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VIEW: Unable to understand —Gulmina Bilal Ahmad

Hizb ut-Tahrir is an organisation that believes in the implementation of the caliphate all over the world. It is banned in most countries including Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia. It was, for a short stint, banned in Pakistan

Newspapers are awash with reports about leaflets being distributed in North Waziristan by militants warning against any military action. The leaflets proclaim that if the Pakistan Army is allegedly bending over backwards for $ 2 billion in aid from the US, the militants will collect this amount from North Waziristan. It is amazing that this collection drive can be organised to ward off a military operation but not to address the poverty and development issues of the agency.

While these leaflets have been covered in the media and analysts are rightly raising alarm about them, there are other leaflets, websites, rallies, blogs and press releases that are lethal in the venom they produce but are below the radar screen. Or perhaps, one should correct oneself. Not below the radar screen but in a sense even ‘allowed’ by at least the judicial authorities. One such poster that adorns the locality right next to Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) ground in Islamabad declares, “Cut off NATO supply lines. Let the US die its own death.”

About five years back, an honourable judge of the Multan bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) ruled about the activities of such an organisation as, “…has shown dissatisfaction on the policies of the [Pakistan] government that is the right of each and every citizen…I am unable to understand as to how distribution of these pamphlets in the general public was termed as terrorism or sectarianism.”

The organisation in question is the Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) and what the honourable judge was ‘unable to understand’ was HT’s stance on democracy, Islamism and Pakistan’s foreign policy. Since space is limited to really present the HT in its imagined saviour avatar, I will attempt to only focus on its stance on democracy, Islamism and our relationship with our allies.

On democracy, HT declares that “democracy as a system is the rule of people, for the people, by the people. The basis of the democratic system is that people possess the right of sovereignty, choice and implementation. It is a kufr [disbelief] system because it is laid down by man and it is not from the shariah laws.”

HT is an organisation that believes in the implementation of the caliphate all over the world. About its interest in working in Pakistan, HT declares on its website, “We do not plan on establishing the khilafat [caliphate] in a weak or small country. We believe the starting point should be in a country that should have certain prerequisites and that includes the ability to sustain itself militarily, based on Ghalaba-tuz-Zan (most probably). One should also understand that for any country to exist, it is not necessary that it should be stronger than all the countries; rather it should be sufficiently strong so that the superpower cannot immediately annihilate it. Pakistan, with its missile capability and strong professional army, is not a soft target. The US knows that Pakistan is capable of retaliating and hurting it more than it is willing to sacrifice. CENTCOM in Doha is within the reach of Pakistani missiles and the Pakistan Air Force. Similarly, the US Army in Afghanistan is virtually surviving on the supplies of petrol and food coming from Pakistan. One should also remember that it took the US a full year of military build up before they could go into Iraq. The Pakistani army is capable of sending more body bags to the US than they could ever imagine. Also, currently, the US army is stretched thin and they cannot recruit people to fight insurgencies let alone a full-fledged war with a nuclear state.”

HT is banned in most countries including Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia. It was, for a short stint, banned in Pakistan but since the honourable judge of the Multan bench of the LHC was unable to understand the reasons for the ban, it was lifted. The HT is now free to spread its venom against non-Muslim Pakistanis and states. It has also not spared the Pakistani state and government and is openly challenging the writ of the state. It publicly declares that, “unjust taxes like income tax will be abolished”.

We immediately get defensive when we, as a nation, state and government, are urged to “do more”. Our indignation might hold some water if we were able to understand the consequences of allowing such organisations to spread their venom. By way of an example, on November 5, 2010, the HT will be organising rallies that “will inform people that the real change is only possible through the establishment of khilafat. Khilafat will sever NATO supply lines within hours of its establishment. It will suffocate the US by joining hands with the people of the tribal areas and Balochistan.”

Why the HT has been allowed in the past, and undoubtedly will be allowed in the future, to spread such venom is because their modus operandi involves recruiting extremely well connected and influential people through the opium of Islamism. In such a scenario, one is unable to understand why we continue to be surprised when places of worship, state agencies, government personnel and innocent civilians are continuously targeted in senseless terrorist attacks. If the judiciary is so fond of activism, how about ‘understanding’ the consequences of this dangerous game and banning such outfits, making it at least at least difficult for them to operate.

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