They are there on web pages, on FaceBook and Twitter and, using the latest technology, wish to push their society back to the Dark Ages. This is the creed of the newly formed Difa-e-Pakistan Committee –Defence of Pakistan Committee (DPC). The Vision Statement of the DPC on its website “Will You Defend Pakistan” says:-
“We envisage defending Pakistan, the only ideological nation carved in the name of Islam with our wealth and Lives (sic). Pakistan stands as the beacon of the unity of Ummah, on ‘La Illaha Ilallah’ (There is no God but Allah) the bedrock of our faith.”
Hafiz Saeed said: “Pakistan is facing very severe threats from both sides – India is one side, America and NATO forces on the other and the agenda of both is Pakistan. We want to send a message to them…”
The defence of Pakistan has to be arranged through jihad, the fundamental doctrine of the DPC’s main component, the much older and by far the biggest organisation, Lashkar e Tayyaba (LeT). Religious indoctrination is the key; it is quite professional and extensive. Amongst other literature, the LeT also has a 22 stanza anthem on jihad and is often recited at training centres of the LeT. The first stanza is
“Jihad jari rahega ta qayamat, Jihad hargiz naheen rukega”
Translated it means – Jihad will continue till the Day of Judgement; Jihad will never stop. The LeT refrain has been constant. Among the slogans heard in 2009 have been “India ka aik ilaj, al jihad al jihad”,
The ostensibly banned LeT has been consistent in its hatred for the last two decades. What Hafiz Saeed said in 2007 following the Hyderabad bomb blasts in August 2007 was not different from what the LeT’s spokesman Abdullah Muntazir had repeatedly from at least 1994 or what is currently being said. The theme is Pakistan must reclaim Muslim areas like Kashmir, Hyderabad, Junagadh and Bengal.
Hafiz Saeed had declared at a funeral prayer meeting “Muslims in Hyderabad and Junagarh who want independence from the oppression of Hindus” should learn from the struggle in Kashmir.
Last April Saeed had declared at a funeral prayer meeting “Muslims in Hyderabad and Junagarh who want independence from the oppression of Hindus” should learn from the struggle in Kashmir.
Arrested in early 2002 following America pressure, Hafeez Saeed walked a free man in November that year. He was rearrested in December 2008 following the LeT led Mumbai carnage to be released in February 2009 when the court declared his detention a violation of the constitution and the law of the country.
While the LeT began to keep a low profile the mother organisation the Jamaat ut Dawa continued to be active. However, around the same time (2007-2011) the regime had other problems.
The Army had begun to lose some of its sheen following terrorist attacks on its establishment during Musharraf’s time, followed by anti-state and Army activities of the Tehrik e Taliban. The US Special Forces attack on the Abbotabad hideout of Osama bin Laden’s safe house on May 6 which killed him was a major embarrassment for the Pakistan Army. Worse, this was followed by the revenge attack on the PNS Mehran naval base in Karachi a few weeks later and then the US helicopter raid on Pak Army check post in November killing 24 Pakistan Army personnel in Salala in FATA leading to the stoppage of NATO trucks into Afghanistan. US Pak relations already were in a trough following the Raymond Davis incident and the Memogate affair.
“…Let the country be ruled by benevolent dictator on the model of the Khilafat e Rashida. Till that time, the army and ISI must make sure that these treacherous politicians do not sell the country to hostile powers.”
It was then that the Difa-e-Pakistan was born. On its website it says
“..this was the right time when people of Pakistan woke up to the occasion and the under the chairman ship of Maulana Samiul Haq and Professor Hafiz Saeed a magnanimous movement was launched which also saw General Hamid Gul, Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed and many more renowned leaders as its pioneers… for a legitimate and non-political cause which only envisioned to defend Pakistan…”
Leaders like Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi, of the Ahl-e-Sunnat-Wal-Jamaat (ASWJ-a breakaway from the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan), Abdul Rehman Makki of the JuD, Liaqat Baloch and Munnawar Husain of the Jamat e Islami and others from the Jamaat Ulema Pakistan, making a total of 36 organisations that vowed to defend Pakistan. The reasoning was that they opposed granting of MFN to India, revenge for the ‘atrocities‘ in Kashmir, Gujarat, Hyderabad; Indian interference in Balochistan and ‘NWFP’ (sic), opposed India’s ‘Cold Start’ doctrine. They also offered to protect the Pakistan economy from Indian depredations. The DPC also intends to thwart what it described as:-
“US desire to leave India in a position where it can dominate the region and serve the interests of Zionist controlled world if not only the US.” Quite clearly this is LeT/JuD speak.
The Difa-e-Pakistan which includes members of banned organisations, seems extremely confident of itself and since December 2011 has held huge rallies in Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Rawalpindi and Peshawar. The black and white flags of the JuD were the most prominent at these rallies. Three DPC leaders, Hafiz Saeed, Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi and Dr Khadem Hussain Dhillon (both from Sipah Sahaba) were barred from the Islamabad rally although they were allowed to go there.
There are many purposes of organising the DPC. A consolidation of the ultra-right forces reinforces Pakistani nationalism in religious terms; the argument being that Pakistan is equal to Islam and to criticise Islam is to criticise Pakistan and vice versa.
The slogans were: “Difa-e-Pakistan jihad fi sabil allah se hoga” that is – the defence of Pakistan lies in jihad. Incidentally the motto of the Pakistan Army given by Gen Zia ul Haq is also Jihad fi sabil allah which has not changed since.
Hafiz Saeed in his trademark speech said:-
“Pakistan is facing very severe threats from both sides – India is one side, America and NATO forces on the other and the agenda of both is Pakistan. We want to send a message to them that the defence of Pakistan is uppermost in our minds” adding that Pakistan government’s plans to greater market access to Indian goods was a conspiracy to destroy Pakistan’s economy. He said that India was a greater threat than the US.
On Afghanistan, Saeed had declared that “This is America’s war and we only want to fight Pakistan’s war.”
The strength of these so called banned outfits who are constituents of the DPC can be seen from a recent incident. On March 9 BBC’s Urdu language service reported that the ASWJ had been secretly banned through a secret circular in February 2012. As soon as this leaked and the Urdu website of the AWSJ published there was tremendous pressure on the Government from Lashkar e Jhangvi, ASWJ and SSP so that three days later, on March 12, Interior Minister Rehman Malik described reports of a ban as baseless. All these three rabidly Sunni and anti Shia organisations – LeJ, ASWJ and SSP remain organisationally act vein Pakistan and use the Internet extensively.
Supporting the DPC is a website called “Pakistan Ka Khuda Hafiz” (May God Protect Pakistan). Those behind this are persons like Zaid Hamid, Shireen Mazari and Hamid Gul. This only embellishes the description as an ultra-nationalist, anti-American, anti-Indian and pro-Khilafat organisation.
…the DPC is also meant to frighten political parties from getting too close to the US and India especially on trade relations with India, to generally frighten the US through hatred for Israel to extracting concessions and largesse as before.
Its leanings become transparent when Zaid Hamid says: “If the politicians are for sale and hostile powers are ready to buy them, to hell with democracy. Let the country be ruled by benevolent dictator on the model of the Khilafat e Rashida. Till that time, the army and ISI must make sure that these treacherous politicians do not sell the country to hostile powers.”
There are many who believe that this new organisation has unofficial blessings if not active support from the ‘establishment. ’ The Army has often used religion and ‘military-mullah’ nexus in the past to counter nationalist movements or to keep democratic parties in check. Ayub Khan used the Jamaat-e-Islami against his political opponents; later Yahya Khan deployed them in the then East Pakistan. And of course Gen Zia refined this into a fine aggressive art form. Later, Gen Aslam Beg conjured up the IJI (Islami Jamhoori Ittehad) to bolster its protege Nawaz Sharif against Benazir Bhutto whom the Army did not trust. An Army worried at with its dwindling fund goodwill and command at a time when coups have become unpopular in the West, had to work out other arrangements for maintaining its primacy.
The sudden surge of the political green horn despite years in the field, Imran Khan and the cobbling together of the Difa-e-Pakistan may have been a coincidence but on the other hand may not have been a coincidence. Imran Khan’s right wing tendencies at home are barely concealed from the discerning but he is someone the Army led establishment would be comfortable with – he is a Pathan from Lahore, sufficiently right but not fundamental in the mullah sense, could be acceptable in Washington DC, considered close to the Army and therefore hopefully pliable. What is more important, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik Insaaf party was unlikely ever to be able to form a government on its own. Imran Khan himself did not participate in the Lahore rally of the DPC but endorsed the gathering by sending his message and a messenger to participate.
There are many purposes of organising the DPC. A consolidation of the ultra-right forces reinforces Pakistani nationalism in religious terms; the argument being that Pakistan is equal to Islam and to criticise Islam is to criticise Pakistan and vice versa. It is designed to tell the US that this – the DPC mindset – is the possible alternative to the present dispensation and that the military has the backing of the mullahs.
It is possible that the Army needs the support of mullahs like Sami ul Haq and Hafiz Saeed who have close contacts with the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan, in its negotiations with them. Described by some observers as a ‘circus’ the DPC is also meant to frighten political parties from getting too close to the US and India especially on trade relations with India, to generally frighten the US through hatred for Israel to extracting concessions and largesse as before. Fear of the unknown provides an impetus to organise vetoes from time to time.