‘Data Darbar had to be destroyed because...'
Sunni-Sunni war was much earlier and it reached a peak in 2006 at Nishtar Park, the year the ISI allowed Sipah-e-Sahaba to stage its show of power in Islamabad
Mazhar Jadoon, Viewpoint, July 16, 2010
The Sunni-Sunni war reached a peak in 2006 at Nishtar Park, the year the ISI allowed Sipah-e-Sahaba to stage its show of power in Islamabad, senior journalist and Editor Khaled Ahmed responds to some questions by Viewpoint on the post-Data Darbar attack scenario in Lahore and the menace of sectarian strife in Pakistan.
Viewpoint: Attack on Data Darbar was bloody, but shrines like Bari Imam and many more in Pakhtunkhwa have been attacked in last few years. We have seen attack on Sunni Tehrik in Karachi besides Deobandi-Barelvi riots in Khyber agency. It seems Shia-Sunni strife is now becoming Sunni vs Sunni clash. What do you say?
Khaled Ahmed: Barri Imam was attacked by backers of Lal Masjid through an anti-Shia personality of Kohat known as al-Qaeda Lawyer who was brought as arbiter by our agencies together with others like Fazlur Rehman Khaleel of Harkatul Mujahideen fighting Pakistan's proxy wars during the Lal Masjid faceoff in July 2009. The Sunni-Sunni war was much earlier and it reached a peak in 2006 at Nishtar Park, the year the ISI allowed Sipah-e-Sahaba to stage its show of power in Islamabad. Why should we start dubbing the old war as new war? And why should we leave the state out of it? It is not ‘now becoming', it is ‘continuing' because the state has not decided that it must stop its protégés from killing Pakistanis. Questions should be correctly posed. The Sunni-Sunni strife is old. Ask Mufti Munib and he will put you right and clear your mind of indoctrination. Data Darbar had to be destroyed because of Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328) who figures now in the al-Qaeda pantheon.
Viewpoint: Zia regime is blamed for sectarian trouble in Pakistan. But we have seen that even PPP and PML-N governments are trying to appease these forces. PPP built election coalition with TNFJ while accommodating an SSP minister in its Punjab cabinet back in 1990s. PML-N's appeasement policy has also been highlighted recently. Your comment.
Khaled Ahmed: The state of Pakistan has deployed its non-state actor terrorists in Punjab. Because of the unclear charter of power of the state agencies linked to the army, parts of Punjab are succumbing to the power of the terrorists. South Punjab is vulnerable to three terrorist organisations. The Punjab government is now paying crores of rupees supporting ‘charities' of one of them that it has ‘nationalised'. A new perspective of the Seraiki Movement is gradually coming to the fore, reflecting the political dominance of Sipah-e-Sahaba and its offshoot, the Jaish. No one from among the backers of the Movement – known traditionally to be secular – is willing to even speak of the presence of the jihadi-terrorist organisations. One reason is that most of them want to lean on them to win the elections; the other may be the simple fact of intimidation and the subliminal acknowledgement of state patronage to the terrorists. A Seraiki Province in the coming days will be exclusively the domain of Sipah-e-Sahaba and its friends. It will be for the first time that terrorists posing as Islamic warriors against India and against the Shias of Pakistan will possess an entire province and its resources under the new constitutional dispensation of real autonomy.
Viewpoint: What about the role of Iran and Saudi Arabia?
Khaled Ahmed: Official Saudi Arabia hates al-Qaeda but Saudi civil society plus the civil society of UAE and Kuwait are spending big money in the region so that Shias and Sunnis should be killed in Pakistan because of the ‘jahiliya' act on the part of Pakistan to be an ally of America. Iran is out of the competition after getting a bloody nose in the shape of mass Ashura slaughters in Pakistan.
Viewpoint: What do you say about the curriculum of hate taught at madrassas stoking sectarian fire?
Khaled Ahmed: Textbooks at the madrassas are OK. The courses are culpable only so far as they take the acolyte away from the world outside the madrassa. The isolation of the acolyte and his total enslavement to the handlers is what should bother us. Everyone who does terrorism has been to the madrassas, starting from Sipah leader Azam Tariq, to Harkatul Mujahideen Fazlur Rehman Khalil, Qari Saifullah Akhtar and Mullah Umar. Banuria has the distinction of getting most of its leaders like Yusuf Ludihanvi and Shamzai killed after they sanctioned violence on targeted communities. The Madrassa network is not only sectarian; it also disagrees with the state of Pakistan as it is. But this is not a strict law. Suicide-bombers are also picked up from mosques. All strictly religious people are vulnerable, as shown by Faisal Shahzad and his helpers.
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