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Juhala, Taliban and the future of Saudi Arabia (urban/rural divide)

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Coddling of the Taliban over the years, the inability to tag (or document) “foreign fighters”. The habit over the years to “forgive” all illegality by FATA or Baluch feudals (listen to all the people on media lament the demise of the “Nawab” Bugti).

While sending Sheikh Rashid to jail for displaying a Kalashnikov.

Pakistan has been ruled under a schizophrenic system for decades. Where different rules apply to different people.

I could not do what “Nawab” Bugti did while in the cities. Yet journalists and politicians waste no time in praising “Nawab” Bugti and badmouthing Musharraf. They remember the missile that killed Bugti, but they forget the missiles that downed helicopters prior to that (The Story of Bugti’s Death).

Those people who have an urban background longer than a generation DO have a strong sense of what it means to be Pakistani. Not just in an “emotional” sense, but in a logical, philosophical sense which has a “vision for Pakistan”.

Urban/rural divide
Those who arrived into government jobs fresh from the village have not been able to reconcile the two. This split is visible in the government and other institutions as well.

It is at it’s most evident in the Mohajir/Punjabi divide. But it is also evident within Punjab in the East Punjab/West Punjab divide. Or the urban Lahori vs. rural Punjabi divide.

Pakistan is going through an urban/rural critical point.

Previously it was tilted heavily in favour of the urban group – as the urban groups took hold of the reigns of power after Partition. Slowly – thanks to the quota system – you had people injected into the government groups from more rural areas.

This divide became most well known by the rise of the MQM a number of years ago.

Over time however the urban groups have increased in size, as villagers have moved to cities and their children have grown up in cities. However this shift has not been reflected in the census and distribution of electoral weight (number of seats each area SHOULD have in Parliament). Many of these urban villagers, goto their village to cast their vote, when they spend most of their time in the city.

But the steady stream of village people has given rise to a stark difference in perspective. The current divide between the madrassas and the mainstream schools had it’s counterpart in the village schools and city schools of yesteryear.

Those people with a village background – most often with mothers and sisters who were relatively subservient and less educated – have a starkly different viewpoint on the Taliban.

But it is a view that is informed more by what they know than by what they have thought through. For them the Taliban are the closest thing to their former village life.

The Taliban are NOT reminiscent of ANYTHING to those who have been urban for more than one generation.

The process of assimilation into cities is quite fast but it still takes a generation. So for example Pashtun groups in Karachi rapidly turn “native” (compare Shahid Afridi to his elder brothers in language and attitude). Although they may still retain links to their villages, they cannot imagine going back for an extended period of time. They have become urban.

It is this divide which drives the different attitudes we find in our society.

The first generation village segment may send their kids to Beaconhouse, but they may harken for a Taliban revival. They will NOT think how it impacts their children’s education or their wives newly found freedom in the city. In fact only when the Taliban are there and blowing up those institutions do they realize things are out of whack. And they are confused.

Thus the nonthinking “idealist” villager has ignored that he is taking advantage of things the Taliban would prohibit. Yet he cannot help himself in supporting the Taliban because “they are so close to his heart”. Basically they provide “taqviat” to the non-thinker in him.

To the urban groups who live in more complex societies there is already an understanding of the complexities of major change. To them groups like the Taliban are obviously a primitive and unnecessarily harsh response that would never survive in the diversity that is a city. The Taliban’s appeal to a militarist and absolutist ideal (where only THEIR interpretation is right and NO, they will not argue about it either) is also too strong for their taste.

To the villagers, that aggression is reminiscent of the bravado and hype they exercised when they browbeat some poor folk in their punjab vilage.

Or in FATA, where the actions of the Taliban are reminiscent of the time they transported stolen cars to their areas and were not answerable to anyone.

The problem is people like Hamid Gul and Imran Khan find this behaviour “quaint” – it does not trouble them that why a person has different rights in different parts of the country. And therefore they are not surprised by the Taliban as well.

It has not helped that the education system in Pakistan DOES NOT uniformly expose ALL it’s people before they enter the civil service (there is relatively MORE uniform training in the Army though) or everyday life. Or that it pushes matriculating students to serve for 1-2 years in another part of Pakistan, so they become thoroughly “Pakistani” by the time they are in their 20s. This is what any thinking country would do – to build up it’s affinity with itself.

However the political process has evolved in very different directions – with feudals initially wanting to retain local power and thus being more inclined to stave off extra-local influences, schooling and “national” identity in favour of local tribal or cultural identity.

In addition the practice of cousin-marriages (inbreeding) which is rampant in Pakistani society – leads people to not escape their village past. If a person graduates to a higher level of understanding in the Army they are STILL saddled with their uncle’s daughter as their wife and their uncle and his daughter may not have gone through that same exposure.

For this reason you will find pretty intelligent folks in our services STILL saddled with cow-brained wives. And a climate of “jihalat” at home. There are exceptions, but it is still disturbingly common to find people who COULD escape the “jihalat” of their families unable to do so because their extended family is represented by their cousin-wife.

As a result you will find that the “jahil” in our society not get separated by a filtration mechanism from our organizations.

The quota system also does not help.

Generational jihalat
Once you allow “jihalat” to enter you have people unaware of the Islamic school of thought followed by their grandparents. And WHY their grandparents followed that fiqh. These questions do not occur to them – last thing they knew the village maulvi was the one deciding on all that stuff.

It is for this reason that this group of people are ESPECIALLY reluctant to go against jahil or pretending “maulvis” (like Maulana Fazlullah son-in-law of Sufi Mohammed – neither of whom is qualified to give fatwa, and the son-in-law is not even a Maulana – it’s just a title he’s given himself).

When faced with such people, the village generation wimps out. They seem to associate these people with Islam. Because that is how it was in their village.

The urban educated group has a far different response than this. They have seen maulvis in action in the cities. There are more people, they meet a greater variety of people. And pretty soon after living a number of years in the city they are NOT impressed by just anyone claiming to be a “maulvi”.

Plus many urban people have a longer history of awareness of what fiqh their grandfather followed.

These people are not as likely to be enamoured of the Saudi Wahhabi/Salafi sects – because they remember their grandfather badmouthing them as outside the 4 schools of Sunni Islam (or Shia).

If they study a bit of history – they may also have learned how the Saudis were instrumental for the British (Lawrence of Arabia) in carving out the Holy places from the Ottoman Empire, thus leaving them without moral grounds for existence as an Islamic Caliphate.

If they are more aware they may even see parallels between how the Saud tribe took assistance from Abdul Wahhab to do what no maulvi dared to do – i.e. encourage fitna against the Islamic State. And then to loot, pillage and massacre people in order to elevate the Saud tribe above all others.

They may also realize the non-compatibility of the Saudi state – with it’s “special family” status for the Sauds with the concept of Pakistan and the history of the Muslims in the Subcontinent.

The weak and the impressionable
However there is a significant group – among the village group AS well as among the urban group (usually the more ignorant section of the urban groups) who DO fall under the spell of the Saud family and the Wahhabi sect. And who forget WHY their forefathers were Hanafi (in both the Ottoman Empire and the Mughal Empire) and WHY their forefathers considered the Wahhabi to be outside the pale of Islam (primarily because by not accepting one consistent “school” they open themselves up to innovations like fitna against the Islamic state – as the Saud/British did with the fatwas of Abdul Wahhab).

And they do this because they see a deficient system in Pakistan – but a system that is deficient for OTHER reasons. Because feudals are in power and seek to deny education and uniform “vision for Pakistan” in their training.

However because they are ignorant they never examine what/why.

They just see wealth everywhere in the oil countries. They work there a few years and become “namak khaya hai”.

The more ignorant among them begin to see the Saud as some sort of “holy” family. Some may even think they are related to the Prophet or something (the history of Saudi Arabia is not taught in our schools).

They see strict rules in effect – and it makes them feel safe. They are unable to examine how or why the situation is different in Pakistan.

All they know is they find it easier to just adopt this more strict system. And then they don’t have to think.

They come back to Pakistan. Some turn to wearing the Saudi veil – WITHOUT examining if it suits them. Or what the Hanafi school says about veiling the face etc.

In effect they visit Saudi Arabia and they change their culture. And that also without examination.

And the reason is because in Saudi Arabia they are inundated by a system that does not brook any alternate view of things. These people begin to think that is all there is.

Then in Pakistan no one publicly talks about Saudi Arabia involvement in Western intrigue against the Usmania Caliphate. And they are not aware how strong the Usmania Caliphate was in the history of Indian Muslims (early 1900s).

They are also not aware that Muslim women sacrificed their jewelry to support Turkey – jewelry that went into creating the Turkish State Bank. Something the Turks are still thankful for after all these years.

The main problem in Pakistan is that history is not taught in a manner that elucidates, that simplifies, that relates to the people and which LINKS them to the past. AND to their mistakes and to the lessons of history.

Pakistan’s successive incompetent governments – because they are incompetent, turn to anyone who will “help” – including Saudi oil money.

Thullay to a foreign tribe
Nawaz Sharif turns to them to get his family out of a tricky situation.

The requirement for Haj also makes many “thullay” to the “intizamia” in Saudi Arabia.

For many feudals the demonstration of Saudi tribalism is a refreshing relief (as demographics shift more towards urban centers).

They fail to realize that Pakistan could take over Saudi Arabia in a week. That is, if the U.S. wanted us to – since right now the Sauds have invited the U.S. over.

This potential usefulness of Saudi money, makes discussion of Saudi a taboo subject in Pakistan.

In this climate – you find Saudi money pouring in – for Afghan war, then the proxy war against Iran (Saudi/U.S./Israel) – the effort at containment of Iran’s revolution.

You see the labeling of Shia as “wajibul qatal” in open language in our mosques – and no one moves a muscle. In fact the Shia “wajibul qatal” slogan was the PRIMARY recruiting tool for Pakistani youth to fight in Afghanistan. Why else do you think people would go there to fight the Northern Alliance.

When the Shia were not called “wajibul qatal” for 1400 years, then how come it becomes “acceptable” now ? Because of Wahhabi “innovative” readings. Because when you don’t have a system to adhere to (whether Hanafi, Shafii, Maliki or Hanbali) there is MUCH more leeway for activist “fatwa” baazi.

A “religious” reason was constructed to fight the Northern Alliance. And it was given wide coverage in Pakistan. Shia being called “wajibul qatal” was the driving force for recruitment for going to Afghanistan.

It also led to untold killing of Shia by the Taliban. The Northern Alliance was probably worse.

This was a disaster waiting to happen.

Conflicted interests
The only reason it “worked” for so long was that there were people who were not only NOT ALARMED at it’s development within Pakistan. But they were in fact AGENTS of these foreign powers.

The already existing group of Saudi enamoured, non-thinking, Hanafi-abandoned, groups COULD have seen the “tazaad” in the situation.

But they did not. Why ? Because they were some of the most non-thinking people in our country.

It was FAR FAR easier for them to toe the Saudi line and to continue to do so until it did not make sense anymore, than to examine the contradictions, their own contradictions, and the contradictions between Wahhabi and their own family’s Hanafi roots.

And so now when the Taliban are at their door – been unfettered for years. EVEN when they were a visible danger, this obvious threat was considered “benign”. And if some people raised issues which did not have answers, then tar and feather those people i.e. character assassination – so you have the same people blaming Musharraf (even though the religious parties were unable to give an alternative when Musharraf told them Pakistan could resist the U.S. for some minutes).

These same people (Hamid Gul, Imran Khan) and the media (Dr. Shahid Masood, Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi) CONTINUED to remain in a state of denial. Why ? Because it was TOO DIFFICULT now to reverse course for them. Their minds could not fathom how to reverse the trend – so they passed the buck – by getting people involved in destabilizing whoever was saying there WAS a problem to resolve.

Notice the number of people agitating for change RIGHT at the time when Pakistan is facing it’s most crucial time in recent history.

It was ONLY after these people started seeing the CONSTRAINTS that these Taliban would put on THEM that they suddenly faced confusion.

The “lawyers” finding that the Taliban didn’t consider them human. Iftikhar Chaudhry finding that he was a nobody in their eyes. Aitzaz Ahsan finding that he maybe out of a job. The media (who Musharraf supported over the complaints of the PML-Q politicians) finding that suddenly the Taliban was not the “friend” after all.

Suddenly what was apparent to people earlier – that the media could not have a better benefactor than Musharraf (despite the period of Emergency) who encouraged criticism of himself, that the Taliban was a danger because it was controlled by TOO MANY outside forces whose ideals did NOT necessarily include the preservation of Pakistan. That the lawyers movement was promoting Iftikhar Chaudhry whose own lawyers considered him a corrupt judge, but saw it as a good tool to use to bring Musharraf down. Suddenly all this became known to these people as well.

It was when the Taliban took over other religious organizations madrassas, or killed their people, did the religious groups “realize” that the Taliban is not from amongst us.

The Taliban are following the SAME pattern of the early 1900s Saud family/Abdul Wahhab doctrine. Of GOING AGAINST the Islamic State. They did that ONLY because Abdul Wahhab was able to craft a “Takfiri” ideology – which for the first time meant a cleric was available to badmouth the Caliph and central authority of the Islamic state. Something that was a no-no before (as it is always a prelude to fitna), suddenly became an asset for the British. They had the tool to drive against the Ottoman Empire now.

We are now witnessing the SAME thing in Pakistan with the Taliban. They TOO are styling themselves as iconoclasts, as people going against the grain. And like the early 1900s, these too do not need to listen to any of the religious groups working in Pakistan, just as the Wahhabi crushed the existing ulema in the Holy places.

The Taliban embody the SAME arrogance and self-righteousness which distinguished the Saud/Wahhabi tribal violence against the religious ulema in the Holy places in early 1900s.

In their naivete a lot of the Pakistani religious groups have used the Taliban – because it was opportune to “zich” Musharraf.

Now their gaffe is going to hit them – as the Taliban wreak GREATER revenge on all the ulema and religious challengers in Pakistan. In fact the Taliban expect far LESS challenge from the liberals (who will keep quiet and sit in their homes), than they do from competing religious groups who have their OWN assets in Pakistan to protect from being taken over by Taliban.

Pakistan’s friend
The sooner Pakistan realizes that the real enemies of Pakistan are U.S. and SAUDI ARABIA. The sooner they will be able to deal with this.

It is in this light that I was APPALLED to find the media were not covering the MQM Ulema Conference in Karachi a few days ago. Sure they covered Altaf Hussain’s speech, but they should have covered the other varieties of Ulema and their speeches over the course of the WHOLE day.

Given that the media spends much of it’s time portraying the “muzloomiat” of the Taliban, and now they are seeing the real face of the Taliban (as they threaten the media with silence). They SHOULD have showed the ENTIRE conference.

This is because in the short segments which WERE shown it was apparent that they were making much the same message – that the ideology of Abdul Wahhab is damaging to the 4 schools of thought (Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali, Shafii) and Shia. As Wahhabism does not care for either.

And the delicate framework on which the schools have been developed is destroyed when you have a Wahhabi system. Because then ALL the same questions (whether an individual should go against the state or not) become “debatable” points again. As the whole slate of accumulated thought and logic within the systems (like Hanafi) is in one stroke FORGOTTEN.

And in that clean slate plenty of new mistakes are open to be made – as Wahhabism experiments again and again with the same questions which have been resolved within Hanifi school for instance.

At the very least this PRESUMPTION that Saudi Arabia is a great friend of Pakistan should be removed from people’s minds.

A natural governorship
The Saud family could scarcely be Pakistan’s friend when it is not even their own people’s friend – if any revolution were to strike Saudi Arabia these Saud princes would free to Europe and take all the ACCUMULATED wealth of their Saudi oil for the last 50 years with them away from their country.

Saudi Arabia is sitting on a powder keg without a great deal of resilience.

Pakistan is a far different country with 160M people. We can talk about an “ambience” in our country with that many people. We can call it a state, a country.

There are far fewer people in Saudi Arabia to make them a “country”. They do not have sufficient populace to oppose ANY invader.

In fact a lot of people criticize Saudi Arabia unfairly for being “pitthoo” of U.S and “why” they allowed U.S. bases etc. (for example Osama Bin Laden was supposedly pissed at the moronic Sheikh Fahd’s wimped out decision to bring U.S. bases right after Iraq attack of Kuwait). The people who have been fed Saudi Arabia’s dogma EXPECT them to behave independent. But this problem happens because a lot of people are drinking the Kool Aid (i.e. swallowing what the Sauds say) of the Saudi government.

The fact remains that Saudi Arabia was NEVER a country. It was part of the Ottoman Empire (Caliphate) and it was a special zone (like the Vatican in Europe).

They were always a governorship – first under the protection of the Ottoman Empire (lot of Mughal Empire funding also went into the Holy places) and once that was removed, they BECAME a governorship under the British/U.S. powers.

It will be a fact that Saudi Arabia will ALWAYS remain under SOMEONE’s thumb.

They should never have been a separate country – but should have remained under Ottoman rule as a special “Holy Land” maintained for the use of the whole muslim nation.

By separating it, the Saud tribe has IMPOSED a tribal primacy over a piece of land that belongs to ALL muslims from Egypt to Indonesia.

By becoming a country they expose themselves to standard diplomatic issues – people want to build embassies there. People ask why aren’t there rights for westerners in the Holy areas, if the Saudi public can visit New York. These questions would not arise if Arabia was a special zone within a wider Muslim empire.

And because Saudi Arabia cannot defend itself it has to get protection from the strongest player out there (i.e. U.S.). If they took protection from a weaker player, that would create instability and war as the stronger player would take over, thus ruining the Saud family’s primacy.

It is for this reason that they will remain subjugated to foreign governorship. By being a country and subjecting themselves to normal diplomatic rules – opening up the country to reciprocated agreements countries – they are opening up the “Holy Land” to very different compulsions.

Short-term arrogance, long-term damage to Islamic history
In addition the Wahhabi arrogance has made them do things in Arabia – destroying archeological sites – that NO Muslim has dared to do in 1400 years. Because no Muslim is sure if 100 years from now people MAY want to see many things that date back from the earlier times of Islam.

Sure you can destroy these things, but you cannot bring them back if a post-Wahhabi government decides that “oops, we made a mistake”.

Yet it was this interloping Wahhabi group which FOISTED itself on the sentiments of all the muslims of the world by destroying archeological, gravesites, trees planted by the Prophet etc. JUST because there was a “danger” that people were indulging in too much reverence to these objects.

What is surprising is that what could have been prevented by stronger guards, instead of that they have shown a gleeful readiness to DESTROY stuff. It is as if they are intent on removing any vestiges of Islamic culture and heritage – that while peripheral to Islam itself is an important TESTAMENT to the reality of Islamic history.

When most religions crave SOME clue to the reality of their religion (as Christians debate whether Jesus existed or not), the Wahhabis are in the process of destroying evidence that was a secondary testament to the reality and conditions of a time gone by.

A 100 years from now, when people ask what Mecca, and Medina looked like at the time of the Prophet, it will be hard to imagine. And there will be people who will ask what is the proof that Muhammed actually existed or that he lived in this area. It will be at that time that people will sorely miss the archeological evidence that was EVERYWHERE in the Holy places, so that it was impossible for any outsider to even question the existence of Muhammed, or to question the hardships he and the early muslims faced.

What the Wahhabi have done in a short 50 years is destroy so many peripheral evidence, and so much continuity of tradition that IF it was the British which had been doing this activity, the whole muslim world would be up in arms.

And this is what is most intruiging. HOW easily the muslims of the world accept the Saudi tribe’s domination of affairs in Arabia. So much that they call their holy places “Saudia” (the place that belongs to Saud). How easily they accept decisions made by the Saud family over how changes should be made in Mecca/Medina when during the Ottoman Empire these were the affairs of the whole muslim world !

What is happening in Pakistan is a repetition of the same thing that has happened in Saudi Arabia. The duping of the Muslim world into accepting a small group (a family in Saudi Arabia, a group funded by Saudi supporters in Pakistan) – and their hegemony over their affairs. JUST BECAUSE they ACT pious or Islamic.

Can you imagine if the British had been doing what the Wahhabi have been doing ?

What if 20 years later people found out that the Wahhabi were in fact agents of the British ? Or that Abdul Wahhab was a Jewish agent ?

What is truly troubling is that when the oil boom ends, the REALITY of Saudi Arabia will dawn on people. And they will realize how the impoverished Holy places – which represented the spartan existence of the Prophet – became a Shopping-Mall like marble laden place of luxury that not only destroyed MUCH of the evidence of the houses of the early Sahaba and Hazrat Khadija but obliterated the environment of the original Haj.

The future of Saudi Arabia
The “development” of the Holy places is a smokescreen to mirror the development the Saudi princes do to their own palaces. In order to reduce the public pressure on their own lifestyles, they progressively make the Holy places more and more glitzy, so that in a few short years they look a FAR cry from the much more sufi, thoughtful place that these were at the time of the Prophet.

When the money dries out, the there will be no Al-Huda schools, and no Dr. Farhat Hashmi training her sights on rich wives of wayward rich husbands.

And people will realize what 50 years of Wahhabism has wrought on Arabia. And how poor it has left them.

In any case, coming back to the Taliban, what a lot of people are missing is the need to understand the phenomenon at a deeper level and from it’s linkages to regional players. And not to see it purely as a oozing of local village sentiment.

What the villagers of Pakistan need is guidance.

But the weakness in our society is that the “educated” or urban groups are either weak, or if they are rich, they are rich because they are corrupt. Or if they are rich and not corrupt then they are too “westernized”. Which means they AVOID Islamic issues and choose to leave it to the maulvis.

However what is required now is for people to have an understanding of religion and Islamic history, to BEGIN to understand whether the so-called “islamic” groups are actually Islamic or are they just using that as a tool

When major parts of our country leave this challenge to their ulema, they weaken themselves.

Perhaps to the chagrin of many, it is a reality that Pakistanis WILL have to learn about Islam if their enemies are using the banner of Islam to fight them.

In the end it might achieve the SAME thing that many religoius reformers have been wishing – that the public should be more aware of Islamic doctrine.

Perhaps the arrival of the Taliban (and their eventual discrediting) will by necessity achieve the SAME goal. That is, a much more robust and aware Pakistani society.

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Written by pwyoutube

May 1, 2009 at 12:32 pm

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