The resurgence of Lal masjid and honouring knowledge with ignorance

Published: May 8, 2014
Email

He ordered hundreds of young men and women to commit treason by taking arms against the country’s army, telling them to risk their lives for their beliefs. PHOTO: AFP

Now, he has named a library after a person whose admirers have killed Pakistani soldiers and civilians, while having the gall to say the man was a hero to the Pakistani public. PHOTO: AFP He ordered hundreds of young men and women to commit treason by taking arms against the country’s army, telling them to risk their lives for their beliefs. PHOTO: AFP

The Crusades were an example of a diminishing empire declaring war on an ever-expanding opponent using religion as a pretext, even though the motives were actually territorial and economical, and the actions of its soldiers more satanic than godly.

The Muslim world was at its peak around this time, its libraries a source of light for the world, its share of scientific output unmatched, and its religious zealots confined to the fringe.

Western writers have described one of the Crusader leaders’ orders following the sacking of Jerusalem as ‘kill every man, woman and child, but spare the dogs’.

That same kind of chivalry has been displayed by one belligerent party in the war on terror, with attacks sanctioned on little girls who simply wanted to go to school. These warriors also want the legal system changed, which could be done through the ballot box without shedding blood, but that would require popular support in a blind vote, which they know they don’t have. To add on to the list, they carry out kidnappings, sell drugs and are involved in other serious crimes, justifying them as being for the greater good, namely financing their activities. The same is used as a partial justification for why the peace, love and forgiveness messages of religion are skipped.

This is what we call ‘selective religion’.

Meanwhile in Islamabad, a man ordered hundreds of young men and women to commit treason by taking arms against the country’s army, telling them to risk their lives for their beliefs. And then, when faced with the opportunity to lead by example, he ran away wearing gloves, high heels and women’s clothing. It would seem that in his world, cowardice and hypocrisy are attributes befitting a great leader.

The only reason he got caught was that an eagle-eyed policeman noticed that one particular ‘female’ madrassah student was unusually tall and had horribly-maintained feet. Had he gotten a pedicure and used some nice Revlon red nailpolish, he would probably have made it out. He would have continued his war against the state, no doubt with the help of his former house guests, who included internationally-loved gents such as Mullah OmarAyman al-Zawahiri, and Osama bin Laden.

Speaking of which, in the aftermath of the operation, letters recovered from the mosque showed that the cross-dresser and his dead brother were in contact with al-Zawahiri, who also called for an armed uprising in Pakistan.

But I digress.

More on topic, the man was then tried and released after a number of ‘technicalities’ kept coming up to, quite literally, save his neck.

According to the supporters of the then-dictator, this had less to do with evidence and more to do with the personal enmity that had developed between the judiciary and the executive branches. After all, the man had admitted to ordering kidnappings and assaults, and later he had allegedly refused to allow women to leave the mosque when the government offered them amnesty and safe passage. Of course, he didn’t forget that offer when it came time to make his own escape.

Ever since he became a free man, he has taken every chance to increase his public profile, and the media has been more than willing to give him all the talk time he wants, no matter how far off topic he goes. The incumbent government even thought that this unrepentant man would be the right guy to represent the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in peace talks, perhaps forgetting what happened the last time he acted as the face of a belligerent group. He soon left the committee, most likely because he started making his own demands instead of presenting TTP’s.

Now, he has named a library after a person whose admirers have killed Pakistani soldiers and civilians, while having the gall to say the man was a hero to the Pakistani public.

Throughout the media stunt era of his life, he has taken advantage of the fear generated in society by religious fundamentalism. He will make unsupportable claims, knowing that no one will question them. They might get thrashed, or worse, blown apart by his peace-loving, gun-toting, self-igniting students in the end.

That also explains why, when asked to comment on the record about the operation or the belligerence, people who lived near the mosque were not very keen to give clear answers. However, a teenager with a pushcart was more than willing to offer an answer. He said he was too young to remember it, but his father, who brought him and his family down from Bajaur to escape the fighting there, recalled it as an out-of-the-frying-pan case.

Unfortunately, the child had no comment on the new Osama bin Laden library. He was too busy trying to piece together a life ruined by a war to concern himself with a building’s name.

On a side note, the new Mumtaz Qadri Mosque has a similar story. Its backers claim they have public support, but news reports suggest that neighbours were outraged by the name, yet also afraid to say anything on record for fear of reprisal. They know that whatever they do, the state is unwilling to confront those glorifying terrorists and traitors; except when the guy on trial for treason had a head-to-head with the incumbent prime minister.

Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

The author is a senior sub-editor on the Islamabad Desk and also reports on diplomatic events. He tweets as @vasghar (twitter.com/vasghar)

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