Attacking shrines: The new fundamentalism

Published: October 7, 2010

Security personnel collect evidence from blast site after two bomb explosions at the entrance of the shrine to Sufi saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi. PHOTO: AFP

The explosions at the shrine of the Sufi saint Abdullah Shah Ghazi are yet another glaring testimony to the belief that a new-fangled brand of ‘Islamic’ fundamentalism has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. But under the garbed reality of civilian genocide, intelligence failure and staggering chaos which have devastated the lives of the Karachites, a more scathing assault has been launched on the Naqshbandi Sufi order.

Upon glancing at Trimingham’s The Sufi Orders of Islam some months ago (the contents of which have been sourced mainly from Taj al-Din ibn Mahdi Zaman al-Rumi’s Risala fi sunan al-Ta’ifa al Naqshbandiya), I became acquainted with the principles of the Naqshbandi Sufi Order. Astounded by the attributes of peaceful spirituality embedded in each precept, I was compelled to visualize how different the fabric of social life in Pakistan would be if everyone internalized these principles that extolled the existence of God.

However, the twin blasts at Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s shrine serve not only to demonstrate the that Naqshbandi Sufi values have lost ground in Pakistan, but also highlights the ideological conundrum of those who are paradoxically known as ‘Islamic terrorists’.

Which Muslim would desecrate the sanctity of a renowned saint’s sepulchre and turn its hallowed grounds into a battlefield?

Certainly it is someone who doesn’t value the existence of God and the pain of human suffering.

Thus, as the weekly celebrations at the mausoleum are halted and the lights that once spread an exquisite glow – symbolic of spiritual insight – fade into the gathering darkness, I begin to ponder over the idea of resilience.

According to Sufism, one must submit to God’s will. But God’s will does not lie in the growth of fundamentalism and sacrilege.

Or am I being too idealistic here?


Taha Kehar

A blogger on social events and has previously worked as Assistant Editor for a media magazine. He is currently pursuing Law Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He tweets @TahaKehar.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • rehan saeed

    Rekindle it shall for that is its fate,
    For that time again we remain in wait,
    By a miracle always that flame survives,
    In the hearts of men it remains alive.Recommend

  • introspection

    “Which Muslim would desecrate the sanctity of a renowned saint’s sepulchre and turn its hallowed grounds into a battlefield?
    Certainly it is someone who doesn’t value the existence of God and the pain of human suffering

    a) RAW
    b) Maussad
    c) Blackwater
    d) other foreign hand
    e) (though only remotely possible) a state certified ‘muslim’. This person must only be posing as muslim and is, therefore, now excluded from the pale of Islam because 1) ‘muslims do no sin’ and 2) blasphemy lawRecommend

  • Muhammad Zeeshan

    its not mausoleum its shrine.Recommend

  • usman E.

    no words to condemn it! extremely sad.Recommend

  • Taha Kehar

    @Muhammad Zeeshan: It’s actually both a shrine and a mausoleum.Recommend

  • parvez

    If one thinks of the larger picture, religion plays the part of the vehicle being used by vested interests in order to achieve a certain end. I do not buy the Raw,Maussad,Blackwater conspiracy theories, that’s simplistic thought. We should look within ourselves and see how methodically the religious parties have spread their tentacles and their agenda, mostly with the help of a uncaring establishment. I am convinced that although their facade is hugely religion orientated, their objective is far different.Recommend

  • faraz

    Wahabis attacked Roza e Rasool and demolished the shrines of Sahaba; there was no CIA, Blackwater, RAW or Mossad back in the 19th century. During Afghan jihad, Saudis pumped billions into thousands of madrassas operating all across Pakistan and introduced their intolerant ideology in our society. Why do we act so surprised at such incidents? Recommend

  • Muhammad Zeeshan

    Thanks for reply dear author :)

    With regards to this tragedy, It doesn’t matter Taliban did it or whoever, its definitely a hate against sufism, as a job of a ‘Najdi’.Recommend

  • Neha

    @Muhammad Zeeshan: Does it make a difference whether it is a shrine or a mausoleum? As pointed out by Taha Kehar, it is both, but even if it was either or neither nothing justifies such acts.

    How many of our countrymen would we kill in the name of Afghan war, drone attacks, US policy in Palestine??? This nonsense has to stop. Nothing, simply NOTHING justifies such acts. Recommend

  • Indian

    This is a sad state of affairs that pakistan has brought upon itself..

    all credit to zia-ul haq’s regime of islamization (read radicalization) and how it has literally and virtually ripped your country apart..

    the so-called “strategic assets” first against the soviets in afghanistan and then against India in Kashmir have come back to haunt pakistan like frankenstein monsters imposing their own version of “true” islam…..

    time is not lost though….
    if all pakistanis don’t achieve a consensus to form a secular constitution now,
    your future looks even more bleak…

    all the best.. Recommend

  • Sadia Mahmood

    Hi Taha,

    It is a good writing but I am afraid you are taking things at very simple level. We are in a war and unfortunately this war is not conventional in which holy places are protected. Given that the target of such attacks is to disturb and distort the public life in Pakistan or elsewhere where such attacks are being carried out, we need to devise ways in which we can lessen the count of human loss. I do not see that Sufi values have lost grounds in Pakistan as these attacks are not a proof of that. Finally, I am against using a religious vocabulary to explain such events. I simply view them as terrorizing the public and creating panic in the society to destabilize it. A good issue to discuss at this point would however have been that why the latest American reports mention unwillingness of Pak Army to fight in N.Waziristan but leaves out the Pakistani civilians targeted and murdered in suicide attacks!

    Good Luck!Recommend

  • Nooruddin Jalal

    i just heard this and am absolutely horrified, they out do themselves each time, what is going to become of our city, pox be upon these !!Recommend

  • Khurram Zahid

    this is not Islamic fundamentalism, this is totally non-Islamic fundamentalismRecommend

  • Taha Kehar

    @Saadia: Thank you for your feedback! But it isn’t entirely about Sufi values losing ground. It’s about them being desecrated through these ruthless attacks. Recommend

  • Anoop

    Talk about facing blowback. The fact that ISI propped up these groups to fight India and now it has turned rogue has been recorded extensively.

    But, why Sufi Shrines? Sufism is a wonderful concept and remarkably different from Arab Islam. It has picked up many practices from Hinduism. May be some of the reasons why Terrorists hate it. They want Pakistan to become another Arab country.

    I think Pakistan is on its way to become one. Pakistan was created to get away from imperfect, Hindu India. Its well on its course.Recommend

  • Sadia Mahmood

    Life will continue and so will Sufi values. They are just shattering human bodies and human life, nothing else is achieved. A good example was the full attendance at Data Darbar for the prayers, the very next day of attacks. Sufi values are embodied and will not fade away with cowardly attacks. On another note, I spell my name with a single ‘a’ as Sadia.Recommend

  • Taha Kehar

    @Sadia: I apologize for the spelling, As I said, it’s not about these values fading away. It’s more about them being disrespected by these acts of terrorism, whether intentionally or unintentionally.Recommend

  • Yousuf Ahmad

    I hope you’ve used the word ‘fundamentalism’ here to mean extremism or fanaticism, rather than what it is normally supposed to mean, i.e. adherence to fundamental Islamic values (which obviously is a good thing for any Muslim).
    Unfortunately, the Wahhabi ideology has been taken to its extreme by some fanatic groups. Their extremist ideology justifies any degree of violence to eradicate all forms of shirk in society, major or minor. They believe terrorism is actually sanctioned and ordered by the Qur’an in order to rid society of these evils. They believe everyone practicing shirk is a mushrik and therefore a non-Muslim.
    From a fundamentalist point of view, it is easy to see that indeed our society is riddled with practices that involve some form of shirk or the other. The most severe form of shirk is to equate the power of a created being with that of the Creator. Unfortunately, many people who visit such shrines actually believe that the Sufi saint entombed there has the power to provide them with worldly and/or spiritual benefits. The influence of Hinduism has certainly encouraged such practices in the subcontinent.
    The saints themselves in fact only stressed the importance of visiting shrines in order to pay your respects to the great saints of yore and ask Allah for His guidance and blessings in view of your love and respect for his chosen ones and their teachings. Of course, you don’t ‘have’ to visit someone’s grave just to indicate your love/respect for them. And in any case, “actions are judged by intentions”.
    On the other hand, the Wahhabi ideology strictly discourages such visitation (instead it encourages seeking spiritual guidance and worldly blessings from the Creator directly). However, it does not advocate or sanction indiscriminately killing Muslims or non-Muslims who should happen to disagree either. [1]
    I believe local scholars from both sides must sincerely work towards peaceful co-existence. The true scholars of Sufism in Pakistan (not the dynastic feudal pir, nor the roadside shamanistic faqir, and definitely not Ali Azmat) must educate the masses about the original concept of shrine visitation that did not involve the elements of shirk that have crept in over the years and hijacked the ideology today. [2]
    Similarly, the true scholars of Wahhabi-related ideologies in Pakistan (not the random tablighi maulvi, nor the hateful al-Qa’ida sympathizer) must educate their followers about non-violent methods of da’wah and the fact that not visiting a saint’s shrine should not equate to hating the saint or his followers or labeling them non-Muslims.
    Finally, the scholars of all sects must accept the fact (and preach accordingly) that Pakistan never was and never will be the land of a single religion or sect, and that Islamic principles of tolerance, peaceful co-existence, and da’wah by example, are the only roads that lead towards the collective peace and prosperity of the nation.

  • dowd

    Your absolutely right, it is muslims who are commiting these attrocities, with or without non-muslim involvement is not the point.
    The blame lies with the extremist muslims who condone such acts & promote them.
    Wahabism will destroy Pakistan ,unless & untill its Mullas are stopped, like they have been in other nations such as Turkey,Egypt,Morocco etc.

    I feel the worst is yet to come,in the form of wide spread blood baths in the streets by these wahabi extremists with not just bombs, but with assault rifles, the prelude to civil war & anarchy.Recommend

  • Meher Zaidi
    No matter how much we condemn the killing of innocent women, men and children,it does not seem to affect the Satanic Followers who are doing these ugly acts. Then there are the so-called religious leaders and “political parties” who are supporting these killers and even when the killers declare responsibility and blame US for the acts as if it is just a story. These supporters should be punished. I wrote the poem on Data Darbar bombing, it seems true for Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine bombing also. Only people with no hope and very poor visit these places. Recommend

  • A Suhail

    We Paks know whats wrong with us and we are trying to fix it. What about “Shinning India” and its wanted destruction of muslim places of worship. What about the story about a dog owned by higher cast member was touched by an untouchable and the untouchable has to buy the dog as the animal was deemed unfit to be owned by the higher cast. How about people in manipur who are fighting against indian rule? BTW whenever I try to comment on a Indian news website my comments are censored? why is that so? And last but not least why the hell so many indians are leaving “india shinning”?
    I dont know what you are trying to say but if you are blaming RAW or CIA then you ought to be taken to task for it. These guys blowing themselves are all pakistani’s and they are trained by pakistani’s and there should be no doubt in our minds that we need to defeat this mindset and the first step towards that is to stop blaming outsiders for our predictment.Recommend

  • Adil

    You’re clearly pointing towards the Taliban here. Let me remind you that there was not a single attack on any such shrine in Pakistan while the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan. They then could have conveniently used their influence and state resources to impose their brand of Islam.

    It doesn’t take a lot of IQ to decipher why Pakistan has been entangled in such bloodletting and terror post 2001/afghan occupation only…Recommend

  • Tayyab Raza

    @ Khurram
    this is totally Islamic fundamentalism .
    So called “Scholars” like MR naik believes its HARAM to go visit such places.
    refer to “Faraz” and “Indian” comments..Recommend

  • http://na prasad

    Wow – neither the author nor the readers have mentioned the security forces, the formidable intelligence network of the ISI and the armed forces in general. The Pakistani media networks should push relentlessly for investigations into the attack. Where were the suicide jackets made, what do the bomb fragments tell us, what does the cctv footage reveal. Ensure that the case does not die. This case should be pursued till the masterminds are brought to book. Enough of the self-flagellation! Enough of the ‘Oh where is the pakistani society going’ whine. I am an Indian and I am sick of it. Compel the media to ask the hard questions and bring the criminals to book. This is not about religion but about lapses in security. The poor souls who blow themselves up are mere misguided foot soldiers. That supply will dry up as soon as the cozy nexus between the terrorists and the intelligence agencies is revealed.

    And one more point – Yousuf Ahmed – you remind me of Ghamdi who I believe is a scholar in Islam. When he was asked a question about Ahmedis, his response was ‘we have been aggressive towards them and this approach has been a mistake. Instead of dealing with them through proper example and kindness we have driven them out of the country and now they are more rigid in their stand and they have a huge following in places like London’. Disappointing. Leaders such as Ghamdi should be saying – live and let live. No preaching, no’ my strain of Islam is superior to yours’, just live and let live. Recommend

  • Anoop


    “Let me remind you that there was not a single attack on any such shrine in Pakistan while the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan.”

    There are clearly two sets of Taliban who overlap in ideology but aim at different parties. The Afghan Taliban aims to gain power in Afghanistan and get support from ISI to do that(According to yesterday’s report in WSJ).

    But, TTP which is an umbrella organization of various militant outfits is hellbent on imposing its brand of Islam. People like Fazlullah, Sufi Mohammed had a hotline with the establishment if you remember. The then government had made deals with them. Heck, the present ISI chief in an interview for Ger Spiegel had called Baitullah Mehsud “a pakistani patriot” when pointed out that he was willing to send his fighters to fight India after Mumbai attack had taken place and there were fears in Pakistan that India will attack.

    Apart from that you dont need a No objection certificate from TTP to go and fight for Afghan Taliban and vice versa. Thats the advantage they have. They are very flexible. With the ideological overlapping in mind we can safely suggest that they have very high nuisance potential.

    Besides, all of Afghanistan’s neighbours despise the Taliban,especially Iran which is getting closer to India due to this.

    Something tells me Taliban wont be able to take power in Afghanistan as easily as they did in the 1990s. NATO would certainly cut off aid to Pakistan, which is heavily dependent on it, if Taliban come back to power.

    I dont see any positives for Pakistan apart from keeping the supposed “Indian threat” out of Afghanistan. Even that is doubtful.Recommend

  • Yousuf Ahmad

    @prasad: Ghamdi sahab’s response was very appropriate in my opinion. There is nothing wrong with inviting someone to your religion through peaceful means. As a Muslim, one has a duty to convey the message of God to all humanity and the best way to do that is through exemplary conduct and kind words. If they wish to stick to their beliefs, that is fine and you may not enforce your views on them. In that sense then, to “live and let live” and to “preach” are certainly not mutually exclusive.Recommend

  • Ali Shahbaz

    Hey just wondering if someone has analysed or thought of the fact that the same pattern was also followed in Iraq – hitting and targeting the symbols of spiritualism .. the pattern is same !Recommend

  • Adil


    Fazlullah and Sufi Muhammad commanded strong support of locals in their respective areas, and weren’t ISI planted men. But when they challenged the authority of the government and insisted on smothering their very people with their ultra-conservative practices, the tide turned against them and they were forced to abdicate their positions by their people – not assassinated / kidnapped as usually practiced by intelligence agencies worldwide.

    As far as Baitullah Mehsud is concerned, one musn’t forget his tribe (the Mehsuds) has guarded Pakistan’s western border for nearly 6 decades – ‘Pakistani patriots’ indeed. Naturally, there had to be links between them and Pakistan’s security forces. But incessant drone attacks compelled him to revolt against and attack the Pakistan Army eventually resulting in his death. I’m sure India would have also dubbed members of the Khalistan Movement and other separatist groups as ‘indian patriots’ if they’d have joined hands with RAW.

    And now to the more pertinent issue. Taliban are back in Afghanistan. In fact they were always there. Ask Nato and the US for details. Multitude of soldiers are dying every month, with actual numbers surely much higher than those officially stated. Afghanistan is strategically critical for Pakistan, and can never be released to a cocktail of powers ready to devour it.

    And there isn’t india alone to be taken care of in Afghanistan,; Iran, Russia, US, and China all have to be kept at bay.Recommend

  • Indian

    @Adil: “It doesn’t take a lot of IQ to decipher why Pakistan has been entangled in such bloodletting and terror post 2001/afghan occupation only…”

    lol.. when pakistanis post such statements, they sound like cancer patients who complain about the doctor who detected the cancer, instead of finding out when the cancer actually took root.

    do you think the cancer of islamism took root in pakistan after 2001 ?? then i am afraid you have a rather poor understanding of your own country’s evolution after partition.. btw, refer to ZA bhutto and ZU haq’s periods to know when the seeds of fanaticism and wahhabiism were sown…Recommend

  • Indian

    @Adil: “And there isn’t india alone to be taken care of in Afghanistan,; Iran, Russia, US, and China all have to be kept at bay.”

    you forgot the most important entity which has to be kept at bay – the ISI :D

    Afghanistan is not Pakistan’s “rented territory” to think Afghans will like Pakistan meddling in its affairs without any positive result in their lives. Oh btw, in a recent poll, 71% of Afghans had a positive opinion about India. 2% had a positive opinion about pakistan and 3% had a positive opinion about the Taliban.. Speaks volumes about what fantastic work pakistan has done in afghanistan…. so much for “strategic value” :-|

    in case, you didnt forget, the ISI and the pak military had a role in establishing the talibans rogue regime in afghanistan, which has committed god knows how many crimes and abuses against the afghan people in pursuit of its so-called “strategic interests”


  • canopus

    From a fundamentalist point of view, it is easy to see that indeed our society is riddled with practices that involve some form of shirk or the other. The most severe form of shirk is to equate the power of a created being with that of the Creator. Unfortunately, many people who visit such shrines actually believe that the Sufi saint entombed there has the power to provide them with worldly and/or spiritual benefits. The influence of Hinduism has certainly encouraged such practices in the subcontinent. <<

    Yousuf, these practices concerning shrines of saints etc. were amply documented as being commonplace in Morocco 100 years ago (see, for example, Westermarck’s “Ritual and Belief in Morocco” published in 1926). So I not think attributing them to “the influence of Hinduism” works very well. They have been common practices in the Muslim world for at least 1000 years now.Recommend

  • Anoop

    “I’m sure India would have also dubbed members of the Khalistan Movement and other separatist groups as ‘indian patriots’ if they’d have joined hands with RAW.”

    –> India has not made any deals with any group which would undermine its sovereignty. Not with the Nagas, not with Kashmiri separatists, not with the Maoists. It cannot do that in the future, the opposition parties and Media will rip the Government apart.

    The Pakistani army,although sensitive to popular sentiment, at the end of the day dont need anybody’s permission to strike a deal with group which would effectively compromise its sovereignty. The Indian state comes down hard on any groups which challenges it militarily as deals would only make them stronger and give them a sense of victory.

    Mullah Fazlullah was had a FM radio station who used it to spread terror among the masses. He did not have any popular support. The Pak govt did ban his radio show but the Pakistani military was ‘unable’ to find the source of the radio signals. An army cannot find where the signals are coming from that is a nuclear power which a smart college kid from Bangalore can find. That was deliberate ignorance. Sufi Mohammed was the “broker’ wasn’t he. He took thousands of men from Pakistan to Afghanistan to wage ‘Jihad’ didnt’ he. But, he made sure he stayed out of the fighting. These are not people who had “popular support” as you put it. They were Religious fanatics,who are oddly, more trustworthy than a nation like India for the Pakistani army.

    Baitullah was a War-Lord. He didnt represent the Mehsud tribe. If so then you would have to go with the argument that the whole Mehsud tribe is responsible for Pakistan’s deadly violence. Hundreds of Refugees from those tribes are having shelter in Pakistani cities. They should be blamed too. So, stop justifying Pakistani army’s decisions. They were wrong and the thing is, they were warned of it. People like Kamran Shafi used to scream at the top of their heads in their columns that effectively sheltering Fazlullah and their kind is going to boomerang. Pakistani army tried to gamble with their citizen’s lives. They should have known with past experiences.

    But, why just talk about Fazlullah and Baitullah? The biggest example of Pakistani armed forces propping up armed fanatic groups is LeJ. They used to support it against India in Kashmir. But, thankfully they were not loyal enough and bit the hand that fed them. Now, LeJ is known to supply suicide bombers to TTP. Even other groups I can mention but I’ll save it for next time.

    Interesting to know in-spite of all the unprofessional behavior by the Armed forces Pakistanis still support and even turn a blind eye to all the moronic and self-serving things the armed forces do under a false sense of patriotism.

    Continued.. Recommend

  • Anoop


    “Afghanistan is strategically critical for Pakistan, and can never be released to a cocktail of powers ready to devour it.”

    Afghanistan is a landlocked country with not much resources. What kind of strategic sense does it serve for Pakistan? If its Strategic Depth then there are so many arguments against that I dont know where to begin. I think its just fear of India. A democratic government in Afghanistan will always be friendly towards India. Pakistan cannot accept this fact. Pakistan had the potential to exert influence because it virtually it turned regions like FATA to be turned into safe havens when Americans invaded. But, look what that has brought to Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban have influenced the nutcases there enough to wage ‘Jihad’ against Pakistan.

    Now, that Iran, Indai, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and US are against the Taliban, the Northern Alliance will be strengthened. It wont be a cake for the Taliban to exert their influence over all of Afghanistan if they come to power. NA will be stronger now.

    Besides, Pakistan’s aid will be cut off and hence, it will be reluctant to support the Taliban even forced to fight against it(There is very little chance of this happening).

    I am looking forward to NATO moving out of Afghanistan in about 2 to 3 years in time. NATO was heavily dependent on Pakistan for routes and thus, Pak will lose a major chip against NATO.

    Fortunately, at the end of the day, Pakistan will act as the buffer for India against a violent, unstable Afghanistan. It can play its cards with freedom.Recommend

  • Adil


    I never said extremism in Pakistan was born post 9/11. Of course Zia’s ideology ripped the tolerant, secular fabric of Pakistani society into pieces. But having said that, 9/11 and the afghan war compounded that problem; by allowing extremists worldwide to congregate and use this as an opportunity to launch their war. Unfortunately, the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan conveniently became their base camps.

    Had 9/11 not happened, and with the media/information explosion inevitable, these extremist elements in Pakistan could have been neutralized.

    Coming to the survey you’ve referred, which institution/agency has conducted it? Honestly, the percentages seem to be a couple of random guesses. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Pakistan has hosted over 5million Afghan refugees. I’m sure they know a lot more about Pakistan and it’s support for the Afghan people than India.

    And as far as your labeling of the Taliban as a ‘rogue regime’ is concerned, don’t forget they belonged to Afghanistan’s ethnic majority – the Pashtuns. They invariably had local support and weren’t ISI’s little game as u think. All the practices that were stamped by the Western media as those of the Taliban (beards, full body ‘burqa’ for women, etc) are still widely followed in Afghanistan. They are an integral part of Afghanistan’s culture, not some ignorant, backward version of Islam imposed by the Taliban.

    Condemnation of crimes and abuses coming from indians is a complete joke. Far more disgusting are the atrocities and massacres carried out against the Kashmiri people and several minorities in India, not to forget the largest one – Muslims. Recommend

  • dowd

    Islam does not preach nationalism,God is not pro any side,Hes with the Just. As for India & Pakistans bickering,its sad.
    Both peoples are originally Indians any way.Most peoples of Pakistan converted to Islam at the hands of the same Saints that Wahabis are attacking today.
    The majority of converts to Islam in the Indian sub-continent were not Hindus but Buhddists.

    Both nations would have been better off staying under British rule.
    10million people displaced & 1million innoccent women & children butcherd by both sides ,so that the British could be thrown out & Corrupt leaders on both sides could rule & abuse their peoples.

    Seems like everyone is a loser.But no one sees it because everyones to busy either slagging off one another or killing.Recommend

  • Tilsim

    @Yousuf Ahmad:

    Great balanced post. Although I think the belief in intercession is also there amongst other muslim sects across the Islamic world except in Wahabi heartlands. Recommend

  • Adil


    I don’t need to do much than replace Mullah Fazlullah with Bal Thackeray and Shiv Sena. Your entire argument will simply backfire. Doesn’t Bal Thackery spread terror among the masses? Does he enjoy massive, popular support? No. But the Indian govt hasn’t banned him. Neither Narendra Modi, who should have been condemned to death for what happened under his watch had India been a true secular country. Isn’t that deliberate ignorance? Didn’t he incite thousands of Hindus to massacre and rape Muslims in Gujrat? And he also made sure he stayed out of the fighting. They are also religious fanatics, and indeed they are more trustworthy than a nation like Pakistan for the Indian government.

    It’s not easy to shut down a movement instantaneously, as in Fazlullah’s case. Whatever notoriety he may have possessed, he commanded local support – Pakistanis. Pakistan tried the frenzied-george-bush-type solution in Waziristan, of elimination through force. But that didn’t work. Instead, our cities became unsafe with ever more frequent terrorist attacks. With that sort of an outcome in the Waziristan experiment, the best approach was to talk Fazlullah and his men out of the deadlock.

    You need to correct your facts about Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). LeJ has never operated in Kashmir, so the question of it being used by the ISI for infiltration/cross-border terrorism simply doesn’t arise. It was a sectarian outfit targeting the Shia sect.

    You indians seem to proudly ride the morality wave. But you conveniently ignore the indian involvement in the Balochistan insurgency, which is no secret. As well as indian interference in domestic affairs of its other neighboring countries such as Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

    Afghanistan is a lawless country for now. Karzai’s writ only extends to the limits of kabul. The Taliban are part of the Pashtun ethnic population of Afghanistan and not some alien group. This strengthens the possibilities of their return especially with no real opposition force and a disorganized army.

    We must take lessons from history. Afghanistan has never been successfully occupied by any foreign power. Trust me, an unstable Afghanistan will be far more favorable for Pakistan than India. And Pakistan, not India, will have the luxury to play its cards as it wishes :) Recommend

  • Yousuf Ahmad

    @canopus: No, I am not claiming that the practice of grave visitation in itself is misguided or that it was borrowed from Hinduism. I am associating the misguided practice of saint worship (attributing any degree of divinity to the saint, expecting spiritual and/or physical sustenance from him) to the deity worship found in Hinduism. I have not read much about Hinduism so I may be wrong here.
    I skimmed over a passage of the reference you quoted and it talked about the Berbers going to shrines to pray to God for rain. [1] I’m not sure if it was referring to Muslim or non-Muslim Berbers. As long as you pray only to God, that is not shirk. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and it is clear that any saint worship present today among Muslim Berbers stems from the influence of the ancient polytheistic Berber religion (in which they considered the spirits of their ancestors to be gods). [2]

  • Indian


    It is possible 9/11 and Afghan war exacerbated the extremism which had already taken root in Pakistan. But you cant blame tertiary factors more than you can blame the root of the rot (which lies within pakistan) and hence the solution also lies within your country and no external agent can take you out of the quagmire you have built for yourself..

    The survey was conducted by several agencies.. ABC/BBC/ARD etc..

    my figures might have been slightly inaccurate but they nevertheless represent a picture as you can see in the above link.. you can also google stuff and get other links which will show the same/similar results..

    and btw, the beards and burqas in afghanistan you are talking about.. were never “enforced”.. you can google photos of kabul before 1979 and see afghan women in modern dresses… and yes, there were women who wore burqas and men who kept beards.. but the important thing is those who didn’t were not lashed publicly or flogged or worse, stoned..

    This type of barbarism is taliban’s gift to afghanistan in which your ISI has played the godfathers role.. the fact that taliban is ethnically pashtun is not half as relevant in this. tomorrow if a terrorist ideology is supported by a group of ethnic punjabis who seize power and impose sharia.. does that mean the majority of punjabis support it ? no.. please don’t put forward hilarious arguments..

    and finally, please sometime get tired of raising the bogey of kashmir in response to afghanistan.. kashmir is our territory.. afghanistan isn’t yours.. more importantly, we dont kill random people in kashmir, we dont force women in burqas, we dont lash random men and flog “adulterers” in public.. the Indian state is far more civilized than what you like to imagine.. and as far as killing militants and terrorists is concerned, nothing is wrong in that.. Recommend

  • Anoop

    “I don’t need to do much than replace Mullah Fazlullah with Bal Thackeray and Shiv Sena. Your entire argument will simply backfire. ”

    –> No, they are not the same. But, the kind of politics they used to practice is mob-politics. They form the far-right-wing in India. And, they aren’t much different to right-wing Parties in US or UK. They dont carry guns around and dont challenge the state, although they break the law often by vandalizing, beating up people. That is not same as challenging the State’s writ. What Fazlullah and Sufi Mohammed did was challenge the state’s writ. The Pakistan government even capitulated to these thugs. That set up a bad precedent.

    You are mixing ‘Goodagardi’ with Challenging the state’s writ. What Shiv Sena do is Goonda gardi, what those guys did was challenge the state’s writ. Hence, they cant ban his party. Unfortunately, the Constitution of India gives rights to criminals also like every other constitution.

    Regarding, LeJ, their members were operating in Kashmir and were supported by ISI. ISI has supported a lot of Terrorist outfits in Kashmir and LeJ was among them. LeJ In Pakistani Kashmir they were supported to keep the Shia’s under check. Again, Pakistani military has supported an armed group capable of Challenging the State’s writ.

    “But you conveniently ignore the indian involvement in the Balochistan insurgency, which is no secret.”

    –> Its just an allegation to counter the Indian allegation of Pakistani hand in Kashmir. There is no truth to that. No Indian-based people have been arrested so far. Nobody outside Pakistan believes so. India has learnt its lesson in LTTE whom it supported for a brief period.

    Balochistan problem is bigger than the Kashmiri one in some aspects. Musharaff famously hunted its most famous leader. Pakistani government and its military just wants a face-saving excuse. India is always there to scapegoat.

    Afghanistan is a mess that is not going to solved easily. Not even when the NATO forces leave. India, can play its cards in relative safety as Pakistan will act as a barrier to stop any Talibani-like influence. The world will blame Pakistan for supporting the Taliban. They will use this reason to stop aid for Pakistan and even issue sanctions against it.

    By supporting the Taliban Pakistan will pay a heavy price. That price is sanctions, cutting of aid and the ire of a Super-Power. India wont be affected by what happens in Afghanistan. History teaches us that the turbulence in Afghanistan will not impact India in a very definitive way.

    I am looking forward to the next 3-5 years by which time NATO would have almost left Afghanistan and would not need Pakistani routes. The economic mess in Pakistan would take several years or decades to resolve and much of it depends on how much aid it is receiving. India would be the fastest growing economy then surpassing China position.

    If you look at the big picture Pakistan’s actions are foolish to say the least.Recommend

  • Tahir Naeem

    In early 80s it was America with the help of Gen.Zia Ul Haq.then president of Pakistan, invited and recruited religious fanatics from all over the Muslim World to fight that unholy,so called holy war which made this world a different place to live in.Now if we want a peaceful world then we should force Americans not to leave Afghanistan before cleaning all the mess they injected in that region.If America leaves without a clean up operation,then the world should be ready for prolonged holly wars in different regions.Recommend

  • Adil


    You didn’t get my point. Agreed, a small group cannot take over an entire country. In 2001, the Taliban had over 90% of Afghanistan under their control. Was that possible without local support? No. And FYI Pathans/Pashtuns are an extremely well knit ethnic group. They tend to support their brethren despite social, political or economic differences which was the case with the Taliban as well.

    Now to Kashmir. Kashmir was never yours, and shall never be. If it’s such an integral part of India, why do you need just under a million military personnel to watch every nook and corner of it? That’s not the case with any other Indian state, obviously, because Kashmir is under occupation. And this fact was cemented by recent protests where people from all walks of life and of all ages including women and children turned out to resist Indian tyranny – robbing India of its excuse of cross border terrorism being responsible for it, as not even a single act of militancy was witnessed during these protests. Recommend

  • Ghausia

    I never fail to be amused by comments made by Indians. As a teacher pointed out, they consider us to be a country out of the 14th century, very backwards, narrowminded, terror-ridden, with every problem having something to do with the ISI or the army. And I mean no umbrage by this; just making an observation.

    That being said, Taha this was a lovely read. Its always charming reading your pieces, you have an impressive vocabulary. Its sad that shrines of saints are being attacked; sadder still is the common public perception of “serves them right for praying to someone else other than God.”Recommend

  • Adil


    The separatists in Balochistan have loads of money and weapons rolling in, of a scale they could never afford. Obviously, these are being financed by foreign agencies. And with its record and role in East Pakistan and in the creation of Bangladesh, it’s pretty safe to bet that India is the biggest threat facing Pakistan in Balochistan.

    Pakistan will never opt for a partisan approach to the Taliban vs NATO question. It can afford neither – losing western support and aid nor influence over Afghanistan through the Taliban. So this balancing act will ensure the best of both worlds; guaranteeing the sustained inflow of aid/assistance as well as repelling the possibility of sanctions.

    Pakistan has been unfortunate in the sense that it is located in one of the most unstable regions of the world (made unstable not by itself but by superpowers of the time). Though that has made its position crucial in the global power game, it has also severely damaged its economy, culture and society. Yes it will take time to reverse the tide. It will take time to revive the economy, eject the rogue elements in its tribal belt and build up human capital. But as resilient as we Pakistanis are, I’m confident we’ll come out of this quagmire soon and stronger than ever. Lets not forget, a stable and prosperous Pakistan is a prerequisite for India’s sustained and swift economic growth. Recommend

  • Indian


    Yes, in principle, a small isolated group cannot take over a large area without local support. But the word “support” here is very elusive. “Support” can be willing or unwilling, forced or natural, tacit or direct… do you agree ?? whenever the Pak army has taken over/done a coup do you think it used a referendum to know how many % of pakistanis approve of it ?? i think not… people in power and people with power abuse the helplessness of civilians who are afraid to oppose… in a war-torn country like afghanistan ruled by warlords, this tribal mentality is even more legitimized.. so, to assume that the pashtun majority willingly, whole-heartedly & directly supported the taliban rogue regime is a very convenient assumption you have made.. but ok.. even if that assumption is held true for the sake of argument, you have to realize that large parts of afghanistan aren’t pashtun.. the pashtuns barely make up for only 40% the population of aghanistan… the remaining 60% are diverse people consisting of tajik, hazara, uzbek etc…
    then how come taliban took over 90% of country with “support” of 40% of population…. somethings fishy, ain’t it? ;-)

    coming back to kashmir…. say what you wanna say..the fact on ground remains that we have the instrument of accession by the maharaja of kashmir with us… we re not obliged to show an external country more proof than that.. as far as the army presence is concerned, your argument that it is only in kashmir is ridiculous and devoid of any knowledge… do you remember the khalistan movement in Punjab.. ?? we had the army in Punjab too.. until 1984…then the terrorism in punjab was crushed and we removed the army.. so “terrorism’s end = army’s role ends” is the principle we follow..
    when that happens in kashmir, we will remove the army… pakistan can screech at the top of its voice that kashmir is not integral to india… but the international community supports India’s stand.. and you know it very well…. even the UN secretary general who made an irresponsible statement on kashmir recently had to withdraw it in less than a day ;-)Recommend

  • Indian


    don’t you think you have no one else but yourselves to blame for the negative perception about pakistan in the eyes of the outside world ?? when people think of islamic countries like UAE, they think about gleaming skyscrapers, shopping,,,all the good stuff.. when people think of pakistan, they think of terrorism, mullahs, anarchy, army, ISI…the problem is much more than a bad PR policy. I am sure pakistan is much more that.. but you all have to work hard to change that perception… Recommend

  • someon

    Doesn’t seem there is anything new about it:

  • Hasan

    @Tayyab Raza:
    You do not even know the meaning of fundamentalist….fundamentalist is that person who practices the FUNDAMENTALS.simple as that…for explanation visit this link
    and i agree with khurram that these attacks are not do not by any Muslim and there(suicide bombers) actions doesn’t reflect Islam teaching in any wayRecommend