Who is Pakistan's greatest enemy
Pakistan's military commanders recently met to assess the aftermath of the massive August 8 bombing in Quetta, which killed at least 70 people and killed a generation of lawyers in Balochistan province. Many viewed the attack as an insidious conspiracy against all efforts to end political violence in the country. This view of the commanders coincides with their selective military campaign, which is directed against certain groups such as the Pakistani Taliban and the Sunni-Muslim "Lashkar-e-Jhangvi".
The military did not learn the real lesson of the Quetta attack, however: the fact that Pakistan's military and intelligence services have benefited for decades from Saudi circles funding sectarian and ultra-conservative groups has divided the country almost irrevocably. In education, generations of religious students have been clouded by a curriculum based on the dull memorization of narrow-minded views and prejudices. This resulted in Pakistani society today being riddled with bigotry and misogyny.
Waiting for orders
"The enemy inside is not a marginal phenomenon ... A large part of society sympathizes with these groups," wrote Pakistani columnist Ejaz Haider in one of his comments. "They are financed in a direct or indirect way by this part of the population and recruits. They reject the constitution and the system. And they not only live in the" hinterland ", but could be our neighbors operate in the peripheral areas along the Pakistani-Afghan border, but must also be deployed in the cities, where hundreds or thousands of people are sleeping in cells, waiting for orders or planning attacks. "
An example of this is the military action against the "Lashkar-e-Jhangvi", whose leadership was largely eliminated in a clash with Pakistani security forces. The "Lashkar-e-Jhangvi" has close ties to the banned anti-Shiite and anti-Ahmadic organization "Sipah-e-Sabaha", which is still openly active under various names and with the support of the government.
The Sipah leaders, in some of their rare but lengthy interviews, have not shied away from discussing their close ties to certain government agencies in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Both countries would have urged them to use their sectarian activities to torpedo a fundamental change in the direction of a more tolerant, more inclusive society.
"The Saudis often pass enormous sums on to us through Pakistani industrial tycoons," reports a Sipah co-founder. "These entrepreneurs have been in Saudi Arabia for a long time, have close relationships with the Al-Saud family and the Saudi business community, and do business in the UK and Canada. One of them gave us 100 million rupees a year. We had so much money that it didn't really matter what certain things cost. "
Front line against Shiites
When Sipah leader Ahmad Ludhyvani, an immaculately dressed Muslim scholar, gave a speech at his headquarters in Jhang city, which is protected by Pakistani security forces, he noticed that both Sipah and Saudi Arabia opposed, even though they did, Muslim missionary activity by the Shiites the Sipah represents Pakistani rather than Saudi interests.
"These things are completely normal," says Ludhyvani. "It's just like when two Pakistanis meet overseas, or someone from Jhang in Karachi meets another person from Jhang. It is natural to feel most connected to the people we have in common with ... We are them largest anti-Shiite movement in Pakistan. We cannot see that Saudi Arabia is interfering in Pakistan. "
The calm-looking politician also defended his group's efforts to enforce a law in parliament that allegedly respects the dignity of the Prophet Mohammed and his companions. But essentially the law is a stepping stone for the institutionalization of anti-Shiite resentment, similar to the Saudi Arabia-inspired Pakistani constitutional amendment of 1974 that declared the Ahmadis religious community non-Muslim. As a result, everyone who applies for a Pakistani passport is now forced to take an anti-ahmadic oath in writing.
Support from the highest level
Sipah officials confirmed that a major fundraiser for the group is a Pakistani cleric from Makkah. He is the chairman of the international arm of the "Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-e-Nubuwwat" (AMTKN), a militant anti-Ahmadic group in Pakistan with close ties to the Sipah.
The Sipah publicized its Pakistani and Saudi support when it hosted a dinner for Abdallah Ben Abdel Mohsen Al-Turki at Islamabad's prestigious Marriott hotel last year. Al-Turki was the former Saudi minister for religious affairs and general secretary of the "Islamic World League," a large Saudi institution that finances ultra-conservative and militant groups. The event, funded by the Saudi embassy in the Pakistani capital, was attended by hundreds of guests, including Pakistani ministers and religious leaders listed as terrorists in the United States.
The devastating consequences of this support for groups preaching intolerance and sectarian hatred is illustrated by another worrying trend in Pakistan: the increasing number of honor killings and fatal attacks on artists, writers and journalists. The aim of these attacks is to perpetuate the oppression of women, to ensure the dominance of religious over secular education, and to undermine both traditional and popular culture.
This is also reflected in the controversy over the so-called "Council for Islamic Ideology", whose offices in Islamabad are, ironically, on Ataturk Avenue. The council was established to bring Pakistani legislation into line with Islamic law. He campaigns against community education in Pakistan - in a country whose non-religious public education system fails to enforce compulsory education and, like the countless Koran schools run by ultra-conservatives and representatives of jihadist thought, only produces uncritical spirits.
Tendency to intolerance
In 2014, the council stated that a man does not need his wife's consent to marry a second, third or fourth woman. Also, the DNA of a rape victim does not provide convincing evidence for the act. This year he defended the right of husbands to "beat" their wives lightly. He also forced the withdrawal of a proposal to ban children's weddings and declared such a bill to be un-Islamic and blasphemous.
With the military and government still tacit or open support for intolerance, misogyny and sectarianism, the efforts of these institutions to combat intolerance and political violence without exception can hardly be taken seriously. The result is a country whose social structure and tradition are currently so fundamentally contrary to tolerance that it could take a generation to reverse this trend.
James M. Dorsey
© Qantara.de 2016
James M. Dorsey, PhD, is Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and Co-Director of the Institute for Fan Culture at the University of Würzburg.
Translated from English by Harald Eckhoff
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