The tension of orientations discussed in the below story is not new. It's not surprising either that in the face of highly volatile conditions within the country and simultaneous overt and covert intrusions by foreign powers, the TJ members are becoming impatient, and they want to exert their voice in politics. We saw a similar shift within Jamaat-e Islami earlier this year when the more overtly pro-Taliban-anti-American elements held sway in the elections and Syed Munawwar Hasan became the new Amir of the party. What's interesting though is the indication in the below story of growing popularity and strength of TJ among the politically influential segments of Pakistan. That is, if the numbers presented below are in fact accurate and that it was not an concerted, alarmist story (to raise the specter of 'Islamists-taking-over-Islamabad') - and just that the journalistic quality of this report was poor.
Revolution, not quite
By Waqar Gillani, The News, Nov 2009
"Ahead of the Tablighi Jamaat's annual congregation in Raiwind near Lahore -- one of the largest congregations of Islamic world attended by at least one and half million Muslims -- there has been a day-long meeting of at least 50 former officers of Pakistan's armed forces in Raiwind to discuss the future agenda of the rapidly-expanding movement.
Though party sympathisers term the meeting as 'routine', insiders claim these retired officers had travelled from across the country to attend this special meeting of "Halqa-e-Khawas" (group of special people) and were well-taken care of and hosted by the Ameer of TJ, Maulana Abdul Wahab. It may be interesting to note that Wahab is no seminary student but an ordinary landlord.
The annual congregation of TJ, which is considered a non-resistant and non-political Islamic revivalist movement, is scheduled from Nov 5-8, 2009.
The meeting, convened under the driving force of this group in Pakistan armed forces, Lt Gen (r) Javed Nasir, former director general Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), was attended by at least 50 former high-rank officers of the military including many generals, brigadiers and admirals and even top police officers etc. Apart from Lt Gen (r) Nasir, there were Lt Gen (r) Agha Masood Hasan, former naval chief Admiral (r) Karamat Rehman Niazi, Lt Gen (r) Aftab Ahmed and others.
The objective of this meeting was to discuss the possibility of politicising its agenda. Many retired army officers were convinced that the TJ now should have a political manifesto. Wahab, the head of TJ, reportedly related the first phase of the party to Prophet Muhammad's time in Mecca where he tolerated all violence and criticism by infidels and patiently focused on preaching Islam. Wahab, who believes that one day the rule of Allah must be set up in the world, however, asked these retired armymen that being the main force of this party, they should start planning about the direction this gathering of millions gathering should take.
Insiders told TNS this kind of resistance and questions are being raised within the Tablighi Jamaat from time to time."
Added on Nov 16, 2009:
It is not clear if the quotes in the below story reflect the official position or consensus of the Tablighi Jamaat leadership. But they do problematize the alarmist calls of 'Islamists with Taliban-like-mindset becoming political who no sooner than later will take over Islamabad'.
Taliban under fire from Pakistani's faithful
Dawn, Nov 15, 2009
"‘The Taliban are enemies of Islam and humanity and advance only an American and Indian agenda -- to destabilise Pakistan,’ said Farhan Hamad Khan, who had come from Dera Ismail Khan, where many other refugees are also living."