The British partitioned India and granted independence to India and Pakistan in August 1947. With its coming into being, the Islamist forces once opposing the creation of Pakistan had changed stances and started taking roots with the newly established state. The object of their affection had now suddenly become Pakistan, a state founded on religious grounds. The overnight shift amazed everyone. Surprisingly the Jamaat-e-Islami's founder Abul Ala Maududi migrated to Pakistan, the state he opposed throughout his life and settled in Lahore. It is somewhat important to note that the post-independence problems were many and hard to handle by a nascent state. There were issues like:
Therefore in lieu of above mentioned situation coupled with financial difficulties faced by the state, the Islamist parties had gained a firm foothold to establish in Pakistani society. In the light of policy statements given by Mohammad Ali Jinnah (father of the nation), Pakistan was supposed to have a secular-liberal constitution based on western traditions.
"You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the State... We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State... I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in due course Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State."
Unfortunately Jinnah did not live long enough to draft the constitution and right after his death the Islamist parties under the leadership of Maududi broke their silence and launched a propaganda campaign for an Islamic constitution. Maududi was successful in analyzing the situation after the death of Jinnah and convinced some of the Islamist minded legislators to voice his agendas in the Constituent Assembly.
Liaquat Ali Khan the Prime Minister of Pakistan was the first to succumb to the wishes of Islamist and their proponents in the constituent assembly of Pakistan. Because of the pressure from the Islamist parties he tabled the "Objective Resolution" in the constituent assembly which was readily passed by the assembly. The said resolution declared that the future course of legislation in Pakistan would be based upon the Islamic ideology and thus the Islamist forces claimed their first victory which was completely avoidable considering the presence of overwhelming number of secular parliamentarians in the assembly.
The attempt was to appease the Islamist leaders but it only increased their list of demands.
Four years later, in 1953, after passing of desired resolution Maududi came and like-minded Abdul Sattar Khan Niazi of Jamiat-e-Ulema Pakistan and Deobandi radical clerics such as Zafar Ali Khan, Mazhar Ali Khan, Syed Ataullah Shah Bokhari, Habin ur Rehman Ludhianivi and Choudhary Afzal Haq under the banner of Majlis-e-Ahrah al Islam, came up with another issue. Majlis was a radical Deobandi Islamist party which sided with Indian National Congress during Independence Movement. The movement was active during Khalifat movement in India in early 1920s and later presented its demands for enforcement of Sharia laws in India after the withdrawal of British. The movement was disbanded for few years after the independence of Pakistan but later re-emerged during the Punjab riots of 1953. This time they demanded that the minority Ahmadiyya community be declared non-Muslim. The riots were led by Jamaat-e-Islami and lasted for several months; eventually military was called in to disperse the rioters and restore law and order. Martial Law was declared for seventy days in the Punjab province's capital Lahore. The movement intended to emotionally charge the masses on the name of religion. Although the time Islamists did not get away with what they wanted but they had somehow proved their metal by disrupting the law and order for many days by showing off street power. The leadership remained determined not to succumb to their demands.
Though ignored by Pakistan's military dictator Ayub Khan during his 11-year rule (1958-1969), the JI bounced back during his successor General Yahya Khan's martial law regime. The growing tensions between eastern and western wings of the country (eastern: predominantly of Bengali ethnic origin and western: predominantly Punjabi) resulted in the Civil War in 1971. The western wing had more landmass but less population. Two hundred and fifty thousand strong Pakistani military was overwhelmingly Punjabi or composed of west Pakistanis. The very first general elections were held in December 1970, and an eastern wing party Awami League secured a thumping victory with an absolute majority (160 seats out of 300 National Assembly seats). The western wing parties with military's tacit approval refused
to recognize Awami League (AL) as a federal party and therefore refused to accept the results. Both, eastern wing's AL and western wing's Pakistan People Party remained glued to their stances and the result was a civil war. The military operation against the AL was launched in March 1971.
In the eastern wing the main opponent of Awami League party was JI, but it could not manage to win a single seat from East Pakistan. JI took its revenge by colluding with the military during the Operation (Operation Search Light, began 25 March 1971). That was the very first occasion when Pakistan's military junta and JI worked together. A secular military trained on the lines of British army had nothing in common with Islamist JI but interests and same political enemies. The military junta planned to train and arm JI workers and student wings to fight against the AL that had also managed to raise a similar militia force with Indian help.
Three armed militias Al-Badar, Al-Shams and Razakars were raised during the operation consisted of JI workers and supporters. The militias were commanded by JI East Pakistan Amir (president) Moti ur Rehman Nizami. The militias played the role of irregulars during the brutal operation where thousands of Bengalis were slaughtered, women raped, workers of Awami League kidnapped and tortured, and many of them killed and buried in mass graves. Bengali militia reciprocated the same actions by killing thousands of west Pakistani settlers and military men. The militias were also used for spying against the AL-militiamen (Mukti Bahini), targeted assassinations of political opponents, and giving vital information about key geographic locations. Another Islamist group Shanti Committee (Peace Committee) was formed for preaching the soldiers and militiamen to convince them about Bengali Mukti Bahinis as infidels and heretics, and Indian agents. The members of Shanti Committee played the role army chapmen for morale boasting and propaganda purposes.
According to Hassan Abbas, in his book Pakistan's Drift into Extremism, "The religious parties were also on the outlook for a new opening to pursue their agenda of ‘Islamizing' the state. Maududi met Yahya early on and declared him a ‘champion of Islam', expecting that this would sufficiently work on Yahya and the new constitution that he would envisage would be Islamic."
About the military operation and role of Islamist JI, he further said, "In this unholy drama, Jamaat-e-Islami formed an alliance with the army in East Pakistan and played an active part in the military action against what believed to be ‘enemies of Islam.' This party along with other right-wing parties had initially launched a propaganda campaign to convince Bengalis that their loyalties lay first with Islam and Pakistan and not with their ethnic roots, but to no avail."
All of these militias were disbanded after the defeat and surrender of Pakistan Army before Indian Army and Mukti Bahini militia after the fall of Dhaka on December 16, 1971. This also dashed the hopes of Islamist parties and their newly-built nexus with Pakistani intelligence agencies came to a temporary end.
Appeasing pressure groups and making them Frankenstein-like monsters is not a new phenomenon. It was the appeasement of Adolph Hitler and his expansionist policies by the British Prime Minister Lord Chamberlain and French President Clemenceau that turned him into a mighty monstrous force and later events led the whole world to Second World War. It was the appeasement of Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamist groups by Egyptian President Anwar Sadaat that eventually resulted in his own assassination by their hands. It was the appeasement of Hamas by the Israeli government back in 1980s that made this Muslim Brotherhood branch (Hamas) in Palestinian territories a formidable enemy of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and eventually the enemy of state of Israel, and finally it managed to take control of Palestine Authority in Gaza in 2006.
With the fall of East Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh, the politics in Pakistan took a new turn. Pakistan also became aloof in the arena of world politics because of the human rights violations committed by Islamist militias backed by the then military junta. The Islamist parties and ideologues blamed Pakistani politicians and masses at large for the defeat; they capitalized on this opportunity and to shift blame and launched massive propaganda campaigns.
The new strategy was to blame Pakistani masses and military by relating their defeat because of absence of religiosity. Even the new Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (chairman of secular and socialist Peoples Party) had to cow down before the demands of Islamist parties now started to rally masses against his government. Amongst many of the demands were to include Islamic provisions in the new constitution of the country which was being drafted. Bhutto accepted most of the demands presented to him by JI leader Maududi and JUI leader Mufti Mahmood. The Islamic provisions he included in the newly made constitution to appease the Islamists were:
Appeasing the Islamist did not work. These parties did not end their demands with it and a new campaign was launched with demands of implementation of Islamic laws in the country.
The steps of appeasing Islamist parties by Bhutto government indeed strengthened their power and sphere and influence and very soon these parties had aligned up against the Bhutto regime. The elections of 1977 were the litmus test in which the Islamists in alliance with right wingers suffered crushing defeat by the hands of left wing Peoples Party of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. The Islamist parties refused to accept their defeat. They termed the results bogus and elections ‘engineered' and rigged by the Bhutto government. They came up with the demands of implementation of Islamic laws in the country and re-election. Another campaign was launched by the Islamist parties under the alliance of Pakistan National Alliance (PNA). The campaign gradually lost its momentum because it failed to gather mass support. But in another move the Islamist parties (JI, JUI and JUP) colluded with Army Chief General Zia ul Haq who in a coup de etat on July 5, 1977 ousted the Bhutto government. Bhutto was later charged for abetting a murder of one of his own party leader and convicted. He was sentenced to death and executed in 1978. Bhutto's execution heralded a new epoch for Islamist parties and Zia military regime had given them free hand to operate.
Bhutto's domestic policy failures also led to his downfall. He was apparently liberal and secular in approach but conservative by actions. Before the elections he appointed General Zia ul Haq (junior amongst all other three star generals) as Chief of Army Staff, without knowing his Islamist/Deobandi credentials. General Zia, in power was a dream-come-true situation for Islamist parties especially for the JI. Although it's chief Maududi recently died in the US but the new Amir (party head) Mian Tufail had joined hands with Zia's martial law regime.
Another blunder committed by Bhutto was his decision of grouping together Islamist dissidents groups of Afghanistan. These Islamist groups (mostly radical Islamist students from Kabul University) had started activities against the Afghan pro-Soviet government of President Daud Khan who came into power in 1973 after deposing his cousin King Zahir Shah. Daud Khan had raised the slogan of Pashtunistan long before he became president of Afghanistan (in 1962 when he was Prime Minister in Zahir Shah Regime but later sacked). After coming into power he repeated the same clichés that antagonized Bhutto. Daud also supported the pro-Pashtunistan groups in Pakistan's tribal areas and had sent them cache of arms. In response Bhutto provided safe havens to dissident Islamists and opposition groups of Afghanistan. On the advice of his Inspector General of Frontier Corps (paramilitary border security force) General Naseer Ullah Babar, Prime Minister Bhutto not only sheltered them but also provided them with arms and combat training. Most of the leaders of these dissident Islamist groups later became the leaders of their own separate parties during Zia regime's policy of ‘Afghan Jihad' in collusion with the American CIA and Saudi GID. These parties later became Peshawar Seven.
The martial law regime announced a care-taking set up and JI became part of the set up and took charge of some important federal ministries. Fresh elections were promised but never held until 1985, and conducted on non-party basis with massive allegations of rigging. From 1979 till 1985 the military junta ruled the country with an iron hand with the only exception of JI. Some of the policies adopted by the Zia government in collusion with JI transformed the whole society and upcoming generations of Pakistani youth. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan worked as a catalyst for the growth of Islamist radicalization and militancy. It took a fast course with multitude of youth was drawn from the JI student wing cadres, though the Afghan refugees were the primary choice at the camps.
Thus it could be easily gauged that the beginning of appeasement of Islamist began with Bhutto. The same policies were adopted by General Zia. The Bhutto regime's policy was tri-pronged:
These polices miserably failed and eventually backfired.
It is important to discuss the appeasement policies of Bhutto which led to many controversies even after his ouster:
During Bhutto regime three leading Islamist parties acted as pressure groups, were somehow successful in having their demands met.
These three Islamist parties later became part of alliance against Bhutto and termed the 1977 elections rigged and engineered. JI was especially pivotal because of its comparatively better street power and membership. It would be sine-quo non to discuss the profile of these parties as in later years the first two would play key roles (JI in 1980s and JUI in 1990s).
According to US State Department's International Religious Freedom Report, 2010:"Laws prohibiting blasphemy continued to be used against Christians, Ahmadis, and members of other religious groups including Muslims. Lower courts often did not require adequate evidence in blasphemy cases, which led to some accused and convicted persons spending years in jail before higher courts eventually overturned their convictions or ordered them freed.......The penal code incorporates a number of Islamic law (Sharia) provisions. The judicial system encompasses several different court systems with overlapping and sometimes competing jurisdictions that reflect differences in civil, criminal and Islamic jurisprudence.
Criminal law allowed offenders to offer monetary restitution to victims and allowed victims to carry out physical retribution rather than seeking punishment through the court system. The ‘Qisaas and Diyat' law calls for either providing retribution for murder and other violent crimes (qisaas) or compensation money to the victim of the crime (diyat)."
Hizb-e-Islami's both factions became the two most powerful amongst the seven and Hekmatyar became the favorite of both JI and military junta. Sayal was another key player but he was able to make a direct line of contact with Saudi intelligence agency GID and developed a strong bond with the Saudi donors (mostly because of his Wahabi/Salafi orientation). Except Rabbani's party the three other were smaller in number and influence therefore remained active only to some areas during the war. Strong and powerful in terms of tactics and aggressive war against the Soviets was Rabbani's Jamiat-e-Islami. The party although sounded similar to JI of Pakistan but had not much in common as the Rabbani's party was moderate and primarily based in northern Afghanistan. It was primarily an ethnic Tajik party where as except Mojededi (Afghani of Arab descent) and Gillani (also Arab by lineage but Pashtun speaking) the rest of the leaders were of ethnic Pashtun origins.
The withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan heralded a new phase of civil war and intriguing politics amongst Afghanistan's Mujahedin groups, Soviet (later Russian) backed government in Kabul and role of Islamist parties. The former mujahedeen groups failed to capture Kabul and factional fighting resulted in a civil war. The key loser was JI of Pakistan that from the beginning supported ideologically closer Hizb-e-Islami (party of Islam) of Hekmatyar. The HI (H) was the main contender for clinching power in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar disappointed his backers and failed to capture Kabul. Instead, Ahmad Shah Masoud, a military commander considered rogue by JI (because of his moderately Islamist views) had managed to oust Kabul's communist government (soon after Boris Yelstin abandoned it). His forces claimed Kabul before Hekmatyar even planned to enter the city. Hekmatyar, boosted by his mentors, tried time and again but failed in each and every effort.
With the defeat of Hekmatyar the role of JI was also over in the future politics and the international role it was once dreaming to play, in South Asian politics and in Central Asia at a later stage. The new comers were two factions of Pakistan's JUI. Maulana Sami ul Haq and Fazal ur Rehman, both largely ignored during the Afghan War by the backers of mujahedeen groups. It was only after the Hekmatyar's failure that the Pakistani intelligence agencies and Interior Minister of Pakistan Naseer ullah Babar (during Benazir Bhutto's government) had started to build ties with the newly emerged Taliban militia. The Taliban were Afghan students of Pakistani madressahs and second generation Afghan mujahedin (born in refugee camps in Pakistan and had seen their family members fighting against the Soviets). Both factions of JUI supported the Taliban militia with manpower and money. This support worked well and young and fresh fighting force defeated all the previous mujahedin groups and paved their way to Kabul.
The Taliban victory also affected Pakistan. The support rendered to them by Pakistan's Islamist parties was phenomenal. It was because of their support that the state's writ became weaker than ever as these parties had started to collect donations for Taliban across Pakistan and in a later stage spread the same brand of Islam in rural and urban areas. The Taliban supporting groups remained untouchables in Pakistan as they had the tacit support of Pakistani government and intelligence agencies, and they had been given free hand. During the same period of time (1990s) many of the terrorist organizations (creating havoc today) were formed and styled themselves on the Taliban pattern. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jesh-e-Mohammad (JM), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LJ), and others were formed in 1990s. All of these were later proscribed by the Pakistani government and declared terrorist after 9/11. Sipah-e-Sahaba (Sunni extremist sectarian organization) which was formed in 1985, and had become a cause of hundreds of sectarian violent incidents, further grew and had to be banned in 2002.
It was during the 1990s that the first wave of terrorist attacks was launched by Islamist militants against the American, European and Pakistani interests using Pakistan and Afghanistan as their base of operations. The year 1993 marked the first terrorist attack on American soil. Ramzi Yousaf, the conspirator was a student of Afghan warlord Abu Sayaf and trained at mujahedin camp at Afghanistan.
Some of the groups started militant activities in Indian-held Kashmir region, a disputed territory between the two countries. Al-Qaida leadership was also given shelter in Afghanistan and later Taliban hosted Bin Laden.
The reliance on non-state actors saw the biggest surge during this period. Benazir Bhutto alike her father followed the same policy of supporting Afghan non-state actors; she pampered the newly emerged militia Taliban and considered it a key player for exerting influence in Afghanistan. At the same time Islamist Kashmiri groups such as Harkat-ul Jihad Islami (HUJI), Hizb-ul Mujahedin (HUM), and Harkat-ul Mujahedin started activities in Indian Kashmir. Previously the Indian government had accused Pakistan of intruding in Indian-held Kashmir in 1960s by supporting Kashmiri nationalist groups like Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) but now the Indian government had alleged Pakistan for replacing those groups by the religious extremist. Pakistan also accused India of supporting separatist groups in its Sind and Baluchistan provinces.
The collusion amongst the Afghan, Kashmiri and sectarian Pakistani groups such as Hizb-e-Islami, Taliban, LET, JM, SSP and others had soon started to begin at the training camps in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. A spider web of these Islamist violent non-state actors had started to spread all over the state of Pakistan. Pakistan's policy U-turn after the 9/11 attacks was nothing but Hobson's choice. The collusion of radical Islamist groups and their ideologues came to light after the state's decision to ally with the US and abiding by with the UN Security Council Resolutions. Since then more than 50,000 Pakistanis both military and civilians have lost their lives by the hands of Islamist terrorists allied to Al-Qaeda.
In the post-independence political scene, religious parties especially JI, then began with anew in Pakistan and had tried to capitalize on failures of Muslim League leadership. The hopes of JI leader Maududi were quashed first by civilian bureaucracy and later by military that came into power and ruled for a first two decades after independence. Firstly the founder of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his inaugural address declared Pakistan a secular state and that rejected all of speculations about Pakistan becoming a religious theocracy or caliphate. That was a severe blow to the wishes of Islamists especially the JI and its leadership. Unfortunately the founder died very soon (September 11, 1948, just after 13 months of the birth of republic).
The only advantage the JI was able to get was with the support of some of Maududi sympathizers in the constituent assembly of Pakistan who somehow added some religious clauses in the early phases of the constitution in the making (Objective Resolution, 1949).
During the first 24 years of Pakistan the religious Islamist parties could not hold ground either before secular political parties which were enjoying massive support or civil and military bureaucracy, ruling time to time. It was only after the first general elections of 1970 that the struggle for power amongst political parties of East and West Pakistan heightened and military junta capitalizing the situation sought JI support.
JI's auxiliaries Al Shams and Al Badar worked as irregular forces and massacred thousands of Bengali civilians. The defeat of Pakistan army in 1971 War and emergence of Bangladesh temporarily ended the alliance between military and Islamist forces. The alliance once again revived with the appointment of General Zia ul Haq as Chief of Army Staff by Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1977. Zia, a long time JI sympathizers very soon sacked the government of Bhutto and proclaimed martial law. With Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the situation favored even further to the Islamist forces, now waging ‘jihad' against the Soviet Red Army troops in covert alliance with CIA, GID and ISI.
In the first phase only Afghan refugees from camps based in Pakistan were recruited and trained. In the second stage many of the workers of JI and students of madressahs belonging to Deobandi sect were also taken into the fold and trained. It was after the arrival of Abduallah Azzam (political and religious mentor of Bin Laden) in Peshawar in early 1980s that Arab organizations like Muslim Brotherhood and others had sent their rank and file for ‘jihad' in Afghanistan. Saudi government seized this opportunity to dispose of its suspected radical youth (Grand Mosque Siege of 1979, where Wahabi radicals and former students of Saudi Grand Mufti Bin Baz took control and demanded Saudi monarch to abdicate).
Thus it was during this period that all the Islamist forces, mainly from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Jordan and many other countries took shelter in Pakistan. They took full advantage of the situation, received huge sums from Saudis and other like-minded Middle Eastern and Arab donors. That was besides the training many of the Islamists received at the camps being operated as part of Operation Cyclone.
Right after the end of Afghan War in 1989 a Civil War erupted in Afghanistan amongst all the Mujahedin factions. More people died in the civil war than ten years of warfare with the Russians. The Afghan Civil War did not last for long as a new Pakistan-backed militia took control of Kabul in 1996. The Taliban became the new masters of Afghanistan. Initially the Taliban agenda was more or less similar in nature as that of Saudi Arabia. But alike Saudis they imparted a highly radicalized and distorted version of Islam, unacceptable to everyone, even their backers: the Pakistanis and Saudis. Al-Qaeda's leader Bin Laden had landed in Afghanistan there even before the Taliban takeover of Kabul. The Taliban granted him official guest status as soon as they came into power and Bin Laden acknowledged Mullah Omar as supreme leader of Afghanistan and the Muslim world by oath of allegiance. He further influenced Taliban leadership and used Afghanistan as a base for its operations against the US forces and citizens.
The radical forces have always possessed the support of a tiny minority of Muslims in South Asian sub-continent. They have always had some level of presence in the society since the times of Akbar the Great but their support and influence remained restricted to a very narrow sphere. It was only with the American money and support that the jihadi spirit was reinvigorated against the Soviets. The Soviets were defeated, and withdrew from Afghanistan but drawbacks of spreading the militant ideology came into light years later. The Islamist militants felt their very first victory a gift of God or that they had been rewarded by participating in holy war. Moreover they considered it solely because of their own efforts and without any external help. Such illusionary feeling allowed them to turn against their own respective countries of origin sooner or later.