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Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Dr A Q Khan and the language of Al Qaeda

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Farhat Taj

In his article on Nov 19, Dr A Q Khan wrote that "mercenaries of Gen Musharraf" killed children in the Lal Masjid operation. They were soldiers of the Pakistani army, not mercenaries. They were ordered by their commanders to relieve the mosque and the adjacent children's literary from the illegal occupation of the militant Ghazi brothers and they obeyed the order under the standard of the army. Some of them even scarified their lives. To term them mercenaries is offensive.

No sane person can justify the killing of innocent children during that operation. But the militant Ghazi brothers, not Gen Musharraf or the Pakistani army, are responsible for the massacre. The Ghazi brothers led the indoctrination of the children with the most violent version of Islam, using them as a human shield against the army. Then, one of the brothers even abandoned the besieged children and tried to run away in a burqa.

The only thing Musharraf must be criticised for is his ignoring the illegal activities of the madrasa for so long. I have been to the madrasa before the operation and noticed the ignorance there. The madrasa students even interpreted the poetry of Rehman Baba, the famous mystic Pashto poet, in terms of violent jihad

Dr Khan wrote that the tribal leaders forming the tribal lashkars to confront the Al Qaeda-Taliban gangs are corrupt. Dr Khan must know that the major part of the tribal area has been taken over by the Al Qaeda-Talibna jihadis--Arabs, Uzbeks, Chechens, Afghans, Punjabis and others. The tribal area is no more Pakistan's territory and the tribal people have been taken hostage by the savage jihadis. It is now the responsibility of the Pakistani army to retake the area and release the tribal people from the barbaric occupation of the jihadis. The jihdis are committing the kind of brutality on the tribal people that can easily parallel the brutality witnessed in Karbala, and that displayed by Genghis Khan in the battlefield. It takes extraordinary courage to stand up to such brutality. The tribal leaders and their men are the heroes of the Pashtun and of Pakistan--they have taken huge dangers upon themselves and their families by resisting the jihadis. In a sense, the whole world should be thankful to them, because they have taken up on an evil that threatens every civilisation in the world. To term such people "corrupt" is deeply offensive, even disgusting.

Dr Khan questions how a prime minister form Multan, a president from Sindh and a chief of the army staff from Gujjar Khan can understand the psychology of the Pashtun. The chief of the army staff does not need to do psychoanalysis of the Pashtun. All he has to do is to fulfil his professional duty--to clean up the jihadi mess in the tribal area created by his predecessors. He must free the tribal people and territory from the savage occupation of Al Qaeda-Taliban. He must fully support, through his soldiers and weapons, the tribal people who have stood up to the jihadis.

The Pashtun voted for the party of the prime minister form Multan and the president from Sindh. At the time of the election, the Pashtun who voted for the PPP did not make a fuss about whom the party should appoint as prime minister and president. They had trust in the party, like other PPP voters in the rest of Pakistan. The PPP must now deliver on the promises it made to their voters, Pashtun or non-Pashtun, in terms of education, health and jobs.

Dr Khan suggested that a group of Pashtun men make up a committee to propose a solution to the problem in the tribal area. There is no doubt that the men he mentioned are all intelligent people of high repute. They are all experts in their fields. But the task Dr Khan suggested is not their right or their duty. It is the right and responsibility of the parliamentarians. If the parliamentarians wish, these gentlemen may be invited to the parliamentary committees or any other parliamentary forum for their advice. The Pashtun have elected their representatives to the Parliament. The ANP, which represent the "essence" of Pashtun culture, holds most Pashtun seats in Parliament. The second-largest holder of the Pashtun seats is the PPP. The other party which represents a part of the Pashtun is the JUI-F. All the three parties are in the ruling coalition. Moreover, MNAs elected from FATA are cooperating with the ruling coalition. It is the right and duty of the ruling alliance to make and implement plans to solve the problem in the tribal area. I wonder why so many people in Pakistan are ever so ready to encroach on the rights and responsibilities of the elected leaders.

I wonder why Dr Khan is writing in the language of Al Qaeda. He wrote: "They (the Muslims) ignored Allah's edict that Christian and Jews can never be their true friends." This edict of Allah is open to multiple interpretations, as has been demonstrated by various scholars of Islam. Why does Dr Khan pick up the interpretation that Al Qaeda would prefer? I wonder why Dr Khan condemns the Pashtun who took up arms against Al Qaeda as "corrupt," just like Al Qaeda would do. Why does he denounce as mercenaries the soldiers of the Pakistani army who freed the mosque and the library from the illegal occupation of the Lal Masjid militants, just as Al Qaeda would do? Why does he let down the political parties the Pashtuns elected, the ANP and PPP, just as Al Qaeda would do? Al Qaeda, as we know, is thirsty for even ANP blood.

I respect Dr Khan. I believe he deserves an opportunity, free of duress, to explain his alleged role in the spread of weapons of mass destruction. But I request him not to use the language of Al Qaeda, especially when it comes to the Pashtuns -- the biggest causality of Al Qaeda's terrorism.

The writer is a research fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Research, University of Oslo. Email: bergen34@yahoo.com (The News)

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