No ordinary mortal
Wasi has to his lasting fame the credit of discovering that media is not really the fourth pillar of the state. Perhaps it's the fifth. The fourth pillar is, of course, himself
For six decades Pakistani governments have been telling citizens that law and order is either under control or is being brought under control. Another frequent government refrain is that no one is above the law or if they are they will be dealt with an iron hand. Invariably they add, for good measure that no outlaw can escape the long arm of the law.
The citizens of Pakistan have a good sense of humour to be receiving their daily diet of assurances about maintaining law and order without managing to implement the law in a manner that it is the same for all citizens. Or that laws on the statute books are rationalised in favour of practicality and for the greater good of all.
It has taken the inventive current dispensation to boast for itself a law minister who has finally managed to demonstrate beyond any doubt that this whole shebang about law and its supremacy is anything but. Make no mistake Wasi Zafar is no ordinary mortal. This abundantly talented man has single-handedly managed to personalise the philosophy of the sitting government: feign expertise, feel important and end up only fooling no one but yourself.
Wasi is an honourable man. Many have complete faith in this assertion. Such luminaries of the ilk as President General Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain are convinced of this, which is why he finds himself their writ of law. There are others who dare think otherwise. Not because they have a bone to pick (imagine how Wasi translates this maxim in Punjabi) with him but because the minister himself offers tantalising proof on an astonishingly regular basis.
The 'long arm' tactics of Wasi may be a relatively recent phenomenon to many but the gentleman as far back as in early 2005 provided proof of his endowment to draw attention to himself even in the august company of men who formally lead governments (lead nowhere in Pakistan's case but that's another story that can shame even the unabashed Wasi). Daily Times had this to report on April 14, 2005 in a news item filed by Online news agency: [Headline:] PM asks Wasi Zafar to keep his cool. [News item:] Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has asked Law Minister Wasi Zafar to keep his cool after noting his aggression and misbehaviour. Sources said on Wednesday that Shaukat Aziz had invited Wasi Zafar to a lunch hosted in honour of visiting Azeri President Ilham Aliyev when all of a sudden the law minister was seen being escorted by two security guards through one of the doors of the prime minister's house. Both security guards caught hold of the law minister by his arms, sources said, adding that the PM's deputy military secretary rushed to the scene and escorted the law minister out through another door. The prime minister and Azeri president also heard the scuffle while presiding over the signing ceremony of accords between both countries. Later during lunch, the prime minister asked Wasi Zafar to keep his cool.
Many of Wasi's growing legions of fans, sIim sure, wonder what exactly is it that the honourable minister did that required the state security services to step up and spare the prime minister and his Central Asian guest any embarrassment. Sadly, this shall remain a state secret unless somebody files a petition with the Supreme Court in lieu of public interest litigation. We do know, however, that the honourable minister dishonoured his prime minister's bidding to keep his cool ('Keep his cool' -- one can just imagine the minister translating this in his mind as 'thund rakh').
Then there was the instance of the minister's son who did his father proud within weeks of the above incident. Mr Mujeeb Khan, a law abiding citizen travelling by PIA was reportedly beaten up by 'Wasi's law-abiding son' -- in the presence of his proud father no less -- for reprimanding him for jumping the queue. The newspaper reports in the following days focused on the minister's parental inspiration for his offspring. A perfect case of 'like father like son,' if there was any.
Wasi, as his followers and banishers alike know, went on to greater glories. His idea of the long arm of law cannot even be deciphered in colloquial language by hacks like me but the minister, of course, had the pleasure of letting the respectable Ansar Abbasi know how to apply the dictum in practice. And do so he did live on air in March this year on a Voice of America programme hosted by a woman who understandably was lost for words when she found out about an alternative application of the aphorism. Aitzaz Ahsan, who is perhaps the only person in Pakistan who gives Wasi sleepless nights -- even the 'on-forced-leave' Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry doesn't scare him -- came to the rescue and stopped him in his tracks before he attempted to be more creative that he can be with his transliterations.
Wasi, of course, has also to his lasting fame the credit of discovering that media is not really the fourth pillar of the state. Perhaps it's the fifth. The fourth pillar is, of course, himself. How could otherwise the state of Pakistan be in the state that it is today? Then the long arms of the minister's law have also found out that journalists are actually goondas and badmash (as he put it) and not what the people think they are. When confronted with journalists protesting the presence of impostors in the Press Gallery in early June, he continued his creative interpretation of the rule of law by making hand gestures caught on camera that can sell pornographic films as mimed content if somebody out there is willing to make a fast buck.
While many, including this writer, have great admiration for Wasi and his wisdom, there are spoilsports who, sadly, don't. Take the Jaranwala Bar Association and the Lahore High Court Bar Association as examples. The News reported in March that JBA cancelled the basic membership of the minister who is a 'liar' (that's how 'lawyer' is pronounced in Wasi's and my native tongue, Punjabi). Why they couldn't put up with Jaranwala's best known export is beyond me. Immediately afterwards, LHCBA Acting President Firdous Butt, Secretary Sarfraz Cheema and Finance Secretary Ruby Hayat also announced at a press conference the cancellation of Wasi's bar membership (along with that of another illustrious son of the soil, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat). Clearly these bar folks are devoid of a sense of humour. Their loss is Musharraf, Shaukat and Shujaat's gain.
When Wasi's gone from the corridors of power one day -- surely a dull day if there ever was one -- we will all miss the law of the long arm and have to contend instead with the long arm of law.
Democracy in Pakistan is not the top agenda of Washington, the fight against the resurgent Talibans in Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas is
The United States is trying to defuse the political crisis in Pakistan to save its agenda -- the so-called war on terror in the region.
Washington's game in Pakistan is simple: Keep Gen Pervez Musharraf in power and keep him under enough pressure to get the maximum out of him. Hence US demands for free and fair general elections and concerns for political crisis in Pakistan do not translate in any tangible step by Musharraf to accommodate the opposition demands but into a ruthless military action in Waziristan.
Hitherto, the US was silent on the domestic political situation in Pakistan despite several complaints of human rights' violations, missing people and restrictions on political meetings. Early this month, however, American administration woke up to the need of democracy in Pakistan. US state department reminded Gen Musharraf that he had promised to shed his military uniform at the end of his tenure as president.
A stream of statements emphasising democracy and the need of transparent elections in Pakistan started coming in from senior US officials. This climaxed into the visit of three US officials in one week to Islamabad -- US assistant secretary of state Richard Boucher, US deputy secretary of state Negraponte and Centcom chief William J Fallon.
Many Pakistanis in their naivety pinned hopes on the US, thinking this time it might nudge the general for a compromise with political opposition and move towards democratic transition. But as the US officials' meeting culminated in Islamabad with a softened US stand on Musharraf's uniform. US deputy secretary of state Mr Negraponte announced that it was up to Gen Musharraf to decide when to doff his military uniform.
After Negraponte's pat on Musharraf's back, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signalled the Bush administration's steadfast support for him. "Musharraf has been a good ally in the war on terror," Rice said. "Pakistan has come a very long way since 2001 in its commitment to try and root out extremism, to try to make reforms," she was quoted as saying.
Pakistan's foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri visiting Washington said after his meeting with Condoleezza Rice, they focused among other things on the fight against al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Afghanistan. The outcome of the Pak-US parleys was soon evident. A seminary in Datakhel, North Waziristan was bombed with missiles killing 30 and wounding 20 people in it. North and South Waziristan areas of Pakistan's Pakhtoon tribal region are for long considered to be bastions of resurgent Talibans from where they carry out their attacks on American led forces in Afghanistan.
For all those who have had illusions about the US commitment to democracy, things are clearer now -- the most important agenda of the US, they know, is to fight against the resurgent Talibans in Afghanistan and Pakistan's tribal areas in collaboration with Pakistan's military, a trusted US ally.
Washington's agenda in the region was on track until March 9 this year when the over-confident Musharraf sacked the country's top judge Iftikhar Chaudhry sparking unprecedented protests by the lawyers countrywide. The May 12 bloodbath in Karachi carried out to block the Chief Justice Chaudhry's entry into Karachi made the situation worse for the Musharraf regime.
A political crisis in Pakistan is a threat to Washington's plans to fight the so-called Islamic militants. It is feared that a strong movement against Gen Musharraf will compromise his ability to fight the US war in Afghanistan. The instability in Pakistan must be checked. After her meetings with Kasuri, when the secretary of state Rice said the US is concerned about the situation in Pakistan, it meant not a concern for a democratic Pakistan but referred to a threat to the American interests in an unstable Pakistan.
The US wants a political stable Pakistan in which the military remains in a commanding position to carry out its agenda but at the same the country remains politically stable with major civilian political forces lined up behind the establishment.
To achieve this goal, the US is trying to rescue Gen Musharraf's military government.
For political stability in Pakistan, the US seems to be providing Gen Musharraf the support from civilian forces like the Pakistan People's Party, something that is the covert part of the game and is denied by the parties involved.
In return for cooperation with Washington, the PPP hopes an increased share in power through relatively free and fair elections. Hence US officials' emphasis on the holding of free and fair general elections. In her recent statement on Pakistan, Condoleezza Rice expressed worry about the country's rising violence and called for stronger rights for opposition groups. She said the US is "second to none in continuing to press for openness in Pakistan, for the rights of opposition in Pakistan and for free and fair elections."
At the moment, Washington is trying to carry out a balancing game in Pakistan between Gen Musharraf and its potential alternative, Ms Benazir Bhutto. Meanwhile, the more the political movement against Musharraf gains momentum, the more it helps Washington to make Pakistani establishment more pliant to its demands.
Of course everyone knows what it is. It is a place in the ocean where the sea, for some reason, goes round and round and then down, and whatever is floating in the water is sucked down to a watery grave because the current is impossible to resist. It is a phenomenon so familiar even to landlubbers that most makers want it as a brand name for their washing machine, or even their fridge!
It is the stuff of legends and stories, and most people suspect there is one somewhere in the 'Bermuda Triangle.' Jules Verne, or maybe H G Wells had one in one of his stories, wherein the hero, caught in one along with his ship notices which shapes of debris sink more slowly, catches one and is able to save himself. Actually Wells, or Verne whichever, called it a 'Maelstrom' which is said to be the name of a real whirlpool off the coast of Norway.
More tellingly there is a whirlpool in the 'Daastaan-e-Amir Hamza' Amru Ayyaar and his friends, on their way to do battle with Landhur Bin Sadaan, the king of India, somewhere in the Arabian Sea get stuck in a great whirlpool called the 'Sadd-e-Sikandari,' which is really a tall tower or 'Minaar' jutting right out of the centre of the eddy.
Fortunately Amru is able to leap, from the prow of his ship to the top of the tower, where he receives further powers as a gift from Khwaja Khizr; and also sees thousands upon thousands of sea birds nesting around him. I seem to recall that he is able to disturb the birds which start fluttering round the whirlpool and the downdraft of their wings still the sea and stop it spinning, and Amru and his ships are able to escape.
I have tried talking to friends about it, and they take me and pull the plug in some flush toilet, and show me the water spinning as it goes down; then they bowl me over with their scientific knowledge telling me this is because of the rotation of the Earth, and that the water spins in opposite directions in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. So what am I supposed to think? That there is a flush somewhere in the ocean into which we are about to be flushed?
The point is that no matter who wrote what about it, it seems to me that it is a fairy tale and the actual phenomenon cannot, and does not exist! Why would the sea suddenly start spinning round and round? And pulling things down? And where does it take them? Is there a hole at the bottom leading to the core into which the water rushes?
The nearest thing to them are those storms which are so much in the news that are called hurricanes if they come in the Atlantic, or typhoons if in the Pacific, and cyclones in the Indian Ocean -- you impressed? -- but those are atmospheric phenomena, where the wind goes round and round and even in the strongest of them the ocean does not start spinning. In any case they do not try to drag you down, they try to throw you up in the air. My question is, if a whirlpool does not actually exist, outside of a flush toilet, how come so many people in so many places thought of it and put it in their stories?
Iran is keeping up with the modern world without giving up its religious and traditional values
The Iran Air planes flying once a week from Karachi and Lahore to Tehran provide glimpse of life in the Islamic Republic of Iran following the Imam Khomeini-led 1979 revolution. Except their faces and hands, the airhostesses are fully covered. Meals and drinks served during flights are Iranian and halal. Newspapers are in Persian though copies of the English language Tehran Times are available. Announcements too are made in Persian followed by translation in Persian-accented English that is barely understandable.
The Mehrabad international airport in suburban Tehran has seen expansion and functions alright. Most of the parked planes are from the Iran Air, though some of the aircrafts have markings of smaller domestic airlines such as Kish Air and Kerman Air. A new and larger airport named after Imam Khomeini has been built about 15 kilometres outside Tehran on the road leading to the Imam's grand mausoleum and onwards to Qom, Isfahan and Shiraz. There are plans to shift international flight operations to the new airport and use Mehrabad for domestic flights.
One runs into traffic jams on the road from Mehrabad airport to Tehran city. There are vehicles everywhere of all kinds and makes. Owners such as Ashiq Hussain, a Pakistani journalist working for the Pashto service of Tehran Radio, tell us that Iran-manufactured cars are good for the money. He has been using one, to his total satisfaction, for years. Fuel is cheap owing to Iran's huge oil reserves. It enables Iranians to extensively use their vehicles and still keep their fuel bills low. Iran has lot of oil and gas, some of which remains untapped because of short of refineries. Tehran is thus forced to import some petrol.
Anticipating further US-led economic sanctions aimed at punishing Iran for refusing to roll-back its nuclear programme, the Iranian government has come up with plans to ration its oil resources by putting in place a coupon system for motorists. The scheme would surely hurt the Iranians, who until now had unlimited access to supplies of petrol and gas, but most of them appear willing to undergo discomfort for the sake of their country. Iranians realise they are being punished for not giving up their nuclear programme and pursuing an independent foreign policy. Patriotic as they are, the Iranians weathered the earlier UN sanctions and seem determined to overcome the next round of punitive measures against their homeland.
At the expensive Laleh Hotel in downtown Tehran, the television sets in our well-furnished rooms are tuned to show only six Iranian channels, all pro-government and in Persian. This was an evidence of the tight control on the sources of information in the Iran of the Ayatollahs. Newspapers too have to operate under some kind of control and those found violating restrictions are often banned. This is democracy Iranian style in which voters get to regularly cast votes for candidates who are screened by the high-powered, clergy-led Guardians Council. The powerful council also keeps checks on laws and bills passed by the parliament. On our request, the hotel management subsequently started showing certain international news channels on television sets in our rooms to keep the Iranian government's 450 foreign guests updated about the happenings in the world.
As it was the time to observe Ayatollah Imam Khomeini's death anniversary falling on June 4, all the channels were running programmes on his life and times. Old footage of his triumphant return to Tehran from Paris in 1979 heralding the Islamic Revolution was shown repeatedly. His speeches and sermons were telecast and politicians, scholars and ordinary Iranians recorded their impressions of the late Imam. Foreign delegates invited every year to attend his death anniversary events were also shown paying glowing tributes to the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The country's present rulers, including supreme leader Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei and Hashemi Rafsanjani, were seen standing or sitting close to the Imam. At that time they didn't have much importance in the hierarchy of the Iranian leadership but those pictures in which they were shown in the company of Imam Khomeini gave them a pride of place in present-day Iran.
Tehran has expanded far and wide and its population has grown rapidly. But much of the expansion was planned and done with care. There are wide boulevards, roads are in good condition and there is greenery everywhere. In fact, Tehran can be classified a green and clean city. More than 100 flyovers have been built to ease traffic congestion and lend the city a new and modern look. The underground railway line is in excellent condition and journey on the train is a great experience and reasonably priced. High-rise apartments have been constructed to accommodate Tehran's burgeoning population. Electricity supply is rarely disrupted and civic services are good.
Iranians are fond of outdoor life and great picnickers. On the weekend, which includes the weekly Friday holiday and Saturday, families pack into their cars or in public transport buses and coaches to spend time in parks, on the Caspian Sea beach, and in mountains. Iranian families camping on the roadside and sitting and eating on rugs is a familiar sight. The Laleh Park near our hotel was vast and well-maintained. The civic body which administers Tehran and was run by President Mahmud Ahmadinejad as its mayor has set up expensive exercise machines in the park for common people. The park was almost always full, particularly in the mornings when there was rush of both men and women jogging and exercising and in the afternoons and evenings with families and couples strolling in the park or gossiping and eating. There was a definite change from the recent past with young couples daring to hold hands and sit close to each other in the park. They were making best use of some of their new-found freedom.
The clergy-led government has eased some of the restrictions after realising that the people were yearning for freedom. Many Tehran residents said the dreaded Pasdaran force only rarely enforced the social and moral code. This less restrictive policy is also evident in the case of Iran's flourishing film industry, which has some world-renowned directors and artists and produces some quality movies. The theatre in Iran is also popular and the Tehran Symphony Orchestra having both male and female musicians organises concerts regularly. It even organised a concert on Imam Khomeini's death anniversary by making use of six lyrics composed by the late Imam. Three lyrics were arranged to be accompanied by orchestra and the remaining three by piano. It showed pragmatism on the part of the ruling clerics who apart from enforcing Islamic law have also paid attention to the socio-economic development of Iran and promotion of its rich culture and arts.
The organisers of the recent grand jirga in Peshawar call it the representative moot of the people of FATA while others criticise it for being biased
The jirga convened by the FATA Grand Alliance (FGA) in Peshawar has demanded a separate assembly for the tribesmen to voice their concerns at a platform -- despite disagreement by many of the tribal elites. Sponsored by a senator from Khyber Agency, the jirga was attended by over 1500 political leaders, intellectuals, lawyers, agency councillors, maliks and other professionals from the seven tribal agencies and six Frontier Regions (FRs). The organisers declared the jirga to be a representative moot of all the tribesmen but it was criticised that hundreds of people present in the gathering were representing only Khyber Agency, for being the nearest among the tribal agencies with a very little number of those from the rest of the agencies and FRs.
The seven agencies and six FRs of FATA are probably among the most backward parts of the country where majority of the populace is deprived of even the basic amenities of life. Although no exact figure is available, the estimated population of the area is 3.5 to 4 million, spread over hundreds of kilometres mountainous range. The region has been in trouble throughout the last three decades, since the Russian invasion over Afghanistan because it shares the Durand Line with the neighbouring country. The problem still exists with more threats to peace in the region and the security of a common tribesman. Except Mohmand, the rest of the tribal agencies have experienced the worst law and order situation in the recent past.
The situation forced a number of political parties to hold their separate jirgas and seek suggestions from the participants for a permanent solution to the tribal problems. The Jamaat-e-Islami was the first one that held a jirga a few years back over problems faced by the tribesmen of the tribal agencies and FRs. The Fazlur Rahman led Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and the Awami National Party also followed and held their separate assemblies to activate their respective vote bank and make their presence felt. As political activities are banned in any of the tribal agency, all these jirgas were held in Peshawar, surrounded by the entire tribal belt.
The latest grand jirga held on June 14 was apparently sponsored by Senator Hameedullah Afridi and was attended, apart from him, by three parliamentarians namely Senator Abdul Malik, Senator Abdul Raziq and MNA Ghulam Sadiq. The grand meeting urged the government to withdraw combat troops from FATA and give proper representation to the tribal people in the Pakistan-Afghanistan jirga to be held in Kabul in August. "Without involving the tribesmen, the jirga could not achieve its desired objectives. The bone of contention between the two countries was infiltration of militants and the Afghan government's claims that Pakistan's tribal region was being used as militants' hideout. Therefore it was essential for the government to involve the tribal people in the peace process," remarks Senator Hameedullah Jan.
A joint declaration approved by the jirga asked the government to pull out troops from the region and focus on education instead of conducting military operations. FATA stands well below the rest of the country in literacy ratio, especially among females. A proper share in National Finance Commission award and release of funds from the Khushal Pakistan Program was also demanded. Besides demanding legal reforms in the area and amendments to the Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR), changes in the Fata territorial jurisdiction were also opposed in the moot.
The tribesmen asked for constituting a separate elected assembly for FATA and empowering the agency councils. Many of the tribal elders, however, did not agree with the proposal. "Instead of a separate assembly, we need to be declared a province, governed by a separate Governor, or FATA should have an executive council like that of the Northern Areas with an administrative set up like there," the president of Pakistan People's Party Kurram Agency, Dr Syed Riaz Hussain Shah, tells TNS.
At present FATA has its own administrative set up being headed by an additional chief secretary, assisted by a number of secretaries, director generals and directors. Former Governor NWFP Syed Iftikhar Hussain Shah has established a separate secretariat and developmental body with the name of FATA Development Authority for the tribal areas. Instead of District Coordination Officers (DCOs), the agency administration is being run by Political Agents (PAs). So, except for being ruled by the Governor NWFP, the FATA administrative system presently shares nothing with the province and has almost become a separate set up by all means.
There was criticism by several political parties over declaring the gathering a representative jirga of the entire tribal lot. "Majority of the participants were from the nearest Khyber Agency. Everybody talked about his own agency and area and nobody spoke over the national issues. Neither the worst law and order issue came under discussion nor other sensitive issues were taken up," a tribal political elder deplores.
The Awami National Party FATA has termed the FGA a brainchild of the bureaucracy. "The few parliamentarians who participated in the so-called jirga could do nothing for the welfare of tribesmen," remarked Abdul Rahim Afridi, the president of ANP Khyber Agency. He announced to hold a real grand jirga from the platform of ANP in the first week of July for which invitations have been sent to the parliamentarians, intellectuals, lawyers, writers and elders of all the agencies and FRs. "The tribesmen feel isolated. Fundamentalists are dominant in the region making people backward and keeping them in the dark. There is a dire need for extension of the political parties act to the area and amendments in the century old FCR," the ANP leader opined.
The convener of Fata Grand Alliance Abdul Karim Mehsud Advocate, however, believes the Grand Jirga has been successful in sending the message to the world that the tribal people want a peaceful and developed tribal region. Moreover, it has proved that FGA is the sole representative organisation of the tribal belt working on the agenda of development of FATA.
The way of the jihadi
Being on mailing lists can have its advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes you get long-winded useless messages addressed to individuals that have no business being part of a general mailing list. But at times you get interesting nuggets which can give you considerable insight and knowledge into a particular subject. The latter is particularly useful for a journalist. Here is something that I got this past week. It was an English rendition of a column by jihadi firebrand Maulana Masood Azhar, which he wrote as part of his weekly column for Al Qalam, his outfit's publication. It appeared on March 1, 2007 and the following are excerpts:
"The rulers are telling the world that Islam is being maligned due to bomb blasts that are taking place here and there around the country. Our rulers are not worried about those innocent people who are being killed in blasts. They are worrying about Islam and its image!
"It seems that Islam is under fresh attacks. The US is experimenting with the lessons that it has learnt from Britain. The latter started attacks on Islam during the colonial period and now the same is being done by the US. The American diplomats are visiting Lahore to find Sufis to form a new kind of Islam. They are looking for such custodians of Islam who could set new definitions for Islam and jihad. When I was in a jail in Jammu, the police officers used to taunt me about jihad. They would say that they were also waging jihad by wearing uniform all the day and protecting the people. When I hear about Islam and jihad from our rulers, I recall the police officers of Jammu. The rulers and the Jammu police officers seem to be one person. They have same respect for jihad. The rulers don't understand -- just like Jammu police -- that they have nothing to do with Islam. The rulers supported the US against Islam. Musharraf had dogs in his arms. He took many decisions but none of them had anything to do with Islam. He supported dancers and singers. He ordered basant celebrations and killed so many innocent people. He spoke against hudood laws; pitted the Muslims against the Muslims; handed over the Muslims to the US; and bombarded seminaries to please the west.
"I told him that if he would try to break up big jihadi outfits, then their disintegration will give rise to dozens of jihadi outfits. And these small groups will be out of anybody's control. Now there are hundreds of jihadi outfits and hundreds of amir ul momineen. Most of these amirs are the computer operators who have become jihadis by watching CDs of jihad. They have received jihadi training through websites. They too like the rulers have no idea of jihad and Islam. They think that via the Internet, they have become amir. They have not taken part in jihad. However, if they come across a gullible youth, they tie bomb around his body and send him to jihadi battlefields. Some of the jihadis are in the business of drugs, human smuggling and kidnapping ransom. Because they watch everything on internet that is enough to make them a savage. There used to be jihadi rallies and moots in the past and such gatherings were a great education to groom jihadis. The government has banned the jihadi moots. That is why jihad has become everybody's business. Now, it is difficult to control these jihadis. The government still has time to change its policies. The present environment of suicide attacks is due to the government's policies. The government policies provide motivation for jihadis to mastermind suicide attacks. Therefore, the question of maligning Islam does not exist. The rulers have never attempted to study Islam. They don't know how to perform ablution and take a shower according to Islam.
"If the rulers change their attitude and stop obeying the foreign powers, Islam's image will be restored. The Americans should stop finding Sufis in Lahore. Don't waste the Friday. Take a shower around 10 am and go to mosques. Spend your entire day in mosque every Friday. Your heart will be illuminated and you will see that no American will be able to mislead you through Sufism."
Masood Azhar is a wanted man in India still -- his group has been blamed by the Indian government for the attack on the parliament building in New Delhi in December 2001. His outfit was also linked to the two assassinations on President Musharraf and has been tied to a string of suicide bombings elsewhere. In 1999, he was freed from an Indian prison in exchange for passengers on an Indian Airlines plane that had been hijacked and taken to Kandahar.
The writer is Op-ed Pages Editor of The News.