The Thin Red Line — An Analysis of the Red Mosque Fiasco
15 Jul, 2007
What does the crisis at the Red Mosque in Islamabad mean for the
battle against Islam? What is the fallout of the successful raid and
killing of the terrorists? The West will hail this as proof of
Pakistan's allied status and of Gen. Musharaff's intent to suppress
terrorists; Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistani Islamists will call
for retaliation and further Islamization; the Government of Pakistan
will basically continue the balancing act between the Islamists on
one side and the moderate Pakistanis and the West on the other.
Quite the usual, predictable responses...
So is there anything significant at all about this episode? Yes - this encounter between the central government and the Islamists clearly reveals (more than ever before) the fault lines of the massive earthquake about to strike in the heart of Pakistan.
Yes, there is a well-organized, well-equipped and widely supported "Jihad" going on within Pakistan, to establish a pure Islamic State. This "jihad" is multi-faced, its strategy three-pronged: (1) the Islamic political parties pretending to participate in Pakistan's struggling pseudo-democracy and ruling the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), which borders Afghanistan, (2) the religious soldiers, officers and zealot commanders of Pakistan's army (the dominant, ruling force) and intelligence agencies, which had originally organized the war against Soviet Russia in Afghanistan, the insurgency against India in Kashmir and propped up the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. (3) Lastly, but perhaps most dangerous is the widespread network of mosques, madrassahs, communes, militant training camps that breed tens of thousands of frothing Islamists - the grass-roots of this Jihad.
Growing since the secession of Bangladesh in 1971, the Islamists thrived under the patronage of the late President Zia-ul-Haq, who permitted the infiltration of the Islamists into the civil services, army and intelligence agencies. Propped by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Islamic movement attacked "kaffir" regimes in Afghanistan and India, but all the while plotted to establish the Islamic caliphate at home. In the 1990s, the objective was to plot the overthrow of the elected regimes of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif in order to prove the incompetence of democracy. The zeal of the Islamists was proven when in 1995, Maj. Gen. Zahirul Islam Abbasi was arrested with 50 other Pakistani army officers for plotting against the Bhutto regime and the army high command. The mastermind of the plot was Abbasi and the leader of the Tablighi Jamaat, Mufti Sufi Iqbal. While initially supporting the Nawaz Sharif government, the Islamists soon mounted an offensive in Kashmir with the active participation of the Pakistani army under Gen. Pervez Musharaff - all without Sharif's knowledge or permission. As the success was planned to be credited to Musharaff and the Islamic zeal of the armed forces and the "mujahideen," with the intention of showing the impotence of the non-Islamic Nawaz Sharif regime, so was the failure of this 1999 Kargil War blamed directly on Sharif, who was left dangling off a rope tightening around his neck, soon to be overthrown by Musharaff himself.
Then cometh the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Pakistani part of this was clear as daylight - the chief planners were Ramzi bin-al-Shib and Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, both Pakistanis. The U.K. airplane plot of 2006 was planned in Pakistan and by Pakistanis. However, the U.S. government delivered a sucker-punch to the Pakistanis by demanding that they either help the U.S. or be identified with the terrorists. It was merely a matter of convenience for the Pakistani state - the fall of the Taliban simply made it necessary for the Islamists to change direction and hasten its conquest of Pakistan itself.
The 2002 elections delivered a major victory to the Islamic political parties, bringing them to power in the NWFP and increased representation in the National Assembly. Death came within inches of Musharaff in 2004 and the consistent failures of "pacts" and "peace treaties" with the Islamic tribes and militant groups in the NWFP and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) show how easily the Islamists can defy the central regime and do what they please. The invasion of Waziristan by the Pakistani army in 2005 simply resulted in the meek withdrawal of the army in turn for yet another "pact," which was never implemented by the tribals.
Since 2002, the Musharaff regime and the Islamists have entered into an unofficial and informal, de facto division of power. The Islamists have full political, social and armed control of the NWFP, FATA and the northern part of the province of Balochistan, while the central government retains control over the rest of the country. This is clearly exhibited by the widespread proliferation of Islamic courts, Islamic law, madrassahs and clerical rule. The Islamists own the police and central government officials have only token influence. The Taliban and Islamist warlords are able to hide, vacation and plot their schemes amongst the Pashtun refugees camps spreading across the region. The Islamists have moved millions of Pashtun refugees into Balochistan and Pakistani-administered Kashmir in order to establish control over the native Balochi and Kashmiri peoples, who are mainly peaceful, settled peoples.
Not that the Musharaff regime has any particular authority across the country. Aside from the Islamist infiltration of the military, intelligence and civil authorities, the Islamists have extended their influence and authority over tens of thousands of mosques across Pakistan. Militant training camps, communes and madrassahs extend across the province of Punjab and Sindh, and the Islamists have also spread into the metropolis of Lahore and Karachi. It is significant to note that this follows the settlement of Pashtun refugees across the country.
The Red Mosque conflict represents the first major violation of this power-sharing agreement. The Islamists, being in control of the mosque itself, began assembling a militia of rabid supporters and began projecting an alternative regime - establishing an Islamic court and commissioning a religious police to extort money from local residents and businesses as "zakat," hound women to wear veils, flog those men and women seen holding hands, capturing alleged prostitutes (including many innocent single women) and bringing them to the mosque to the reformed (or raped, whatever...).
This is the routine of the pure Islamic state, being common to the Taliban, Saudi Arabia and northwestern Pakistan. The problem was that this pure Islamic state was launched in the country's capital, Islamabad. Cities like Quetta, Peshawar or any provincial town would do easily, eliciting no complaints, but the national capital was too audacious. To tolerate this regime controlling a major portion of the country would humiliate the constitutional government of Pakistan in the eyes of its people and the world. A Taliban regime within walking distance of the central government, the ally in the war on terrorism?
The destruction of this was inevitable, as evidenced by the failure of negotiations. Trying to negotiate and appointing a former prime minister to conduct the dialogue was only a public effort to isolate the Islamists and prevent harm to any civilians - an outright attack would infuriate millions of Pakistanis, especially as hundreds of civilians being used as human shields would be killed. But the unexplained, last moment collapse of negotiations (when the clerics themselves claimed that an agreement was formed) indicates the desire of the Musharraf regime to stamp out this insolent invasion of the capital. Launching the operation within hours, Musharaff used not riot police or any ordinary army unit, but the Special Services Group (SSG), the elite commando force. More than 100 militants, soldiers and civilians were killed, including the cleric leading the militants. Musharaff's tough action was hailed by moderates, but violently protested in the NWFP and other Islamist-controlled areas. While the Islamic political parties want to oust Musharaff, the grass-roots supporters want to kill him and establish the caliphate right away.
The operation to regain control of the Red Mosque has exposed the truth - Musharaff is only regaining control of a part of Islamabad and escaping international humiliation. The fury of the Islamists will only accelerate the war to establish the Islamic caliphate in Pakistan. With elections scheduled for later this year, it seems more inevitable than year that Pakistan will soon fall to the terrorists driven out from Afghanistan and the millions of Muslims who drool over their delusional Islamic caliphate and "Qayyamat" (Judgment Day).
Lal Masjid Siege on USA Today
Pakistan Times report
Siege on Wikipedia
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Name: Stop Islam
Date: Saturday July 14, 2007
Time: 22:11:27 -0700
http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=IA36907 is a good supplement to this article.
Name: Get Educated
Date: Sunday July 15, 2007
Time: 07:45:57 -0700
Date: Thursday November 01, 2007
Time: 07:31:54 -0700