Of Lions and Men: Pakistani Elections and Feline Symbolism

This spring six museums in Copenhagen exhibit collections of art and handicraft depicting flowers. As a visitor to the museum called Davids Samling – which houses the most exquisite collection of Islamic art in Denmark – one learns that in the Indian subcontinent prior to 1707 flowers were often depicted naturalistically. However, when in that year Aurangzeb ascended the Peacock Throne, a more stylistic representation of flowers came into vogue. Thus we are given to understand that when strict Islamic beliefs began to assert themselves, artists moved away from nature and closer to a standardized ideal. The museum also notes the exception that proves the rule: Poisonous plants continued to be depicted naturalistically even in times of Islamic reassertion.

But does this pendulum swings theory of art history set between the stern Islamic renderings of the living world and naturalistic renderings of the same world tell the whole story? Perhaps this generalization should be supplemented to include a third rendering of nature, which is neither stylized, nor naturalistic.  The recent elections in Pakistan would seem to indicate that even in the Land of the Pure, baroque and quasi-naturalistic forms of art asserted themselves in the space between science and religion.

This was evident in the campaign of Nawaz Sharif, the winner of the elections.  Both before and after the elections, Nawaz Sharif was virtually lionized as his party and followers played heavily on royal symbolism equating their chosen leader with the top predator of the natural world, i.e. the lion.  Equipped with the “fair, unused hand[s] of a wealthy Kashmiri-Punjabi” (Sethi 2013), the chubby rotund Nawaz Sharif hardly resembles a clawed feline predator. Nevertheless, in the streets of Pakistan and at party meetings his followers greeted him holding aloft lion toys or they painted themselves and their vehicles in feline stripes to give substance to their collective representation. Those fortunate enough to be invited to Nawaz Sharif’s garish palatial Punjabi home in Raiwind close to Lahore were treated to the sight of two stuffed lions guarding the staircase. The lions (imported from Zimbabwe) serve as the party symbol, and – said the granddaughter – as symbols of Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz Sharif, whose term as Chief Minister of Punjab helped Nawaz secure an electoral victory (Sethi 2013).

Lions were not the only predators with which the Sharif brothers were equalized. Tigers and leopards, too, were indiscriminately held forth as the symbol of the brothers and their party. All of this would seem to be an instance of a popular political culture throwing Islamic cautions to the winds by neglecting the call for stylization, while also not heeding the scientific call for the accurate identification and portrayal of the species found in nature. Tigers, lions and leopards are all big cats and top predators. As such they seem to be equally good to think with and hence they are evoked interchangeably in popular political imagination. Tellingly, the word sher is used for two of these species, i.e. for the lion and for the tiger (Madsen 2007). Altogether, the feline symbolism that infused the election campaigns exemplifies the powerful ways in which nature is widely used as a metaphor for human society (Madsen 2004-5).

The Pakistan Muslim League (N) won a resounding victory securing 35% of the votes and winning 45% of the seats in the National Assembly. In Punjab the party gained 49% of the vote securing an impressive 78% of the seats. Had not Imran Khan (the cricketer whose luxuriant mane more obviously entitles him to be considered the true lion of men) been around to challenge Nawaz and Shahbaz, the Muslim League might have won 60% of the votes in Punjab (Dawn.com 2013).

For sure, the lions had it in the worlds of the humans, but that did not mean that the real lions and tigers had a field day. During the election campaign, the Muslim League fielded a striking female white tiger. The animal was securely chained, placed on a vehicle and repeatedly paraded around as part of the election campaign. Nawaz Sharif’s own daughter was one of the persons engaging in this stunt. The party had apparently rented the white tiger from “a former PML(N) MNA, Mian Marghoob, who owns a large farm in Mehmood Booti in Lahore” (Khan 2013). This piece of symbolic politics stretched the natural world to the limit. Just before the election day, the tiger was reported to have died, but soon after this tragic-comic news was broadcast, it was contradicted by reports to the effect that the tiger was alive and well and had only suffered a minor ailment for which it had been successfully treated.  As of May 15, it was still not certain whether the animal had survived, but it seemed certain that a legal case had already been filed in the Lahore High Court by animal rights activist and actor Faryal Gauhar against the Muslim League. Wrote Rina Saeed Khan:

“The first hearing has taken place already and the next hearing will take place at the Green Bench in Lahore headed by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah tomorrow. The complainant would like to see a ban on displaying big cats in rallies and improvements in private facility inspections. The Election Commission of Pakistan will be called as well since they are the ones who agreed to awarding the “sher” as an election symbol in the first place” (Khan 2013).

Pakistani is still home to leopards and snow leopards in small numbers, but both tigers and lions are extinct. The only place on the Indian subcontinent where the Asiatic lion survives is the Gir forest in the state of Gujarat (Madsen 2007). The lion population in Gujarat is currently healthy, but in order to ensure its long-term survival it was proposed years ago to move some of the lions from Gir to Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh as a fallback option in case the Gujarat population would come under threat. This plan was resisted by people about to be affected by the proposed translocation. They did not fancy lions in their area. However, resistance proved fruitless and the Madhya Pradesh government has eventually managed to relocate 1,545 families from 24 villages in the Kuno-Palpur wildlife sanctuary to make room for the lions. This human hurdle overcome, one might expect that the translocation of lions would be carried out.  But lo and behold! The Gujarat government did not want to let go of the lions which they consider theirs:

“The Gujarat government argued that the lions in Gir were doing well, they were protected, they had enough food and therefore there was no need for relocation. It went further by arguing that even though it was reasonable to conclude that restricting  an endangered species to one area could lead to its extinction and that the translocation site in MP was a sound choice, the lions of Gujarat were like family and hence decisions had to go beyond ‘scientific reasoning’ . Chief Minister Narendra Modi had personally put his heft behind this argument” (Economic and Political Weekly 2013)

The case came up in the Supreme Court of India which quashed the “anthropocentric” argument in favor of an “eco-centric” argument delinking the protection of lions from the particular site and people who had hitherto allowed them to survive. The court found that the lions were Asiatic lions, not Gujarati lions. The Gujaratis may well claim that they do have a special relation to the lions. After all, nowhere else has the Asiatic lion (which differs only a little from the African subspecies) been allowed to survive (Madsen 2007). But this argument did not persuade the court which ruled in favor of translocation based on scientific and universalistic reasoning, rather than in favor of status quo based on ethnic and historical reasoning.

Now that Nawaz Sharif has already been invited to India in the latest of umpteen attempts to mend the fences between the hostile South Asian neighbors, one might suggest that some lions be relocated to Pakistan, too.  Would it not behoove for India’s likely future Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an act of public diplomacy to let himself be cast in the role of the magnanimous dispenser of symbolic political capital, and would it not be wise for Nawaz Sharif to supplement his human stock of uncontrollable jihadist wards with a few free-roaming feline wards less likely to turn against him?

Stig Toft Madsen

Senior Research Fellow, NIAS


Dawn.Com, “The Election Score”, 16 May 2013, http://dawn.com/2013/05/16/the-election-score/

Economic and Political Weekly, “The Lions in Gujarat. The Supreme Court judgment marks a welcome move away from anthropocentrism”, Editorial, 18 May 2013, p. 8

Khan, Rina Saeed, “The mysterious case of the white tigress”, 15 May 2013, Dawn News, http://dawn.com/2013/05/15/the-mysterious-case-of-the-white-tigress/

Madsen, Stig Toft, “Musharraf lets in the lions”, Asiaportal, 29 November 2007, https://infocus.asiaportal.info/2007/11/29/novembermusharraf-lets-lions%E2%80%9D-by-stig-toft-madsen/

Madsen, Stig Toft, 2004-5, “Narratives of Nature as Metaphors of Society”, Folk 46/47: 121-141

Sethi, Mira, “Watch the throne: Nawaz Sharif on the cusp of power”, 1 April 2013, Caravan, http://www.caravanmagazine.in/reportage/watch-throne

May 23, 2013

Iqbal’s Pakistan! – The Country Ahead?


The term ‘Iqbal’s Pakistan’ is frequently used in the Pakistani media – both electronic media such as television and radio, and Pakistani daily newspapers. If you search on the internet, you will come across several results under the term ‘Iqbal’s Pakistan’ in online papers, articles published in local journals or magazines and on sites reviewing seminars and conferences held in the country. You will find the term on YouTube and other similar websites where video recordings of talk shows, sitcoms, and Urdu plays are posted with the theme – Iqbal ka Pakistan – the Urdu term for Iqbal’s Pakistan.

What does the term ‘Iqbal’s Pakistan’ mean? And what is the relationship between Iqbal and Pakistan? Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, popularly known as ‘the spiritual father of Pakistan’[1] and leading Persian and Urdu poet of undivided India, presented the idea of “the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single State” in his presidential address to the 25th session of the All-India Muslim League held in Allahabad on 29 December, 1930.[2] He also stated that: “Self-government within the British Empire, or without the British Empire, the formation of a consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of North-West India”. This idea presented by Muhammad Iqbal was later adopted by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan as a proposal for the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent. Mohommad Iqbal has ever since been revered in Pakistan as a national hero just like his political counterpart Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Muhammad Iqbal, the poet-philosopher, was born in Sialkot (now in central Punjab, Pakistan) on 9 November 1877. Iqbal was engaged in the study of Arabic and Persian in his early years but later on the advice of Sir Thomas Arnold, his teacher of philosophy at the Government College of Lahore, he travelled to Cambridge in 1905 to continue his studies. He also studied at Heidelberg and Munich universities in Germany. Upon his return to India, he both taught at the Government College and worked as a lawyer in Lahore. In 1922, Iqbal received the knighthood from the British Crown. In 1928, he delivered a series of lectures in various universities in India which was later published under the title The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, a work that provides significant context and guidelines for his ideas expressed in his poetry. Written in both Urdu and Persian, Iqbal’s poetry continues to inspire Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent and beyond. Iqbal died on April 21, 1938 in Lahore and his mausoleum beside the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore is visited by many today[3].

Iqbal’s poetry has been used in several national contexts. Muhammad Iqbal claims admiration among intellectual Pakistanis, both intelligentsia and young students. To this day, in Pakistani schools, each morning students, teachers and other staff assemble and sing one of Iqbal’s famous poems written for children ‘Lab pay aati hai du’a ban ke tamanna meri’ (My longing comes to my lips as supplication of mine-O God! May like the candle be the life of mine). Similarly, speech contests related to Muhammad Iqbal and his vision of the Indian Muslim state are held in Pakistani schools and colleges while his poetry is frequently quoted in public talks. Pakistani politicians, leaders and other professionals often quote Iqbal’s poetry to support their own progressive ideas. Iqbal’s poetry has also been frequently used by religious scholars and Islamic hardliners to articulate their own religious views. His works have been translated in several regional languages of South Asia as well as several European languages, among others English, German, and Spanish.

Annemarie Schimmel, a famous scholar, pointed out that Muhammad Iqbal “… has been regarded as the unsurpassable master of every virtue and art; he has been made a forerunner of socialism or an advocate of Marxism; he was anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist; he was the poet of the elite and of the masses, the true interpreter of orthodox Islam and the advocate of a dynamic and free interpretation of Islam, the enemy of Sufism and a Sufi himself; he was indebted to Western thought and criticized everything Western mercilessly. One can call him a political poet, because his aim was to awaken the self-consciousness of Muslims, primarily in the Indian Subcontinent but also in general, and his poetry was indeed instrumental in bringing forth decisive changes in the history of the Subcontinent. One can also style him a religious poet, because the firm belief in the unending possibilities of the Koran and the deep and sincere love of the Prophet (in both his quality as nation-builder and as eternal model for man) are the bases of his poetry and philosophy”.

The question is – why do the Pakistanis use the term ‘Iqbal’s Pakistan’? What would be Iqbal’s Pakistan like?

A large part of Muhammad Iqbal’s poetry is dedicated to the youth. He wished to see the Muslim youth vibrant in its ideals, determined in its actions and high-aiming in its approach to life. He said,

“I have love for those youngsters who pull the stars down.”[4]

Using the analogy of ‘Shaheen’ (the Urdu/Persian terminology used for an eagle) in his poetry, Muhammad Iqbal draws his readers’ attention to the qualities of an eagle ‘the king of birds’. An eagle, Iqbal says, has a sharp vision, it does not live on the prey that has been hunted down by other birds or animals, it lives on the peaks of high mountains and finally, it does not build a nest. These qualities of an eagle that Iqbal describes in his poetry symbolize a life of independence, dignity, freedom, and self-reliance. By using the symbol of a ‘Shaheen’ in his poetry, Iqbal attempts to inculcate in the Muslim youth an approach towards life that contains high ideals followed by action. In addressing the youth he wrote,

“You can only claim a universe to be yours that is created by you

Do not consider this world made of stone and wood that is in sight, your universe!”[5]

Muhammad Iqbal attempted to create self-consciousness among the Muslims of India so that they might free themselves from the British control on the one hand and the domination of Hindus on the other.  In his poem, ‘Shaheen’, Iqbal expresses his ideas using the example of an eagle:

East and West these belong to the world of the pheasant,
The blue sky—vast, boundless—is mine![6]

This symbolism in Muhammad Iqbal’s poetry is not merely an expression of his mystical thoughts but, he invokes the Muslim youth, these ideals can be and must be achieved through a transformed knowledge about the Self. Many of Iqbal’s poems talk about the Self: “…the system of the universe originates in the Self, and that the continuation of the life of all individuals depends on strengthening the Self”[7]. The human identity, according to Iqbal, is boundless, if realized to its true worth. Iqbal challenges the youth to realize their real worth by tapping into the qualities that belong to al-insaan (the perfect human) present in each human being. Iqbal’s concept of mard-e-mo’min (a man of conviction, belief) which he uses a number of times in his poetry seems to have become an ideal for the Pakistani youth.

“He (mo’min) is mild in speech and wild in action.
Be it battlefield or the assembly of friends, he is pure of heart and action.”[8]


There are examples of constructive criticism in Iqbal’s poetry as a means of creating a feeling of restlessness amidst the youth so that they may become actively engaged in productive contemplation that ultimately leads to action. In several examples of his poetry, Muhammad Iqbal addresses his own son, Javaid (then a young boy below the age of 10) but indirectly he is addressed to the youth in general, an example of which are the following verses,

“Create a place for thyself in the realm of Love

Create a new age, new days, new nights

If God grant thee an eye for nature’s beauty

Create poetry from the silence of tulips and roses (Converse with the silence of flowers, respond to their love)

My way of life is poverty, not the pursuit of wealth

Barter not thy Selfhood, win a name in adversity”[9]

Iqbal’s Muslim hero “…is a man of action and a man of the world, but his approach to the world is non-materialistic. According to Iqbal, it is through love and through a focus on one’s inner self that man can achieve the absolute form of freedom”.[10]

“Unflinching conviction, eternal action, and the love that conquers the world

These are the swords (weapons) of the brave ones that fight the war of life.”[11]

Iqbal considers the knowledge of the Quran, the best knowledge for his youth. This idea is more clearly expressed in the following verses taken from his collection Armughan-i-Hijaz (1938):
Keep the Qur’an as a mirror before you.
You have completely changed, run away from yourself.
Fix a balance for your deeds [so that you may be able to],
Stir a commotion which your forbears stirred in the past.[12]

Iqbal challenges the youth to rise above the national, ethnic and factional groupings and invites them to break loose of these limited references of identity. Whereas Iqbal professed the idea of unity among Muslims in his poetry, he also criticized a series of vices among Muslims. He attacked hypocrisy, sectarian and ethnic divisions. Iqbal’s Mard-e-Mo’min can claim his rule over the universe rather than be overpowered by meager emotions of nationalism or religious fanaticism. Iqbal’s inculcates important values of life through his messages to the youth,

“Here are Indians, there people of Khurasan, here Afghans, there Turanians—
You, who despise the shore, rise up and make yourself boundless.[13]

Muhammad Iqbal considered Turkey a good example for modern Muslim states. In The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam[14], he writes:

“The truth is that among the Muslim nations of today, Turkey alone has shaken off its dogmatic slumber, and attained to self-consciousness. She alone has claimed her right of intellectual freedom; she alone has passed from the ideal to the real – a transition which entails keen intellectual and moral struggle”.

Iqbal also laments about the situation of Muslim countries,

 “Such is the lot of most Muslim countries today. They are mechanically repeating old values, whereas the Turk is on the way to creating new values. He has passed through great experiences which have revealed his deeper self to him. In him life has begun to move, change, and amplify, giving birth to new desires, bringing new difficulties and suggesting new interpretations”.[15]

In his writings, Iqbal attempted to instill amidst the Muslims a need for change in the ways that reflected a backward approach to life and to end all kinds of subjugation for progress. He aspired to see Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent and beyond regain success and revive their glorious past.

Iqbal had widely read and frequently made references to European philosophers, intellectuals and poets such as Hegel, Kant, Goethe, Aristotle, Nietzsche, Shakespeare and others in his poetry. He wrote his famous Persian poem Payam-e-Mashriq (‘Message of the East’) to Goethe’s West-Ostlicher which contains many fascinating remarks about European philosophers and politicians.

Iqbal’s poetry is considered to provide a ‘synthesis of both eastern and western thought and art’. He makes comparisons between Muslim and Western scholars in the fields of philosophy, science, and religious studies. Comparisons have been made between Iqbal’s message and Goethe’s ideas as well as interesting parallels are drawn between Iqbal’s and Kirkegaard (the Danish philosopher). Iqbal also compared Nietzsche’s Superman with his own Mard-e-Mo’min (Man of unflinching faith and belief) exemplified by Prophet Muhammad who “in the most exalted state of his ascension, was called ‘abduhu’” [16] His (i.e. God’s) servant’ (Quran 17:1). Similarly, parallels between Muhammad Iqbal and Søren Kierkegaard mainly focus on the idea of ‘the Self’ that both philosophers had presented as their philosophic vision.[17]

In The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Iqbal makes a detailed analysis of the history of Islam and its past glory and compares it with the recurring supremacy of the Western thought in the fields of education, technology and science during the past 500 years. At times, one finds a dispassionate analysis in the writings of Muhammad Iqbal of the downfall of the Muslim empires and the rise of the European empires and Western supremacy.

Iqbal was also subjected to fierce criticism from different sides within the Indian Subcontinent. He has been criticized by Hindu authors who consider him “neither a philosopher, nor a poet nor a politician but only a fanatical Muslim nationalist who has sympathy only with his own nation and his coreligionists”.[18] Iqbal also received strong criticism from the Muslim hardliners for writing poems such as “Shikwa” (A Complaint). However, he countered this criticism by writing a response to his own poem titled “Jawab-e-Shikwa” (Response to the Complaint) from God.

Through talk shows and other media representations under the term Iqbal’s Pakistan, the Pakistani youth look for answers to a variety of questions regarding Pakistan’s future. One finds a diversity of points of view on these online blogs, discussion forums, talk shows and online publications that use Muhammad Iqbal’s ideas for awakening both feelings of national pride in the youth and Islamic values. One can find an element of revolutionary zeal in their ideas and a dissatisfaction with the Pakistani leaders and politicians – in the way that Muhammad Iqbal himself who challenged the oppressive British colonial regime. These young Pakistanis refuse to look up to the west. Instead, they talk about building a Pakistan that has dignity in the community of nations, a Pakistan that moves ahead side by side with the developed nations of the world, not depending on the developed nations for economic aid alone. Voicing Iqbal’s vision of a nation, the Pakistani youth aspire to see a Pakistan where Islam and modern advancement go hand in hand and aspire for democracy not only as a political system but as a social system. They seem to encourage positive ideas and attitudes among the Pakistani youth.

Maybe the term ‘Iqbal’s Pakistan’ does not represent the original idea of Muhammad Iqbal about a separate state combining the Muslim-majority areas within India. However, the youth in the 21st century Pakistan seems to associate the future of Pakistan with Muhammad Iqbal and his vision about a land that provides opportunities for a life with freedom and dignity. In this way the youth in contemporary Pakistan seem to find guidelines in Iqbal’s writings for such a life and aspiration for a bright future of Pakistan,

“Come, so that we may strew roses and pour a measure of wine in the cup!
Let us split open the roof of the heavens and think upon new ways”[19].

Uzma Rehman
NIAS Associate and PhD History of Religion, Copenhagen University

[1] Annemarie Schimmel, Gabriel’s Wing: A Study Into The Religious Ideas of Sir Muhammad Iqbal, Leiden: E.J.Brill, 1963, p.377.

[2] Muhammad Iqbal’s presidential address of 29 December, 1930 available online on http://www.tolueislam.org/Bazm/drIqbal/AI_address_1930.htm

[3] This description about the life of Muhammad Iqbal is taken in a summarized form from Annemarie Schimmel, “Iqbal, Muhammad”, Encyclopaedia Iranica, 2004, available on http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/iqbal-muhammad

[4] Translation taken from http://www.allamaiqbal.com/webcont/230/frms/main.htm

[5] Translation taken from http://www.allamaiqbal.com/webcont/230/frms/main.htm

[6] Translation taken from http://iqbalurdu.blogspot.com/2011/04/bal-e-jibril-176-shaheen.html

[7] R.A.Nicholson, (translation) Iqbal’s poem,  Asrar-e-Khudi  ‘The Secrets of the Self’, 1950, p.9.

[8] Translation taken from http://www.allamaiqbal.com/webcont/230/frms/index.htm

[9] Translation taken from http://iqbalurdu.blogspot.dk/2011/04/bang-e-dra-163-tulu-e-islam.html

[10] M.A.Raja, “Muhammad Iqbal: Islam, the West, and the Quest for a Modern Muslim Identity”, The International Journal of the Asian Philosophical Association, 1:1, 2008, p.41.

[11] Translation taken from http://iqbalurdu.blogspot.com/2011/04/bang-e-dra-163-tulu-e-islam.html

[12] Translation taken from http://www.allamaiqbal.com/webcont/230/frms/index.htm

[13] Translation taken from http://iqbalurdu.blogspot.dk/2011/04/bang-e-dra-163-tulu-e-islam.html

[14] Allama Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications, 1996, p. 142.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Annemarie Schimmel, 2004 available on http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/iqbal-muhammad

[17] Ghulam Sabir, Kirkegaard and Iqbal: Startling Resemblances in Life and Thought, 1999, available online on http://www.allamaiqbal.com/publications/journals/review/oct99/3.htm

[18] Annemarie Schimmel, Gabriel’s Wing, p.378.

[19]Translation taken from http://iqbalurdu.blogspot.dk/2011/04/bang-e-dra-163-tulu-e-islam.html

Pakistan: a consolidated democracy?

Intervention at a conference arranged by South Asia Democratic Forum on the occasion of the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic review of  “Pakistan”, Palais des Nations, Geneva, October 30, 2012.


Stig Toft Madsen
Senior Research Fellow
NIAS – Nordic Institute of Asian Studies

This intervention will cover the period from the return of Benazir Bhutto in 2007 till now. I am speaking as a person who has worked as a sociologist and anthropologist mainly with India, but who has kept an interest in Pakistan as well. For lack of time I have not been able to study the UN reports (e.g. A/HRC/WG.6/14/PAK/1) presented elsewhere today.

Pakistani politics has always had periods of military rule and democratic rule alternating in rather long cycles. Therefore, the return to democracy in 2008 would not necessarily mean the institutionalization of democracy in Pakistan once and for all. But at that time there was a hope that this time around Pakistanis had finally realized the benefits that democracy could bring, that they had learnt to recognize the problems of military rule, that they had become better informed by the electronic media, that they had come to desire the rule of law as, indeed, it appeared at the time from the wide support given to the dismissed Chief Justice Iftikar Mhd. Chaudhary and the Supreme Court Bar Association President Aitzaz Ahsan and, if nothing else, that middle class Pakistanis had amassed sufficient property that they would support democracy to secure political stability.

In fact, the elections held in 2008 were technically fair confirming that the Election Commission is one functioning institution in Pakistan. After the elections, President Musharraf made a rather dignified exit. For a time, the two main political parties stood together in their common opposition to military rule. I remember TV-footage of political leaders joking among themselves and with assembled journalists, and exchanging Urdu couplets in those golden days. But as Shaheryar Azhar reminded his readers, “great beginnings are not as important as the way one finishes”.

What does a democratic transition entail? When does a transition get consolidated? When is it completed? According to an article by Schedler

“The consolidation of democracy concludes when democratic actors manage to establish reasonable certainty about the continuity of the new democratic regime.… While the task of transition is to push open the window of uncertainty and create opportunities for democratic change, the challenge of consolidation is to close the window of uncertainty and preclude possibilities of authoritarian regression. Transitions create hopes of democratic change, processes of consolidation confidence into democratic stability” (Schedler 2001).

Transitions, he also argued, may be gradual and even, or they may contain a few defining moments or focal events, or they may be more erratic and fuzzy with many high and lows.

How does Pakistan look in this perspective? Elections put democracy back on the rails in February 2008. That marks a shift, but not a full shift. There was a controlled or guided democracy even under Musharraf with parties and elections, but without the two main civilian leaders in the country, i.e. Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. It was the return of these two persons to take part in the elections that marked the beginning of the transition.

The reinstatement of Iftikar Mhd. Chaudhary as Chief Justice in March 2009 was a further focal point. Another was the transfer of power from the office of the President to the office of the Prime Minister by the 18th Amendment in 2010. As regards the troubled frontier regions, one may note that for the first time ever political parties have been allowed to operate there. Moreover, one should note that the present regime is now completing its 5-year period in office. That is no mean feat considering that no elected government in Pakistan has ever completed its full term![1] Do these events add up to a consolidation of democracy in Pakistan? I would say “no”, they do not create full confidence in democratic stability.

Why not?  For a start, there has been no systematic reform of the military which would include reducing the economic privileges that officers enjoy, reworking its “doctrines” to further de-escalation rather than escalation in Pakistan’s relation with its neighbours, and breaking the close links with the militant organizations that the military has cultivated.

The attack on Mumbai, it should be remembered, took place not under Musharraf, but in November 2008 after the return of democracy. Investigations have testified to the continued links between the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was behind the attack, and the Pakistani military, but the LeT still operates more or less as it has done before.

It is true, on the other hand, that the Pakistani military did stage a major counter-offensive against the Islamic militants in Swat. The operation was relatively successful, but the attack on the pro-schooling activist Malala Yusufzai shows that the same militants are still around.  Indeed, militias of various hues have grown stronger in many parts of the country.

The transition, therefore, involves not only the political parties and the military, but also the militants, whose capacity to intimidate and harm, and to set the agenda, and to rule in many areas and across many institutions precludes the consolidation of democracy in Pakistan and even in parts of Afghanistan.

How much of a threat are the Islamic militants? In early 2009, a leading human rights activist, IA Rehman, known for his long work for human right in Pakistan, was willing to give up FATA and PATA (the federally and provincially administered tribal areas), if not the whole of the NWFP. He wrote:

“The sole option will be to buy a truce by separating the Shariah lobby from the terrorists and creating FATA and PATA as a Shariah zone, which may quickly encompass the Frontier province. The question then will be whether Pakistan can contain the pro-Shariah forces within the Frontier region… In such an eventuality, the hardest task for the government will be to protect the Punjab against inroads by militants”. (Rehman 2009).

Pakistan did not break up, but Rehman’s willingness to consider dividing the country stands as a sad testimony to the despair at that time. Remember also that the Government of Pakistan actually did sign an agreement with the militants to turn Swat into a Sharia zone (Shah 2009).

But it was to get worse. The breaking point to me and, I suspect, to many others, was the murder in January 2011 of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab. It marked a new low even by Pakistani standards because the murder was done by his own bodyguard, because the other bodyguards did nothing effectively to stop him, because the assassin was affiliated to the ostensibly moderate Barelwi-branch of Islam, because the bodyguard was lionized by members of the legal community otherwise supposed to be a relatively enlightened class, and because many clerics boycotted Taseer’s funeral. The bodyguard killed Taseer because of his support to Asia Noreen Bibi, the poor Christian woman accused of blasphemy about whom we will probably hear more today. This was followed in March by the murder of another Christian Shahbaz Bhatti, the Minister for Minority Affairs. These murders did not occur to further the return of military rule. They occurred for religious reasons. They were the harbingers of a possible transition to theocratic rule which already affects not only Christians: Ahmadiyas, Ismailis, Hindus, Shias, and Barelwis as well as Jews, Americans, Danes and many others, including schoolgirls, are among the legitimate targets.[2]

To deal with this threat to democratic consolidation and to human rights requires an efficient state, and here lies another fault-line. The conflict between the legislative and the judiciary has been carried over from Musharraf’s time, most obviously in the conflict between President Zardari and the Chief Justice who wants to re-open old corruption cases with roots in Switzerland against Zardari. These old cases have been zealously pursued by the judiciary in a manner that has made an ex-member of the Supreme Court of India chastise his Pakistani colleagues for not exercising judiciary restraint (Katju 2012).

In Pakistan itself, the unofficial Human Rights Commission of Pakistan noted in its 2011 report that

“While this expanded role gained the SC immense popularity, it also raised many questions regarding the impact of frequent and extensive invocation of suo motu powers on the courts’ normal work, the difficulties in avoiding the side effects of selective justice, and the consequences of the executive-judiciary or parliament-judiciary confrontation.” (Taqi 2012)

What emerges is the image of a Chief Justice and a Supreme Court overreaching their allotted space within the division of powers, whether for reasons good or bad.

Let me add to this that the fourth pillar of power has also not been as efficient in furthering democratic consolidation as one could hope for. Reasoned political debate is not absent in the Pakistani press. Since I come from Norden, I will take the opportunity to draw your attention to a book written by a Pakistani living in Sweden, i.e. Ishtiaq Ahmed’s The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed about the period around 1947. This book has been meticulously and reasonably debated in both the Pakistani and Indian press. One may also come across provocative and humorous interventions in the Pakistani press, such as Ziauddin Sardar’s little article “Why Are Muslims So Boring?”, and the daring satire/desperate sarcasm in the online magazine Viewpoint. However,Pakistani political debate is often an exercise in mud-slinging and venom-spitting which belies any hope that the Pakistani obsession of securing a world without defamation of the Prophet will limit other forms defamation.[3]

Similar unprofessional conduct extends into “the fifth pillar” of the state, i.e. academia, where most recently the journal Nature has written about “predatory journals” where publications-hungry academics pay large sums to be published in sham journals emerging from especially Pakistan, India and Nigeria (Beall 2012). To round off this lament let me mention also the rot in Pakistani sports exemplified by the two Pakistanis who were jailed in the UK and banned from cricket for a period for fixing a cricket match at the Lords in London – only to reappear later as TV commentators in Pakistan (Dawn.com 2012).

I do not think I need to belabour the point any more. What I have been saying is that while a democratic transition from a largely military regime to a largely civilian regime has occurred, there has been little in the way of democratic consolidation. Pervez Musharraf in 2004 said he wanted “enlightened moderation”, but unenlightened extremism is what the Pakistanis still get as the country moves from Crisis to Crisis, in the process earning a bad name for democracy.[4] I have been able to give you only a limited number of examples of this. However, they are no mere incidents. They form a coherent pattern.

(Slightly revised 6 November 2012)



Ahmed, Ishtiaq, 2012, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed, Oxford University Press.

Azhar, Shaheryar “The Way Forward”, Daily Times, 27 February 2008, www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008%5C02%5C27%5Cstory_27-2-2008_pg3_6

Beall, Jeffrey, “Predatory publishers are corrupting open access” Nature 489: 179, 13 September 2012, http://www.nature.com/news/predatory-publishers-are-corrupting-open-access-1.11385

Dawn.com, “Butt and Amir on TV as pundits during World T20”, 18 September 2012, http://dawn.com/2012/09/18/salman-butt-mohammad-amir-tv-experts/

Feldman, Herbert, 1972, From Crisis to Crisis: Pakistan 1962-1969, London.

Katju, Markandey, “Pakistan’s Supreme Court has gone overboard”, The Hindu, opinion, 21 June 2012, www.thehindu.com/opinion/article3553558.ece?homepage=true

Noorani, AG, “A right to insult”, Frontline, 2 November 2012, pp. 80-86.

Rehman, IA, 2009, “Shariah Zone: One Solution for Pakistan?” Dawn.com, 12 February,  http://archives.dawn.com/archives/142170

Schedler, A, “Taking Uncertainty Seriously: The Blurred Boundaries of Democratic Transition and Consolidation”, Democratization, 8:4, 1-22, 2001.

Shah, Waseem Ahmad, 2009, Pak govt signs Malakand sharia deal”, Dawn.com, 16 February,  http://archives.dawn.com/archives/124111

Taseer, Shehrbano, “The Girl Who Changed Pakistan”, Newsweek, October 29, 2012, pp. 30-35.

Sardar, Ziauddin, “Why Are Muslims So Boring?”, Emel, November-December 2004, www.emel.com/article?id=9&a_id=1830

Sulehria, Farooq, “Pakistan awaiting the clerical tsunami: Pervez Hoodbhoy”. Viewpoint, online issue 125, November 2, 2012, www.viewpointonline.net/pakistan-awaiting-the-clerical-tsunami-pervez-hoodbhoy.html

Taqi, Mohammad, “Judging the Judges”, View from Pakistan”, Outlook India, 19 April 2012, www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?280620

[1] Shaukat Aziz did complete his 5-years term as Prime Minister under Musharraf.

[2] On blasphemy, see the article in Newsweek by Shehrbano Taseer, a daughter of Salman Taseer (Taseer 2012), the interview with Pervez Hoodbhoy in Viewpoint on the rising tide of extremism (Sulehria 2012), and AG Noorani in Frontline (2012) for a problematic liberal defense of the Islam that hardly exists, but in whose name others are required to stay silent to avoid holy wrath.

[3] For those conversant with Urdu, and even for those without such knowledge, watch  “MQM & PML-N showing his Ethics & Character (Live on Talk shows)”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?=BKLpZ60u_Bo where two leaders trade insults, and “Malik Riaz Planted Leaked Interview with Mehar bukhari and Mubashir Lukman on dunya tv Part 1”, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoNuNPMR5kI where TV anchors at Dunya News engage in a manipulative interview of a businessman who had accused the son of the Chief Justice of corruption.

[4]  From Crisis to Crisis was the title of Feldman’s 1972 book about Pakistan.

Ethnic cleansing and genocidal massacres 65 years ago by Ishtiaq Ahmed

One of the completest cases of ethnic cleansing – that entailed the murder of 500,000-800,000 Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs – took place in 1947 in the Punjab Province of British India. Until now very little research had been conducted on it though in Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi literature the horrors of the partition have figured extensively, mostly in short stories but also in novels and poetry. The trauma of a gory and shattering destruction of the demographic structure and culture in Punjab has never been absent from the public conscience although the generation that went through it is now on the way out. However, once the Punjab was partitioned it was impossible for an Indian citizen to visit the Pakistani Punjab and do research and likewise a Pakistani scholar stood no chance of doing the same in the Indian Punjab. International research on the Punjab partition had also been limited – confined to some cities and districts.

As a Swedish national of Pakistani origin, I did manage to visit both Punjabs and do extensive field research. Therefore now for the first time after 65 years a holistic, detailed and penetrating research on the events of 1947 have been published under the title, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy through Secret British Reports and First-Person Accounts (Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2012, ISBN 9780199064700, pages 640).  It is theoretically and empirically a very distinctive study, because it seeks to solve the Punjab partition puzzle as part of a general phenomenon that has appeared elsewhere in the world as well.  More than 250 interviews were conducted over a period of 15 years, though the most intense period was 2003-2005 when a very generous research grant from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskaprådet) enabled me to do field research in both the Indian and Pakistani Punjabs. In some cases I traced people from both sides of the divided Punjab after 50 and more years to check the same incident.

Punjab was partitioned in mid-1947 as part of the overall partition of British India into two independent nations of India and Pakistan. The main party of Indian Muslims, the All-India Muslim League, had argued that the Muslim minority (roughly one-fourth) constituted a separate nation from other communities of India. Therefore they were entitled to a separate state in areas where they were in a majority. This was reluctantly agreed to by the Indian National Congress, the main secular-nationalist party, which was dominated by Hindus. The British, who had decided to withdraw from India by June 1948, also agreed to the partition of India. However, the partition of India was also to include the partition of two Muslim-majority provinces, Bengal and Punjab.

Map of Punjab 1941

The total population of undivided Punjab was nearly 34 million living in 357,692 sq. km. Of it more than 28 million lived in territories directly administered by the British and its territorial expanse was 256,640 sq. km.  The Muslims constituted a slight majority of 53.2%, while Hindus and Sikhs together formed a very large minority. Less than 2% belonged to other religions. In the directly administered British territories the Muslim percentage was slightly higher, 57.1%. The Sikhs, who were a minority of around 14%, were essentially a Punjabi people – their religion and history and most of their community was located in Punjab. On the other hand, Punjabi Hindus and Muslims could link up with their communities in all nooks and corners of India.

The Sikhs were insistent that if India is partitioned on a religious basis then Punjab should also be divided on the same basis. They feared persecution under Muslim rule based on a religious notion of nationhood. The problem was that the Sikhs were not in a majority anywhere in Punjab. They were, however, an important community because they were disproportionately overrepresented in the British Indian Army and were also a propertied community with regard to agricultural land and even business and commerce. When it became clear that India could not remain united because the Muslim League and the Congress would not agree on a mutually acceptable formula the latter threw its full weight behind the Sikh demand for the partition of Punjab. While the western regions had a clear Muslim majority and eastern regions of Punjab a Hindu-Sikh majority the central areas, even though mostly comprising Muslim majority, had substantial Hindu-Sikh minorities and in some districts even majorities.

The book argues that if India had not been partitioned Punjab would also not have been partitioned. However, that did not mean that if India were partitioned then Punjab must also be partitioned. Had the Muslim League and the Sikh leaders agreed to keep Punjab united even if the Punjabi Hindus did not they would have made up such a large majority that Punjab could have remained united. Why could not the Punjabi Muslims and Sikhs agree to that? That is the main puzzle I have tried to solve.  No division of Punjab would have been a satisfactory to all three main communities – Punjabi Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Moreover, any partition of Punjab would have inevitably divided the Sikhs into the two states. The British governors as well as the chief secretaries, who from 1945-47 were Indians, were warning that Punjab would explode into unprecedented violence if it was partitioned and pleaded for a power-sharing formula that could prevent its division.

Historically Punjab had excellent record of inter-communal relations as Sufi Islam, the Bhakti Movement of Hindus opposed to the caste system and the early Sikh Gurus (spiritual leaders) had over the centuries preached communal harmony. In the 20th century religious revivals took place, which instead of bringing Punjabis closer drove them away from each other on the basis of religious purity as compared to the folky forms of Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. Yet, from 1923 onwards when the Punjab Unionist Party, headed by Muslim leaders and supported by Hindus and Sikhs, was founded on shared Punjabi values and interests the three communities had managed to live in peace and harmony. Both the Muslim League and the Congress had no major following in Punjab before the 1940s.

Trouble started in Punjab during the 1945-46 election campaign. The Muslim League had to wrest Punjab away from the Punjab Unionist Party and that necessitated portraying it as an agent of anti-Islam forces. Consequently, ‘Islam in danger’ was launched as the battle cry, the Muslim League was projected as the saviour and Pakistan as the utopia where no exploitation would exist, moneylending would be abolished and a model Muslim society based on Islamic law would come into being. Pages 81-106 of my book The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed provide the details. Islamic slogans, of which the most famous, Pakistan ka nara kiya? La Illaha Illillah (What is the slogan of Pakistan? It is that there is no god but God), were used profusely. The pirs (custodians of Sufi shrines) and ulema (Muslim clerics) told the Muslims that voting for the Muslim League would be voting for the Prophet Muhammad; those Muslims who did not do so, their marriages would be annulled, they would be refused an Islamic burial, and so on. The Hindus and Sikhs were told that they would be tried under Islamic law and they would have to bring their cases to mosques. Governor Sir Bertrand Glancy noted on September 13, 1945, “Muslim Leaguers are doing what they can in the way of propaganda conducted on fanatical lines; religious leaders and religious buildings are being used freely in several places for advocating Pakistan and vilifying any who hold opposite view. Communal feel is, I fear, definitely deteriorating. Sikhs are getting definitely nervous about Pakistan, and I think there is no doubt that they will forcibly resist any attempt to include them in a Muslim Raj” (page 84).

He noted on February 2, just days before the elections, “there seems little doubt that the Muslim League, thanks to the ruthless methods by which they have pursued their campaign of ‘Islam in danger’ will considerably increase the number of their seats and unionist representatives will correspondingly decrease” (page 88). The Muslim League swept the reserved Muslim seats. It won 73 seats (later increased to 75) out of 86. Its tally, however, fell short by at least 10 to form the government in the 175-member Punjab Assembly. The Congress swept the general vote getting 50 seats, and the Sikh Panthic parties secured 23 reserved for the Sikhs. The Unionists were reduced to a rump of 18. The rest were reserved seats for the scheduled castes, Christians and Anglo-Indians. A coalition government comprising the Punjab Unionist Party, the Punjab Congress and the Panthic Parties was formed with Khizr Hayat Tiwana as premier. The Muslim League felt deprived of the chance to form the government but it could not produce evidence that it enjoyed a majority in the Punjab Assembly.

Meanwhile, violence elsewhere in India increased sharply in 1946. The Muslim League ordered ‘Direct Action’ or mass agitation in Calcutta in August 1946. It resulted in thousands of deaths. The violence was unleashed by Muslim groups but later the Hindus and Sikhs struck back with equal savagery. Thousands of people were killed. Violence then spread to Bihar where the provincial Congress government was involved in a butchery of Muslims.

Punjab too was heading towards a confrontation and Chief Secretary Akhtar Hussain reported that “private communal armies” were being recruited. In December 1946, the Sikhs and Hindus of Hazara district, NWFP, were subjected to unprecedented savagery of Muslim mobs. Thousands fled to Punjab, some got refuge in Rawalpindi, but most went eastwards where Sikhs were in substantial numbers. On January 24, Tiwana ordered police raids on the headquarters of the Punjab Muslim League and the RSS. Muslim League leaders who resisted were arrested. It triggered a mass movement of defiance of authority by Muslim League agitators. Every day Muslims courted arrest and the jails were filled with them. Slogan mongering against Tiwana was conducted in the filthiest of Punjabi abuses and taunts. The agitation also became increasingly violent. Glancy’s successor, Governor Sir Evan Jenkins noted in his report dated February 28, “The Sikhs have been profoundly moved by the obvious desire of the Muslims to seize Punjab for themselves and would not permit them to do so. The agitation has shown Pakistan in all its nakedness and was a fair example of the kind of treatment that the minorities, including the Sikhs, might expect from Muslim extremists”(Page 124). Chief Secretary Akhtar Hussain wrote on March 4, 1947, when direct action was over and an uneasy peace had been established, “Muslims in their stupidity disgraced Sikhs, singled out Sikh policemen for their attacks and brutally murdered a Sikh constable. The effect of this was grave in the extreme and, as has been stated, communal strife between Sikhs and Muslims was almost inevitable if the League movement of defiance had continued” (page 125).

On February 20, 1947, the British government had announced the transfer of power to Indians by June 1948. Although the Muslim League agitation ended on February 26 and all Muslim League detainees released, Premier Tiwana had lost heart because British rule would soon end. He therefore resigned on March 2, 1947, precipitating an acute political crisis. On March 3, Master Tara Singh famously flashed his kirpan (sword) outside the Punjab Assembly, calling for the destruction of the Pakistan idea. That evening, Hindu and Sikh leaders gathered in Lahore and made even more extremist speeches (pages 128-135).

Next day Hindu-Sikh protestors and Muslims clashed in Lahore, the capital of undivided Punjab. The same day in the evening, Sikhs and Muslims clashed in nearby Amritsar. On March 5, violence spread to Multan in south-western Punjab and Rawalpindi in north-western. The same day, Governor Jenkins imposed governor’s rule. Punjab remained under governor’s rule until power was transferred to Indian and Pakistani Punjab administrations on August 15, 1947.

In Multan, the fight was uneven from the first day. There were very few Sikhs and the Hindu minority was also heavily outnumbered. Almost all casualties were those of Hindus and a few Sikhs. The gruesome murder of Seth Kalyan Das, a highly respected gentleman, whom all communities respected, is narrated by old-timer Ataullah Malik (pages 160-161).

In Rawalpindi, Hindu-Sikhs and Muslims clashed on March 5. In the evening of March 6, Muslim mobs in the thousands headed towards Sikh villages in Rawalpindi, Attock and Jhelum districts. Until March 13, they had a free hand to kill, burn, rape, and forcibly convert mainly Sikhs but also Hindus. I have given eyewitness testimony of Muslims, and a Sikh survivor from Thamali, interviewing him in Kapurthala city in the Indian East Punjab (pages 165-193). The pictures of the interviewees are also given.

According to British sources, some 2,000 people were killed in the carnage in the three rural districts. The Sikhs claim 7,000 dead. Jinnah, the leader of the Muslim League and founder of Pakistan, committed a major blunder when he did not issue any condemnation of those atrocities. An exodus of Sikhs took place in the thousands to the eastern districts and Sikh princely states from Rawalpindi, where they narrated their woes, and set up the nucleus of a revenge movement.

The Sikh leaders had been working on some Sikh princes to convince them to try establishing a Sikh State. If India could be partitioned for two nations based on religion, then why could it not into three for the Sikh nation as well? To achieve that, a compact Sikh majority was needed and that could be achieved only by expelling nearly six million Muslims from East Punjab. However, 1947 was too early for such a bid; it emerged in the 1980s as the Khalistan movement.

By May 1947, it dawned upon Jinnah that the Sikhs were not going to join Pakistan. For a while he argued that Punjabis and Bengalis shared a common culture and identity. However, since it contradicted his basic stand that Hindus and Muslims were separate nations who did not share any national character, the discovery that Punjabis (Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs) and Bengalis (Hindus and Muslims) shared the same culture was the weakest argument in his brief for the Two-Nation Theory. He then demanded that a corridor should be provided through more than 1,000 miles of Indian territory to connect East and West Pakistan!

Nevertheless, Viceroy Mountbatten brokered talks between Jinnah and the Sikhs during May 14-16 with a view to keeping the Punjab united. Jinnah offered very generous terms. Hardit Singh Malik who acted as spokesperson of the Sikhs reported the following concluding remarks:

“This put us in an awkward position. We were determined not to accept Pakistan under any circumstances and here was a Muslim leader offering us everything. What to do? Then I had an inspiration and I said, ‘Mr Jinnah, you are being very generous. But, supposing, God forbid, you are no longer there when the time comes to implement your promises?’ His reply was astounding…He said, ‘My friend, my word in Pakistan will be like the word of God. No one will go back on it.’ There was nothing to be said after this and the meeting ended” (page 213).

Meanwhile, the British military had on May 12, 1947 come round to the view that if Pakistan was created it would be good for their interests in South Asia and the Persian Gulf. On page 209, I have quoted verbatim the memorandum the British heads of the three branches of the armed forces and Field Marshal Montgomery prepared in support of the creation of Pakistan.

In any event, on June 3, 1947, the British government announced the Partition Plan. It brought forward the transfer of power date to India and Pakistan to mid-August 1947. On June 23, the Punjab Assembly voted in favour of partitioning Punjab. It was followed by the deliberations of the Punjab Boundary Commission, which culminated in the Radcliffe Award of August 13, which was made public on August 17. In June, the Hindu-Sikh locality of Shahalmi in Lahore was set ablaze. I traced one of the culprits whose confession is given in detail on pages 237-243. Until July, the East Punjab Muslims were not attacked. On August 17, when the Radcliffe Award became public, all hell broke loose on the East Punjab Muslims. In India, scores of studies exist on the suffering of Hindus and Sikhs in what became West Punjab. The fact is that more Muslims were killed in East Punjab than Hindus and Sikhs combined in West Punjab. 500,000-800,000 Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs lost their lives altogether. The macabre dance of death that took place in western Punjab until June 1947 was now played out in East Punjab more pitilessly and on a much grander scale.

The evidence is based on heart-wrenching interviews I conducted over a period of 15 years with many Muslims. Pages 411-525 highlight the slaughter of Muslims. The book also documents cases of extreme magnificence as Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs saved lives across the communal divide, sometimes of complete strangers and at great risk to their own lives. Humanity was debased in 1947 but not without outstanding examples of sublimation as well.

At the end of the day, 10 million Punjabis had been driven away from their ancestral abodes: it is the greatest forced migration in modern history. Except for the tiny Malerkotla State, Indian East Punjab was emptied of all Muslims; equally, from the Pakistani West Punjab, Hindus and Sikhs were driven out to the last man almost.

I have developed a theory of ethnic cleansing, which is tested in the Punjab case. It has also served as the theoretical framework to explain and analyse the events that transpired in Punjab in 1947. The theory can be usefully employed to analyse the events of ex-Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iran and other such cases. Each case has its unique characteristics but they also share some essential common features. Among them the main are the end of a particular type of state system without a power-sharing formula being agreed among apprehensive communities suffering from great anxiety about an uncertain future. When state functionaries assume partisan roles ethnic cleansing and genocide can take place as organized force and terror can be used against the enemy groups.

by Ishtiaq Ahmed

The writer has a PhD from Stockholm University. He is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University. He is also Honorary Senior Fellow of the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. His latest publication is: The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed: Unravelling the 1947 Tragedy through Secret British Reports and First-Person Accounts (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2012; New Delhi: Rupa Books, 2011). He can be reached at: billumian@gmail.com

Faith and Hope by Uzma Rehman

Outer courtyard of a shrine in Bhit Shah, Sindh province of Pakistan where an 18th Century poet-saint Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai is buried. The shrine is visited by thousands of people on daily basis.

“I am distressed, anxious and befallen. I cannot rest till I find my son again. Please do something. Please pray. Please help.” These were words uttered by Hameeda, a middle-aged tall brown-skinned lady clad in shalwar-qamis (Pakistani national dress) who arrived at Baba Ji’s (a revered man; a spiritual guide) Astana Paak in a city in southern Punjab, Pakistan.  Astana Pak is a private lodge which receives guests and devotees from various walks of life who visit in devotion for a sanctified person. She was talking to Amma-Apa, the lady of the house, opening her heart out to her. Amidst crying and sobbing, she narrated the story of the day. That morning, her 12 year old son, who mentally lags behind children of his age, asked his mother for permission to go to the shop around the corner of the street, not too far from his home as he wanted to buy himself cheeji (a local expression used by children for sweets and other things that children like to munch on or chew). His mother gave him permission as usually he visits the shop, buys his sweets and then returns home not too long thereafter. Only that morning, he did not return home after a couple of hours. The shop keeper told her that her son had left a few hours ago after buying his sweets, indicating that he had been sitting on the donkey cart used by a man selling fruit. The shop keeper thought that the fruit seller would drop the child at home after giving him a short ride. Hearing this Hameeda was overwhelmed with anxiety imagining that perhaps the fruit seller had kidnapped her son. In desperation, she asked everyone in the street if they had seen her son. Some children playing in the street pointed to a direction where the fruit seller had taken his carriage. However, Hameeda did not find her son.

 So she ran to Astana Paak to ask for the help of Baba Ji.  Amma-Apa, the lady of the house, consoled her and told her not to lose heart. Yet Hameeda was so upset that she would neither drink nor eat anything. Amma-Apa then told Baba Ji about Hameeda’s story. Baba Ji said that Hameeda should remain calm, return home, and inform him later in the evening about what had happened during the rest of the day.  In the meantime he would pray for her. Thus, Hameeda, who came in crying her heart out for her son left consoled, her tears dried by some sympathetic lady residents and visitors at Astana Paak.

As always men and women gathered in the evening at Astana Pak to listen to Baba Ji’s teachings and the qawwali music[1] that he played on his stereo sound system. Among them were Hameeda and her 12-year old son. She was happy, content, and thankful now that her son had returned. Actually, the fruit seller with a donkey cart had taken Hameeda’s son for a ride and dropped him a few streets away from their home. Here some other boys from the neighborhood helped him find his way home.

This is one of the stories that one hears when one visits Astana Paak. Ordinary Pakistanis frequently face such challenges but they find courage, consolation and support from people around them to face these challenges. Families and friends do help by offering emotional or sometimes economic support. However, individuals such as Hameeda respect and revere a person whom they have accepted as their guru as the latter provides them with hope and positive expectations.

A local music band singing folkloric songs and saints’ poetry in a Pakistani shrine on the annual celebration.

The South Asian tradition of venerating saints (sant – Sanskrit/Hindi term used primarily among Hindus; Auliya Allah– Arabic term used among Muslims) and spiritual guides (gurus – local Hindi term used among Hindus and Sikhs; and murshid – Persian/Arabic/Urdu term) is found in all major religions—Hinduism, Islam, and Sikhism. People of diverse faiths contact persons that are considered sacred due to their spiritual merits, venerate them and ask for their guidance in their worldly as well as spiritual lives. These revered persons are known to have acquired, through inner struggles, spiritual exercises and sometimes long distance travels higher stages of spiritual advancement and enlightenment under the guidance and supervision of their spiritual guides, following which some of them are commanded to guide and help the suffering humanity. Since these saintly persons are considered to be closer to God, people turn to them for blessings and prayers for various objectives such as material prosperity, marriage, fertility, cure of illnesses, welfare of families, cattle, etc. A limited number of people also contact these enlightened persons for spiritual education and training. Whereas one finds persons with genuine saintly qualities in South Asia, one also runs across fake and self-proclaimed saints who earn their living by extracting money from gullible devotees in turn for ‘unqualified’ prayers and blessings[2].

Parallel to this tradition of revered saintly persons is the practice of venerating the deceased saints in South Asia. South Asian landscape is dotted with thousands of tombs of saints and shrines. Thousands of people of diverse religious backgrounds visit these shrines on daily basis. Some major shrines where Muslim saints have been buried are visited by Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Muslim devotees alike.

Uzma Rehman has a Ph.D. from the Department of History of Religions, Institute for Regional and Crosscultural Studies, University of Copenhagen.

[1] Qawwali music is sung by groups of singers with a lead artist singing in Punjabi, Urdu and Persian about themes such as praise for Prophet Muhammad, saints and one’s spiritual guide.

[2]For an interesting reference on India’s tradition of gurus, faqirs and spiritual masters, see A Secret Search in India (1935) by Paul Brunton.

Osama bin Laden og Ayman al-Zawahiri i Afghanistan og Pakistan

De to terrorister, som jeg vil fokusere på, er Osama bin Laden (født 10. Marts 1957 i Jiddah i Saudi Arabien, død 2. maj 2011) og i mindre omfang Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (født 19. Juni 1951 i Cairo i Egypten).

Fælles for disse to terrorister er, at de har opholdt sig meget længe uden for deres hjemlande. Osama bin Ladens spin på dette faktum er en sammenligning af hans eget liv med profetens. Ligesom Muhammad pendulerede mellem Mekka og Medina under sit hijra, har bin Laden været i eksil i Afghanistan (Bergen s. 161). Profeten endte med at opnå politisk kontrol over sin hjemegn. Bin Laden har endnu ikke opnået dette, men han har forsøgt at gøre Muhammad kunststykket efter.

Med moderne øjne ligner bin Ladens og al-Zawahiris rejsevirksomhed turistens eller globetrotterens i og med at de frivilligt har rejst til fremmede lande på flere længere rejser. Ligesom nogle turister tillægger deres rejser et altruistisk formål kan bin Ladens og al-Zawahiris tidlige ophold i Pakistan blandt afghanske flygtninge karakteriseres som en solidaritetsrejse. Det var gennem deres udviklings- og rehabiliteringsarbejde, hvor bin Laden bidrog som organisator og pengemand og Dr. Al-Zawahiri arbejdede som anæstesi læge, at de opbyggede den hird af kamptropper, som senere blev al Qaida. Deres altruistiske rejse til et sted i det fremmede udmøntede sig altså til en verdensomspændende kamp. Fra 2001 har de prominente arabiske gæster udgjort en stadig større risiko for deres værter i Afghanistan og Pakistan. Bin Laden og al-Zawahiri har hver en FBI dusør på 25 millioner dollar på deres hoved.

At yde statsligt eller ”privat asyl” til eftersøgte personer er ikke uproblematisk. ”Asyl til alle” stod der malet på nogle mindre installationer foran DR byen i København, da jeg cyklede forbi den 6. September. Nogle gæster på længerevarende tålt ophold – som Karl Marx i London – er måske fredelige i deres daglige færden på kort sigt. Opfordringen til at give ”asyl til alle” er måske endnu mere problematisk når princippet udstrækkes til personer som Bin Laden og Zawahiri er fordring er måske mindre klog i tilfældet bin Laden og Zawahiri.

I dette paper forsøger jeg at  angribe disse spørgsmål i klassiske Simmelske termer gennem et studie af forholdet mellem gæster og værter, som opstår, når de indfødte i et eller omfang inkorporerer fremmede, der kommer som turister, solidaritetsarbejdere, hellige krigere, guruer eller asylsøgere med henvisning til forfølgelse. Naturligvis er hverken Bin Laden og Zawahiri den gængse type turist eller udviklingsarbejder.  Alligevel vil jeg her gøre et forsøg på at anskue deres liv og levned i mere universelle og samtidigt ganske hverdagsagtige termer. Vi lever i standardiserings tidsalder, hvor teknologiske produkter og økonomiske processer vurderes ud fra fælles homogeniserede målestokke.[i] Hele kulturer og livsverdener holdes op imod hinanden og sammenlignes som man sammenligner æbler og pærer. Jellingestenen, Tingvellir, Geirangerfjorden, og det sydlige Öland er alle kulturhistoriske og naturhistoriske perler opført på Unesco’s standardiserede World Heritage liste. Så hvorfor ikke se på bin Ladens og Zawahiris liv og levned i skæret af turisternes eller udviklingsarbejdernes eller antropologernes? Ligesom antropologer forlod bin Laden og Zawahiri deres relativt sikre liv i storbyen for at slå sig ned i yderkanten af civilisationen for at bære vidne om forholdene dér og hermed lade omverdenen forstå dialektikken mellem center og periferi.


Osama bin Laden og al-Zawahiri har i de sidste mange år været utilgængelige for vestlige journalister og forskere. I marts 1997 interviewede journalisterne Peter Bergen og Peter Arnett og fotografen Peter Jouvenal Osama bin Laden i Afghanistan. Et foto af denne begivenhed findes i Peter Bergen’s The Osama bin Laden I Know med undertitlen An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader. I denne bog samler Bergen egne og andres indtryk af mennesket bin Laden til et kalejdoskopisk livsforløb. Det er bemærkelsesværdigt at meget få afghanere har bidraget til bogen. Den pakistanske journalist Hamid Mir giver sit besyv med. Han er den eneste fritstående journalist, der har interviewet bin Laden efter 11. September. Derudover stammer de repræsentationer af bin Laden, som Bergen viderebringer, mest fra saudier, egyptere og andre arabere, samt fra enkelte vesterlændinge. Billedet af bin Laden tegnes således ikke af de folk, som han har boet iblandt i mange år nemlig afghanerne og pakistanerne. Disse subalterne folk, hvis liv er påvirket af deres arabiske gæster, høres næppe i Bergens bog.

Lawrence Wrights monumentale bog Al Qaida. Vejen til 11. September er ligesom Bergens journalistisk, men Wright formår på en sjælden måde at flette de utallige oplysninger, som han baserer sin bog på, sammen til én lang fortælling om de skæbner, der krydsedes 11. September 2001. Desuden har Wright i et par artikler i The New Yorker formået at give et interessant indblik i Zawahiris liv og levned.

Til trods for at Osama bin Laden og al-Zawahiri har været utilgængelige i en årrække har de ikke været tavse. Deres foretrukne kommunikationsmåde har været videoer produceret af al Qaidas eget propagandaapparat al-Sahab (Skyerne.)[ii] Jeg vil kun i begrænset omfang henvise direkte til disse produktioner. I det følgende vil jeg især benytte Bergen og Wright som kilder.

Fremmede på længerevarende feltarbejde

Antropologiens adelsmærke siges at være det længerevarende feltarbejde. Nu omstunder har antropologer ikke længer tid til unødigt at forlænge afstanden mellem tanke og faktura, men idealet blandt rigtige antropologer er stadig at bo i mindst ét år blandt de fremmede i det fremmede. Det har Zawahiri og bin Laden også gjort. Ligesom antropologer og andre på længevarende feltarbejde har de dermed fået den rolle, som den tyske sociolog Georg Simmel benævnte ”strangers”:

The stranger is thus being discussed here, not in the sense often touched upon in the past, as the wanderer who comes today and goes tomorrow, but rather as the person who comes today and stays tomorrow. He is, so to speak, the potential wanderer: although he has not moved on, he has not quite overcome the freedom of coming and going. He is fixed within a particular spatial group, or within a group whose boundaries are similar to spatial boundaries. But his position in this group is determined, essentially, by the fact that he has not belonged to it from the beginning, that he imports qualities into it, which do not and cannot stem from the group itself (Simmel).

Den fremmede var i Simmels analyse en ”objektiv” person, fordi vedkommende kunne bevare en vis distance. Den fremmede har ofte vundet folks tillid, men han er også blevet udsat for mistænksomhed: ”In uprisings of all sorts, the party attacked has claimed, from the beginning of things, that provocation has come from the outside, through emissaries and instigators” (Simmel).

Hvis lange ophold er mistænkelige i de lokales øjne, er lange fravær mistænksomme i hjemlandets øjne. Antropologer med lange fravær bag sig er ofte blevet beskyldt for at have ”gone native”, at have mistet deres oprindelige identitet. Længerevarende ophold i det fremmede sætter den fremmedes loyalitet over for sit oprindelige hjemland på en prøve. Både bin Laden og Zawahiri er kommet på kant med deres hjemlande. Zawahiri havde allerede været involveret i statsfjendtlige aktiviteter, før han kom til Pakistan for første gang. Bin Laden fik meget lang snor fra Saudi Arabien, som støttede hans projekter, men den Saudiske kongefamilie (som havde gjort bin Ladens far hovedrig) endte med at fratage Osama hans statsborgerskab i 1994 ligesom hans familie samme år (eller først efter 11. September?) slog hånden af ham. På trods af at den fremmede med års udlændighed bag sig kan opnå en privilegeret ”objektiv” position, ses vedkommende ofte på med blandede følelser i både sine gamle og sine nye omgivelser.

Efter Sovjetunionens invasion i Afghanistan i 1979 øgedes antallet af signifikante udlændinge i Afghanistan. Afghanerne blev stillet over for et valg mellem de fremmede. Nogle afghanere allierede sig med Sovjetunionen; andre førte modstandskamp i samarbejde med både Vesten, Pakistan og den øvrige muslimske verden. Ifølge Bergen var en af årsagerne til at bin Laden besluttede at danne egne arabiske enheder i stedet for at lade frivillige indsluse i afghanske enheder, at bin Laden ville forhindre, at de arabiske frivillige blev inddraget i indre afghanske stridigheder eller ”political games” (Bergen, s. 29). Strategien må siges at være mislykkedes: Saudierne og de fleste andre arabere bibeholdt ganske vist en grad af etnisk og social eksklusivitet, men de mistede deres ”objektivitet” og blev inddraget i afghanske modsætninger i den grad, at der opstod et ”Great Game” om loyalitet og indflydelse. Bergen fremhæver to akser: Palæstinenseren Abdullah Azzam, som blev bin Ladens guru, da han først kom til Pakistan, opnåede tidligt en forståelse med den afghanske krigsherre Ahmad Shah Massoud. Zawahiri derimod skabte en tæt forbindelse til krigsherren Gulbuddin Hekhmatyar. Azzam blev myrdet i 1989. Bergen er tilbøjelig til at tro, at Hekhmatyar og Zawahiri lå bag mordet på Azzam (Bergen, s. 93). Hekhmatyar og Massoud forblev fjender indtil Massoud blev dræbt af al Qaida udsendinge 9. September 2001. Forløbet viser at The Great Game om magten over Afghanistan startede allerede kort tid efter at de fremmede var ankommet til regionen, og at spillet delte såvel de lokale som de fremmede. De fremmede kunne ikke oparbejde den neutralitet, som udefrakommende, ifølge Simmel, kan erhverve sig.

Deltager-observation: Deltagelse

Antropologers foretrukne arbejdsmetode er kendt under navnet deltager-observation og bygger på idéen om at man bedst lærer at forstå et samfund ved at indlogere sig tæt på de lokale for at kunne deltage i dagligdagen. De færreste antropologer er vant til at arbejde i marken og det er derfor ofte begrænset hvad de i praksis får udrettet som deltagere (Ovesen 1988: 93). Som terrorist og guerilla-soldat er der desuden naturlige grænser for i hvor høj grad man kan tillade sig at deltage i omgivelsernes daglige aktiviteter. På den anden side er det ifølge Mao kendetegnende for den effektive guerillaenhed, at den oppebærer en høj grad af kontakt med det omgivende værtssamfund: ”the guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea” eller i en anden oversættelse ”The people are like water and the army is like fish” (Mao i Aspects of China’s Anti-Japanese Struggle fra 1948).

Bin Laden var blandt de første arabere, som kom til Pakistan for at hjælpe afghanske flygtninge efter Sovjetunionen gik ind i Afghanistan i julen 1979. Flere tusinde arabere fulgte efter, men på et givet tidspunkt var det kun nogle få hundrede til stede. De fleste arbejdede som nødhjælpsarbejdere (Bergen s 63). Kun et mindretal var soldater. Nogle var på meget korte ophold, hvad en saudisk journalist kaldte ”Jihad vacation” (Bergen s. 41), hvor mere eller mindre velbemidlede entreprenante arabere valgte at tilbringe en kortere periode i farlige omgivelser ligesom turister, der gerne vil være de første på et eftertragtet sted før stedet bliver ødelagt af masseturisme (jf. Damm 1995).

Moderne hensynsfuld eller bæredygtig turisme søger at regulere tilstrømningen og afstrømningen, så den er i overensstemmelse med de lokale forhold. Indtil han blev dræbt i 1989 gjorde Abdullah Azzam et stort arbejde med at kanalisere arabere og andre ind i systemet via et kontor i Peshawar kaldet Services Offices (Bergen s. 92). Som helhed må man dog nok sige, at trods Azzams og bin Ladens organisatoriske evner har mujahideen-markedet været et ret dårligt reguleret marked. Jeg husker selv en dag i begyndelsen af 1992, hvor jeg skulle lave et opkald fra hovedpostkontoret i Peshawar i Pakistan. Postkontoret var fuldt af radikale ”brødre”, der ringede hid og did for at få kontakt med andre ”brødre”, som ofte ikke anede hvem de talte med – et problem der forstærkedes af at alle dengang som nu opererede under en række pseudonymer. Der var allokerings-problemer i mujahideen-sektoren. Det er måske ikke usædvanligt, når folk bevæger sig langt væk hjemmefra. Når studerende tager på feltarbejde ender de oftest et sted, hvor de kan skaffe kontakter gennem deres netværker (deres lærere eller deres medstuderende eller deres arbejdspladser) snarere end et sted tilsagt af faglige overvejelser.

Det har oftest været eksterne faktorer, som har nedjusteret antallet af frivillige og hellige krigere. Iran har aldrig været opmarchland for hellige krigere på samme måde som Pakistan. I lang tid var der stort set fri passage i Pakistan, men efter 11. September begyndte Pakistan at tynde ud i antallet af fremmede krigere. I FATA ledte Pakistans øgede pres på al Qaida efter 2001 til sammenstød mellem pashtuner indbyrdes om hvor lange veksler usbekere og andre skulle kunne trække på gæstevenskabet og den fælles kamp mod de vantro.


Hvad angår indkvarteringsforhold for de fremmede lader der til at have været tre hovedformer:

Gæstehuse i byer for de nyligt ankomne eller etablerede islamister under udnyttelse af byernes relative anonymitet[iii]

Pensionatslignende former hvor lokale stormænd og krigsherrer – tilskyndet af en kulturel fordring om grænseløs gæstfrihed – tillader udenlandske krigere at bo, arbejde og måske endog at indgå ægteskab lokalt under deres beskyttelse, ofte formodentlig mod pekuniære eller militære modydelser

Befæstede militærlejre i mere eller mindre afsidesliggende områder ofte udelukkende beboet af arabiske krigere

De tre typer kan kombineres: For så vidt som privatpersoner tilbyder hellige krigere  gratis logi, således som Zawahiri har opfordret til, sparer organisationen penge, der ellers skulle have brugt på at leje eller købe egnede opholdssteder.[iv] Hvorom alt er muliggør to af disse bosættelsesformer en grad af deltagelse i det omgivende samfund: Gæstehus-logerende og stormands-gæster kan i visse tilfælde bevæge sig omkring og dermed deltage i det omgivende samfundsliv. Alligevel har de færreste fremmede krigere lært sig pakistanske eller afghanske sprog. Dette gælder også al Qaidas ledere. I sin tale til de pakistanske folk i august 2008 medgiver Zawahiri, at han ikke har lært det charmerende sprog Urdu trods sine mange års ophold i området. Det må have gjort det svært for ham at kommunikere med afghanere og pakistanere, som i reglen ikke forstår hverken talt eller skrevet arabisk. For at nå ud til pakistanerne talte Zawahiri engelsk, hvilket han beklagede. Man må dog lade Zawahiri, at han allerede tidligt nærmere sig afghanerne ved at bære afghansk klædedragt. De udenlandske krigere, som har været flittigst ti at lær lokale sprog er måske usbekerne i FATA, hvoraf mange siges at have lært sig pashtoo. Dette kan hænge sammen med at de har haft tættere relationer til deres værter igennem længere tid.

Udenlandske krigere i lejre kan beskrives som rene ”ex-pat kolonier”. Disse lejre har formodentlig været ydmyge på trods af at bin Laden i tråd med sin entreprenør-baggrund har brugt mange penge på at udbygge infrastrukturen. I kapitel 3 ”From Donor to Holy Warrior” nævner Bergen lejren nær landsbyen Jaji, som var bin Ladens første base i det østlige Afghanistan oprettet 1986-7 (altså et par år før al Qaida blev dannet) kun ti mil fra grænsen til Pakistan. Lejren kaldtes al Masada, Løvernes Hule. Sammenlignet med de ca. 170.000-250.00 afghaneres, som selv bekæmpede Sovjetunionens soldater, var de arabiske soldaters indsats symbolsk, men eftersom bin Laden regnede de arabiske soldater for mere modige, fordi de bevidst søgte martyriet, regnede han en araber for mere værd på slagmarken end en afghaner. Løvernes Hule var således et tidligt eksempel på en ren arabisk lejr.

Hvor Azzam, ifølge Bergen, ville sprede araberne, ville bin Laden at de skulle danne egne enheder. Allerede i 1984-85 var (nogle i) Services Office bevidst om at etablere særskilte gæstehuse for arabere. Bergen citerer algiereren Boudejema Bounoua for at have sagt:

”We have founded this bureau to gather the Arabs and to send them inside Afghanistan instead of going to the guesthouse of [someone like Afghan leader Gulbuddin] Hekmatyar. It’s better to save them from the political games of Afghans. So we need to stay in separate guesthouses. We are here as servants. We are proud to serve the boots of the mujahideen inside Afghanistan. We are not here to guide them, to tell them what to do. We are here to serve them, to liberale their land”. (Bergen p. 29).

I tiden omkring det amerikanske angreb på Tohra Bohra cirkulerede i blandt andet den danske presse historier om befæstede luksuriøse hulebyggerier dybt i bjergets indre. Bergens portræt af Jaji og senere lejre underbygger ikke disse rapporter om luksus. I den årrække, hvor Taliban var ved magten i det meste af Afghanistan, levede bin Laden og hans nærmeste dog et noget mere komfortabelt og sikkert liv som Mullah Omars gæster i Kandahar. Bergen (?) refererer således et besøg aflagt af en gæst, som var i stand til at gå helt ind i bin Ladens gemakker, fordi der ikke var nogen hjemme. Mens han boede i Kandahar var Bin Laden i stand til at tage på udflugter for at skyde fugle eller han kunne tage familien med på picnic, hvor konerne og børnene fik mulighed for at lave lidt ”simple physical exercises” (Bergen, s. 266). Hvilken form for gymnastik de lavede melder Bergen ikke noget om, men eftersom bin Laden havde gået i en fin skole kan man formode, at han havde lært almindelig gymnastik dér. Dertil kom at bin Laden på udflugterne oplærte sine koner i brugen af skydevåben.

Bergens beskrivelser tegner et billede af en ret så kedelig hverdag udlevet i afsondring fra det omgivende samfund. De TV-billedsekvenser vi alle har set, hvor bin Laden ses omgivet af sine skydegale mænd, er i virkeligheden undtagelser. Interviews med vestlige journalister har været få og kortvarige og mit nedtryk er, at bin Laden og Zawahiri heller ikke har frekventeret al-Sahah studiet særligt ofte. Bergen kalkulerer, at bin Laden og Zawahiri har produceret et lydbånd eller videotape hver 6. uge efter 11. September (Bergen, s. 377). Mit gæt er, at de to topterrorister oftest har haft en ret indholdsløs dagligdag med ret få møder, men dog afbrudt af relativt hyppige besøg af beundrere. De to ledere har i hvert fald ikke været gjort til genstand for en større offentlig daglig kult med lange taler og parader. Lederne er i stedet blevet projiceret enten via de trykte og elektroniske medier eller gennem personlige møder. En undtagelse var Osamas søns bryllup, hvor 4-500 gæster (de fleste fra al Qaida og ikke fra Taliban) var inviteret til Kandahar i begyndelsen af 2001. Bin Ladens bidrag til festen for sønnen Muhammad var et lille digt, som næppe vil sikre ham en plads i den orientalske poesis annaler (Bergen, s. 256). Man kan indvende mod denne argumentation, at bin Laden nødvendigvis afstår fra offentlige fremtrædener af sikkerhedshensyn. Det medgiver jeg, men Tv-produktioner er i sig selv også en sikkerhedsrisiko. Bergen er af den opfattelse, at det bedste spor til bin Laden er al-Jazeeras kontor i Pakistan (Bergen, s. 377).

Observation og teori

Flere af de ”tidligt-moderne” muslimske erobrere af al-Hind var gode observatører. Mest berømte var stormogulerne. Dynastiets fremtrædende mænd førte detaljerede dagbøger, hvori de beskrev flora og fauna og meget andet i deres nye omgivelser. Senere britiske erobrere og koloniembedsmænd var banebrydende etnografer, historikere og naturhistorikere. Nutidens arabiske gæster i regionen har indtil videre ikke udvist et lignende talent. Jeg vil hævde, at den stive form for Islam, de har bragt med sig, står i vejen for både observation af og teoridannelse om omgivelserne. Dertil kan man indvende at det eneste form for observation og teori, som militære ledere kan forventes at befatte sig med, er viden direkte relateret til krig og terror og at de arabiske gæster har været innovative på dette område.[v] Ikke desto mindre vil jeg argumentere for, at de teorier eller verdensbilleder, som bin Laden og Zawahiri tog med sig i felten, har bidraget til at befæste deres teoretisk fattigdom selv i de sydasiatiske omgivelser, som kunne give anledning til eftertanke.

Rationaliseringen (forstået i Webers forstand forstået som de måder systematisk tænkning i får samfundet til at rykke fremad) af Islam er ikke særlig vellykket på trods af en stor indsats for at udforme religionen til en konsistent samling påbud og forbud. Zawahiri og bin Laden har af og til forsøgt at underbygge deres aktioner med fatwaer udstedt af religiøse autoriteter for derved at skabe et konsistent handlingsgrundlag, men sådanne blåstemplinger oftest har de udstedt deres egne fatwaer. At gængse autoriteter inden for religionen ofte ikke støtter al Qaida, fortolkes af al Qaida som et udtryk for at disse autoriteter er korrupte. Som det ofte er tilfældet i Islam ender intern debat derfor ofte i gensidige beskyldninger om at modparten ikke er muslim, men en fredløs frafalden (Bergen, s. 74). Denne teoretiske dead-end har medvirket til at isolere al Qaida.

Zawahiri er ellers rundet af en veluddannet familie. Hans slægt tæller en lang række læger og flere skolede teologer. Zawahiri begyndte sin revolutionære karriere i sit hjemland, men tog ligesom bin Laden tidligt til Pakistan. Zawahiri og hans bror Mohammad var tilknyttet gruppen Al Jihad. Da de begyndte at rekruttere deres landsmænd til den afghanske jihad kom de hurtigt på kollisionskurs med ægyptere fra den Islamiske Gruppe (Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya):

Before long, representatives of the Islamic Group appeared on the scene, and once again the old rivalry flared up. Osama Rushdi, who had known Zawahiri in prison, told me that he was shocked by the changes he found in him. In Egypt, Zawahiri had struck him as polite and modest. “Now he was very antagonistic toward others,” Rushdi recalled. “He talked badly about the other groups and wrote books against them. In discussions, he started to take things in a weird way. He would have strong opinions without any sense of logic.” (Wright 2002)

Zawahiri har som nævnt skrevet to bøger. Disse er begge nedslag i den standende debat om den hellige krigs principper. Hans anden bog blev skrevet for at gendrive den dybdeborende kritik af Zawahiri og af al Qaida, som Dr Fadl (egentlig Imam al-Sharif) havde fremført. De to kendte hinanden fra medicin-studiet i Cairo og de havde arbejdet sammen i Peshawar i Røde Halvmåne efter begge at have været involveret i terrorisme i Ægypten. Wright skriver:

Fadl held a low opinion of Zawahiri’s abilities as a surgeon. “He asked me to stand with him and teach him how to perform operations,” Fadl told Al Hayat. “I taught him until he could perform them on his own. Were it not for that, he would have been exposed, as he had contracted for a job for which he was unqualified.”

In the mid-eighties, Fadl became Al Jihad’s emir, or chief. (Fadl told Al Hayat that this was untrue, saying that his role was merely one of offering “Sharia guidance.”) Zawahiri, whose reputation had been stained by his prison confessions [efter mordet på Sadat havde Zawahiri under tortur og manipulation forrådt en af de eftersøgt], was left to handle tactical operations. He had to defer to Fadl’s superior learning in Islamic jurisprudence. The jihadis who came to Peshawar revered Fadl for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Koran and the Hadith—the sayings of the Prophet (Wright 2008a).

I 1988 udgav Fadl The Essential Guide for Preparation en håndbog i jihad, som blev flittigt brugt af al Qaida. Argumentet heri lød:

”The “Guide” begins with the premise that jihad is the natural state of Islam. Muslims must always be in conflict with nonbelievers, Fadl asserts, resorting to peace only in moments of abject weakness. Because jihad is, above all, a religious exercise, there are divine rewards to be gained. He who gives money for jihad will be compensated in Heaven, but not as much as the person who acts. The greatest prize goes to the martyr. Every able-bodied believer is obligated to engage in jihad, since most Muslim countries are ruled by infidels who must be forcibly removed, in order to bring about an Islamic state. “The way to bring an end to the rulers’ unbelief is armed rebellion,” the “Guide” states” (Wright 2008a).

I 1994 begik Fadl The Compendium of the Pursuit of Divine Knowledge, som også er en opfordring til jihad mod snart sagt alle afvigere, herunder muslimer som ekskommunikeres af andre muslimer med henvisning til doktrinen om takfir (Wright 2008a). Zawahiri var yderst tilfreds med denne bog, men han redigerede i den uden forfatterens tilladelse. Blandt andet ændrede han titlen til Guide to the Path of Righteousness for Jihad and Belief og fjernede Fadls kritik af den Islamiske Gruppe, fordi Zawahiri på det tidspunkt var ved at tilnærme sig gruppen. Fadl afslørede Zawahiris manipulationer og fjendskabet mod dem forøgedes til højder, som er akademikere værdigt: ”Zawahiri and Fadl have not spoken since, but their war of words was only beginning”.

I de følgende år tog stadig flere gamle ægyptiske jihadister afstand fra jihad, dels af pragmatiske runde – de ville alligevel ikke vinde – dels af ud fra mere etiske overvejelser. Lange fængselsstraffe og lange debatter i fængslerne bidrog til denne proces. 11. September satte yderligere skub i disse overvejelser, som udmundede i bekendelser, hvor jihadister (som e.g. Karam Zuhdy, en Islamic Group leder) tog afstand fra deres fortid: ”Zuhdy publicly apologized to the Egyptian people for the Islamic Group’s violent deeds, beginning with the murder of Sadat, whom he called a martyr” (Wright 2002).

Fadl selv blev efter 11. September anholdt i Yemen og overflyttet til et ægyptisk fængsel, hvor han stadig befinder sig. Herfra har han fra 2007 udgivet en række revisionistiske artikler startende med “Rationalizing Jihad in Egypt and the World” som udkom på 10-års dagen for massakren på turister i Luxor. Hermed følger Wrights lange opsummering af Fadls argument:

The premise that opens “Rationalizing Jihad” is “There is nothing that invokes the anger of God and His wrath like the unwarranted spilling of blood and wrecking of property.” Fadl then establishes a new set of rules for jihad, which essentially define most forms of terrorism as illegal under Islamic law and restrict the possibility of holy war to extremely rare circumstances. His argument may seem arcane, even to most Muslims, but to men who had risked their lives in order to carry out what they saw as the authentic precepts of their religion, every word assaulted their world view and brought into question their own chances for salvation.

In order to declare jihad, Fadl writes, certain requirements must be observed. One must have a place of refuge. There should be adequate financial resources to wage the campaign. Fadl castigates Muslims who resort to theft or kidnapping to finance jihad: “There is no such thing in Islam as ends justifying the means.” Family members must be provided for. “There are those who strike and then escape, leaving their families, dependents, and other Muslims to suffer the consequences,” Fadl points out. “This is in no way religion or jihad. It is not manliness.” Finally, the enemy should be properly identified in order to prevent harm to innocents. “Those who have not followed these principles have committed the gravest of sins,” Fadl writes.

To wage jihad, one must first gain permission from one’s parents and creditors. The potential warrior also needs the blessing of a qualified imam or sheikh; he can’t simply respond to the summons of a charismatic leader acting in the name of Islam. “Oh, you young people, do not be deceived by the heroes of the Internet, the leaders of the microphones, who are launching statements inciting the youth while living under the protection of intelligence services, or of a tribe, or in a distant cave or under political asylum in an infidel country,” Fadl warns. “They have thrown many others before you into the infernos, graves, and prisons.”

Even if a person is fit and capable, jihad may not be required of him, Fadl says, pointing out that God also praises those who choose to isolate themselves from unbelievers rather than fight them. Nor is jihad required if the enemy is twice as powerful as the Muslims; in such an unequal contest, Fadl writes, “God permitted peace treaties and cease-fires with the infidels, either in exchange for money or without it—all of this in order to protect the Muslims, in contrast with those who push them into peril.” In what sounds like a deliberate swipe at Zawahiri, he remarks, “Those who have triggered clashes and pressed their brothers into unequal military confrontations are specialists neither in fatwas nor in military affairs. . . . Just as those who practice medicine without background should provide compensation for the damage they have done, the same goes for those who issue fatwas without being qualified to do so.”

Despite his previous call for jihad against unjust Muslim rulers, Fadl now says that such rulers can be fought only if they are unbelievers, and even then only to the extent that the battle will improve the situation of Muslims. Obviously, that has not been the case in Egypt or most other Islamic countries, where increased repression has been the usual result of armed insurgency. Fadl quotes the Prophet Muhammad advising Muslims to be patient with their flawed leaders: “Those who rebel against the Sultan shall die a pagan death.”

Fadl repeatedly emphasizes that it is forbidden to kill civilians—including Christians and Jews—unless they are actively attacking Muslims. “There is nothing in the Sharia about killing Jews and the Nazarenes, referred to by some as the Crusaders,” Fadl observes. “They are the neighbors of the Muslims . . . and being kind to one’s neighbors is a religious duty.” Indiscriminate bombing—“such as blowing up of hotels, buildings, and public transportation”—is not permitted, because innocents will surely die. “If vice is mixed with virtue, all becomes sinful,” he writes. “There is no legal reason for harming people in any way.” The prohibition against killing applies even to foreigners inside Muslim countries, since many of them may be Muslims. “You cannot decide who is a Muslim or who is an unbeliever or who should be killed based on the color of his skin or hair or the language he speaks or because he wears Western fashion,” Fadl writes. “These are not proper indications for who is a Muslim and who is not.” As for foreigners who are non-Muslims, they may have been invited into the country for work, which is a kind of treaty. What’s more, there are many Muslims living in foreign lands considered inimical to Islam, and yet those Muslims are treated fairly; therefore, Muslims should reciprocate in their own countries. To Muslims living in non-Islamic countries, Fadl sternly writes, “I say it is not honorable to reside with people—even if they were nonbelievers and not part of a treaty, if they gave you permission to enter their homes and live with them, and if they gave you security for yourself and your money, and if they gave you the opportunity to work or study, or they granted you political asylum with a decent life and other acts of kindness—and then betray them, through killing and destruction. This was not in the manners and practices of the Prophet.” ….

The most original argument in the book and the interview is Fadl’s assertion that the hijackers of 9/11 “betrayed the enemy,” because they had been given U.S. visas, which are a contract of protection. “The followers of bin Laden entered the United States with his knowledge, and on his orders double-crossed its population, killing and destroying,” Fadl continues. “The Prophet—God’s prayer and peace be upon him—said, ‘On the Day of Judgment, every double-crosser will have a banner up his anus proportionate to his treachery.’ ” (Wright 2008a)

Zahwahiris svar kom i form af et 200-sider langt ”brev” med titlen The Exoneration, Frikendelsen. Heri fremturer Zawahiri mod Islams mange indre og ydre fjender, men han kommer også ind på de argumenter Fadl rejser punkt for punkt:

To dispute Fadl’s assertion that Muslims living in non-Islamic countries are treated fairly, Zawahiri points out that in some Western countries Muslim girls are forbidden to wear hijab to school. Muslim men are prevented from marrying more than one wife, and from beating their wives, as allowed by some interpretations of Sharia. Muslims are barred from donating money to certain Islamic causes, although money is freely and openly raised for Israel. He cites the 2005 cartoon controversy in Denmark and the celebrity of the author Salman Rushdie as examples of Western countries exalting those who denigrate Islam. He says that some Western laws prohibiting anti-Semitic remarks would forbid Muslims to recite certain passages in the Koran dealing with the treachery of the Jews (Wright 2008).

Wright ender med at påpege hvad ham kalder Islams ”rotten intellectual bits and pieces”:

Zawahiri’s argument demonstrates why Islam is so vulnerable to radicalization. It is a religion that was born in conflict, and in its long history it has developed a reservoir of opinions and precedents that are supposed to govern the behavior of Muslims toward their enemies. Some of Zawahiri’s commentary may seem comically academic, as in this citation in support of the need for Muslims to prepare for jihad: “Imam Ahmad said: ‘We heard from Harun bin Ma’ruf, citing Abu Wahab, who quoted Amru bin al-Harith citing Abu Ali Tamamah bin Shafi that he heard Uqbah bin Amir saying, “I heard the Prophet say from the pulpit: ‘Against them make ready your strength.’ ” ’ Strength refers to shooting arrows and other projectiles from instruments of war.” And yet such proofs of the rightfulness of jihad, or taking captives, or slaughtering the enemy are easily found in the commentaries of scholars, the rulings of Sharia courts, the volumes of the Prophet’s sayings, and the Koran itself. Sheikh Ali Gomaa, the Egyptian Grand Mufti, has pointed out that literalism is often the prelude to extremism. “We must not oversimplify,” he told me. Crude interpretations of Islamic texts can lead men like Zawahiri to conclude that murder should be celebrated. They come to believe that religion is science.”

The War on Terror er måske ved at være slut i dens nuværende fase. The War on Error er ikke slut. Hvis Zawahiri er en teoretisk forarmet stivstikker kan det samme så siges om bin Laden eller har bin Laden nogle formidlende karaktertræk?

Bin Ladens formidlende karaktertræk?: Ydmyghed

Bin Ladens far var en meget succesfuld entreprenør. Han fik ca. 54 børn, hvoraf flere er veluddannede. Osama fuldførte ikke selv en længerevarende boglig uddannelse. I sine yngre år i Peshawar var han ret så tavs. Til gengæld giver Bergens kilder indtryk af, at bin Laden var i stand til at lytte. Han var ikke anmassende og han forsøgte ikke at overdøve andre: ”… he carried himself in a very low-key kind of way; he wasn’t a fire-breathing terrorist, he comported himself like a cleric”, bevidner Bergen baseret på sit møde med bin Laden i 1997 (Bergen s. 182). Netop derfor, mener jeg, har arabiske frivillige, som ønskede at indrullere sig i al Qaida, opsøgt ham i stort tal. En tunesisk ex-foldboldstjerne ved navn Nizar Trabelsi husker således, hvordan bin Laden småsnakkede med ham om hans familie og sine problemer, da Trabelsi fik foretræde (Bergen, s. 269-70). Bin Laden var tillige gavmild og afviste aldrig nogle selv når hans pengepung var ved at være tom, hvilket faktisk hændte (Bergen, s. 267, 56).[vi] Abdul Jandal ræsonnerede: ”I believe that God raised Osama bin Laden to a high status because despite his great wealth, he was very modest, and attached only to what rewards God would give him” (Bergen, s. 267). Bin Laden overbeviste eller forførte med andre ord potentielle rekrutter gennem sine talegaver og sit vindende væsen (Bergen, s. 265). Efter potentielle rekrutter var gået i nettet allokerede bin Laden dem så til de sine operationelt aktive underordnede.

Bin Ladens families levestandard beskrives som jævn og på ingen måde prangende. Da Mullah Omar tilbød bin Laden et valg mellem to steder at bo i Kandahar valgte bin Laden stedet med færrest faciliteter og uden rindende vand (Bergen, s. 194). Bin Ladens børn lignede alle andre: ”You wouldn’t believe it – they’re kids running around in old clothes”, husker Noman Benotman, en libisk kriger (Bergen, s. 175). Den datter, som på et tidspunkt rapporteredes at gå rundt i stramme jeans i selve lejren, melder Bergens bog ikke noget om.

Er denne type leder genkendelig? Mig minder disse beskrivelser af bin Laden om indiske gurus, som ofte sætter en ære i ”simple living” samtidig med at de ikke lægger skjul på, at de fra deres plads på periferiens Archimedes-punkt er i stand til uden de store armbevægelser at bevæge hele verden (jf. Nanda 2009, s. 80?). Indere opsøger ofte sådanne personer for at ”få deres darshan”, i.e. for at få del i deres spirituelle kraft ved at se på dem og ved at dvæle i deres nærvær. Bin Laden lader til at have noget af den samme karismatiske tiltrækningskraft. Bin Ladens evne til at lytte, small-talke og bedåre ændrede imidlertid ikke hans grundlæggende teori. Hans sociale kompetencer lader ikke til at have forøget hans intellektuelle kapital ret meget. Problemet i den måde bin Laden fremtræder – som en ydmyg uskyldig other-wordly asket der har forsaget sin fædrene rigdom – er, vil jeg hævde, at denne fremtrædelsesform ikke rimer med, at han samtidig stræber efter noget der nærmer sig verdensherredømme gennem brug af terror. Al Qaedas storhedstid hvad angår terroraktioner internationalt ligger i årene og til 11. September 2001. Efter den tid har al Qaida ikke kunnet gennemføre lignende aktioner uden for Afghanistan og Pakistan, men de har kunnet sprede frygt og rædsel over den ganske jord. At sprede frygt og rædsel og at ville herske over andre gennem terror rimer ikke med at være en ydmyg asket uden personlige ambitioner.

Dobbeltheden i bin Ladens karakter kom frem i en video, der viser ham modtage en gæst i Jalalabad i november 2001 (Bergen, s. 282-3). Bin Laden beretter for gæsten, at han havde forventet mindre ødelæggelse i New Yorks tvillingetårne end der faktisk skete. På videoen er selskabet meget fornøjede over, at det gik bedre end bin Laden havde regnet med. En dansk kommentar til synet af dette selskab var: ”Cykeltyve i jakkesæt”. Jeg mener det er en rammende kommentar: ”Jakkesæt” fordi selskabet bestod af disse pæne lidt ældre herrer. ”Cykeltyve” fordi det de havde gang i var kriminelt.

 Symbiose eller snylteri?

Ifølge Bente Wollfs studie af turisme på den indonesiske ø Nias forsøger værter at inkorporere gæster i deres samfund ved at indbyde dem til at bo og spise i deres store huse, som dermed omdannes til hoteller. Derved overfører de velbeslåede turister en del af deres rigdom til værterne, og samtidig opnår de lokale familier kontrol med de fremmede, som ellers kan virke farlige: “the enemy on the road is the guest in the house“ (Wolff 1999, kapitel 4). Gæster kan imidlertid være vanskelige at håndtere. I Afghanistan og Pakistan kan det være svært at afgøre, om al Qaida har levet i symbiose med sine værter eller om de fremmede har været en form for parasitter.

En god gæst bringer ikke sin vært i unødig fare, men skønt Mullah Omar flere gange bad/forbød bin Laden om ikke at foretage terroraktioner rundt om i verden ud fra sin base in Afghanistan fortsatte bin Laden sine aktioner uden at koordinere med Mullah Omar (Bergen, s. 161). Således indviede han tilsyneladende ikke Mullah Omar om 11. September på forhånd. Resultatet af aktionen var at Taliban blev væltet og Mullah Omar mistede sit emirat. I den forstand har al Qaida været en parasit, som har sat sig på sin vært.

Et lignende billede tegner fotografen Steve McCurry, som tog det berømte National Geographic billede af en afghansk pige med lysende grønne øjne. Idet han modstillede sit eget forhold til afghanerne med arabernes, gav McCurry sine værter og de andre gæster følgende skudsmål:

”The Afghans are really friendly people, and I could basically just kind of walk around with one person, even unarmed. For the [Arabs] to come in and act as though it was their war, their country, and they were treating the Afghans like they were just these sort of uneducated, uncouth, illiterate sort of bumpkins [who] didn’t really get it. These guys, they’re really, really nasty and very aggressive and very condescending, and just hateful. And the Afghans, actually it was their country being basically slowly destroyed, and they were often very good-humored” (Bergen, s. 89).

Bergens bog leverer andre eksempler på ødelæggende arabisk fremfærd. For eksempel betalte bin Laden på et tidspunkt i 1980erne pakistanske folkevalgte store bestikkelser for at de skulle afgive et mistillidsvotum mod Benazir Bhutto i Pakistans lovgivende forsamling. Benazir Bhutto reagerede på denne uhørte fornærmelse af en gæst på tålt ophold med at smide bin Laden ud af landet.

Bin Laden var tilbage i Afghanistan i 1996 og indgik et samarbejde med Mullah Omar, hvor bin Laden leverer penge og krigere mod til gengæld at få frie hænder som ”honored guest” (Bergen, s. 160-1). Mullah Omar lovede, ifølge Bergen, måske bin Laden at han aldrig ville udlevere ham (Bergen s. 164). I den forstand var Mullah Omar sin egen kulturs fange bundet af gæstevenskabet bud. Ifølge den pakistanske journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai sagde Mullah Omar:

”I know I can’t fight the Americans, but if God helps me I will survive. I don’t want to go down in history as someone who betrayed his guest. I am willing to give my life, my regime; since we have given him refuge, I cannot throw him out now” (Bergen, s. 315).

I dette udsagn fremtræder Mullah Omar nærmest som fritaget for strafskyldighed pga sine pashtunske æresbegreber. Indespærret i sin kultur kan han ikke andet end holde hånden over bin Laden. Men havde Mullah Omar ingen brikker at rykke med? Mullah Omar taler arabisk. Skønt han kender meget lidt til verden som helhed er han dermed bekendt med i det mindste én kultur udover sin egen afghanske. Det skulle vel sætte ham i stand til at se sagen fra flere sider (som han i øvrigt også blev opfordret til af sin Udenrigsminister Wakil Ahmeh Muttawakil). Men hvad hvis de brikker, som Mullah Omar havde at rykke med, bestyrkede ham i hans adfærd? Problemet her er, at de arabiske og de afghanske samfund ligner hinanden ikke blot hvad angår religion som sådan, men også hvad angår social struktur og psykologi. Som ”soulmates” (Bergen, s??) indgår de let i et symbiotisk forhold.

Mange afghanere og arabere deler således en vis dødsforagtende fandenivoldsk antiautoritær oprørskhed. Afghanistan eller Pashtunernes land er blevet betegnet som Land of Insolence. “Insolence” betyder “uforskammethed“, eller ifølge The Concise Oxford Dictionary “ offensively contemptuous, insulting“. Afghanistan er i denne udlægning Yaghestan, The land of Rebels, eller med Louis Dupres ord ”Land of the Unruly, the Land of the Free and the Land of Insolence” (Dupres 1997). Det er samme egenskab, som Wright finder hos Zawahiri, der som dreng blev tilbudt et lift på vej hjem fra skolen af Egyptens vicepræsident og efter sigende afslog med ordene, “Vi vil ikke have et lift af en mand, der tog del i de domstole, der dræbte muslimer” (Wright, 2002, s. 55). Wright ser her et tidligt eksempel på Zawahiris hårdnakkede trodsighed, personlige frygtløshed og totale selvretfærdighed. De samme egenskaber genfindes blandt pashtunske ledere. For eksempel fremhæver Muhammad Ilyas Khan den nu afdøde Taliban-leder Nek Muhammad’s karaktertræk i en artikel indledt med ordene:

With his Byronic good looks and proud tribal mien, Nek Mohammad fearlessly cruises the rugged South Waziristan landscape in the company of his infamous guests as the hapless administration looks on. Just how does he do that?
Nek Muhammad ”proud tribal mien” viste sig også allerede i skolealderen, hvor han kom på kant med læreren og forlod klassen med en mine som om han ville vende tilbage for at dræbe læreren.[vii]

Så er Mullah Omar culpabel, hvis man medgiver at vært og gæst langt hen ad vejen bestyrker hinanden i deres reaktionsmønstre? At gæsten bragte værten Mullah Omar til fald tyder på gæsten var parasit og værten inculpabel. Omvendt er fælles kultur et godt moralsk og juridisk dække for kriminelle handlinger udført i gensidig forståelse.


Bergen, Peter 2006 The Osama bin Laden I Know. An Oral History of al Qaeda’s Leader, New York, Free Press.

Damm, Inge,1995, De nye turister. Eventyrere eller vandaler?, Fremad.

Muhammad Ilyas Khan, Nek Muhammad Wazir, Monthly Herald

Nanda, Meera, 2009, The God Market: How Globalization is making India more Hindu.

Ovesen, Ja, 1988, ”Gæsten og storpolitikken: Dialog med Pashai-folket i Afghanistan”, s. 87-110 i Kirsten Hastrrup og Kirsten Ramløv (red.), Feltarbejde. Oplevelse og metode i etnografien, Akademisk forlag.

Simmel, Georg, From Kurt Wolff (Trans.) The Sociology of Georg Simmel. New York: Free Press, 1950, s. 402 – 408, snuppet fra http://media.pfeiffer.edu/lridener/courses/STRANGER.HTML

South Asia News, ”Al-Zawahiri urges Pakistanis to support Taliban”, July 15, 2009.

Wolff, Bente, 1999, Extending the Self: Otherness in Cosmology adn Consumption, PhD, National Museum of Denmark and Institute of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen.

Worth, Robert F, “Al-Qaeda’s Inner Circle”, anmeldelse af Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, i New York Review of Books, October 19, 2006, s. 12-6.

Wright, Lawrence, 2008a ”The Rebellion Within, An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism”, The New Yorker, 2. June 2008.


Wright, Lawrence 2008b Al-Qaida. Vejen til 11. September, København, People’s Press.

Wright, Lawrence, ”The Man Behind Bin Laden: How an Egyptian doctor became a master of terror.” New Yorker, September 16, 2002,


[i] Tilføj re Lawrence Busch….

[ii] Zawahiri har forfattet to bøger. Den første fra 1980 bærer titler Knight under the Prophet’s Banner (Riddere under profetens fane). Se i øvrigt http://www.pwhce.org/zawahiri.html for arbejder af og om Zawahiri og http://www.pwhce.org/ubl.html for tilsvarende værker af og om bin Laden. Begge sider er forældede. Gilles Kepels og Jean-Pierre Milellis, Al Qaeda in its own wordsb har jeg desværre ikke konsulteret.

[iii] For eksempel, ”When bin Laden first came to Peshawar, he stayed at Azzam’s guesthouse”, (Wright 2002).

[iv] ”It is the individual duty of every Muslim in Pakistan to join the mujahideen, or at the very least, to support the jihad in Pakistan and Afghanistan with money, advice, expertise, information, communications, shelter and anything else he can offer”, ”Al-Zawahiri urges Pakistanis to support Taliban”, South Asia News, July 15, 2009.

[v] Spørgsmålet om videnskab generelt og militær teknologi specifikt er taget op af blandt andre Bernard Lewis med sigte på Osmannerne.

[vi] Ifølge Wright mistede bin Laden en stor del af sin formue under sit ophold i Sudan, hvor al Qaida transformeredes fra at være en terrororganisation til i højere grad at være et landbrugsudviklingsprojekt. Da bin Laden forlod Sudan var han angiveligt stort set pengeløs (fra Worth 2006: 16).

[vii] Jeg er klar over at Bin Laden ifølge nogle kilder ofte afholdt sig fra kamp, hvilket ikke underbygger argumentet om udbredelsen af denne noget hysteriske mandlige form for dødsforagt; se dog Bergen, s. 55-6 om bin Ladens heltemod.

The assassination of the Punjab Governor by Ishtiaq Ahmed

January 6, 2011

Pakistan plunged further towards anarchy, violence and terrorism as neo-fascist Islamists in the security services gunned down on January 4, 2011 Salmaan Taseer (66), the Governor of Pakistan’s most populous and dominant Punjab Province. Salmaan Taseer was a senior member of the Pakistan People’s Party whose leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on December 27, 2008. The PPP-led coalition government had already been confronted by a crisis when one of its partners the Muttahidda Quomi Movement (MQM) withdrew support on grounds that the government had increased the price of kerosene oil used by poor households and thus made life unbearable for people.

The main national opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was on the look out for an opportunity to bring the government down and seems determined to create as many problems as possible for the minority regime now in power. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is hoping to remain in office even when it does not enjoy a majority. A minority government is understandably going to be very weak. This would not be the first time that Pakistan would face such uncertain political future only this time the crises is greatly compounded by the challenge posed by the Islamists. It was just announced before publication of this article that the government has backed down from the increase in the price of kerosene. So, the parliamentary crisis may be over for now.

Taseer was killed by one of his bodyguards while others looked on. Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri admitted his guilt on television and then in court saying that Taseer deserved to die because he had described the blasphemy law as draconian. It may be recalled that some time back a poor Christian woman, Aasia Bibi, was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for allegedly using sacrilegious language against Islam and Prophet Muhammad. Since 1982 a blasphemy law exists which prescribes severe punishment for those who use disparaging language or bodily gestures against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. That law has been made more and more severe through amendments in 1986 and 1991. Currently the death penalty is the automatic punishment for those found guilty of blasphemy.

Hundreds of non-Muslims, mainly Christians, as well as some free-thinking Muslims have been charged for blasphemy. At the lower levels the courts have found them guilty and passed the death sentence but because of the agitation by human rights organizations and pressure of international public opinion no individual has been executed up till now. Rather, at the higher levels the courts have found some technical basis to reduce the sentence or set such individuals free. That has of course not been the end of the matter. Such persons have either been killed by fanatics, or, granted humanitarian asylum in the West. Aasia Bibi is currently in jail.

In some cases fanatics have taken the law into their own hands and brutally killed alleged blasphemers. To this day, no such killer has been punished. Justice Arif Iqbal Bhatti of the Lahore High Court had in 1995 found two Christians, Salamat Masih and Rehmat Masih, not guilty of blasphemy and set them free. On October 10, 1997 Justice Bhatti was gunned down.

This time, death threats to Taseer had been issued by hundreds of clerics because he had advocated that the blasphemy law should be rescinded or amended drastically to make it safe. In a recent BBC interview the governor admitted the danger he faced but said that he believed in the innocence of Aasia Bibi and in the unjustness of the blasphemy law. He was a marked man since that day.

The fact that the police commando posted as bodyguard to protect the governor killed him has raised many questions about how reliable the security services in Pakistan are. It is widely believed that extremists committed to a violent Islamic revolution are now present at all levels of state machinery including the military, police and security services. When his death was announced the Islamists let loose a massive propaganda in the media but especially on the Internet describing the culprit, Qadri, a warrior of Islam and Taseer a renegade to Islam. Hundreds of leading clerics issued fatwas (religious rulings) that Taseer should not be given an Islamic burial.

The head of the leading fundamentalist party, the Jama’at-e-Islami, Munawwar Hasan blamed Taseer for provoking pious sensibilities by describing the blasphemy law in uncharitable manner. Incidentally, a PhD thesis on the Jama’at-e-Islami describing it as parliamentary, democratic party was approved by Goteborg University not very long ago. This is the level of scholarship in Sweden about Pakistani politics.

Pakistan is a failing state, but has not failed yet. Contrary to the fatwa of some ulema that Salmaan Taseer should be refused an Islamic burial, other clerics were willing to lead his funeral prayers. Thousands of people took part in the ceremony. He was buried with full official protocol, his bier being carried by men in uniform. He was given a state funeral with full honours. It means that not all people have gone mad. Salmaan Taseer was a brave man and one with strong convictions. Such individuals are becoming rare commodity in Pakistan. Unless the blasphemy law is repealed and the culprits punished according to the law, Pakistan’s decline into religio-fascism will be unstoppable.

Ishtiaq Ahmed

The writer is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University. He is also Honorary Senior Fellow of the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He can be reached at billumian@gmail.com