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Roots of Taliban

Roots of Taliban

Author: Samuel Baid
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: March 8, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/161145/Roots-of-Taliban.html

Broadly speaking, there are two worlds in Pakistan - one has grown from the intolerant Islamic ideology which was used as the motive force to run the Pakistan movement in the 1940s by the Muslim League led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah. The second world which is also inspired by Jinnah's secularism speech on August 11, 1947, consists of crores of people who yearn to be like India - secular democracy, enlightened and progressive. This fact has been brought out at every election when they wholesale reject obscurist fundamentalist parties in favour of secular democrats. The 2002 elections were an exception when the military Government, led by Gen Pervez Musharraf, brazenly helped a conglomerate of six fundamentalist parties (Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal) win in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan. Under the rule of the MMA, Taliban, Al-Qaeda and jihadists were helped to flourish.

The second world is only a second fiddler to the first which is ruled by the Army, ISI and fundamentalists, who take their inspiration from the ideology, or the two-nation theory, as preached by Jinnah. They describe India as the "azli dushman" (eternal enemy) and, therefore, those who want to have secular democracy and progressiveness like India are taunted as anti-Islam, anti-Pakistan and pro-India.

The origin of the present phenomenon of Taliban can be traced to the movement for an undefined Islamic Pakistan led by Jinnah between 1940 and 1947. For millions of simple Indian Muslims this movement aimed at establishing an Islamic State. But Jinnah confounded confusion about the purpose of Pakistan by his contradictory statements. In his famous March 23, 1940 speech at the Muslim League session in Lahore, he introduced his two-nation theory which said Muslims were not a minority in India but a separate nation who must be treated on a par with the majority community. From here started the movement for the eventual partition of India. Along its course it generated hysteria not only against the majority community but also hysterical intolerance of fellow Muslims who would not support the Muslim League in its demand for partition. A slogan of warning such Muslims was floated at that time: "Muslim hai to Muslim League mein aa" (Join the Muslim League if you are a Muslim). This meant the Muslim League would not recognise non-complying Muslims as Muslims. In some places, these Muslims were humiliated and not allowed to bury the bodies of their dear ones in Muslim graveyards. This was a type of cruelty which even Taliban have not inflicted on their opponents so far.

In at least one of his speeches he hinted that he had the same system of Government in mind for which Taliban are fighting today. He told a conference of the All-India Students Federation in Jalandhar in 1943 : "In my opinion our system of Government was determined by the Quran some 1350 years ago." In other words, he was saying Islam and the State cannot be separated.

The above will be stoutly countered by those who remember his Presidential address to Pakistan's Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. In this address, he presented Pakistan as a multi-religion secular State which would have no religion of its own. That is, now he was saying religion and the State were separate.

This sounded like a reversal of what he preached between 1940 and August 11, 1947. But it was not so during the 13 months of his life after this speech, there is nothing to suggest that as the Governor-General of Pakistan he tried to implement his secular ideology. On the contrary, he never checked his confidant and Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan from describing Pakistan as an Islamic State.

Jinnah died in September 1948 and in March 1949, i.e. about seven months later, the same Constituent Assembly passed the Objectives Resolution. This Resolution laid down the aims and objects of the Constitution. It said the Constitution to be framed would provide that Muslims in Pakistan "shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and the Sunnah." This is exactly what Taliban are fighting for.

The 1956 Constitution, which Ayub Khan abrogated in 1958, his own 1962 Constitution and the present 1973 Constitution described Pakistan as an Islamic Republic. But it was the 1973 whose Article 2 clearly described Islam as the State's religion. Gen Zia-ul-Haq, who said Jinnah wanted an Islamised Pakistan, added Article 2A to the 1973 Constitution making the principles of the Objectives Resolution as an effective part of the Constitution.

Thus, Maulana Soofi Mohammad's insistence on Islamic courts in the Malakand division and Taliban's militancy to enforce a system of governance according to the Holy Quran and Sunnah - is absolutely in keeping with the objectives of Pakistan as preached by Jinnah during 1940-47.

- The writer is former editor, UNI

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