Pakistan's woe: For decades fighting the enemy within
Unfortunately it is not yet clear whether Pakistan's army and leaders really believe that "the enemy within" actually means those who use Islam in their mission to destroy this state and society. So far, neither the state nor society seems to realise that these forces will destroy both of them as they exist today. In fact, the killer is a darling, a hero, a holy destroyer because he is fighting to implement in practice what the state and society profess as their ideal but do not implement.
While the state and society pretend to love the Arabian mullahs' Islam as a theory, they lack the readiness to live it. This society was told for generations that the state and all its resources must serve only Islam and fight the enemies of Islam. The "Westernised" men in power believed this slogan would serve them well, without demanding any change in their officer's-mess culture. But political ulema (Islamic legal scholars) were not their slaves; they had great ambitions with the "Holy Arab Empire" behind them. As generals and bureaucrats plunged in their prosperity drive and property deals, organised Islam steadily entered the lower ranks in all centres of power and lashed out at the semi-liberal patterns of society, calling it depravity, perversion and shameless rebellion against Allah.
The dichotomy of conviction and conduct creates a crushing sense of guilt. The entire society and its rulers stood like truant boys before the godly. Pakistan's teeming millions of working masses had no sense of guilt, but Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, their dearly loved leader, found his own iron melting and went to the ulema to seek forgiveness. His later decision to lay down his life, however, brought him back to the simple-hearted masses, perhaps because they love simple and liberal Islam and do not feel the guilt of dichotomy that so molests our affluent middle class.
Everybody of importance soon realised that externalisation of guilt in public and repentance in private were good ways to wash dirty hands, while keeping what they had grabbed. The emergence of General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq was natural, while that of Pervez Musharraf was so unnatural that an armed invasion of the Islamic Republic became possible to cleanse it of un-Islamic "filth". When holy warriors today attack our troops or bomb our people, resentment is not directed towards the warrior, it simply turns to the "hypocrite" in power. The holy warrior's destructiveness, therefore, is not so hateful as to deserve the treatment that India or America deserves. This perhaps explains why the "enemy within" is so single-minded and so organised while our leaders, generals and middle classes vacillate like overgrown stalks in the wind.
Our first prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, panicked when he received an invitation from the Soviets and requested that the Americans save him by sending an invitation. Thus, we assumed our interesting role that spelled gradual disaster: Islam for America to fight the Soviets, plus Islam for our army to fight India. Much later when Bangladesh was gone and the two-nation theory almost done, Bhutto added another enemy to the list of our eternal enemies. Now we had Hindus and Jews in addition to atheists, a thousand years to fight for a thousand miles on the East and a thousand miles across the Holy Lands. We injected our nation's blood in the nukes till the intoxicated nation lost its consciousness due to anaemia.
How rewarding was it to have the Islamic bomb? We lost Bhutto as a punishment from our Western mentor who knew our nuclear prowess was meaningless against the Soviets while dangerous in the hands of an emotionally charged religious state against India and Israel. We fought India each time to lose, because the US did not support us, but we won against the Soviets because the "free world" stood behind us. We consistently refused to see that not only America but the whole world valued India and Israel. Only China supported us for a while against India till we showed her our holy teeth in Sinkiang, and Saudi Arabia encouraged us against Israel only by occasionally permitting us to kiss the holy royal hands.
The enemy within is a breed of crude, unreasoning tyrants who have no respect for life and law, not even their own. The mindset that created this self-righteous species is strongly negative. It negates and excludes all that is "the others", so that what remains to be admired is "we" and "ours". Everything we do is right and just. Unfortunately, for more than a millennium, we, the Muslims of the world, served our ruling elite as their power base, as their soldiers, their police and agricultural workforce. Perpetual conflict with the subject people, excessive emphasis on faith, and the dominance of the dogmatic ulema dried up the positive human creativity of Muslims, as well as their subjects.
The Holy Prophet of Islam desired to know the essence of things, but Muslim societies forever produced only imam, the poet Hafiz and mujahid. The tradition of reason and critical thinking grew for just a century but dried up as an illegal activity after Imam Hambal, to be finally strangulated by Imam Ghazali. Freedom to think and disagree was strongly crushed. Since creativity needs freedom to think and disagree, therefore the Muslim civilisation lost all creativity.
Although the pride of righteousness and spirituality was pumped into the Muslim psyche, our world remained deeply soaked in myopic selfishness and parrot learning. Trade excelled in the Arab empire more than it had in any earlier periods of history, but innovation and improvement in other fields became alien to the Muslim ummah (nation, or community); agriculture, handicrafts, transport, navigation, political systems, health, education and administration stagnated for centuries because the conquerors and traders don't need innovation.
Even weaponry, which was the source of our power, remained pathetically conventional till the Mongols came to show us that we were not the fastest horsemen or the most efficient killers.
Our leaders and generals must see these facts of history and life. We have to open a national seminar that aims at reforming our middle class concepts of guilt and virtue and competence. Disastrous ambitions of political Islam to rule this region and the world must be exposed as merit-less and suicidal. Islam must be redeemed as a soft and kind path to ethical goodness and humility. Its role must end as a weapon in the hands of an aggressively pretentious but totally uncreative mullah.
But that will start only when our leaders realise the threat and discard their strategic assets. It is disturbing to hear that the ambitions of strategic depth and parasitic blackmail persist; no redemption is possible if that is true.
Mobarak Haider is a renowned Pakistani intellectual. His books "Tehzeebi Nargisyat" and "Mubaalghe, Mughaalte" are widely regarded as the revival of critical thinking and free inquiry in Urdu non-fiction.