Taliban police enforcing the Hisba Act in Afghanistan: Below NWFP
Bombings and Pakistani Connection: An Indian View
DELHI, July 20: General Pervez Musharraf's policy of proclaimed
'Enlightened Moderation' has come under attack, this past week,
both from within and, more ominously, from without. Investigations
into the 7/7 London bombings appear to be driving to the conclusion
that the terrorists were all of Pakistani origin and also that
they had links to the extremist and terrorist infrastructure in
visible international pressure, the General ordered a countrywide
crackdown on July 15, 2005, after he told Pakistan's top police
officers gathered in Rawalpindi that they should act against the
collection of donations, display of arms, and holding of gatherings
by banned groups, and not allow banned militant organizations
to re-surface using any other name.
ordered the police, further, to "enforce an end to publication
and distribution of hate material, including pamphlets, booklets,
CDs etc., and writers, publishers and distributors of all such
literature must be held accountable in accordance with the law.
You must ensure that such material is not available in markets
latest by December, this year." Pakistan, he claimed, stands
at a cross-roads in its history and there is an urgent need to
address extremism existing on the fringes of its society.
the same time, internal evidence mounted regarding the continued
activities of Islamist extremists, and the gradual consolidation
of many areas, including the North West Frontier Province (NWFP),
as staging posts for the Afghan, Kashmiri and global jihad.
NWFP, which has continuously served as a base for the Taliban
after Operation Enduring Freedom, has now emerged as a crucial
staging post for the jihad. in Jammu and Kashmir. New evidence
to this effect came to light when the Karachi-based Herald
reported in its latest issue that one of Pakistan's oldest training
camps at Mansehra in the Province is bustling with activity after
a year-long closure, as old and new cadres converged on it to
resume their training.
to a top manager of the training camp in Mansehra, all the major
organizations, including Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Al-Badr Mujahideen,
Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) and others, began regrouping in April
2005, renovating training facilities that were deserted in 2004.
The magazine, in its cover story, says at least 13 major camps
in the Mansehra region were revived during the first week of May
2005. These are located in the areas of Pano Dheri, Jallo, Sufaida,
Oghi, Khewari, Jabba, Batrasi, Naradoga, Akherilla, Hisari, Boi,
Tanglaee and Achherian.
intelligence sources in Delhi had disclosed (as of January 2005)
that apart from the Shah Ismail Shaheed and Shewatian camps, there
were nine other camps in NWFP: Haripur, Oghi, Bakrial, Garhi Habibullah,
Shinkiari, Batrasi, Jangal Mangal, Bhoi and Balakot, hosting at
least 1620 cadres.
Compounding the situation further
is a new legislation that seeks to 'Talibanize' governance in
the province. On July 14, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), the
ruling six-party Islamist alliance, passed the North-West Frontier
Province Hisba Act, 2005 in its Assembly by a 68-43 vote. The
Hisba (Accountability) Act, which will come into force only after
the Governor signs it, will establish a new department to "discourage
vice and encourage virtue," and will set up a new office
akin to that of an ombudsman which is to be headed by a cleric
called Mohtasib (one who holds others accountable) whose main
function would be to "protect/watch the Islamic values and
etiquettes at the provincial level."
According to the Hisba Act, the
Mohtasib shall, on a written complaint of any person, or on reference
from the High Court, the Supreme Court or the Provincial Assembly,
or suo moto, have the power to (among others):
Enquire into the allegations of mal-administration against any
Agency or its employees; provided that no Government servant,
during his service, shall be entitled, in relation to affairs
of his employment; to lodge a complaint with the Mohtasib;
Protect/watch the Islamic values and etiquettes at the provincial
Watch the media established by Government or working under the
administrative control of Government to ensure that its publications
are useful to the propose of upholding Islamic values;
Forbid persons, Agencies and authorities working under the administrative
control of Government to act against Sharia and to guide them
to good governance;
Formulate such directives and principles which may help in making
the conduct of authorities working under this section to be effective
Extend help to the provincial administration in discharging its
functions smoothly and effectively; provided that the Mohtasib
shall not interfere in any matter which is sub-judice before a
court of competent jurisdiction or which relates to external affairs
of Pakistan or the relations or dealings of Pakistan with any
foreign State or Government or relates to or is connected with
the defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, the Military, Naval
and Air Forces of Pakistan or the matters covered by laws relating
to these forces;
it is clear that the Act sets out to legitimize the MMA's agenda
of radical Islam, what has astounded the critics is the extent
of powers that may accrue to the Mohtasib, something that prompted
the poet Kishwar Naheed to say, "This is more than the Taliban."
The Mohtasib shall have the same powers as are vested in a Civil
Court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (V of 1908), in
respect of the following matters, namely:
Summoning and enforcing the attendance of parties and examining
him on oath;
- Compelling the production of documents; and
- Receiving evidence on affidavits.
the Act goes much further. Under 'Special powers', the Mohtasib
shall also have, among others, the following responsibilities:
To monitor adherence of moral values of Islam at public places;
- To discourage Tabdhir or extravagance, particularly
at the time of marriages and other family functions.
- To follow the code of Islam in giving dowry;
- To discourage beggary;
- To monitor adherence to Islamic values and their respect and
regard at the times of Iftar (Breaking the Fast) and Taravih
(special prayers performed during the month of Ramadan);
- To discourage entertainment shows and business transactions
at the times of Eideen and Jumma (Friday) prayers around
mosques where such prayers are being held;
- To remove causes of dereliction in performance and proper arrangement
of Eideen and Jumma prayers;
- To observe decorum of Islam at the times of Azan and Farz
- To discourage un-Islamic and inhuman customs;
- To check the tendency of indecent behavior at public places
including harassment of females;
- To advise those who are found to be disobedient to their parents;
- To mediate amongst parties and tribes in matters pertaining
to murders, attempts to murder and similar other crimes threatening
to law and order situation.
Mohtasib is to be provided with the "requisite police force"
called Hisba Police for enforcement. The Hisba Act, akin to the
Taliban's moral policing, is also an attempt to form a parallel
judicial system. Ironically, the Hisba force, in acting as the
Inquisition-like 'chief prosecutor', is itself not accountable
to anyone, since "no court or authority shall be competent
to question the legal status of the proceedings before a Mohtasib."
to the Act, "No court or authority shall have the power to
pass any injunction or any interim or a stay order with regard
to any matter under consideration of the Mohtasib" and only
the Chief Minister can hear an appeal against his recommendations.
The Mohtasib's office, which would only duplicate administration,
is estimated to cost Pakistan Rupees (PKR) 10 billion annually,
while the total provincial development fund is PKR 40 billion.
MMA intends, through this institution, to influence in its favor
the local level elections scheduled for August-September 2005.
The alliance has moreover, time and again, declared that it would
stop at nothing to bring 'real Islam' to the Province.
after passage of the law, religious scholars throughout the Province
reportedly took oath from their followers in the Friday congregations
to "render every sacrifice for the enforcement of Islamic
system in the province." Prayer leaders throughout the Province
prayed for the success of MMA and the Hisba institution, reiterating
their commitment to face the opponents of the Hisba Bill at every
forum, including the courts, parliaments as well as among the
at the famed Mohabat Khan Mosque in Peshawar, the NWFP Minister
for Finance, Planning and Development, Sirajul Haq, declared ominously:
"We will not bow in front of any one on the earth except
God Almighty. We will not make any compromise on Islam and Sharia
at any cost… We will make more such legislations to enforce
Islamic system. The Hisba's opponents want to confine Islam only
to mosques like those of Christianity but it could not be. (The)
Quran directs us to enter into Islam completely. Instead of confining
it in mosques, it would have to control our business, politics
and every aspect of our life."
that it is a violation of the Constitution of Pakistan, Islamabad
has moved the Supreme Court under Article 186 of the Constitution.
Earlier, on August 12-13, 2004, the Council of Islamic Ideology
(CII) had declared the Hisba Bill to be in violation of the Constitution
as it clashed with Article 175 , which concerns the independence
of the judiciary. Further, the CII had observed: "Creation
of the Hisba institution, instead of achieving the objectives
of Sharia, will make the injunctions of the Quran and the Sunnah
controversial and will open the gates of conflict."
The Act, however, may not come
into force if Governor Khalil-ur-Rahman does not sign the law,
which he says is a "fascist idea." While there is at
a certain level an Islamabad-MMA discord, General Musharraf is
aware that, 'enlightened moderation' notwithstanding, it would
be difficult to undo laws that are brought into being in the name
and terrorist actors have, for long, secured physical space to
operate within Pakistan, and it is the ideology of Islamist extremism
- partially reflected in parties such as the MMA and in political
initiatives such as the Hisba Act, but which also generally pervades
the founding ideas and political culture of Pakistan - that makes
West is only now beginning to recognize the pivotal role of the
"evil ideology" that British Prime Minister Tony Blair
now blames for the 7/7 attacks in London. Blair also recognized
the "battle for hearts and minds" that underlay terrorist
acts and our responses to these. Regrettably, this recognition
is still to produce a significant strategy of response in the
global war on terror.
the other hand, it has been the core of the Islamist extremist
approach, which lays immense emphasis on a future guided essentially
by ideological motivators, and has created an enormous institutional
and political infrastructure for the propagation and promotion
of the ideology of extremist Islam. And it is precisely this insidious
ideology, "a belief, one whose fanaticism is such it can't
be moderated", and its vast apparatus of support within state
and non-state entities in Pakistan, that draws people like the
22-year old Shahzad Tanweer, one of the London bombers, and thousands
of others, to the madrassas, the marakiz and the training
camps of Pakistan.
writer is a Research Fellow, Institute for Conflict Management
and Assistant Editor, Faultlines: Writings on Conflict & Resolution