Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Mangal Bagh Phenomenon - Why is he so powerful?

Emir Mangal Bagh
The News, August 03, 2008
Dr Farrukh Saleem

Nargis Bibi, a widower, has been fighting for her inheritance for years. The police have been acting dumb, judges deaf and lawyers greedy. Three weeks ago, Nargis Bibi went to Haji Emir Mangal Bagh. Mangal Bagh, the leader of Lashkar-e-Islam (the army of Islam) in Khyber Agency, immediately summoned the offending parties and ordered them to return Nargis Bibi her sharia-compliant inheritance within two weeks. Only at the risk of death does an offender dare not follow Mangal Bagh's decree.

Two weeks ago, Ali, an offspring of a Pashtun diaspora family settled in Britain, while vacationing in Pakistan, got kidnapped. This time around our police acted deaf and intelligence agencies clueless. Mangal Bagh was approached who had Ali recovered within two days, family reunited.

Just outside Hayatabad, the posh Peshawar suburb named after Hayat Muhammad Khan Sherpao, a dozen kiosks have long been openly selling grade A heroin for Rs180 per gram and grade B for Rs150 per gram. Hayatabad's youth have been getting their daily fix for just Rs90, or $1.25. The police on the take Hayatabad's elders turned to Mangal Bagh. Latest reports have it that Mangal Bagh's men have shut down all kiosks except for two and the two that are left continue pushing their lethal black tar but covertly.

In April, Mangal Bagh served a notice on members of the Kukikhel tribe to end their un-Islamic businesses of selling liquor and drugs. The Kukikhels did not comply. There was a fierce battle between Mangal Bagh and the Kukikhels. The resulting peace agreement between Mangal Bagh and the Kukikhels now stipulates the end of illegal businesses in the area.

Who dispensed justice to Nargis Bibi? Mangal Bagh. Who recovered Ali? Mangal Bagh. Who is saving our youth from heroin? Who rescued the kidnapped Christians of Peshawar?

Last month, in an exclusive interview to CBS Broadcasting Inc., which is one of the largest radio and television networks in the US, Mangal Bagh said: "We have rid Bara of drug-traffickers, gamblers, kidnappers, car-snatchers and other criminals and we want to cleanse Jamrud and all of Peshawar of those selling drugs and liquor and running gambling dens."

Somehow I thought that ridding Pakistan of drug-traffickers, kidnappers, car-snatchers and other criminals was the job of the government of Pakistan. Obviously not. If there's a ghost or a demon in your neighbourhood who you gonna call? Mangal Bagh! When your government fails who you gonna call? Mangal Bagh! When you want quick and affordable justice who you gonna call? When there's anarchy all around you who you gonna call? When your government can protect you no more who you gonna call?

Intriguingly, the lifeline to the US and NATO troops in Afghanistan passes through an area controlled by Mangal Bagh. In March, 42 trucks transporting fuel to NATO forces were blown up. When smoke rose in Washington whom do you think Bush called? Mangal Bagh!

Yes, Mangal Bagh believes that women should be no more than walking black tents. Yes, Mangal Bagh believes that women have no right to education. Yes, men must grow beards. Yes, music is evil, television devilish. Yes, Mangal Bagh is the judge, jury and the executioner -- three in one.

Remember, when your government fails to secure your life and limb who you gonna call? Mangal Bagh. When your government fails to dispense justice who you gonna call? Mangal Bagh. I say restore Mangal Bagh.

To be sure, Mangal Bagh is coming soon to a theatre in your neighbourhood.

PS: on July 29, a mere 3 kilometres from where Prime Minister Syed Makhdoom Yousuf Raza Gilani lives and a mere kilometre from the all-powerful Zardari House, robbers broke all historical records. Tuesday at 11:30 am, the biggest robbery in the capital's history took place; 10 kilograms of gold, Rs20 million worth of jewellery and diamonds were looted from a guarded private residence. I urge the prime minister of Pakistan to contract out Islamabad's security to Mangal Bagh & Company and then flutter around the globe in PIA's 300-passenger Boeing 777-200LR, the world's longest-range commercial jetliner, napping in peace that no such incidence will ever take place, never again, not in the now jittery Islamabad, not a kilometre from Zardari House.

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Email:

No comments: