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Taliban-supporters taunt Islamabad

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    Taliban-supporters taunt Islamabad

    (The writer is a journalist with Dawn, Karachi)

    The military regime in Pakistan watched helplessly as a large gathering of followers of the Deoband school of thought raised slogans supporting the Taliban and their radical Islam in Peshawar. There is a 'blanket ban" on religious-political activities in the country ruled by the Army led by Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

    A few kilometres away from the site where debris of Bamiyan Buddhas lie in Peshawar, millions sold and bought life-size portraits depicting the destruction. The debris had been brought from Bamiyan, Afghanistan, in 12 truckloads to Peshawar.

    The congregation had met to mark the 134th foundation day of the Deoband school of thought, the radical Islamist school in Deoband in India's Uttar Pradesh. But the Ijtima (gathering) expressed its open support for the Taliban militia in their war against idol worshipping infidels.

    Pakistan was in another embarrassing situation. Islamabad had hardly pulled itself out of the diplomatic condemnation owing to its failure in stopping the Taliban from pulling down the ancient Buddha statues in Afghanistan. The theme was not only anti-United States, but also a vow to resort to arms to "enforce" Islam in Pakistan on the lines of the Taliban militia.

    Islamabad was worried as Taliban chief Mullah Omar's message was read out at the conference. The alleged distribution of Osama bin Laden's "open letter" at the venue for hundreds and thousands of zealots further complicated its predicament.

    Sources at the Foreign Office said there was little the government could do to stop the congregation from taking open sides with the Taliban militia. "Owing to geographical, ethnic and ideological denominators, the crowd at Peshawar depicted a pure Taliban assembly, and Islamabad was forced to stay put," said a source at the Foreign Office's Afghan Desk in Islamabad.

    However, political experts at the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad, say that "diplomatically, Pakistan had hurt itself by allowing the religious congregation to take a pro-Afghan look."

    The interior (home) ministry proudly boasted of its achievements by pointing out at the fact that the "congregation" didn't resort to display of arms.

    A Western diplomat, requesting anonymity, said such a "field day" for the "terrorist" lot was a "blot" on Pakistan's image as a moderate Islamic country. Many fear that if unchecked the student militia can march down towards Islamabad since they enjoy support from the Jehadi elements in Pakistan.

    It came as a shock for political parties of Pakistan. They were surprised to see how such a mass assembly was allowed when there is a "ban" on religious-political activities in the country. Many saw it as an appeasement policy of Pakistan's Afghan episode.

    On the ideological-political front, the Deoband conference brought to fore a number of serious ramifications in its rank and file. The present Darul Uloom Deoband director, Maulana Marghoobul Rehman, and the chief of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Hind, Maulana Asad Madani, pleaded for a "moderate" Deoband school of Islam, leaders of Jamaat-e-Ulema-e-Islam Pakistan wanted a radically different and one closer to Taliban version of Islam.

    Predominance of Pakhtoons also determined the ideological and cultural complexion of the conference, making it an overwhelming Pakistani version of Taliban that was altogether different form the serene teachings of the religious school.

    By organising the meet, the largest religious gathering of the Deoband clergy and its followers, Maulana Fazalur Rehman of JUI-Pakistan has captured the centrestage of religious politics in Pakistan and that too with a tinge of Talibanisation.

    It may be mentioned that the JUI-F of Maulana Fazalur Rehman had way back in 1997 general elections "given up the ballot option for bullets." Maulana Fazalur Rehman, however, also managed to isolate the detractors within the Deoband School like Maulana Samiul Haq and other Wahabi school practitioners such as Jamaat-e-Islami.

    And then there was another deep-rooted intellectual rift: It was the fallout of Thanvi and Madni cadres in the Deoband school.

    Maulana Tanvirul Haq Thanvi, the scion of Maulana Ehtesamul Haq Thanvi, noted religious scholar of yesteryears, blamed the present leadership of Deoband in Pakistan as the "agents of the enemy."

    He accused them of working against the interests of Pakistan and Islam, by using religion to their advantage. He also foresaw dismemberment of Pakistan if the religious politics being practiced in NWFP and Baluchistan provinces of Pakistan takes a "decisive turn" in collaboration with the Taliban militia.

    Another interesting aspect of the congregation was the presence of Taliban regime's special envoy Mullah Amin Jan. In the face of an Iranian delegation that attended the meet to express its solidarity with the Deoband School, the outcome was an embarrassing note.

    While the Iranian President's representative Allama Mohammad Ishaq kept mum, he was forced to hear speeches lauding the "resurgence" of the student militia in the region on its path to salvation!

    [This message has been edited by chilli (edited April 16, 2001).]

    Link please.

    You can't fix stupid. So might as well troll them!