Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Suicide Attack Un-Islamic in Pakistan, says Ulema’s Edict

Suicide attack un-Islamic, says ulema’s edict
Dawn, October 15, 2008

LAHORE, Oct 14: Ulema of all major schools of thought have declared suicide attacks ‘haram’.

“It is a unanimous decree of the ulema that suicide attacks in Pakistan are haram and illegitimate. But it seems as if the government is covertly backing these attacks so that patriotic citizens may not assemble and launch a mass drive for the defence of the country,” said a joint declaration released to the media after a meeting held here on Tuesday.

It endorsed a decree earlier issued by religious scholars in Karachi. It alleged that US agenda was being pursued under the cover of terror acts.

The meeting called for convening an all-party conference, including representatives of parties outside parliament, for devising a joint strategy to steer the country out of the quagmire.

It called upon ulema across the country to condemn the US policies in their sermons on Friday and prepare the people for a mass movement.

It pledged to send a delegation of ulema to Bajaur and Swat for bringing the ‘facts’ to light.

The ulema called upon the nation not to leave the survival of the country to the rulers and parliament alone and to play a role in this regard.

It asked the government to take along ulema and other notables in every area in efforts for apprehending criminals, anti-state elements and foreign agents.

It also urged all Muslim countries to de-link their currencies from the US dollar and float their own common currency.

The meeting was attended by Jamia Naeemia’s Dr Sarfaraz Naeemi, Jamaatud Dawa amir Prof Mohammad Saeed, Jamaat-i-Islami’s Dr Farid Piracha, Muttahida Ulema Council’s Maulana Abdur Rauf Malik, Jamiat Ittehadul Ulema’s Maulana Abdul Malik, Shariat Council’s Maulana Zahidur Rashdi, Syed Niaz Husain Naqvi, Mufti Ghulam Sarwar Qadri, Saleemullah Khan, Hafiz Akif Saeed, Allama Zubair Ahmad Zaheer, Jamia Ashrafia’s Maulana Fazlur Reheem Ashrafi and Jamia Manzoorul Islam’s Pir Saifullah Khalid.
Daily Times Editorial: Fatwa against suicide bombings
October 16, 2008

A powerful group of clerics has gathered in Lahore and issued a fatwa against a freewheeling concept of jihad and the use of suicide-bombing in Pakistan. As if in exchange, it has also asked the government to stop military operations in the Tribal Areas and conduct “negotiations” with the terrorists there to end the state of militancy that has laid Pakistan low. The Mutahidda Ulema Council statement has asserted that “only the state has the authority to call for jihad (holy war), and individuals or groups are not authorised to do that”.

The conference that issued the statement was attended by all the important schools of clerical thought in the country: Jama’at Ahle Sunnat (Barelvi), Ahle Tashayyo (Shia), Ahle-Hadith, Jama’at-e Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e Islam (Deobandi), and the banned Sipah-e Sahaba (Deobandi). Therefore, on the face of it at least, the factions that endorsed the Council call comprised all the jurisprudential brands of Islam known in Pakistan. Also present were “renamed” versions of the banned militias known for their past jihadi activities.

The venue was Jamia Naeemia, known for its extremely stringent verdicts on the religious backslidings of the state, presided over by its firebrand leader Maulana Sarfaraz Naeemi. This was meant to show that the fatwa was not being issued by “moderate ulema” who are no longer in vogue in Pakistan but a Deobandi-Ahle Hadith consensus that was not known in the past to issue such religious verdicts. In fact, when in 2005 a group of moderate ulema led by Mufti Munibur Rehman issued a fatwa against suicide-bombing, the group was condemned and also threatened by other radical ulema and their militant followers.

The gathering also put forward other views that can fall in the category of demands. Apart from the crucial demand that military operations in the Tribal Areas should be stopped forthwith, the ulema put forward other “items of the agenda”: they want General Musharraf’s pacts with the United States to be made public, Iran to be made an ally in place of America, and that for Iran’s case to be brought up at the OIC. Along with other angry references to America, the US-India nuclear deal was also condemned and deemed dangerous to Pakistan.

The big demand was the ceasefire in Bajaur and Swat. But it is the other demand, the stricture on suicide-bombing, which has been welcomed by the Interior Adviser, Mr Rehman Malik. Assuming that there are two respondents to the Council’s call, it is now up to Islamabad and those who run the campaign of terrorism to step up and comply with their pledges. It goes without saying that the Council, while reviewing the results of its call, will condemn Al Qaeda and the Taliban only if the government in Islamabad calls off the operation in the Tribal Areas.

The heavyweights at the Council gathering in Lahore also have electoral and “power” stakes in the Bajaur Agency, which is under pressure from a rather successful military operation. The local population has to endure the fallout of the ongoing battles while a number of tribes have formed their own lashkars against the terrorists to indicate some measure of actual success achieved by the army. The Council demands, while putting the onus of doctrinal abstraction on Al Qaeda and Taliban, require the Pakistan Army to retreat in concrete terms.

What will be the outcome of this two-sided position adopted by the Council? Will the army stop operations and even withdraw if suicide-bombings cease for some time? Will the terrorists or militants first see the Army stop operations before they announce their own acceptance of the Lahore fatwa? This process has been observed in the past. Both sides have resumed hostilities after accusing each other of bad faith and breach of agreement. All “deals” have so far made shipwreck and have been followed by more fierce attacks by the terrorists.

The past record of conflict tells us that whenever a ceasefire is agreed, it has redounded to the advantage of the terrorists by giving them the breathing period in which to regroup and renew their assault. Innocent populations are thereafter converted through intimidation in a hiatus of state power which has withdrawn under a ceasefire agreement. The ulema at Lahore have expressed their resolve to tour the affected areas to see the state of the conflict for themselves even though all the parties present have their representatives in the affected areas, all of them aligned against government action.

There are signs within the agenda of demands that certain institutions of the state may have helped in the organising of the Council in Lahore. This can be a useful underpinning but it can also blunt the state authority’s action to come to the defence of the people. At worst, it may point to the presence of many streams of state policy running in parallel and not always in harmony.

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