Pakistan: In The Grip Of Islamists
Pressure from Islamists has recently forced the resignation of Pakistans Law Minister, Zahid Hamid, in a stark reminder of how much political power and influence they wield over the countries politics. Pakistan, you may well remember, is the top recipient of British money flowing out of the country in foreign aid.
Hamid was accused of blasphemy due to a package of reforms which included an amendment to the oath taken by Pakistani lawmakers upon taking office. The oath was amended to remove a reference to Muhammed as the final prophet, following a political storm caused by religious parties, the government reversed the amendment. However, this was not enough for some.
The Tehreek-i-Labbaik, led by radical cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, known for his hard-line stand on the country’s blasphemy laws, blocked Islamabad, the capital city’s, main entrance demanding Mr Hamid’s resignation. Protesters tortured police personnel, burnt vehicles and looted nearby showrooms, causing damages of 160 million rupees. The police operation to end the protest and the military point-blank refused to get involved. In fact, it actively sided with the protestors in that it offered to ‘mediate’ and ensure the Law Minister resigned.
Military collusion with the protestors ensured their victory, Hamid resigned on the condition he would not be branded a ‘blasphemer’. Hamid’s condition is hardly surprising, Pakistan has extremely strict anti-blasphemy laws and indeed, use of derogatory remarks, spoken, written, directly or indirectly, etc that defiles the name of Muhammad can incur the death penalty. People accused of blasphemy are often subject to harassment, threats, and attacks and have been known to have been murdered, even those who are acquitted of blasphemy usually go into hiding or leave Pakistan.
The particularly disturbing aspect of this incident is the collusion between the military and Labbaik – a power grab by the military in some way allied with Islamists is not beyond the bounds of probability and lest we forget Pakistan is a nuclear power. Pakistan is yet another example of a close ally of Western powers which is a breeding ground for the Islamism which murders British citizens indiscriminately, is it not time that the self-defeating policy of failing to act in our own interests is ended?