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July 31, 2014 No.
5814

Pakistani Columnist Mohammad Taqi Analyzes 'Fascist Tendencies' In Pakistani Society And Growing Attacks On Minorities: 'State Seems To Be On The Road To Becoming A Fully-Fledged 'Fascistan'


A Pakistani girl protests the killings of Shi'ite Muslims in Quetta (image courtesy: lubpak.com)

Pakistani columnist Dr. Mohammad Taqi wrote several recent articles, examining how Pakistan has been turned into a fascistic society in which systematic attacks on minority religious groups such as Shi'ites and Ahmadi Muslims, Hindus, and Christians, are growing day by day.

In the articles, excerpts from which are given below, Taqi not only compared the persecution of minorities in Nazi-era Germany with current attacks in Pakistan, he also argued that extremist and militant groups are prospering due to support from the Pakistani military establishment.

It should be noted that Shi'ite Muslims are being singled out and systematically killed by jihadi terror groups such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), which operates with immunity across Pakistan and is believed to enjoy the support of the Pakistani intelligence agencies.

"Messages Like 'We Do Not Serve Ahmadis' Or 'Ahmadis Not Allowed' Displayed By Small Businesses Are Becoming A Common Feature [In Pakistan], Mostly In Punjab"; "Section 298-C Of The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) Proscribes 'The Propagation Of Faith By The Ahmadis'"

The following are excerpts from a column dated May 29, 2014:

"Yet another one of the best and brightest has been killed. [Visiting Pakistani-American doctor] Dr. Mehdi Ali Qamar was mowed down in Chenab Nagar, formerly known as Rabwah, in front of his wife and their two-year-old son, as he was leaving the Ahmadi graveyard there. He was an accomplished cardiologist, an artist, a poet and, above all, a humanist by all accounts. Along with his family, friends, and those whom he served so diligently, the Pakistani-U.S. physician community at large is in mourning. He was one of us. The president of the Association of Physicians of Pakistani-descent of North America (APPNA), Dr. Asif Rehman, has denounced the brutal murder in a letter and said, 'Dr. Qamar was the casualty of targeted attacks on Ahmadi Muslims.'

"Earlier this month [May 2014] a Shia physician, Dr. Faisal Manzoor, was killed in Hasan Abdal, like hundreds before him. These murders are not a one-off occurrence. The targeted sectarian eliticide, i.e. eliminating the pre-eminent and productive male members of the Ahmadi and Shia communities, is now a norm in Pakistan. Doctors, lawyers, bankers, police officers, and other professionals have been targeted with the clear intent to instill fear in the remaining community members, forcing them to restrict their activities, conceal their faith, or leave their hometowns. While there are no laws prejudicial to the brutally battered Shias, the apartheid against the Ahmadi community remains constitutionally sanctioned in Pakistan.

"Section 298-C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) proscribes 'the propagation of faith by the Ahmadis' while section 298-B forbids 'misuse of titles reserved for holy personages or places,' and is also aimed at the same hapless community. Both offences are punishable by a three-year prison term and fine. Ironically, the same chapter of the CPC [Criminal Procedure Code] also lists disturbing a religious assembly and trespassing on a burial place as punishable offences. One wonders if these clauses also apply to the June 2010 attacks that killed 100 Ahmadi worshipers or the routine desecration of their graves, including the tomb of the Nobel laureate Dr. Abdus Salam [who was an Ahmadi Muslim].

"None of this could have been lost on Mehdi, but he still ventured back home to provide free medical care there. Mehdi perhaps did not realize that the hatred against his sect, which has long been codified in the law and preached from the pulpit, has now taken a much more virulent and public form. Messages like 'We do not serve Ahmadis' or 'Ahmadis not allowed' displayed by small businesses are becoming a common feature, mostly in Punjab. This confessional state seems to be on the road to becoming a fully-fledged 'Fascistan.'"

"Like The Nazis … Purged The Socialists, Communists, Gypsies, And The Jews, Large Sections Of Pakistani Society Have Marked Their Targets Too"; "The Zealots In Pakistan Pin The Country's Instability On Conspiracies That The Ahmadis And Others Allegedly Hatch With The U.S.-Indo-Zionist Agents"

"A hyper-nationalist Pakistani identity, made with equal parts of ideology, religion, jingoism, and the double delusions of grandiosity and paranoia, has devoured much of the country's political and religious diversity, and threatens to eliminate whatever is left of it. Parallels with post-World War I Germany are frightening. Like pre-Nazi Germany, instead of an honest introspection after sustaining humiliating defeats in both wars and diplomacy over the years, the Pakistani state went looking for scapegoats and conspiracies. Fantastic analyses with equally preposterous solutions smack of what the philosopher Sam Vankin has called a 'collective pathological narcissism.' The self-aggrandizement without any material evidence to support such delusion runs rampant in the Pakistani polity. What exactly is the contribution to humanity and the world community that merits such self-importance?

"Yet the demand for admiration knows no bounds. And then there is the sudden dive into a national paranoia that the world is somehow out to 'get' Pakistan. Like the Nazis blamed and then purged the socialists, communists, gypsies, and the Jews, large sections of Pakistani society have marked their targets too. As Adolf Hitler blamed the economic misery of the Weimar Republic on the Jews, the zealots in Pakistan pin the country's instability on conspiracies that the Ahmadis and others allegedly hatched with the U.S.-Indo-Zionist agents.

"If the rise in fascist tendencies were sporadic, the concern might have been a notch lower. However, the way religious zealots were unleashed over the last several weeks, in what appears an orchestrated move by a well-oiled machine, is alarmingly ominous. Blasphemy charges were levelled with utter impunity against a media group [GEO television channel] to force it into submission. The fanatics in the media and the streets who made common cause with an intelligence agency that had felt slighted by the beleaguered media group, were never disowned.

"Deploying the boundless power of hate to seek redress for a seemingly genuine grievance was recklessly sinister. Anathematizing, ostracizing, and then physically eliminating is the name of the deadly game these hordes have been trained to play. Unfortunately, it has not ended yet. The same shrieking voices are out in full force berating Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for attending Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's inauguration. Individuals, groups, sects, or political parties; no one is exempt. If they do not fit the bill for the hyper-nationalism anchored in religious chauvinism and anti-India jingoism, they are fair game.

"German society, on the eve of the Holocaust and the purges of the gypsies, perhaps did not look much different than what is on display in Pakistan today. A vast majority of Germans were content or pleased with Hitler and his stigmatization methods. The road to 'Fascistan' is paved with the wholesale demonization of writers, poets, politicians, media persons, religious minorities, and even austere Muslims. Can Pakistani society extricate itself from the morass it is plunging into?"

"Did They Even Listen To Pakistan's Very Own Anne Frank, Malala Yousafzai, Who Spoke Through Her Pen? The Way She Was Maligned Even As She Struggled For Her Life After Being Shot Pointblank By A Taliban Jihadi Smacks Of A Society Rotten To Its Core"

The following are excerpts from a July 3, 2014 column:

"A quote posted in the museum [where Anne Frank lived in Amsterdam] from the April 11, 1944 entry in the diary that Anne had kept meticulously explains it all: 'One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we will be people again and not just Jews!'"

"From a Pakistani perspective, there will not be a better time to read Anne Frank than now. Sixty years on to the date of Pakistan's anti-Ahmadi declaration, which is required to be completed on the country's national identity card and passport forms, is not much different than the Nazi regime's Aryan Declaration. Just like the Jews were verbally demonized and then legally relegated to second-class citizenship before being physically exterminated, the Ahmadis in Pakistan face the same fate. Though not constitutionally condemned yet, the Pakistani Shias have been facing a systemic genocide at the hands of the security establishment's jihadi collaborators.

"Human Rights Watch (HRW) has just released a damning report, 'We Are The Walking Dead,' on the killings of Shia Hazaras in Baluchistan. HRW grimly notes that the Pakistani authorities have suggested that the Hazara 'accept an open-ended ghettoization, ever increasing curbs on movement and religious observance, and ongoing economic, cultural, and social discrimination as the price for staying alive. Yet the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) still finds ways to attack and kill.' The reason LeJ operates with impunity in Baluchistan has to do with the state backing the jihadis of the LeJ to neutralize the Baluchi nationalist insurgents. The leader of the Baluchi nationalist militants, Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch, said in a recently e-mailed statement: 'The Pakistani state has long used Islamism as an effective tool to counter the Baluchi, Sindhi, Pashtun nationalist movements and to target religious minorities including Shias, Ahmadis, Christians, Hindus, and others. This time Pakistan is spreading radicalism at a full scale in Baluchistan.'

"Pakistan and its population at large will perhaps not heed Dr. Allah Nazar Baloch's warning, for he believes in an armed struggle for Baluchi rights. But did they even listen to Pakistan's very own Anne Frank, Malala Yousafzai, who spoke through her pen? The way she was maligned even as she struggled for her life after being shot pointblank by a Taliban jihadi smacks of a society rotten to its core. Feted as a rights campaigner around the world, Malala cannot possibly set foot in Pakistan without risking a barrage of bullets and heaps of smears. With the confessional state that Pakistan has become, its trajectory looks perilously similar to that of Nazi Germany, with the persecuted ones desperately searching for sanctuary."

"Scores Of Shia Pilgrims … Were Massacred In Taftan … By Jihadi Suicide Bombers Over The Weekend [Of June 8-9], Just As Their Ideological Cohorts [The Taliban] Unleashed Death And Mayhem At Karachi Airport"; "That Terrorist Cells Have Been Operational Within The Armed Forces Has Been Conceded In His Book By … General Pervez Musharraf"

The following are excerpts from a column dated June 12, 2014:

"Scores of Shia pilgrims, a majority of them ethnic Pashtuns, were massacred in Taftan, Baluchistan, by jihadi suicide bombers over the weekend [June 8-9], just as their ideological cohorts unleashed death and mayhem at Karachi airport. This is not an escalation in the war unleashed by the jihadis, as some analysts have claimed, but an unfortunate norm for Pakistan now. The Shia genocide - by way of both pogroms and systematic targeted killing - of the eminent male members of the beleaguered community is an ongoing phenomenon. Hundreds of Shias have been martyred at the hands of the jihadis en route via Taftan to their holy places in Iran and Iraq or on the way back. Similarly, the so-called spectacular attacks on key civilian and military installations have become a permanent feature of the Pakistani geopolitical landscape. Regrettably, the state's, especially the security establishment's, muddled priorities seem equally set in stone.

"The Karachi airport attack is a virtual replay of the previous Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) assaults on the Minhas airbase in Kamra (August 2012), Mehran naval base in Karachi (May 2011) and the Peshawar airport (December 2012). The operational maneuvers and the targets of the terrorists varied in each attack, but such brazen assaults remain the most effective tactic in the jihadi playbook, alongside targeting civilians in massive suicide bombings. The TTP strategy remains to not just show that it is alive and kicking but is able to project power all over Pakistan while making the state look impotent under the full media glare.

"The reaction time and response efficacy of the airport security and armed forces personnel and, above all, their sacrifices during the Karachi airport attack, were commendable. The terrorists could have certainly inflicted much bigger loss of life and property had law enforcement agencies not confronted them. Still, the terrorists did what they had set out to do: instill fear in the public while energizing their own base. The TTP quickly claimed responsibility for the deadly attack. There may have been on-site security lapses too, but the ultimate responsibility for the massive failure in preventing the attack, and the leverage the TTP gained through it, rests with the intelligence agencies.

"The causes of such monumental intelligence fiascos are myriad. While capacity issues may be at play, it is the will and priorities of the outfits responsible for the job that raises the most serious questions. Zeroing in on the choicest targets, ranging from ostensibly strategic assets at Kamra to surveillance planes at Mehran base to the fighter jets at Peshawar base to commercial airliners in Karachi now, suggests collusion from within these facilities. That terrorist cells have been operational within the armed forces has been conceded in his book by former army chief, General Pervez Musharraf, who narrowly escaped their attacks twice. No surprises there. But has the security establishment changed one bit even after its ex-commander and then General Headquarters came under terrorist attacks? Some analysts, including some liberal ones too, have been very optimistic for some time now that there is a sea-change in how the establishment is handling the terrorism issue. Maybe so, but I will believe it when I see it."

"[After] The Attack On The Prominent Journalist Hamid Mir, For Which He And His Family Blamed The Country's Premier Intelligence Agency [ISI], An Assortment Of Jihadi, Quasi-Jihadi And Outright Terrorist Outfits Took To The Streets And The Airwaves 'To Protect The Honor Of The National Institutions'"

"The events of the past few weeks, if not the past decade, in Pakistan and in Afghanistan suggest that there has been no course correction whatsoever. In the wake of the attack on the prominent journalist Hamid Mir, for which he and his family blamed the country's premier intelligence agency [ISI or Inter-Services Intelligence], an assortment of jihadi, quasi-jihadi and outright terrorist outfits took to the streets and the airwaves 'to protect the honor of the national institutions.' These very same characters are ones that harbored the Al-Qaeda ringleaders like Abu Zubaidah and Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and also Benazir Bhutto's assassins from their ranks comes the rabid anti-Shia terror mastermind Malik Ishaq whose underlings have wreaked havoc in Taftan.

"Support from such unsavory individuals and groups was sought, or at least accepted, like in past decades, without an iota of concern for their jihadi activities and domestic terrorism. The same array of jihadis involved in slaughtering the Shia pilgrims is also considered responsible for the abduction, torture, and burials in mass graves of Baluchi nationalists and separatists. One wonders how exactly do the liberal analysts singing paeans of the paradigm shift in the security establishment's geostrategic thinking explain this ongoing domestic consorting.

"There does not seem to be much change in jihadi practice vis-à-vis Afghanistan even if one buys the theory that policy has changed. The attack on the Indian consulate in Herat, the massive incursion into Nuristan [of terrorists from Pakistan] and the attack on the Afghan presidential candidate Dr. Abdullah Abdullah are all being linked to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), whose front organization the Jamaatud Dawa was cheerleading the recent hullaballoo in support of the 'sensitive agencies' [a reference to ISI]. Contrary to what some want the world to believe, the LeT has expanded, not wrapped up, its terrorist activities in Afghanistan after 9/11, especially in that country's northeast. The LeT is believed to have carried out several joint attacks with the Haqqani terrorist network inside Afghanistan and it is unlikely that its recent forays were without the knowledge, blessings, and support of the Pakistan-based Haqqanis.

"Pakistan, of course, flatly denies any involvement in these attacks, while the LeT leadership is living large in the Pakistani heartland. Interestingly, the chatter about a 'decisive action' ostensibly in the North Waziristan Agency (NWA), including against the Haqqanis, is again picking up momentum. The army's line for some time has been that they are itching to take the fight to the terrorists. The fact that former army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had steadfastly refused to act in NWA when the world was willing to help Pakistan in that endeavor, is not lost on anyone, but better late than never.

"Perhaps Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should take the military up on its word. Paradigm shifts, however, do not happen when a state runs with the hare and hunts with the hounds. It would take much more than the measly resolve displayed by the country's top civilian and military leadership and the short, prevaricating statement coming out of their latest meeting to take the terrorism bull by the horns. Are they willing to take a clear and resolute position renouncing and denouncing both domestic and cross-border jihadist terrorism and proclaim zero tolerance for slaughters like those in Taftan and the debacles as at the Karachi airport? Developing a national will is a prelude to building capacity. Absent that, more massacres and mayhem will remain an inevitable outcome of their muddled priorities."

Sources: Daily Times (Pakistan), May 29, July 3 & June 12, 2014. The original English of the articles has been mildly edited for clarity and standardization.