Skip to comments.Killing Musharraf for his apostasy
Posted on 01/02/2004 4:02:15 PM PST by Lessismore
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf remains unruffled despite two assassination attempts in a span of less than two weeks. But the issue goes beyond his physical courage and panache. Given what Pakistan is faced with both internally and externally, Musharrafs fall could mean major trouble for the country.
Two things are obvious: Someone desperately wants to remove Musharraf from the scene and make room for more reactionary elements; and there is a strong possibility of an inside track in the two assassination attempts. Many people within the system, namely in the army and intelligence services, and without, namely members of Al-Qaeda and Pakistani militant groups, are very unhappy with three broad policy strands that have been pushed by Musharraf: the about-face on Afghanistan, the peace overtures toward India and the damage-control measures following recent charges that Pakistan was responsible for the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology. Musharrafs adversaries interpreted all three moves as capitulation to US and Indian pressures.
The ideology of a clash of civilizations binds those angry with Musharraf. This was clear in the call issued by Osama bin Ladens top lieutenant, the Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, for Musharrafs removal. For most Islamist groups, Musharraf has committed apostasy by leaving his Muslim brethren in the lurch and joining hands with the infidel. For them, Musharrafs slogan, Pakistan-first, does not jibe with the concept of the wider Muslim community, or umma, which looks at the state as a secondary entity. What are important are religious-ideological ties that bind Muslims worldwide, not territorial states. The umma is an ahistorical concept; so is the effort to purge Islam of its historical accretions and restore it to its pristine purity. It is impossible to disprove the necessary primacy of the umma on the basis of historical evidence since the concept is not situated in history.
However, such an approach poses an obvious question. What is the nature of the state in Islam? Does the state enjoy innate sovereignty or is it merely a surrogate for Gods sovereignty? If the state is not endogenously sovereign, as Islamic literature maintains, then this poses a major problem. What happens if a group decides that the state is not Islamic enough? Or if it is seen to be working against the interests of Islam and the Muslims? If the state loses its legitimacy as the true surrogate of God, the responsibility vested in it for that reason which is derived rather than innate could pass on to the individuals or groups contesting the states, or its leaders, legitimacy. Musharraf appears to be facing precisely such a situation.
Of course, historically, Muslim states have acted no differently than secular ones. This is clear from the Caliph Alis campaigns as by the way the Ummayad ruler, Yazid, treated the Prophet Mohammeds grandson. But the idea has its conceptual roots in the way the state is juridically constituted and the manner in which al-amr wal-nahi, or enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, are centrally placed in the life of Muslim societies.
The two concepts in tandem have proved extremely problematic in reconciling with the concept of a modern state. Internally, democracy is incompatible with an Islamic state in the presence of this encouragement to enjoin good and forbid evil at the individual level, which has injected an anarchic streak into Islam. The Islamic state has to be conceived in ahistorical terms, based on eternal principles, rather than as an evolving entity. As Vali Reza Nasr wrote about Abu Ala Maududis concept of the Islamic state: The state (is) neither democratic nor authoritarian, for it (has) no need to govern in the Western sense of the term In a polity in which there (are) no grievances and both the government and the citizenry (abide) by the same infallible and inviolable divine law, there (can) be no problems with the democratic rights and procedures.
In other words, given the same frame of reference on both sides state and society defined in terms of divine law, neither would have reason to be in conflict since concern for that kind of government (can only be) generated by crises of governability and legitimacy. Historically, such harmony has never existed at any time in the world of Islam, which has seen many dissenting or, as at present, millenarian movements. But the issue keeps resurrecting. This is why it is important for Musharraf to take the threat to his life seriously. While no group has so far claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Al-Qaeda signature seems obvious.
However, it is important to define Al-Qaeda. The groups inner core, which includes Osama bin Laden and his closest loyalists, may have seen its activities badly impaired because many of its top leaders have been either killed or captured. Yet there are two additional outer rings of militants. The second circle just outside that of the intimates is comprised of myriad militant groups both inside Pakistan and across the Muslim world. Most of their activists have had experience fighting in Afghanistan and their ability to network has greatly increased over the years. There is evidence that the Al-Qaeda inner core is now subcontracting operations to these local groups.
The third, outermost, circle involves all Muslims who sympathize with bin Ladens mission, who are one way or another anti-American, and who look at the ongoing war on terrorism as a war against Islam a modern Crusade. While a majority in this outer circle is unlikely to have the physical courage to actually commit acts of terror, many can be useful in terms of facilitating and financing operations conducted by the middle circle. More than this, it is the growing numbers in this outer circle that could, potentially, turn the tide whenever Muslim societies open up enough to embrace democracy. At that point they are likely to impact the ballot in ways harmful to the spirit of democracy as defined by constitutional liberalism. The greater success of Al-Qaeda would be to create propitious conditions allowing it to make effective use of the increasing numbers of such ideologically motivated people.
In this context, Musharrafs job is much tougher than he thinks. Until he began to change the thrust of Pakistans traditional national security policies, the principal contradiction in the country was between the army and civil society. Given the threat to his life not just from the outside, but from the inside, the president must realize that the principal contradiction has shifted from a civil-military to a liberal-reactionary divide. The liberal elements within the army and in civil society will now have to face off against the reactionary elements within the army and civil society.
At a minimum, this calls for a review of Musharrafs domestic political policies and alignments, and the militarys role in politics. Musharraf has shown himself to be a brilliant tactician; he now has to deliver as a strategist.
Ejaz Haider is news editor of the Friday Times and foreign editor of Daily Times, both publications based in Lahore, Pakistan. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR
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I think you misunderstand why India's not sending troops to Iraq. It's got very little to do with Pakistan. There are no Indian troops in Iraq because the US liberation/invasion/occupation of Iraq is extremely unpopular in India... and general elections are comign up in October of 2004.
The unrest could also give India the opportunity to settle this Kashmir thing once and for all.
And why do you think a deviation from the status quo will necessarily be good for US national interests? If India could, they'd take over Pakistani Kashmir as well (again, same reason: elections in 2004) and that would only create an even bigger long-term mess.
One division in a nation of 150 million doesn't make for "stabilization" -- even if they're invited.
The US interests are far better served if Musharraf can stay alive and keep it in the road.
Safer for whom?
I didn't mean stabilize the country. I quotation marks around "stabilizing" because it would not be our real purpose to being there. We would be wise to go in, under the guise of attempting to help China and India stabilize the situation, but with the real intent of conducting stepped-up operations against Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations and supporters in western Pakistan, where we suspect Bin Laden of hiding. Ship a rapid deployment force into Afghanistan, get organized, then move into western Pakistan.
"If India could, they'd take over Pakistani Kashmir as well (again, same reason: elections in 2004) and that would only create an even bigger long-term mess."
In the chaos that ensued, I think that Pakistan would be more worried about survival than stopping India from getting Kashmir. It would, in my opinion, be a fine opportunity for India to move in and settle the dispute once and for all - occupy it by force. That, to me, seems an improvement over the current standoff.
But, to my mind, there is no question that we are better off with Pakistan on the back burner, set on "simmer", rather than find it on the front burner at "full boil".
As long as Azad Kashmir and the Northern Territories are overwhelmingly Muslim, the Indian occupation of those lands will be violent and costly. It would not settle the dispute once and for all.
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