Is Coexistence With Radicalized Islam Possible?

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by ajtr, Apr 10, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Is Coexistence With Radicalized Islam Possible?[/B]

    By Kazi Anwarul Masud

    The infamy of 9/11 that turned Islam, a religion of peace like those of the others, to one scorned as “Islamofasicism” and forcing the Muslim Diaspora in the West to negotiate a precarious life of a second class citizenship in the countries of their birth, has to change if the world is to become one again and not one of historian Niall Ferguson’s fragmented spheres of gated affluence and “disposable” misery afflicted greater part of humanity.

    In discussions on Islam the very usage of the term “moderates” implies that “extremism’ is the norm in Islam which has to be defeated by force. Undeniably the Islamists who would like to establish the illiberalism of the puritanical days of the pre-modern era and envelop mankind under one culture-oriented system of governance keeping no room for tolerance and dissent cannot be the wish of humanity after having traversed from the Dark Ages to the Flat Earth post-modern era of today. Despite historian Bernard Lewis’s lamentation about the rage of the Muslims and Samuel Huntington’s oracle of confrontation among different cultures and religions the survival and the strengthening of politico-economic progress of mankind calls for Henry Kissinger’s geopolitics, a euphemism for power politics, in the management of international relations.

    Many in Bangladesh would like to try Henry Kissinger for thanking mass murderer General Yahaya Khan of Pakistan for his “delicacy and tact” during the genocidal war of liberation in 1971, as the Chileans would like to follow suit for Kissinger’s planning the bloody overthrow of President Salvador Allende, for scuttling peace talks with Vietnam in 1968, persuading Richard Nixon for widening the Vietnam war with massive bombing of Cambodia and Laos causing the death of about one million civilians, and assuring President Suharto in 1975 that the US would not recognize East Timor. Yet the brilliance of Kissinger lay in emulating his idol Prince Metternich’s in bringing a vast era of peace in Europe through the exercise of geopolitics.

    Effectively Kissinger’s realpolitik recognized the existence of various power centers that have to be treated with respect giving way to compromise when needed. The First World War came about not because of unstable power balance created by competing alliances but because Germany was no longer interested in maintaining a power balance. The Second World War came about due to the reluctance of the victorious powers in restoring the balance. When Kissinger found Soviet Union not as a friend but as a competing power he wholeheartedly followed George Marshall, Dean Acheson and George Kennan’s “containment” policy of communism as an update of traditional balance of power (Michael Howard-Foreign Affairs-May/June 1994). Kissinger, therefore, sees the US as a power in a complex world to interact with others that the US can neither ignore nor dominate.

    The global quest is for finding a “good society” where all can live in peace. Harvard Professor Michael Walzer disagrees that there has to be one good society given the immense variety of human cultures. Walzer would describe a good society as one that is constituted “by the peaceful coexistence of all the societies that aim at goodness…the good society can be imagined as a framework that encompasses all versions of goodness”.

    As the pre eminent problem facing the international community is the unremitting violence let loose by Osama bin Laden’s variety of al-Qaeda, reportedly holed up in caves near Pak-Afghan border due to heavy military pressure by the NATO forces, but giving away franchise to other militants bent upon taking revenge against the West where “degradation abounds” for real (unresolved Palestine issue) or imagined injustices meted out to them, it is essential that the Islamic world be at one with the rest of humanity in the destruction of this Frankenstein, initially created by the US and Pak intelligence agencies to oust the Soviets from Afghanistan.

    Gifted British columnist Nick Cohen (2007) found in Sayeed Qutb, the intellectual godfather of al-Qaeda, a love for European fascism that soon became a state ideology in Afghanistan’s Taliban regime. Bush the younger’s administration peopled by neo-conservatives goading President Bush to the invasion of Iraq created a chasm between two great religions and cultures. On the flip side is the US National Intelligence Estimate’s suggestion that forces of Jihadism has been significantly bolstered by Iraq war. Nick Cohen comes to the conclusion that the Iraq war was not launched because of the US desire to spread democracy but to control oil supplies of the Middle East and because the Saudi oil became more vulnerable to an internal Iran style Islamist revolution and the appeal of Iraq to the Arab masses

    Now that the genie is out of the bottle (both Iraq and Afghanistan may eventually turn out to be another Vietnam despite President Obama’s exhortation about the differences between Vietnam and Iraq-Afghanistan cases) the international community may wish to find out not only an exit strategy for the NATO forces but also inter-religion and cross-cultural peaceful coexistence in the world. Neoconservatives criticism of President Obama being “soft” on democracy promotion (The abandonment of democracy-Joshua Muravchik) and his Cairo speech, universally regarded as opening the door to remove misunderstanding created by the Bush administration’s bull-in-China shop strategy of democratization of the Islamic world, as a recession of the traditional US policy of advancement of human rights.

    Little attention has been given to then President-elect Obama’s meeting with the editors of Washington Post when he told them that democracy was less important than “freedom from want and freedom from fear. If people are not secure, if people are starving, then elections may or may not address those issues”. Muravchik refers to an early assessment by New York Times” correspondent Joel Brinkley of Obama administration that neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton had even uttered the word democracy in a manner related to democracy promotion since taking office. But to many President Obama has been consistent In his declared policy that his obsession lay more in delivering a better life to the people than with form of democracy because in a well meaning society that promotes liberty and equality and just does not depend on ballot box ensures freedom from police brutality and paying to government functionaries for services that citizens are entitled to anyway. Obama did insist in Cairo on democracy, freedom and women’s rights. He praised Islam’s ‘proud tradition of tolerance”.

    What fellow travelers of Paul Wolfowitz seem to ignore that societal and politico-economic differences dividing the world into three or four worlds do make the adoption of western style democracy, albeit a shinning example to be followed, may not necessarily be suitable for all countries, and cannot be imposed from outside. Joseph Stiglitz, Francis Fukuyama, Arthur Lewis, to name only a few, agree that for sustainable democracy a certain degree of affluence of the people would be necessary. Seymour Lipset had identified five core pillars of American Exceptionalism as liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Americans do not always understand (when they have time to look beyond the US borders) the structural differences and historical context that make many counties “different” from their own. Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick, before the end of communism, attacked Jimmy Carter for pushing too hard for human rights in places ‘not yet suited’ to them. There is no mystical American mission, she added, that should compel the US to spread democracy (Dictatorship and Double Standard-November 1979).

    This essay is not a manifesto against democracy but an exploration of ways for the Muslim majority countries, sadly steeped in democracy deficit, to be brought within the ambit of liberal democracy. As a matter of fact out of more than fifty members of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) only a few call themselves Islamic Republics and most of the others have secular laws and constitution. Even in post-Enlightenment legal positivism, argues Hoover Institution’s Mark Gould (Islam, the Law and the Sovereignty of God), where constitutional provisions are reduced to procedures and laws passed by Parliament are justified procedurally, Holy Quran and Sunna can function as constitution in Islamic states promoting good and forbidding evil and laws are in accord with Islamic precepts.

    If liberal constitution is culture bound, Mark Gould argues, then a minimal notion of constitutionalism that is not culture bound can be found. Such a notion, if accepted, would fly in the face of historian Bernard Lewis’ observation that democracy is a peculiarly Western practice for the conduct of public affairs that may or may not be suitable for others. It has to be admitted that in Muslim societies dissension exists between those who want a more open system of governance, rule of law, freedom of expression and all other fundamental human rights as opposed to those who would like the small elite, be it monarchical or theocracy based, to continue. Europeans got rid of rule by the minority through wars and political and social evolution.

    Muslim societies, but for few exceptions, are yet to yield to the demands of modernity. In this struggle for the soul of Islam Jeanne Kirkpatrick’s differentiation between totalitarian and authoritarian regimes becomes irrelevant. As stated earlier the problem the world faces is not a religious though some have tried to depict as one but with the Islamic extremists who are at the fringe of the Muslim society and have little support among the mainstream Islamic world. These are the people to be targeted and eliminated because their aim is global chaos and arrest of modern development.

    Mark Gould referred to earlier opines that constitutional states must be understood in the light of the principles that constitutes the law. Principles do not fade with modernity. But the nature of the principle which ultimately places sovereignty in the hands of the people and its justification if sought in terms of the will of the people comes in contradiction with the notion of the sovereignty of God. The inability of Islamists to understand the precept that gives unto God what is His and to the Caesar what Caesar’s is causes problems in a modern state. If the Muslims can accept, as they have done in large measure, to practice religion as a personal matter and governance according to law guided by constitution that is largely secular then the socio-economic development the primary demand of the Islamic world can be furthered in conjunction with others regardless of the religious belief of the development partners.

    While the Muslims would be the first to admit the existence of “democracy deficit” in some of the Muslim countries, the arrogance of the Western hawks’ pronouncements as to how realistic it is to get democracy working in Islamic countries is astounding. In one of his interviews with Ben Wattenberg( Richard Perle: The Making of a Neoconservative) Perle condescended that “there is a potential civic culture in Arab countries that can lead to democratic institutions and I think Iraq is probably the best place to put that proposition to test”. If the 2000 US Presidential election was to be taken as a stellar example of democracy in practice, then perhaps many Muslim countries could offer themselves as better models to emulate.

    In the Western anxiety to usher in “democratic moment” among the Muslims one tends to overlook that the clash of civilizations is not between Islam and the West; but within Muslim civilization where ultra-conservatives compete with the moderates for the soul of the Muslim people. Therefore the convulsions one can see in some Muslim societies today reflect the essence of observation by Arab historian Ibn Khaldun that popular religion in Muslim societies tends to oscillate between strict religious observance and others of devotional laxity.

    Michael Doran of Princeton University (the Saudi Paradox Foreign Affairs Jan/Feb 2004) attempted to explain the stress and strain with reference to Saudi society. He posited that Saudi Arabia was a fragmented entity, in the throes of crisis where the Saudi monarchy functions as an intermediary between two distinct political communities: a Westernized elite that looks to Europe and the US as models of political development, and a Wahabi religious establishment that holds up its interpretation of Islam’s golden age as a guide. Doran saw the Kingdom as divided into two rival camps one standing on the principle of Tawhid or “monotheism”, while on the other side of the political spectrum stands the doctrine of Taqarub advocating rapprochement between Muslims and non-Muslims and promoting peaceful coexistence with the non-believers.

    Doran’s long thesis on Saudi Paradox is as disputable as historian Bernard Lewis’ essay on The Roots of Muslim Rage. Both appear to absolve the West of ignoring the root causes of terrorism( notwithstanding the repeated claim by many that terrorism can not be explained away by any means and therefore it can not have root causes), the genocidal occupation of Palestine by Israel, tolerance of despotic rules in some Muslim countries because of assured supply of oil and/or facilities for military bases. Bernard Lewis quarrels with Islam for not rendering “unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s and unto God the things which are God’s” or in other words the separation of the Church and the State. Lewis adamantly believes that from its very inception Islam regarded Christianity as a genuine rival, a competing world religion, a distinct civilization. But for the past three hundred years Islam has been on the defensive since the failure of the Turkish seize of Vienna in the late 17th century which has periodically found expression in Muslim rebellion against Western paramountcy in order to reassert Muslim values and restore Muslim greatness.

    Lewis firmly believes that Islam was never prepared, either in theory or in practice, to accord full equality to those holding other beliefs and hence its fight is also extended to contain secularism and modernism. In his vast discourse on Islam Lewis fails to recognize what Stephen Zunes (US policy towards political Islam*University of San Francisco) had pointed out repeatedly that from the time of the Crusades through the European colonial era to the war on Iraq, Western Christians had killed far more Muslims than the reverse. Given this sense of history among the Muslims, President Bush’s Doctrine of Preemption applied in Afghanistan( albeit justifiably to throw out the despicable Taliban regime) and then in Iraq( characterized as a strategic error in a Report by the US Army War College and in the light of the revelation by former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil of Bush’s intent to get rid of Saddam Hussein long before the nine-eleven tragedy) does not inspire confidence among the Muslims about the honest intentions of the US.

    Irresponsible comments about Saudi Arabia add to this existing unease. The West could be well advised to remember that there is only one country in the Arab and the Muslim world that has been endowed with: religious leadership, wealth and good relations with the West and would be overwhelmingly accepted by the Islamic world to be the only interlocutor with the West should such a need arise. Besides, women and younger generation of Saudis are getting increasingly vocal in their criticism of US policy with regard to Palestine. They have been supportive of a boycott of retail products perceived to be American icons like McDonald’s and Coca Cola. Such boycott reflective of disapproval and anger may find expression in ways detrimental to Western interests. Application of “hard command power” through military and economic means as defined by Joseph Nye of Kennedy School of Government at Harvard) may not always be possible or desirable. Additionally, any significant deterioration of US-Saudi relationship could affect both regional stability and global energy security. With so much at stake moderation in deeds and words of powerful people would be far more constructive than mindless expressions which are bound to have negative impacts.

    Professor Niall Ferguson (of New York University) paints a terrifying picture (Foreign Policy- July/August 2004) of a new Dark Age, far more dangerous than the one of the ninth century, should the US retreat from its hegemonic role. The alternative to a single super power unipolarity, he argues, would not be Europe, nor China, the Muslim world and certainly not the United Nations but “apolarity” meaning power vacuum filled with “anarchic new Dark Age, an era of waning empire, and religious fanaticism, of endemic plunder and pillage in the world’s forgotten areas, of economic stagnation and civilization’s retreat in to a few fortified enclaves”. Power, like nature, abhors vacuum.

    Through out the history of mankind periods of apolarity have been short lived. Greek civilization was succeeded by Roman civilization that shaped the subsequent world history for the next two thousand years. The British ruled the waves and the sun never set in the British Empire for centuries. Concurrently with the British rule, albeit in smaller degree, there were French, Spanish and the Dutch colonization. However in the enumeration of the history of civilizations generalization of the term “civilization” has been contested. German philosopher Oswald Spangler described civilization as living organism each of which passes through identical stages at fixed periods. Arnold Toynbee also described a uniform pattern in the history of civilizations whose life can be extended by successfully responding to internal and external challenges that constantly confront it.

    Toynbee, writes Samuel Huntington, identified twenty-five major civilizations out of which six exist in the contemporary world. Huntington defines civilization as a cultural entity that finds commonality in language, history, religion, custom and in the subjective self-identification of people. By his measure existing civilizations consist of Western, Confucian, Japanese, Islamic, Hindu, Slavic-Orthodox, Latin American, and African civilizations. The present discourse is not so much on cultural identification of civilizations as it is on the possible shape the past and present global power structure can take. From George Marshall to John Foster Dulles to Henry Kissinger to Madeline Albright, every one in varying degrees was convinced that the existential American power had ensured global security, notwithstanding aberrant proxy wars and sometimes direct intrusion by the super powers, for more than fifty years of the Cold War period. Yet till the emergence of President Bush and his doctrine of pre emption the free world was happy with American leadership, the values of freedom and democracy, its propagation of pluralism, and its abhorrence of totalitarianism. These values, described by Joseph Nye (of Harvard University) as “soft power”, enticed, enthused and attracted both the developed and the developing countries. So when the tragedy of 9/11 struck American soil the world was unified in condemnation of Al-Qaida who claimed responsibility for these heinous acts. And when the US pulverized Afghanistan to drive out the Taliban and relieve the Afghan people from the grotesque and de-humanized clutches of the Taliban that put Orwellian fear to shame the global support across the entire spectrum of civilizations stood firm and unified.

    But Bush administration’s adoption of Robert Kagan’s views that the collapse of the Soviet empire has ushered in the “unipolar moment” for the US with an entirely natural and predictable consequence seen in the proliferation of American overseas interventions caused disquiet in the minds of many people. Though Kagan’s long essay was a serial criticism of European efforts to subject inter-state relations to the rule of law and denial of Romano Prodi’s claim for an European role in the governance of the world, he effectively echoed columnist Charles Krauthammer’s argument that after a decade of Prometheus playing pygmy the post-Cold War US foreign policy should be unilateralist and pre-emptive. The proponents of this school of thought were undaunted by criticism of friends and foes alike because they were convinced that even the harshest criticism would not find any concrete shape of opposition. Perhaps this structural change effected by Bush administration can explain why sadism at Abu Ghraib prison had fallen on the shoulder of junior reservists only and the flouting of the Geneva Conventions in Guantanamo Bay was so inconsequential to some American political leaders.

    The public statement of a Danish colonel who used to command a Danish military unit under overall British command that the British troops in Iraq were systematically violating Geneva Conventions in their treatment of prisoners added fuel to the raging fire on human rights violations in occupied Iraq. That the very basis of civilized life is the conduct of refraining as far as possible from the threat or the use of force in resolution of human conflict and always subjecting it to procedural and prudential disciplines was lost on the Blair- Bush administrations. Unfortunately the occupiers tend to forget the fact that the world has progressed beyond Hobbesian classical theory of security being the sole responsibility of the sovereign who alone has the monopoly of force to ensure security.

    The world was getting comfortably settled to a regime of pacific settlement of disputes that was shattered by Bush administration’s war on Iraq. Popular disenchantment with the theory of hegemonic stability (pioneered by Kindelberger) that asserts that an open world economy requires a dominant global power for its smooth functioning not only because in this construct of hegemony consensual order is implicit and (now denied by the US) but mainly because the US has proved to be an elephant in a china shop.

    Niall Ferguson, however, sees the US colossus having clay feet because the country suffers from several structural deficits. He points out America’s growing dependence on foreign capital to finance excessive private and public consumption; the US as a net importer of people and troops deployment suffering from “imperial overstretch”; and most critically its republican institutions and political traditions making it difficult to achieve collective focus on long term nation building. So if the US were to withdraw itself into a cocoon of self-isolation (an unlikely scenario) would Europe which is literally growing older be able to occupy the vacant place? The consensus opinion is no. Besides, in the face of revanche de Dieu (revival of God) the transatlantic alliance, despite bruised ego and seemingly deep fractures, is being refurbished. The almost daily reports carried by the Western media on Al-Qaida attempts to wreak havoc on western symbols of power (Heathrow airport, World Bank, IMF and New York Stock Exchange buildings are reported targets) is creating in the western mind a paranoid fear of a monolithic Islamic menace.

    That the Muslim world is as divided as ever seeking a peaceful modus vivendi with the West as opposed to revolutionary Islamic terrorism of Osama bin Laden variety is more often than not forgotten. Even in the unlikely scenario of a repeat of 9/11 with consequent barricades being built around the western world, the Islamic hegemonic moment has irrevocably passed away with the demise of the Ottoman Empire and its preeminence is unlikely to be regained in the foreseeable future.

    Political scientist John Mearsheimer (of Chicago University) sees China as the most dangerous potential threat to the US in the early twenty first century. Other analysts, however, are not certain that China’s sizzling economic growth will not stumble at the crossroads of free market economy based on private property and rule of law, and Communist monopoly on power which breeds corruption and distorts transparency of monetary, fiscal and regulatory institutions. Chinese economy faces serious obstacles of transition from inefficient state enterprises, a shaky financial system and inadequate infrastructure. Besides, writes Joseph Nye, growing inequality, massive internal migration, corruption and inadequate institutions may foster political instability.

    Despite Robert Kagan’s belief that China aims in the near term to replace the US as dominant power in East Asia and in the long term to challenge America’s global preeminence, political analysts do not believe that China would be able to achieve “peer competitive status” vis-à-vis the United States in the twenty first century. What is feared on the other hand is the possibility of an economic meltdown in China plunging the communist system into crisis unleashing centrifugal forces. One therefore, comes to the inevitable conclusion that American withdrawal from global leadership despite dislike of the display by Bush administration of American muscularity is more likely to plunge the fragile international order (after the Iraq war) into a vortex of instability and chaos which may see economic stagnation and even depression in the Third World, limited nuclear war in the Korean peninsula and South Asia, and increased incidence of terrorism caused by the states’ loss of monopoly over agents of violence and the possibility of their transfer to non-state actors. Such terrorist activities are more likely to take place in developing countries that are likely to remain soft targets as developed economies will have shrouded themselves with impenetrable armor of security and thereby insulating themselves from the dreaded Orient.

    A meridian line needs to be drawn between the two extremes of isolated prosperity and chaotic poverty. What needs to done is to reduce western panic to a logical level by unhesitatingly joining hands with a multipolar West consisting of the US and Europe and the developing countries that are no less threatened by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Vigilance has to be constant so that the contagion of terror cannot incubate. As Bassam Tibi (of Gottingen University) observes that a critique of western hegemony need not amount to a wholesale rejection of the West and its values. In the same vein Vali Nasr, currently senior advisor to President Obama’s special representative to AfPak Richard Halbrooke writes in his Forces of Fortune of a rising ‘critical middle” class in the Islamic world who have blended Islamic values and economic vitality that should encourage the US to look beyond Islamic ‘fundamentalism’s hard hitting rhetoric and the venom spewed by the extremists”.

    Vali Nasr argues that if the global values of peace, security, democracy, human rights, moderation and religious tolerance have been absent not because of Islamic fundamentalism but as the “critical middle’ class had not grown sufficiently to challenge the Jihadist version of Islam. Taking the case of Iran Henry Kissinger advises the West of engagement with Iran that should not be seen as Munich where democracies’ yielding to Hitler’s demand of absorption of German speaking part of Czechoslovakia the West found at that time as a justified demand but as a modern, strong, peaceful Iran would help stabilize the region. Kissinger adds that Richard Nixon’s embracing of China as a responsible member of the international community is now bearing fruit as demonstrated by China’s active involvement in talks on North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions. Dressings the annual Maikns lecture last year Henry Kissinger who was brought up on the Atlantic Alliance and formed foreign policy ideas in the period following the Second World War said that the threat posing the world today is partly military and partly ideological and puts pressure on the members of NATO about the definition of the threats and of the ways to tackle the threats. Kissinger asked what price the West was willing to pay to stop Iran from becoming nuclear, and failing that, how the west propose to organize a world of rampant proliferation. On Afghanistan Kissinger questioned the conceivability of making Afghanistan into a democratic state with elaborate rights and modern institutions of government.

    Since the partition of India in 1945 Pakistan has been largely dictated by the politics of religion. Except for some feeble attempts to bring about secular values, both civilian and military rulers had appealed to the religious sentiments of the Pakistanis to gain legitimacy and to ensure survival. Yet many consider this strand of argument to be fallacious as the belief was that “no Islamic organization is in a position to politically or militarily challenge the role of one and only center of power in Pakistan: the army”.

    Such deterministic prediction ignores the Baluch nationalism, wrongly projected as Islamic terrorism by the intelligence services, which has sprung from deprivation and dissatisfaction of the Baluch feeling, colonized by the Punjabis. Baluchistan accounts for 43% of Pakistani territory, 36% of Pakistan’s total gas production, holds large quantity of other minerals and is a potential transit route of gas pipeline from Iran and Turkmenistan to India. But the province’s gas and mineral deposits are being expropriated and the people are feeling marginalized and dispossessed. “Pakistan today” writes Ashley Tellis (of the Carnegie Endowment), “is clearly both part of the problem and the solution to the threat of terrorism facing the United States”.

    Some concluded that the 9/11 Commission had more or less highlighted Pakistan’s deep involvement with international terrorism and recommended a long term US commitment to provide comprehensive support to Pakistan. The choice for Pakistan, it has been said, is not between the military and the mullahs but between the military-mullah combine and the civilian and secular political parties.

    Question has, however, arisen whether democratization of Muslim societies would necessarily reduce terrorism and prevent fresh recruits to the terrorist outfits. Vermont University Professor Gregory Gause holds the view that in the absence of data available showing a strong relationship between democracy and absence or reduction of terrorism, the phenomenon appears to stem from factors other than regime type. He argues that since the al-Qaidists are not fighting for democracy but for the establishment of what they believe to be a purist version of an Islamic state there is no reason to believe that a tidal wave of democracy would wash away terrorist activities. But the regime of General Ziaul-ul-Huq through his Islamaization efforts made Pakistan an important ideological and organizational center of global Islamist movement including its role in the anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan by allowing Afghan mujahedeens to operate from bases in Pakistan and sponsoring the Taliban putsch for power in Afghanistan by dislodging the Soviet backed regimes.

    Besides ethnic and linguistic differences that have bedeviled Pakistan often raises question of the political stability of Pakistan. Understandably veteran journalist Robert Kaplan sees the fight over Kashmir as obscuring “the core issue in South Asia: the institutional meltdown in Pakistan. And as was true of Yugoslavia, it is the bewildering complexity of ethnic and religious divisions that makes Pakistan so fragile.

    The constitution of a country by different ethnic and linguistic groups do not necessarily give rise to “identity politics” based on group interest seen as superior to the interest that would serve the greater interest of the people as a whole. The ethnic-religious divide among the people had been taken full advantage of by Pakistani military by promoting Islamist political parties in order to marginalize moderate political forces.” The fundamental fact remains that Muttahida-Majlish-e- Amal (MMA), a conglomerate of religious fundamentalist political parties, had considerable presence in the center and till recently ruled the two provinces bordering Afghanistan with a declared Islamization agenda. Additionally, Pakistan is bedeviled with religious sectarian conflicts. The Sunnis are divided into two groups one following Deobandi School and the other Barelvi school of thought. The Deobandis are anti-Shia. The hardcore among them the vast majority consider the Shias infidels and demand constitutional amendment to that effect. Sectarian killings are considered as jihad.

    One has to admit that Islamization is an irreversible fact of life in Pakistan. If religion and not economics is to get preeminent position then one has to seriously consider how effective regional cooperation can be in South Asia with intractable Indo-Pak relations, Bangladesh election beaconing the reemergence of secularism in her constitution, secular Nepal and India, Buddhist Sri Lanka and Bhutan, and warlordism in Afghanistan. It is the peoples’ belief and not official communiqués that will determine the fate of the teeming millions of South Asia.

    Indo-Pak relations have remained vitiated by inter-religious conflicts and cross border terrorism, allegedly with moral and material help from Pakistan Intelligence Agency (ISI). Pakistan having lost three wars with India considers fomenting intra-Indian insurgency as the better option for taking revenge of successive military defeats and ultimately the liberation of Bangladesh. Apart from insurgency in Kashmir the most recent Mumbai terrorist attack, now proved to have been directed from Pakistan territory, have soured relations between the two countries. On 2ndApril the US called on Pakistan to curb anti-Indian groups’ activities. US, however, praised Pakistan’s efforts in fighting the Taliban within Pak territory and resumption of Indo-Pakistan dialogue though with limited agenda.

    One must admit that by and large Indian Muslims suffer from a sense of exclusion that is exacerbated by communal riots like the one following the destruction of Babri Mosque by Hindu fundamentalists claiming the place to be the birth place of Lord Rama. One scholar noted that Ayodha emerged as a place of religious pilgrimage in medieval times. Although Visna Smritii listed as many as fifty-two places of pilgrimage, including towns, lakes, rivers, mountains, etc., it did not include Aydhya in this list. It was further noted that Tulsidas, who wrote the Ramcharitmanas in 1574 at Ayodhya, did not mention it as a place of pilgrimage. On December 6, 1992, members of the radical Hindu groups destroyed the 430 year old Babri Mosque in Ayodhya . . This action caused great anger in the Muslim community. The resulting religious riots caused at least 1200 deaths. Reprisals against Hindu minorities also occurred in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    In the aftermath of the destruction of the Babri Mosque rioting took place between Hindus and Muslims in the city of Mumbai. The riots changed the demographics of Mumbai greatly, as Hindus moved to Hindu-majority areas and Muslims moved to Muslim-majority areas. It is estimated that almost 200,000 people moved location in the aftermath of the riots. .Later on 27 February 2002, the Godhra train burning incident occurred in the town of Godhra in the Indian state of Gujarat, One of the coaches of a train named the "Sabarmati Express" was set on fire right after it left the train station. The coach was occupied by Hindu religious pilgrims called Kar Sevaks who were returning from Ayodhya. 58 Hindu pilgrims, who were inside, were burnt alive, and the coach was completely gutted by the fire. However an investigative panel led by Justice U C Banerjee claimed that the fire was an accident, not a deliberate act. The Godhra train burning incident led to the 2002 Gujrat riots in which mostly Muslims were killed in an obvious act of retaliation. The large-scale, collective violence has been described by some as a "massacre" and an attempted pogrom or genocide of the Muslim population. Sachar commission report of 2006 described the socio-economic status of the Muslims to be just marginally higher than those of the untouchables. But the sacking of the Babri mosque and the Gujrat riot gave birth to Indian Muslim Jihadi organizations like Al-Ummah, radicalization of Deendar Anjuman, Student Islamic Movement of India, The Indian Mujahadeens etc.

    While at the global level due to the efforts of the Western leaders and of the Muslim countries it may be possible to stem the tide of Islamic extremism it would be difficult to replicate the scenario in South Asia given the history of the region and more specifically given the hate-India policy of Pakistan and the centrality of Kashmir dispute, as seen by Pakistan, in any talks with India for normalization of relations between the two and for the peace and prosperity of the region. India is the jewel in the crown in South Asia as the Western powers have realized by now. It would, therefore, be logical for the international community to give priority attention to this region and help solve all outstanding issues and assist in the socio-economic development of the countries of the region.

    (The writer is a former Ambassador and Secretary of Bangladesh)
  3. BunBunCake

    BunBunCake Regular Member

    Apr 10, 2010
    Likes Received:
    In front of the computer
    That question's wrong.
    Of course it's possible.

    Aren't we living together in INDIA!

    Very true... and the Western Powers know this well. But they simply back Pakistan on these issues, or just ignore most of the times.... I don't know why.
    Part of operation "Peace something something". It's bull that Pak needs the latest F-16's to take on the militants.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2010
  4. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

    Mar 24, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Radicalized islam in a generailized form is the figment of the west and US's scared and phobic imagination. Bloody 99.99999 muslims dont consider the radicals as their own and are moderates going about their lives.
    BunBunCake and ahmedsid like this.

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