A Challenger in Pakistan

iftikhar-chaudhury.jpg We’re starting to see real signs that Pervez Musharraf’s hold on power in Pakistan may not be absolute. Pakistan’s suspended Supreme Court Justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry gave a speech in front of thousands of supporters in Lahore yesterday, expressing dissent with the current government. Chaudhry has been under house arrest in Islamabad since March, and it isn’t completely clear to me how he was permitted to address the public on the grounds of the Lahore High Court. But he’s clearly become a popular icon of secular dissent with Musharraf’s rule, and his speech has to be making authorities nervous:

Speaking to the crowd, including many lawyers, the suspended chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, said, “The concept of an autocratic system of government is over.” He added, “Rule of law, supremacy of the Constitution, basic human rights and individual freedom granted by the Constitution are essential for the formation of a civilized society.

“Those countries and nations who don’t learn from the past and repeat those mistakes get destroyed,” he said.

He said the government had no right to impose laws that violated basic human rights.

Mr. Chaudhry spoke at the compound of the Lahore High Court, under the scorching Lahore sun. Seventeen judges from the Lahore High court also attended. Many of the supporters covered their heads with newspapers to escape the heat. Banners urging the independence of the judiciary and denouncing the president of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, hung on boundary walls surrounding the compound. Political workers, who were not allowed inside, listened to the speech outside the boundary wall. (link)

Chaudhry was also greeted by thousands of cheering bystanders on the side of the road between Islamabad and Lahore; the fanfare was so intense that what is normally a four hour journey took twenty-five hours!I briefly and irreverently mentioned this brewing crisis back in March, but a much more thorough analysis of the back-story of Justice Chaudhry’s dissent by Anil Kalhan can be found at Dorf on Law.

As Anil maps it out, probably the most important issue is actually Pakistan’s prosecution of the war on terror, specifically its policy of “disappearing” hundreds of people accused of being Al-Qaeda supporters. While Pakistan’s hunt for terrorists has resulted in some important catches, including especially Khalid Sheikh Muhammed, its growing dependence on authoritarian practices has become increasingly unpalatable to many Pakistanis. And the presumed cooperation between the ISI and the CIA, the latter with its secret detention facilities, has to be galling to both Pakistan’s secular liberals (they do exist) and the Islamists on the right.

There are other issues on the table too (human rights in Balochistan, and corruption surrounding the privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills), and Justice Chaudhry has apparently built up a reputation as an activist and a progressive over some years, as this detailed analysis suggests.

Of course, it’s an open question as to whether Musharraf will continue to let Iftikhar Chaudhry speek freely. And one has to wonder whether the feeling of dissent represented by the support for Justice Chaudhry can be transformed into an actual political movement in Pakistan.


As a final note, the following Faiz Ahmed Faiz ghazal was being played over the loudspeakers at Justice Chaudhry’s rally. The Times gave it to you in English, but because this is a desi blog I’m giving it to you in Urdu as well:

Jab Zulm-o-Sitam ke Koh-e-garaan
When the mountains of cruelty and torture

Ruii ki Tarah Urd Jain Gay
Will fly like pieces of cotton

Hum Mehkumoon ke Paun Talay
Under the feet of the governed

Yeh Dharti Dhard Dhard Dhardkay gi
This earth will quake

Aur Ehl-e-Hukum ke Sar Uper
And over the head of the ruler

Jab Bijli kard Kard Kardke gi
When lightening will thunder

Hum Dekhain Gay
We shall see (source)

Yes, Hum dekhain gai. That is probably about all that can be said at this point.

45 thoughts on “A Challenger in Pakistan

  1. Thanks for the post on this. Anil’s post was also good, though I thought (in typical American fashion) he overplayed the ‘war on terror’ angle. Liberal discontent against Musharraf has been growing for a year or two (as you described in you post on Mohsin Hamid’s NYT op-ed). The army-fication of all parts of civil society over the past decade has rankled a lot of liberals, and Musharraf’s attack on the justice system was one step too far. It’s not really about secret detetnion or disappearances, but military arrogance.

    The next player to watch — Benazir. Rumours are that she will make a deal with Musharraf, helping him hold on to power while getting a share for herself.

    Let’s hope the next Faiz poem you quote doesn’t begin

    Yeh dagh dagh ujala

  2. Thanks so much for this, Amardeep.

    I was thinking about your description of Chaudhry as a “popular icon of secular dissent with Musharraf’s rule,” because it specifies the popularity of a grassroots secularism at work (versus both “Islamist” opposition and Musharraf’s own secularism).

    I wonder, though, if ordinary people attended who might also go to an anti-Musharraf Islamist rally. What I mean is that sometimes the line between the two kinds of rallies might not be as sharply defined in the minds of people who are just fed up with authoritarianism and don’t care so much about the ideology in which dissent is wrapped up.

  3. I wonder, though, if ordinary people attended who might also go to an anti-Musharraf Islamist rally. What I mean is that sometimes the line between the two kinds of rallies might not be as sharply defined in the minds of people who are just fed up with authoritarianism and don’t care so much about the ideology in which dissent is wrapped up.

    ScarletGuju, I was wondering exactly the same thing — if Musharraf were to be toppled (and we’re nowhere near that as yet), the vacuum could benefit the Islamists on the right as well.

  4. Anil’s post was also good, though I thought (in typical American fashion) he overplayed the ‘war on terror’ angle.

    Inserting a usually phantom phatom war on terror angle on every story about Muslims or Muslim majority nations has become really tiresome.

  5. Al-muhaji (comment #4) — yep. You exist only in the context of a ‘war on terror’. All that matters is Islamism. Ethnicity, language, liberty, corruption, development, literacy, disease — all irrelevant — let’s talk about Osamah Bin Laden, Islamism.

    Amerdeep — your comment #3 is emblematic. It seems that, if there were no war on terror, Pakistan wouldn’t exist! That’s what I expect from the NYT or mainstream blogs. But on a desi-American blog, can’t we aspire to do better?

    See here for an example.

  6. Ikram, I think you might be misinterpreting ACFD — he’s saying that he’s tired of people presuming that terrorism is the driving force behind contemporary politics.

    While I don’t profess to be nearly as learned on Pakistan’s history as my friend Sepoy, I did also mention Chaudhry’s role in Balochistan and the Pakistan Steel Mills controversies in my post. It’s not terrorism to the exclusion of all other issues.

    If you have more gyaan (knowledge) to share on the popular support for Justice Chaudhry, I would be grateful.

  7. ScarletGuju, I was wondering exactly the same thing — if Musharraf were to be toppled (and we’re nowhere near that as yet), the vacuum could benefit the Islamists on the right as well.

    Yes, that’s really true. But my angle was slightly different. If masses of people are gathering for both liberal and Islamist rallies, it suggests a political mobilization that might hold liberalism and Islamism in check (and maybe even develop a genuine left to oppose both!)

    From this point of view, Islamism in Pakistan might not be just “on the right.” The Islamism of al-Qaida and Taliban definitely is, but not of Hamas and Hezbollah, in my opinion, because of mass involvement.

    Just like the difference between Gandhi and the RSS. Gandhi mobilized genuine mass sentiments even though his religious rhetoric of independence as “Ram Rajya” was a symptom of the eventual communalization of the anticolonial struggle in India. We should critique Gandhi’s religious biases but he’s still not the RSS (who emphasized the difference, of course, by murdering him).

  8. Ikram, I think you might be misinterpreting ACFD — he’s saying that he’s tired of people presuming that terrorism is the driving force behind contemporary politics.

    Amardeep: Thank you for recognizing the ‘C’ in my new id :)

    You are correct in the sense that I am in fact tired of people bringing up a terrorism angle as a motivator of Muslims to act or not to act on something. However, I was making a larger point as well. In the US media, increasingly any story on Muslims has to mention the ‘terror angle’. I think the US media has started looking at all Muslims through the prism of the ‘war on terror’ and it had led them to sometimes creating a war on terror angle when none exists.

  9. Let me take a wild guess, I may be wrong. And this is contrary to what is mentioned in #1. I think till recently quite a few Pakistanis were in fact happy with Mushy – the economy was doing well, there was some stability and at least Mushy was not too bad when it came to autocratic rule – sure it was not an ideal situation. He had even gone to India and come out looking quite good and stumping the diplomats there. Some Pakistanis I know mentioned that he was better than a Nawaz or a Benezir and definitely better than the MMA getting stronger. Mushy had a decent support base and there was not much pressure on him.

    However, in recent times Mushy has made a few big blunders, maybe he had got too confident – first the Bugti assassination debacle happened which angered quite a few people, then he started pressurizing the press into not printing anything anti-establishment and other such relatively minor problems. Now recently this new debacle with Justice Chaudhry who is a well respected person and then the rumors that he has struck a deal with Benazir to get re-elected. News regarding the increase in Taleban is not making anyone happy either. Bottom line is that the frustration with Mushy is rising and his support base is getting thinner and thinner and so he is under a lot of pressure. In that situation it may have seemed to him that by allowing Justice Chaudhry to speak he can reduce the appearance of an autocratic rule and hopefully gain back some of his support and pacify the dissenters. If nothing else, this would allow him to buy time till the rumored Benazir deal happens and he is safe for some more time. Of course, he probably may have mis anticipated Chaudhrys support base.

  10. Its always interesting to read news you have some inside scoop on. It makes you realize how bad media reporting can be.

    I am an Investment Banker who played some role in the Pakistan Steel transaction. Frankly, I feel the CJ made a hash of the judgment, and their understanding of finance is shocking. Besides in actual fact corruption was not the issue, nor reflected in the judgment.

    I think you are reading the populist take on the CJ, and admittedly he is very popular these days. Two things bother me about him:

    1. He is politically activist and opinionated. While some judgments passed are truly admirable, his current stance of earning populist support is very unbecoming. Judiciary should have a policy of non-interference and independence.

    2. He has supported Musharraf and has signed an oath under the PCO, an order passed by the Musharraf government superseding the constitution and allowing Musharraf to rule. I find his stance two-faced.

    Having said that he has made some very landmark judgments, he is pro-environment and you mentioned his judgment on the missing Pakistani issue.

    From private sources, I hear he is also known for his honesty.

    I basically am sitting on the fence with regards to the CJ issue. A part of me does not want Mush to go, he has done good for Pakistan, except he has not dealt with poverty. However, his dismissal of the CJ was shocking and he overstepped the line.

    Lastly, will you guys stop thinking of the “Islamists” (boy do I hate that term). Lets be specific and talk about Al-Qaeda etc… you guys paint a very crude picture of Pakistan. And its appalling b/c its a desi blog. Does everyone forget the applause Saeed Anwer got when he made 194 in Chennai, or the lavish treatment Indian cricket fans got in Lahore?

    Islamists / left / right / etc.. etc.. 85% of the country is more concerned about feeding itself. Poverty, deprivation, sense of injustice are the driving forces behind terrorism. Not crazed mullah’s wanting to destroy civilization.

  11. Amardeep, thanks for posting the Faiz poem, I love it and it had been a while since I had read this.

  12. Amardeep, thanks for posting the Faiz poem,

    Yes, Amardeep, thanks from me too! It’s slightly better Urdu than I would have understood without a translation, so I appreciated that too. But the rest of the poem, in the eteraz link, with its explicit linking of deliverance from political bondage with ‘Islamic’ redemptionistic iconoclasm – worries me a bit.

    Jab Arz-e-Khuda ke kabay se When from God’s Mecca Sab but Uthwaaiy Jain gay All the idols will be shattered Hum Ehl-e-Safa Mardood-e-Haram Us people standing in the mosque Masnad pe Bithaaiy jain gay Will be elevated to a higher platform Sab Taaj Uchalay jain gay All the crowns will be tossed Sab Takht Giraaiy Jain gay All the thrones will be toppled
  13. Ba, thanks for your post. It was very informative. I do hope you post more.

    -Avi

  14. Chachaji, I did not find the lyrics troubling. Justice and equality are major themes in Islam so it makes sense for a nation with majority Muslims to find resonance in this ghazal.

  15. Chachaji, just for context, Faiz was a communist — his Islam was very heavy on the social justice and egalitarian themes; things like Sharia were not part of his vision.

    In that sense he might be a modern equivalent of the poets the Sufi/Bhakti tradition, like Kabir — who preferred a personal, mystical experience of God over organized religion.

    Ba — fascinating comments, thanks.

  16. Lastly, will you guys stop thinking of the “Islamists” (boy do I hate that term). Lets be specific and talk about Al-Qaeda etc… you guys paint a very crude picture of Pakistan.

    Islamists / left / right / etc.. etc.. 85% of the country is more concerned about feeding itself. Poverty, deprivation, sense of injustice are the driving forces behind terrorism. Not crazed mullah’s wanting to destroy civilization.

    Ba — I hate the term too, but I in fact used the term in order to say what you’re saying, that one has to be specific, and that most people don’t care about the ideology but about social issues.

    Is there a better term we can use, like “political Islam”? Or are all of the terms too big, in your mind? But I don’t think simply looking for a term is to fall into the stereotype, right?

  17. Firstly, thanks for appreciating my comments.

    ScarlettGuju, I don’t know a better term to be honest. Besides, such things always end up being definitional arguments. Admittedly, my understanding of terrorism and its causes is also not complete.

    The only insight I want to get across is that Pakistanis are not pro-terrorist. Its just that people here, generally, regard America / Israel as the real terrorist countries (b/c of Palestine / Iraq etc..) and they sympathize with those who oppose them.

    And to be clear, Islam in no way advocates terrorism. Jihad is a broad term, and one subset is Holy War. However when Jihad happens certain criteria have to be met. 1. It has to be an exercise in self-defence (and pre-emptive strikes do not count) 2. You are not allowed to kill any innocents, or more accurately, elderly, children, women and trees (things that provide sustenance). You are only allowed to fight against those who attack you. Hence 9/11 is in no way justified by Islam.

    Unfortunately, lack of education in muslim countries (which, again, is shocking because education is compulsory in Islam) means a lot of people are brainwashed into believing that terrorism is Jihad. And that leads to problems. Al-Qaeda is able to convince recruits that all ills in society will be solved through there methodology of Jihad. Then they throw heaven in as a sweetner to convince them.

    To sum up a long write-up, if you meet a bearded devout muslim don’t assume he is pro-terrorist. Even if he is holding a up a banner and wants Sharia imposed.

  18. To sum up a long write-up, if you meet a bearded devout muslim don’t assume he is pro-terrorist. Even if he is holding a up a banner and wants Sharia imposed.

    Thats true.

    And to be clear, Islam in no way advocates terrorism. Jihad is a broad term, and one subset is Holy War. However when Jihad happens certain criteria have to be met.

    Thats rubbish. I have never heard Jihad used in any non-violent context by Muslims period. Are you implying that people use the term ‘jihad’ in common parlance for anything but an act of war?

    1. It has to be an exercise in self-defence (and pre-emptive strikes do not count)

    Hello? What about offensive jihad?

  19. Ba,

    To sum up a long write-up, if you meet a bearded devout muslim don’t assume he is pro-terrorist.

    I doubt many people here (or really in the wider US) would think that.

    Even if he is holding a up a banner and wants Sharia imposed.

    Now you may have a problem. Wanting sharia imposed in Pakistan is couterproductive. Imposing it in western countries is unacceptable. And what the banner says matters a lot – if it says “behead those who insult Islam” then yeah, you can expect people to castigate you as a terrorist.

    The only insight I want to get across is that Pakistanis are not pro-terrorist.

    True

    Its just that people here, generally, regard America / Israel as the real terrorist countries (b/c of Palestine / Iraq etc..) and they sympathize with those who oppose them.

    Well if the people they sympathize with are terrorists, then yes, they are terrorists.

    I understand that the vast majority of Islam is peaceful, but Islam’s intelligensia needs to understand that this argument no longer works in the west. Claiming the Koran doesn’t support suicide bombers is fine, but when radical Pakistani kids blow up Subways, the rhetoric is thin, especially when you say things like “America and Israel are the real terrorists.” You may truly believe that, and that’s fine, but more finger pointing doesn’t actually lead to the end of finger pointing.

    Earlier you said,

    Frankly, I feel the CJ made a hash of the judgment, and their understanding of finance is shocking.

    The thing is that the judiciary, while they should have some understanding of finance, shouldn’t actually be making decisions based on financial imperatives, but rather the rule of law.

  20. Zoroastrian, it’s precisely these kinds of comments that Ba is responding to. On the one hand you say that no one assumes a bearded Muslim is a terrorist. That would be great if it were true. But on the other hand, you react to the comment about sharia by assuming that demanding it is the same as wanting to behead someone for it.

    Being conservative, or even a right-winger, does not mean you’re a terrorist.

    But then your position on Israel shows how you define terrorism. If colonialism and apartheid is not terrorism, but fighting it is, then what’s more to say?

    Nwlson Mandela was imprisoned for being the head of the armed wing of the African National Congress. He organized the blowing up of state buildings to opposed apartheid. Reagan and the Sa government called him a terrorist. To my mind, he has a right to do what he did!

  21. Well if the people they sympathize with are terrorists, then yes, they are terrorists.

    Well, how one defines a terrorist is important. In many cases like that of Bin laden it is pretty obvious. But is it always? Would you call the Palestinians terrorists who believe they are fighting for their land but blow up bombs killing innocent people or the Israelis who are as guilty of killing innocent Palestinians not involved in blowing up bombs. Or the LTTE as terrorists who believe they are fighting for a separate Tamil nation and are thus freedom fighters in their own eyes? Or the Naxalites fighting for a life of dignity and opportunity?

    The point is that based on which side you are sympathizing with in conflicts where innocents die – especially from both sides, the other side is the oppressor and the terrorist. Maybe the people in Pakistan sympathize with the cause and not with the methods. I am not justifying killing of innocents, just pointing out that the generalization is not as simplistic as you make it out to be.

  22. Al-Chutiya (why Al-Chutiya??),

    Jihad literally means self perseverence. The highest form of Jihad is called Jihad-i-nafs, or Jihad against one’s will. Simply put having control over one’s will is the ultimate Jihad, and the most difficult one. There are other forms of Jihad, like Jihad by the pen, in which you use editorials as a way of convincing people of your point of view. For example if I were to write in The LA Times why I think America is a terrorist state in disguise, that would be Jihad on my part.

    Jihad-i-Akbar, or Holy War as it is translated is also about self-preseverence. You can’t self-presevere by attacking other, just defending yourself. When The Holy Prophet (PBUH) led the conquest of Makkah that wasn’t Jihad, only when he defended the Muslim City State of Medina against attacks from The Makkans did he declare Jihad.

    Al-Qaeda is abusing the term Jihad. Unfortunately, actions done my muslims are considered to be Islam, even when they are not following Islam themselves.

  23. Something is cooking up in Pakistan. Now CJP is planning a showdown in Karachi and almost everyone supporting them. I hope everything works out in the favor of good and every party keeps their word one’s they accomplish their mission.

  24. This is a first.

    Pakistan’s Supreme Court has suspended an inquiry into misconduct charges against the country’s top judge.
  25. Yes, the case against the CJ will now be heard by the entire Supreme Court, and he will argue it himself, instead of by a special bench called the Supreme Judicial Council. It’s the Supreme Judicial Council’s proceedings that have been suspended, not the case itself. The BBC link Neena posted adds this:

    Mr Chaudhry successfully argued that the Supreme Judicial Council would not hear his case fairly. Our correspondent says that the suspended judge believes that the supreme court will give him a better chance of an impartial hearing.
  26. The best political analysis on the CJ crisis in Pakistan that I’ve read is on the Glasshouse blog (politicalpakistan.blogspot.com). Nice Faiz poetry, ever notice how the famous desi urdu shairs were all so cynical about religion (Ghalib, Faiz)? The idol-smashing in Faiz is not a Sufi thing, btw, similar subversive ideas are expressed through the metaphor of Karbala (inspiring the oppressed to rise up against Yazid/evil rulers) and also by Islamists like Qutb who described the repressive regime in Egypt as taghut (idolatry).

  27. SP, not sure what you meant by ‘the idol-smashing in Faiz is not a Sufi thing’. It isn’t, and need not be, to be worrisome as the central metaphor that people use to understand what is happening. Did you, perhaps, mean, it is not a ‘Salafi thing’ ?

    On Amardeep’s point that Faiz was no supporter of Sharia – that may be true, but people singing his poem as an anthem of the resistance are unlikely to fully appreciate the context in which he wrote it. There are going to be literalists in the crowd too, especially since the secular opposition is so weak in Pakistan today. And BTW, there are other stanzas in the poem which continue in a similar vein.

  28. Zoroastrian, it’s precisely these kinds of comments that Ba is responding to. On the one hand you say that no one assumes a bearded Muslim is a terrorist. That would be great if it were true. But on the other hand, you react to the comment about sharia by assuming that demanding it is the same as wanting to behead someone for it.

    ScarletGuju, I think I could have been more clear, I actually meant those as two unrelated thoughts. The first thought is that just because you are bearded muslim, most people will not think you’re a terrorist (some may, but screw them and don’t give them any more credence than they deserve). The second part is demanding sharia law – people who demand shariat in Pakistan are troubling to most Pakistanis, but it is somewhat understandable, and they have a right to demand it (much like John Gibson and others keep falsly believing the Constituion is founded on the 10 commandments). Demanding Sharia here in the west makes you seriously suspect, and a desire to implement religious law into secular societies may not make you a terrorist, but I don’t believe you should be entitled to any social respect (granted they have a right to demand it, but they shouldn’t get upset when people call them terrorists). The last point, about holding signs at rallys calling for decapitation is seperate from demanding sharia, but again – if you hold up signs like, or don’t condemn them, you shouldn’t complain if you get tagged with the terrorist label.

    But then your position on Israel shows how you define terrorism. If colonialism and apartheid is not terrorism, but fighting it is, then what’s more to say?

    Colonialism and aparthied are forms of terrorising a population in most cases, however, they can be judged on their own. I have no problem calling out the abuses of Israel, and wish they were more often. But simply making a commentary that they are acts of terrorism and therefore justifying other acts of terrorism doesn’t make you less pro-terrorist, it makes you pro-terrorism. There’s no reason to try an mix vocabulary just to make a point – we should be able to condemn all those acts equally.

    Nelson Mandela did what he thought he had to do, but justice was served until the image of terrorism was dissassociated with the ANC. The Palestinians will never get anywhere by using suicide bombings, if the morons would just look at how Gandhi dealt with the supposedly superior brits, they would see that through non-violent action, they can expose the hypocrisies of Israel and their alleged cultural superiority.

    Ardy, it doesn’t matter what term you use – from a societal perspective, the original poster Ba, wanted people to stop thinking Pakistanis or Muslims were terrorists. If he wants this (i.e. social perception) to happen, then at least stop trying to justify terrorism (in its typical social designation) because of their crappy situation.

    I agree though that it is annoying how anything that happens there is always seen through the prism of terrorism. It’s probably best to ignore most American media until such time as they can grow up.

  29. I know my Sufi from my Salafi, thanks. Was responding to Amardeep placing Faiz in the sufi tradition. Not sure why idol-smashing should be seen as a worrisome theme, it’s subversiveness 101, which can of course be used against dictators as well as governments deemed ungodly (perhaps that’s why Faiz the leftist echoes themes of idol-smashing, and so many non-clerical Islamists in the Iranian revolution came from Marxist backgrounds), but it’s not a bad thing in and of itself. Oppositional themes and symbols in religious tradition can’t be carefully managed and guarded against abuse by “literalists,” nor can anything in religion for that matter – just look at the way the extremists have gone batshit over the concept of jihad.

  30. Ardy, let me put it this way, people may have to fight, but if you don’t want to be called a terrorist, then attack an army (like the IDF) and don’t blow up buses and pizza parlors – it’s really that simple.

    Asymetrical warfare and all that? Fine (well, not really), but then accept you’re terrorists, or pro-terrorism and move on. You can’t have it both ways.

  31. Not sure why idol-smashing should be seen as a worrisome theme

    Even in the case of a negative (like a dictator) it is still a part of history and history should be allowed to judge it on its own merit. Sorry, but that’s just the Art Historian in me. Triumph of the Will isn’t something I want idolized, but I certainly think it is an important historical artifact.

  32. to happen, then at least stop trying to justify terrorism (in its typical social designation) because of their crappy situation.

    Zoroastrian, thats exactly the point. While I am saying terrorism is wrong, unislamic and needs to be opposed in a collective fashion, failing to address the root causes of terrorims is stupid. I can assure there will be tons of muslim terrorists coming out of Iraq, you have created an ideal environment for them to flourish. You have destroyed an entire genration who now have a hatred for America; they make ideal targets for Al-Qaeda recruiters. Its the same for America / Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

  33. <

    blockquote>the original poster Ba, wanted people to stop thinking Pakistanis or Muslims were terrorists. If he wants this (i.e. social perception) to happen, then at least stop trying to justify terrorism (in its typical social designation) because of their crappy situation. blockquote>

    Zoroastrian, thats exactly the point. While I am saying terrorism is wrong, unislamic and needs to be opposed in a collective fashion, failing to address the root causes of terrorims is stupid. I can assure there will be tons of muslim terrorists coming out of Iraq, you have created an ideal environment for them to flourish. You have destroyed an entire genration who now have a hatred for America; they make ideal targets for Al-Qaeda recruiters. Its the same for America / Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

  34. I know my Sufi from my Salafi, thanks.

    Didn’t mean to imply you didn’t – just wondered, since you brought in Qutb. And I didn’t realize that you were:

    responding to Amardeep placing Faiz in the sufi tradition.
    Not sure why idol-smashing should be seen as a worrisome theme, it’s subversiveness 101, which can of course be used against dictators as well as governments deemed ungodly (perhaps that’s why Faiz the leftist echoes themes of idol-smashing, and so many non-clerical Islamists in the Iranian revolution came from Marxist backgrounds), but it’s not a bad thing in and of itself. Oppositional themes and symbols in religious tradition can’t be carefully managed and guarded against abuse by “literalists,” nor can anything in religion for that matter – just look at the way the extremists have gone batshit over the concept of jihad.

    Added the emphasis, but that’s my point exactly.

  35. …failing to address the root causes of terrorims is stupid. I can assure there will be tons of muslim terrorists coming out of Iraq, you have created an ideal environment for them to flourish. You have destroyed an entire genration who now have a hatred for America; they make ideal targets for Al-Qaeda recruiters. Its the same for America / Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

    Ba, I agree with you, however, the term “root-cause” has an underlying meaning that is essentially justifying terrorism. I beleive that as long as you continue to tie terrorism to these “root causes,” it does in some way excuse the action.

    I think the best course, is for us to shed light on all these issues. Israel’s actions should be examined and exposed, not in the context of Islamic radicalism, but on its own brutality. The complete fuck up in Iraq will obviously create more terrorists – stop using that as an excuse and condemn terrorism point blank, just as I criticize Israeli action, point blank – there is no justification for it and there’s no justification for blowing up civilian buses.

  36. I know my Sufi from my Salafi, thanks. Was responding to Amardeep placing Faiz in the sufi tradition. Not sure why idol-smashing should be seen as a worrisome theme, it’s subversiveness 101, which can of course be used against dictators as well as governments deemed ungodly

    It can be used against all perceived enemies, including (the most conspicuously connected to idols) Hindus. The Bamiyan (Buddha statues) tragedy is also directly related, as are so many other historical tragedies caused by this ‘subversiveness’.

  37. Zoroastrian, thanks for your comments. I think that what’s difficult here is that “terrorism” is such an ideological term that we are not able to use at as some sort of objective lens, just to describe a series of actions. Our own politics always comes through when we use it. (Some have used terms like “revolutionary terrorism” for folks like Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh in order to describe the acts and to show their political support.)

    That’s why I would argue with your characterization of Mandela, the Palestinians and Gandhi (#31). The ANC did not win because of an image change, but Mandela was diefied (Gandhified?) and whitewashed in retrospect, after national strikes in SA and boycotts around the world made supporting aparthied no longer cool.

    I agree that suicide bombing, etc. is not the best tactic for Palestinians because it only justifies Israel’s aggression, and many segments of Palestinian society operate very differently. But labeling them as terrorists gives the moral ground to the state of Israeli, which then skews our analysis.

    I won’t go into Gandhi, but we have to ask why a supposedly “nonviolent” revolution ended with the bloodbath of partition. As Gandhi himself knew, something didn’t click.

  38. SP, I know idol-smashing is not to always be taken literally, it can be symbolic of a great many things, but in most cases the concept, however abstract, has led to attacks on innocents.

  39. Zoroastrian

    Thanks for clearing up some of your points.

    Asymetrical warfare and all that? Fine (well, not really), but then accept you’re terrorists, or pro-terrorism and move on. You can’t have it both ways.

    I think it’s not the term itself that matters but the connotation it brings which ScarletGuju has rightly pointed out

    But labeling them as terrorists gives the moral ground to the state of Israeli, which then skews our analysis.

    A lot of Israeli and Western media calls the Palestinians terrorist but it never calls the Israelis any such thing. The 1982 siege of Beirut resulted in over 10000 civilian casualties I think (a good number of which it was later found were not even killed as what would be termed as ‘collateral damage’), just last year Israel’s aggression again was unnecessary and resulted in civilian deaths. But how often have we heard about Israel being called a terrorist state. Similarly, at best Israels claim over Gaza, West Bank, Jerusalem or even other parts of former Palestine is disputed, but we don’t hear of them as a usurping power though they exercise absolute control over these parts. When people (and also the western media, the Islamic world and everyone else) decides to either group these Palestinians with the actual terrorists like Laden but refuse to treat the other side with the same ‘objectivity’ there is a problem. The word and connotation makes us lose our objectivity and like quoted above, skews our analysis and understanding. Thus we end up thinking one side is good and the other is bad. Thus one side accepting they are terrorists would amount to they accepting that they are in the wrong but the otehr non terrorist side has done nothing wrong.

  40. I can’t believe how one sided this debate has become about Palestine and Israel. I love how some here defend the Palestinians sucide bombers, yet any action about Israel to defend it’s self is wrong.

  41. Great post Anil. Simple & to the point.

    Yes thats true. Even the most die-hard-fans of MUSH are angry over this now & i guess they have had enough of him for last 7 years. 7 years equal a two presidential terms in office in USA.

    But as i see around me the same issues are not only there but are no more in PRIORITY LIST of our gov. Their priority list is privatization, BANKING, DEALS wardi and SHIT ISI instead of POVERTY,EDUCATION, HEALTH & CORRUPTION along with LAW and ORDER.