We finally come to the nub of the matter. Your response makes it crystal clear that in your reading Taliban = Talibanization = Islamization = Pakistan (with the Muslim League and the Iranian Revolution as historical evidence). Against this absolutely ahistorical reading of present, I have been spewing on this blog for 5 long years. Go read the archives, should you want to guffaw with me.
You don't grant any history to Pakistan or Afghanistan. You don't want to hear their voices. You don't care about any facts because for you, the more "salient" facts are the ones you have constructed. Here is the thing, though, what you marshall as evidence isn't factual, at all. It is your analysis masquerading as facts. The sad reality is that your thinking is (and has been) the dominant trend in the US reaction to 9/11. I am certainly the minority voice.
The "Taliban", according to your response, are a "broad political movement". They are indeed political - on this we agree, absolutely. But if they are more than warlords - enabled by opium trade or Pakistani army - spewing religious screeds than you will have to show me the proof. What is their political base? If they are a political movement across Afghanistan and Pakistan since the 1990s, then show me when they contested in any of the 6 elections held in Pakistan or Afghanistan? Do they have candidates? Slogans? Now, I admit that I am refusing you the equivalence of Taliban with any old "Islamic-faith" based party - because it is a preposterous claim. (( To claim that the 40-odd years of Muslim League political (with leadership coming from U.P and Bengal) understanding of Islam as a cohesive force is the same as the Taliban's terror-based implementation of "Islamic law" is flabbergasting.)) But even if I grant you that: the fact remains that those Islamic parties have never garnered more than 7% of the popular vote. Ever. Facts do matters, Spencer. If you wish to convince others of your point of view. If, on the other hand, like the Bush (and now Obama) administration, you merely want to assert your known unknowns than you can do as you please.
Fundamentally, I understand the following to be your point of view: There is expansionsist Islamic-fascist power called the Taliban in Afghanistan/Pakistan. This power has to be stopped only by military means. This military might must be U.S. or its surrogate (though, don't trust the surrogate). After the destruction, the Left can spearhead a flowering of democracy in South Asia. Or in your own words:
It is clear that the political struggle against Islamism in South Asia, as elsewhere, has a military aspect and that any marginally desirable political outcome will have been brought about at least in part by means of the violence of state action. Moreover, as most Leftists would doubtless be loathe to admit, the very prospect of reconstituting Leftist politics in South Asia rides to no small extent on the ability of the U.S. and NATO to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On this we disagree. And we disagree vehemently. I hate the radical Islamicists as much as you. As a historian and as a Pakistani, I recognize the immense damage that Z. A. Bhutto and Zia ul Haq's Islamization (more specifically Sunnification) policies have caused to the Pakistani nation. As a secular humanist, I appreciate your concern and I will readily join you in working towards spreading a left-based democracy in Pakistan.
But, I don't believe in the healing power of napalm. I have family and friends in Manshera, in Peshawer, in Abbotabad. I have spend time in those streets and alleys. I may be powerless against the drone, but I will speak out against it. I will make my stand - intellectually, ethically and morally - against raw military aggression of either the warlords or the national and international armies. The military response, now that it has come to it, should be smarter, focused, counter-insurgency based, and should not disrupt more lives than the warlords ever deemed imagine. It should incorporate a political front on which the long-standing grievances of the people in NWFP and Baluchistan would be addressed. To my non-expert eyes, those are the concerns which should shape Pakistani state's response.
Let me end here. I would prefer that we continue this conversation at Jimmys.
Re: "I am refusing you the equivalence of Taliban with any old “Islamic-faith” based party - because it is a preposterous claim." To flesh out what is implicit here, not only would the question of "equivalence" be problematic, but the Muslim League was not a faith-based party at all. It was, in many ways, the MODERNIST side of Muslim Indian politics (the conservative, RELIGIOUS side was seen in the pro-Congress camp (Khilafat movement, Ali brothers, and all that -- precisely the sort of political religiosity that so disgusted Jinnah in the 1920s). Many Indian liberals express bewilderment at the notion that Deoband graduate vrai Maulana Abul Kalam Azad ended up on that side of the border, and M.A. Jinnah on this one, but that is no coincidence IMO, nor irony/tragedy/what-have-you: http://qalandari.blogspot.com/2005/08/on-historical-relationship-between.html). Aside: speaking of faith-based parties, there have been fewer more "progressive" parties (whether or not faith-based) in modern South Asia than the Pashtun-centric, Islamic Khudai Khidmatgars -- this aside is because I'd love to see people writing more about this movement, which is so very relevant given that the relevant region is so much in the news today. If someone could recommend books on this that would be great too (the one I am most familiar with is Mukulika Banerjee's The Pathan Unarmed, but presumably there are others)...
Not to mention that Maududi's animosity to the idea of Pakistan (and Muslim League) fades around 1953. After the State cedes him the Ahmadis.
Dear Sepoy, I don't know what you mean you claim that I say Taliban = Talibanization = Islamization = Pakistan (with the Muslim League and the Iranian Revolution as historical evidence). I am perfectly aware of the chasm that separates the Muslim League of the 1940s from the Iranian Revolution. All I did was to identify the demand for Pakistan as politically retrograde but as political (and thus transcending ethnicity). I listed a number of political defeats to show that there were examples of political catastrophes overtaking the people of Pakistan in all their ethnic variety and in their mega-cities - that these catastrophes "befell" the cities of Pakistan without those cities having "fallen" to them in any military sense. I am deeply sympathetic to the Muslim League's (and Dalits' and non-brahmans' and Tamils') criticisms of Congress brahmanism, and I don't equate Jinnah with Zia. It would be absurd to do so, and, undoubtedly, in other parallel historical universes Jinnah's demand for Pakistan might have opened on to more livable worlds. But Jinnah's demand for a Muslim state was also a necessary moment in the actual history that has led to the present form of political Islam (and political Hinduism, of course) in South Asia (and world history). But, to repeat, I don't think the Muslim League's demand that the "nationality" of South Asia's Muslim population be recognized was retrogressive per se, though once it began to be territorialized as a demand for Pakistan (rather than as a demand for a multinational state) I think it changes its character (though it is still not a reactionary anti-modernist authoritarianism a la Khomeini-ism in Iran or Talibanism in Af-Pak today). Thus I strongly disagree with the CPI's 1942 endorsement of the Pakistan demand. I challenge you to cite anything that I have written here or elsewhere that IN ANY WAY implies, "the 40-odd years of Muslim League political (with leadership coming from U.P and Bengal) understanding of Islam as a cohesive force is the same as the Taliban's terror-based implementation of “Islamic law.”" You cannot, because I don't think that or anything like that. So, please, don't grossly misrepresent my views. It's like you are not even responding to me at all. When you write, "You don't grant any history to Pakistan or Afghanistan. You don't want to hear their voices," I really don't know what you mean. I read books and newspapers; watch tv, film, and webcasts; and listen to audio broadcasts do I not? The one time I planned to travel to Pakistan to participate in a leftist conference there I had to cancel my plans because our leftist comrades and colleagues were denied visas and the conference was canceled. But are you implying that I have some aversion to Pakistani voices? What does this mean? Are you making a political point or a personal criticism? I really don't get it. I agree with you when you conclude by saying, "The military response, now that it has come to it, should be smarter, focused, counter-insurgency based, and should not disrupt more lives than the warlords ever deemed imagine. It should incorporate a political front on which the long-standing grievances of the people in NWFP and Baluchistan would be addressed. To my non-expert eyes, those are the concerns which should shape Pakistani state's response." In fact I read as concurring with my published view which you quote in your post. It is a distortion of my meaning to imply that I believe in the healing power of napalm. When I say, "It is clear that the political struggle against Islamism in South Asia, as elsewhere, has a military aspect and that any marginally desirable political outcome will have been brought about at least in part by means of the violence of state action," I am not celebrating the fact (now, finally, we can avail ourselves of the healing power of napalm!). I'm simply saying that there is an ideologically committed force that seeks power by military means and that it will have to be stopped by military means. (The Taliban don't care if only 7% would vote for them - They will simply impose their righteous social order on the backs (and backsides) of the corrupt misbelievers). In fact, reading about the brutality of the Pakistani military's current operations in Swat, I reluctantly but clearly stated that I did not support them. I don't know how to insert the link here, but I did say this on the last thread. I clearly acknowledged your concerns regarding the military. Still, I stand by my original response to your post to the extent that, politically speaking, the IDPs and all the rest of the death and destruction is on the Taliban's head. They, not the Zardari government, are fundamentally responsible and we should be clear about that. It was they that sought to impose at gunpoint their twisted and barbaric politics in the Swat Valley and every one of them who is killed is killed deservedly. Again, we should get clear on that. If we are to believe that there are "good Taliban" then let them prove it by laying down their arms (what provoked them to take up arms in the first place? What are their "grievances"?)
To clarify: I meant to write "The one time I planned to travel to Pakistan to participate in a leftist conference there I had to cancel my plans because our INDIAN leftist comrades and colleagues were denied visas and the conference was canceled."
Every Ideology creates its extreme if not checked by internal criticism and the internal system of tolerance towards the various contradictory thought process . Taliban is that extreme which was created by Jinnah. Jinnah couldnt exist with others (Hindus) , Taliban cant exist with Others ( lesser muslims ).. they are following the same ritual of intolerance . Pakistan was a confusion arose from insecurity and fake arrogance of an ideology and has remains so even after 60 years of its creation . if Jinnah was secular then why he created Pakistan? Can there be an Islamic Secular system ( or Christian or Hindu Secular system ), what so called Pakistani writer and columnist try to propagate ? well, no . There is only secular human .
@ Raj, I don't think it's fair to say "Jinnah couldn't exist with others." The demand for Pakistan didn't come originally from Jinnah. There was a real fear among Indian Muslims that British Raj would be replaced with Hindu Raj. We may wish that Indian Muslims had not been so insecure, but it's natural that a minority would fear majority rule. However, as we've discussed on this site before the Muslim League not only responded to that fear but also went some way to creating it. That said, Jinnah didn't argue for Partition until Congress rejected the Cabinet Mission Plan. So as late as 1946, he didn't want to break away from India. I think we have to realize that the politics of Partition were really complicated and not simply blame Jinnah. Also, I don't think it's fair to say that "Taliban is that extreme that was created by Jinnah". Jinnah in no way wanted an "Islamic" country. He articulated a vision for a homeland for Muslims, but it was supposed to include minorities as well (see the August 11 speech).
"The military response, now that it has come to it, should be smarter, focused, counter-insurgency based, and should not disrupt more lives than the warlords ever deemed imagine. It should incorporate a political front on which the long-standing grievances of the people in NWFP and Baluchistan would be addressed." When has the military ever used tact and intelligence? See: Bangladesh Liberation war. See: All wars with India
Kabir: It isn't enough to say that "Jinnah in no way wanted an “Islamic” country. He articulated a vision for a homeland for Muslims, but it was supposed to include minorities as well (see the August 11 speech)." One has to look not only at Jinnah's programmatic statements, but also at the political forces and social classes Jinnah relied upon. He could never (realistically) hope to create a secular democratic Pakistan given the sorts of political elements that composed the Muslim League of the 1940s.
Spencer, I'm not a historian (I study English Literature) but I know very clearly that Jinnah did not want an "Islamic" country in the sense of one run on shariah. He himself was an incredibly secular person who drank wine and ate pork and who married a non-Muslim. It was the conditions of the time that caused him to articulate the demand for Pakistan in terms of a "Muslim" homeland. As I understand it, there was a feeling at the time that Indian Muslims would simply be ruled by the Hindus as opposed to by the British. Part of the problem of modern Pakistan is this confusion about what exactly is meant by a homeland for the subcontinent's Muslims. Does this homeland necessarily have to be an Islamic state? I would argue for Jinnah, it didn't have to be. I believe it was after his death that the country's name was changed from "Dominion of Pakistan" to "Islamic Republic of Pakistan". There could have been alternative futures in which Pakistan could have remained a Muslim country without having to be an Islamic state. Anyway, this is not my field, but I don't think I'm mischaracterizing what Jinnah wanted.
Spencer and Raj- Jinnah was so much secular that popular Islamic party (Jamat-eIslami) used to call him Kafi-e-Azam. And here is something from credible source In fact, Jinnah fits quite closely the model of the classic liberal politician. He disdained populist politics, not least of the sectarian religious variety, and argued for constitutionalism, equality under the law and the separation of 'church' and state (explicitly stating that “religion should not enter politics”). It was this that lead him, in 1920, to resign from the Congress Party which had by then fallen under Gandhi's sway. Gandhi sought to mobilise mass sentiment, both Hindu and Muslim, through a naked appeal to religious symbolism — an appeal Jinnah regarded as highly dangerous. He had no ideological commitment to separatism: instead he was focused on what he termed the “political issue” of how to safeguard minorities in the new India. While many Congress politicians had no problem with simply taking over the old unitary colonial state (in Nehru's case in order to pursue socialistic planning policies), Jinnah argued that the whole basis of the nation had to be renegotiated in order to safeguard the rights and interests of all minorities. Read more here
Kabir: Again, I know the history. I am a professional historian of South Asia and am probably as familiar as anyone on this board on this history. I know what Jinnah's programmatic politics were (what he said he wanted). Your post doesn't contradict anything I've written here on this thread or on any other. My point is that Jinnah relied upon entrenched and highly retrograde segments of the ruling class that had grown up under the late British Raj, people who were threatened not just by the Hindu leadership of the Congress, but by the (at least relatively) leftist politics of Congress leaders like Nehru. They were threatened by the Congress platform calling for land reform. More to the purpose, they were threatened by the strength the Communist Party had by the early 1940s gained a foothold in Mumbai, Kanpur, Kolkata, and elsewhere. Jinnah was hopelessly naive as a politician, in my opinion. Though he didn't foresee it, it was foreseeable that the Pakistani ruling elite would rely on the rhetoric of religion to undermine the rule of law, the rights of minorities, and anything like constitutional democracy. Jinnah deserves to be criticized on the ground that he should not have gotten into bed with these elements for those purposes. After all, he was not simply a writer expressing certain views. He was a politician.
Neena: Will somebody please point out where I equate the demand for Pakistan with Islamist politics? And if you cannot, please stop telling me things I already know!
"Every Ideology creates its extreme if not checked by internal criticism and the internal system of tolerance towards the various contradictory thought process ." Raj it is funny , if you apply this rule to SECULARism's intolerance of all things religious. Only solution the secular /progressive intellectuals support and US govt, is acting on to eradicate "Taliban". No introspection, no tolerance towards contradictory thought process. Tragedy is that there is not even a "Taliban" spokes person to answer, they are being caricatured by the same people/forces, who have already decided to eradicate them. No inetrenal criticism! "Taliban is that extreme which was created by Jinnah."(LOL) So who craeted MODI/Hindu extremists of Gujrat pograms? Gandhi? Who created those extremists, that burned several thousand Sikhs alive and recreated the horros of partition at the time of Indira Gandhi's Assassination? Nehru? Or by default that also follows into Jinnah's lap?
Spencer, I don't understand why you're interested in spending so much time criticizing Jinnah. He was only human and couldn't possibly have foreseen the future. As we've all established, he was representing a movement that perhaps he didn't fully agree with himself. Anyway, he was no Islamist. No one denies that there always was this central tension in Pakistan between the idea of a muslim homeland and an "Islamic state." Subsequent developments have shown the damage that this confusion did to the country. How was the demand for a seperate homeland "retrograde"? Who are we to judge Jinnah from our presentist perspective. We need to understand him in the context of his own time. Also, you keep stating your academic qualifications. At this point, you just sound really pretentious. You do the same thing you accuse others of. If we try to discount your point of view by saying you're an outsider to the Pakistani mileu, you try to silience others by claiming superior academic knowledge. By this point, no one cares.
The one question I keep returning to, as a non-specialist but interested layman, is a question of numbers. If the Taliban-in-Pakistan, as I understand it, number in the 15,000 range, then what demonstrable evidence can be put forward to speak of a broader political movement of which they are expressive, leading, embodying, what have you, that has a more effective coherence than the observed factions and splits in the political environment in which they operate, without resorting to appealing to an essential mentality?
Kabir writes, "Also, you keep stating your academic qualifications. At this point, you just sound really pretentious. You do the same thing you accuse others of. If we try to discount your point of view by saying you're an outsider to the Pakistani mileu, you try to silience others by claiming superior academic knowledge. By this point, no one cares." I state my academic mastery of the subject, because people here write as if I were ignorant of simple historical facts (Jinnah ate pork and drank scotch or your comment "Jinnah did not want an “Islamic” country in the sense of one run on shariah"). It is really very trite to say, "He was only human and couldn't possibly have foreseen the future." He is a politician of great stature and he and the movement that he led must therefore bear the scrutiny of posterity. After all, we live with the consequences. That's why we study history. . . I couldn't care less about Jinnah "the man". The reason why the demand for Pakistan was retrograde is that it both registered and hastened the decline of the anti-imperialist and democratic left in South Asia. In other words, Pakistan was created because the anti-imperialist movement under the late colonial Raj was defeated in its most essential aims, one of which was to overcome the divisions created (or at least exacerbated) by the colonizer, another of which was to build up the strength of organized labor in Karachi, another of which was the democratization of the state and (crucially) the military, and another of which was to break the power of the landlords of Punjab and Sindh. I could go on.