition, we need skilled negotiators to operate the peace process under what has been referred as the “proper mechanism”. This would most likely mean going beyond the limited Parliamentary negotiation pool of skilled persons, perhaps even beyond government resources, to civil society.

A most pertinent question to ask is,will the APC decisions beimplemented? Can the Parliament emerge from its ineffective mode?Its Oct. 2008 and May 2011 Resolutions, reflecting national outrage over US violation of our sovereignty have, after all, been dumped into the waste basket. While the terrorists are avenging OBL’s killing by attacking Pakistanis, those in power have done nothing evident to protect us or our national sovereignty. Can we expect a different result this time, when the APC Resolution is envisaged to be implemented under Parliamentary oversight?

The COAS has rightly responded to the “do more” mantra by pointing out that the Armed Forces have done their bit-it is for the civil government to resume administrative control over areas cleared of terrorists. Which poses a further question- why has civilian control not returned to Swat? Why is the Government refusing to relieve the military and take up its constitutionally mandated duties?


This is a complex long drawn out war. It can be shortened and won only if we act appropriately at all three levels – strategic, operational and tactical – with appropriate policy and strategies.

At the strategic level the state must orchestrate all Instruments of Statecraft under a National Counter-Terrorism Policy (CTP) duly derived from the overall National Security Policy (NSP) for Pakistan. The policy must clearly define the ends (both national- and in respect ofthis policy), which must be publicized and accepted by the people. De-radicalization should then be institutionalized in the CTP as a most important pillar.Simultaneously steps need to be taken to ameliorate the sufferings of the most affected segments of our society.

The major national ends proposed in the already suggested NSP by PESA are: Common Identity – aPakistani-Pakistan; and clear National Purpose –the citizens’ right to democracy, freedom, equality and social justice. Additionally, the document suggested VNIs (Vital National Interests) of: national integration and harmony, defense and security, economic well-being, favorable regional and global order, peoples’ security vs. state security and promotion of national values. The government must rally the nation around these values to de-radicalize the amenable NSAs, contain their extreme right doctrines and finally to defang them.

The CTP must clearly enunciate the operational strategy for the federal and provincial governments and for all IOSCs.

At the operational level the state must wean the nation away from extreme right religion through deft use of the IOSCs– media and education (both secular and  religious) . Additionally the information, religious, interior and defense ministries shouldendeavour to delegitimize the ideological basis of global Jihad in Pakistan. The federal government must work to strengthen civil society to enable it to lend an effective helping hand. The foremost goal is to develop collective belief in the goals of national policy- a “Pakistani Pakistan” identity- with citizens committed to “Peace at Home and Peace Abroad.”

Both writers are members of the Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association-PESA.

[i]Holy Quran- Surah 2, Verse 43.


[iii]–do- 2/106.

[iv]Muhammad Asad – commentary on 2/106. “The Message of The Quran”.

[v]Holy Quran-15/9.

[vi]“The Criterion”, July- September, 2011

[vii]The Objectives Resolution, 1949, initially added as Preamble to the draft Constitution of Pakistan-later           made part of the 1973 Constitution.

[viii]Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, “Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam”-p 100.

[ix]ZiauddinKirmani-  Meesaq i Madinah.

[x]Holy Quran-2/62.(published in K.S.Arabia).

[xi]Explanatory note on 2/62 above

[xii]-114/ 1-3

[xiii]-48/ 1-5

[xiv]– 42/ 39-43(partially quoted)

[xv]Muhammad  Asad – introductory note on Surah42”Mutual Consultation”- Holy Quran.

[xvi]The Last Address of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) at Hajj, Makkah, 632 A.D.

[xvii]AllamaIqbal-“Reconstruction”- Series of Lectures delivered at Madras, Hyderabad and Aligarh-(attempt at reconstructing Muslim religious philosophy)


[xix]Presidential Address to All India Muslim League Meeting-December 1930






[xxv]Holy Quran-3/64.

[xxvi]AllamaIqbal-“Wataniat”( Nationalism).

[xxvii]-do-Allahabad Address

[xxviii]Pakistan Resolution, Madras, April 1941.

[xxix]–do-, Lahore, March 1940


[xxxi]–do- Delhi, 1946

[xxxii]“Jinnah of  Pakistan”, StanlelyWolpert, OUP Inc., 1984.

[xxxiii]Quaid I Azam’s Address to The Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, 11 August, 1947.

[xxxiv]“Objectives Resolution”-(see 7 above)

[xxxv]Holy Quran-13/11

[xxxvi]The Holy Bible (Proverbs).

[xxxvii]AllamaIqbal- Zarb i Kaleem.

[xxxviii]AllamaIqbal-“ Reconstruction”, p 78.

( All Quranic references, except at Serial 10 & 11 above  “ The Message of The Holy Quran”, translated and explained by Muhammad Asad— published:Daral-Andalus:Ltd., 3 Library Ramp, Gibraltar.)