Understanding Pakistan Project Team August 29th, 2007
Guest Column* By: Ibn-e-Khuldun
In this piece, witten in the immediate aftermath of the Lal Masjid Episode but being published for the first time, Khuldun talks about the challenges posed by the dual extremism of Taliban-style theocrats and the promoters of Enlightened Moderation who are tearing the Pakistani society apart….
The Lal Masjid episode that had–quite predictably–eaten up the media bandwidth for several months ended in a somewhat predicted–although still very deplorable–blood bath–on last Tuesday. The high drama that came to its (anti-) climax that day has left more questions unanswered than answers it may have provided. Whether or not this was really, as alleged by the Opposition and many in the media, a diversionary tactic on the part of the Musharraf Government to sideline the epic constitutional battle being faught just across the road on the Constitution Avenue, one can only speculate.
It did, however, once again put Musharraf and his brand of “saviors” firmly in charge of the “savage” millions in Pakistan and has established, in the eyes of the West and its media, the often-repeated (by his government) “indispensibility” of his dictatorial rule in Pakistan. Add on top of that the fact that there are serious allegations that the two brothers in Lal Masjid had been in the pay of the agencies, and that it is next to impossible for anybody–no matter how slick or smart he was–to operate with such imputiny in the heavily “watched and monitored” city of Islamabad for years, and the conincidences just get too many for most of us to digest.
Regardless, however, of whether the Lal Masjid espisode was a bold and audacious attempt on the part of a bunch of Mullahs and their naive followers to enforce their brand of Shariah on a country of 150 million or a creation of Masharraf and his agencies themselves, what is amply clear is that it represents a society on a collision course with itself.
I am not complaining that establishing the writ of law within the country–something that the Lal Masjid Mullahs and their followers had repeatedly flouted over the last few months by taking the law in their own hands or by attempting to establish a parallel judicial system–is not an important objective. I think it is absolutely important to do so and nobody must be allowed to flout our laws. What I am complaining, however, is the more-than-just-suspicious and brutal manner in which Operation Silence was carried out and, more importantly, how and why did we let the things reach this far in the first place?