Prominent Pakistani Islamic Scholars

Date: 21 Feb 2008


Statement by 30 Prominent Pakistani Islamic Scholars: “The Taliban Are Not Terrorists; Do Not Look Through American Eyes at [Those You Call] ‘Terrorists’” 
comment by Jerry Gordon

Given yesterday’s Pakistani election results, this MEMRI translation of an Urdu language newspaper analysis of a statement by 30 prominent Islamic scholars and Madrassas principals in Pakistan sends a chilling message of support for Taliban Islamist terrorists, suicide bombings and derogation of US military counter terrorism strategy in the central and South Asian region. As I indicated in my post on the prospects in Pakistan post election, it looks like our policies in the region are imperiled and Islamists may reign supreme.

Memri, February 19, 2008

In late January 2008, 30 prominent Islamic scholars and principals of madrassas in Pakistan issued a joint statement, published in Pakistan’s newspapers, discussing the state of affairs in the country and suggesting ways to deal with it. The signatories, who belonged to different schools of Islamic thought and who control a vast network of madrassas, affirmed: “We do not belong to any political group; neither do we have any political agenda.”

The following are excerpts from the statement as it appeared in the London edition of the Urdu-language Pakistani newspaper Roznama Jang: [1]

“Cowardice Was Shown Vis-à-Vis the U.S. and India After 9/11;” “Our Troops were Used… Against Our Fellow Citizens;” Pakistan was Set “On an Irreligious Path”

In their statement, the Islamic scholars and clerics discussed the role played by the Pakistani government in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, and whether the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf had acted against Pakistan’s “national interests.” They wrote:

“Most of our [previous] governments have been under the influence of the United States… But the way our government sacrificed itself on the altar of American interests after September 11, 2001, and ruthlessly murdered our national interests by bringing an American-interest war into our country, is an example on its own.

“Our forces were used in military operations against our fellow citizens. Cowardice was shown vis-à-vis the United States and India…”

“On the other hand, efforts were launched with full preparedness to take the nation [Pakistan] on an irreligious path in the name of ‘moderation’ and ‘progressive thinking.’ Changes were made in the curricula of the educational system, to make them look good to ‘others/foreigners’ instead of… [making them appropriate for] our national interests. Completely unjustified amendments were made in hudood law [regarding women,] in the name of women’s rights - [amendments] which were not only unrelated to women’s rights but also included further injustices against them.

“Vice and nakedness were promoted; centers of vice were patronized practically; and mosques were martyred in Islamabad. Rising inflation and unemployment made it difficult for the poor to live. The storm of killings and lootings is raging in the country, and because of this no one’s life and property is safe..

“And the government, instead of resolving these problems, remained busy with promoting dancing, the Basant [kite festival], [and women’s participation in] marathons….”

“Can a Suicide Attack be Carried Out to Cause Serious Harm to the Enemy During A Right And Justified War?”

In their statement, the scholars examined the justification of suicide attacks according to shari’a. A thin difference emerges between a suicide committed by an individual in despair and suicide bombings as a tactic of war. They discuss the conditions under which suicide bombings can be justified, stating:

“These are collectively the apparent situations which created irritation in the hearts of some individuals that is appearing in the form of suicide attacks. Insofar as the status of suicide attacks in shari’a is concerned, almost all Muslims know that [individual] suicide is forbidden in Islam, and in this regard the orders of the Koran and the hadith are absolutely clear.

“But can a suicide attack be carried out to cause serious harm to the enemy during a right and justified war? As per jurisprudence and shari’a, there can be two different opinions about this.

“Some scholars think that if a need is realized during a right and justified war, and if targets are not innocent people, then a suicide attack is right. This would be the type of suicide attack [carried out] at the Chavinda Front during the 1965 [India-Pakistan] War, when the soldiers of Pakistan’s army tied bombs to their bodies and crashed into Indian tanks, and as a result of which the advance of the tanks was stopped - and tales of this are popular. (Continue Reading this Article)

February 19th, 2008 at 6:47 • opinion • analysis • MEMRI translation • Pakistani Islamist support of Taliban and suicide bombi • US policy in region • 0 Comments • 

Pakistanis Deal Severe Defeat to Musharraf in Election 
comment by Jerry Gordon

The victories of the political parties of the late Benazir Bhutto of the Pakistan People’s Party and the Islamist Pakistan Muslim League-N led by oppostion Islamist leader Nawaz Sharif,have vanquished President Pervez Musharraf’s Pakistan Muslim Leaque-Q party with many parliamentary leaders and government ministers losing seats. This will be a prelude to possible chaos in forming a ruling government. It could create grave concerns over the US-Pakistani counter terrorism partnership in the Northwestern Taliban controlled Waziristan region. Further, there is the knotty matter of who will control Pakistan’s nuclear weapons inventory and facilities in the new government. Finally, there is the matter of whether the secular Pakistani Army might plunge the country into another era of military control via a coup, or whether Islamist elements in its intelligence service-the ISI, might thwart any coup attempts or undertake one of their own.

Any way you look at it, the return of Democracy to Pakistan, while the election results may be laudatory for the moment, they also might imperil the Bush Administration war against Islamic terrorism in Central and South Asia, especially fragile neighboring Afghanistan with a resurgent Taliban.

By Carlotta Gall and Jane Perlez, New York Times, February 19, 2008 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistanis dealt a crushing defeat to President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections on Monday, in what government and opposition politicians said was a firm rejection of his policies since 2001 and those of his close ally, the United States.

Almost all the leading figures in the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, the party that has governed for the last five years under Mr. Musharraf, lost their seats, including the leader of the party, the former speaker of Parliament and six ministers.

Official results are expected Tuesday, but early returns indicated that the vote would usher in a prime minister from one of the opposition parties, and opened the prospect of a Parliament that would move to undo many of Mr. Musharraf’s policies and that may even try to remove him.

Early results showed equal gains for the Pakistan Peoples Party, whose leader, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated on Dec. 27, and the Pakistan Muslim League-N, the faction led by Nawaz Sharif, like Ms. Bhutto a former prime minister. Each party may be in a position to form the next government.

The results were interpreted here as a repudiation of Mr. Musharraf as well as the Bush administration, which has staunchly backed him for more than six years as its best bet in the campaign against the Islamic militants in Pakistan. American officials will have little choice now but to seek alternative allies from among the new political forces emerging from the vote.

Politicians and party workers from Mr. Musharraf’s party said the vote was a protest against government policies and the rise in terrorism here, in particular against Mr. Musharraf’s heavy-handed way of dealing with militancy and his use of the army against tribesmen in the border areas, and against militants in a siege at the Red Mosque here in the capital last summer that left more than 100 people dead. (Continue Reading this Article)

February 19th, 2008 at 6:35 •