Friday, August 16, 2002

Samiul Haq the first angry cleric
Maulana Samiul Haq was even more sidelined during the Afghan war than Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He was put in the Senate as an ‘expert’ by General Zia because of his Akora Khatak seminary. He it was who tabled the more stringent Shariat Bill in parallel to General Zia’s enforcement of Shariat. He was hardline in the Pushtun tradition and advocated the kind of Islam that Mulla Umar finally imposed on the hapless people of Afghanistan. His parting of the ways with the bigger JUI imposed on him the burden of making himself more distinct. His angry statements in the press promised a tough society for Pakistan, especially for women whom he did not want to see without hijab in public and working in places where men too were present. The Akora Khatak Haqqaniya seminary near Nowshehra, set up by his more respected father, gave him the leg-up he needed. Some of the Afghans who spent time in his seminary later became important people around Mulla Umar who himself thought Samiul Haq was more credit-worthy than Maulana Fazlur Rehman. President Karzai now says that the Islam of the Taliban was not the religion of the Afghans but was sent to Kandahar from the Deobandi seminaries of Pakistan. The truth of the matter is that the two clerics who benefited the most from the rise of the Taliban were Mufti Shamzai of Karachi and Maulana Samiul Haq of Nowshehra. When Mulla Umar invited the fawning clerics of Pakistan to Kandahar, he used to channel the invitations through Akora Khatak. It is possible that Samiul Haq even vetted these invitations.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman and the new philippic
If the visage of Qazi Hussain Ahmad easily conveys anger, that of Maulana Fazlur Rehman is deceptively benign. A well-fed man with a naturally smiling face, he has to compensate by notching up the rhetoric of rage a bit higher than the others. During the war against the Soviet Union, JUI was on the outer fringes of influence since Islamabad was favouring the Qazi-Hekmatyar option in Afghanistan. It was not strong in Punjab and the Deobandi breakaway Sipah Sahaba was still in its embryonic phase in Jhang. JUI was however strong in Balochistan and in the Tribal Areas, from where it returned candidates in the National Assembly. Maulana Fazlur Rehman played on the Benazir-Nawaz rift in the centre to keep his party in the jockeying position. In return for non-opposition, the PPP government got him into the Foreign Affairs Committee of the parliament and gave his men a few embassies in Africa. A rumour about diesel quotas has never been proved whenever challenged by him but it has persisted. His angry phase came when the Taliban appeared on the scene and the ISI began to back the Deobandis as the surrogate army for its proxy war in Kashmir. Suddenly a strong nexus developed in Karachi from an early JUI breakaway seminary started by another Pushtun, Maulana Yusuf Banuri, after 1947, when the JUI run by Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s father took to the peaceful path. Sipah Sahaba boys began going to Afghanistan as trainee warriors, and for the first time the JUI started getting a feedback from Punjab. Mufti Shamzai, another Pushtun, was placed on the shoora of both Sipah Sahaba and the JUI. His contacts with Mulla Umar in Kandahar, based on thousands of Taliban released from his seminaries in Balochistan, lent him additional charisma, which redounded to his power. The rise of Sipah Sahaba bestowed power on many leaders; in return, its Punjabi leader, Maulana Azam Tariq, was accepted by the Pushtuns as their leader for the first time.

It was after Pakistan’s switch to Deobandi jehad that Maulana Fazlur Rehman ratcheted up his Islamic rage. He gave out threats to all Americans when Washington began asking for the head of Osama bin Laden, and Mulla Umar came under pressure. People say that Maulana Fazlur Rehman was never close to Mulla Umar, but he set himself up as the foremost defender of the Kandahar regime in Pakistan. His anger outdid the anger of Qazi Hussain Ahmad and tended to make Pakistan dangerous to foreigners to such an extent that he had to be restrained by General Musharraf. Presenting a contrast to Qazi Hussain Ahmad when he was talking to the Americans in Washington, he lashed out at the policies of General Musharraf after September 11. Having convinced everyone of his ability to unleash violence through acts of public defiance in Quetta in 2001, he fulminates against America with great effect, triggering advisories and sending American officials packing from Pakistan. In Dera Ismail Khan, from where he fights his elections, Pushtun filmstar Musarrat Shaheen arose as a profane challenge to his pious leadership after setting up her Musawat Party.
Qazi is coming!
I've excerpted this bio from a Friday Times article for future reference...
Qazi Hussain Ahmad is a Pushtun leading a predominantly Punjabi party from the heart of Punjab in Lahore. He has politically activated his party and taken it out of the religious polemic that had characterised its past. The fact that the founder Maulana Abul Ala Maududi kept clear of the Shia-Sunni controversy, has helped him steer the party away from Pakistan’s sectarian quagmire. Qazi’s high-water mark of leadership came during the Afghan war against the Soviet Union. His close relationship with Hizb-e-Islami’s Gulbuddin Hekmatyar allowed him to influence Pakistan’s Afghan policy. Prime minister Nawaz Sharif was particularly amenable to his persuasion, if not actually scared of his stern personality. Qazi used to invite himself to the meetings the prime minister held with the exiled Afghan militias to ensure that Hekmatyar got a dominant post in any government-in-exile formed in Islamabad and Peshawar. He probably adopted an angry style because it seemed to work better.

Under prime ministers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, Qazi began campaigns that cut into the writ of the government in the name of defence of people’s rights. The slogan was QAZI ARAHA HAI, with Qazi Sahib delivering the most angry speeches ‘on the spot’ against the elected governments. Yet his check on the party stalwarts, some of whom (like his deputy Liaquat Baloch) were known to be violent in the past, remained firm. He stayed just this side of actually tilting the party into war with the governments. He got beaten up at times but that only enhanced his reputation as a fighter. His planning was far better than that of the other enraged cleric from Chakwal, Maulana Akram Awan, who got himself into a trap by declaring an assault on General Pervez Musharraf’s government in Islamabad. (Maulana Awan was quoted as saying that Qazi Sahib thought him ‘saada’.) Qazi raises the temperature of the masses in a measured fashion. He ‘won’ the Jamaat referendum against the CTBT and gave his party a nimbus of political savvy. The fact that his party’s links with the jehadi militias (Hizbul Mujahideen and Al-Badr) faded over time gave him new ‘non-terrorist’ status and allowed him to do some high-profile ‘statesmanship’ in the United States. He called General Musharraf a ‘security risk’, appealed for his removal and attacked his private life. His angry face is the most effective political challenge to the status quo in Pakistan. Interior minister General (Retd) Moinuddin Haider said: ‘Is he a stable person?’ After that Qazi spent a time in confinement. The other members of the Afghan Defence Council who remained thus confined were the fellow-Pushtuns, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maulana Samiul Haq.