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Islam and the Pakistani Army



Foreign Policy magazine published an article concerning Islamic influence in the Pakistani army. While the main points may be controversial, the background section provides some useful historical context. It is excerpted below without comment.

Islam's Long History in the Pakistani Army

The Pakistani Army has long relied on Islam within the institution. The faith has long served -- with varying degrees of success -- as a unifying force to supersede ethnic, sectarian, and communal fissures that have long cut through Pakistan's polity. During the tenure of Pakistan's second military leader, Gen. Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, the Army assumed a new role of defending not only Pakistan's territorial sovereignty but also Pakistan's "ideological frontiers." To defend Pakistan is to defend Islam.

Islam has also served to motivate the Army to fight an enemy that has always been conventionally superior: India. The Army cultivates deep respect for the military value of jihad, which is evident in its professional literature. The Army uses Islam to bolster its will to fight by debasing the enemy. During the 1971 civil war, Yahya Khan motivated his soldiers by declaring the Mukti Bahini (the Bengali guerrillas) to be a kafir army against which the Pakistani Army was waging a legitimate jihad. Brig. Javed Hassan (who retired a major general), while a faculty member at the Command and Staff College in Quetta, authored a study titled India: A Study in Profile. It is required reading at Pakistan's National Defense University. Hassan argues that India is "less warlike" than Pakistan and attributes India's military failures to its Hindu characteristics.

Pakistan's Army likely needs such motivation against a larger, existential nemesis because -- though it has started every war with India -- it has never won any of them.

With little hope of defeating India on the battlefield, Pakistan has pursued an asymmetric form of warfare consisting of guerrilla and terrorist attacks under the security of its creeping nuclear umbrella. The Pakistani Army and the intelligence agency it controls (the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, or ISI) have long instrumentalized Islam to prosecute Pakistan's interests in Afghanistan and India, using a bevy of Sunni Islamist militant groups and other means to keep the country's enemies off balance.

Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, who seized Pakistan's government in a coup in 1977 and ruled until his mysterious death in a plane crash in 1988, was most notorious in efforts to Islamize the Army. He permitted religious groups to distribute their materials to the rank and file and officers alike. Under Zia, Islamic training was introduced in the curriculum of the Command and Staff College, which provides important training for promising officers of the captain or major rank. South Asia scholar Stephen P. Cohen found long ago that the Army's professional journals contained numerous essays that studied the question of Islamization of the military and the degree to which the Pakistani Army should achieve greater adherence to Islamic principles. Pakistani military analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi has noted that Zia's orthodoxy changed recruitment and retentions patterns by ensuring that piety was a part of an officer's evaluation.



READER COMMENTS: "Islam and the Pakistani Army"

Posted by Villiger at September 17, 2011 9:16 PM ET:

And here's a picture of the General with a dark, lecherous look.

I'll call it Beauty and The Beast...

http://www.dawn.com/2011/09/17/kayani-lays-stress-on-national-interest-at-nato-meeting.html

Posted by Charu at September 18, 2011 1:07 PM ET:

And no mention of the most infamous PakMil book of them all; Gen Malik's The Quranic Concept of War?

http://wolfpangloss.files.wordpress.com/2008/02/malik-quranic-concept-of-war.pdf

Posted by Villiger at September 19, 2011 11:46 AM ET:

A somewhat bold look at some of the options in dealing with the menace of Pak, its army and nukes:

"India, US urged to prepare for ‘worst case Pakistan scenarios’ "

http://www.dawn.com/2011/09/19/india-us-urged-to-prepare-for-worst-case-pakistan-scenarios.html

Posted by mike merlo at September 19, 2011 4:14 PM ET:

This article is a waste of space & misleading. Another 'think tanker' peddling geo-political pablum. Fascists/'Bolsheviks' long ago gained the upper hand in Pakistan & institutions 'that matter' ie., the military & judiciary. History has demonstrated on multiple occasions of well organized & armed minorities gaining control of the 'states' apparatus. Pakistan is just another real time example.

Posted by jack at September 19, 2011 7:57 PM ET:

Pakistan Army always is successful in brainwashing the people of Pakistan through the media,puppet politicians & Mullahs!! And this has been the case since Pakistan came into being!! It's high time that the people of Pakistan break free of this false hood life and take charge of their country and their future.......

Posted by Paul D at September 20, 2011 3:25 PM ET:

The Pak Army control the masses via the Mullahs.Read any book on the infamous Pak Military Mullah relationship.They fear democracy more than the ordinary people.

Posted by Indian at September 20, 2011 4:41 PM ET:

I think a whole bunch of points need to be considered. Most important being that the modern notion of a concept of Jihad to defeat a larger enemy is largely an American invention during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

What Pakistan has done - is simply to take this to the next level. I'm an Indian and I have no love lost for the Pakis - but even I can see the brilliance in what they're really up to.

They have no hope in hell of ever being able to defeat India. Most of their people are fed a diet of nonsense and they genuinely believe that a India / Israel / USA are plotting (like Mr Burns from the Simpsons) every waking moment to destroy Pakistan.

All that brainwashing is no different to 2002, when most of the Americans believed that Saddam was behind 9-11 and he had nukes.

So, in such an imbalanced world, all the Pakis can do is brainwash their population, fool them constantly, feed their paranoia by conspiracies, and keep India's development stunted by forcing India to wage a low intensity war.

The student has been learning from the master. The real issue always has been the constant interference in this part of the world. Had it not been for the Americans, India would have waged war in 1999 and 2002. Sure - would have been real messy, but atleast it would have given India an opportunity to degrade Pakistan.

Posted by Villiger at September 20, 2011 8:03 PM ET:

Indian, very good perspective--balanced on the whole.
Now, where to from here?

Posted by jack at September 21, 2011 3:36 PM ET:

Now, where to from here?....Simple; All the democratic 'free/liberal' societies must contain and wipe these terrorists! World has much to worry about the energy crisis,poverty,literacy,climate change,space exploration,economic depression.....it's hands are full...Can't afford to drag this war on terror....it needs a decisive end!

By the way'; yes during the peak cold war many things hapenned...like USA using taliban against USSR in Afghanistan,,,,but then, USA being a democratic countary like today's Russia, never used terror as the constant of state policy tool against it's so called enemies! The democratic countries draw a line somewhere, when it comes to atrocities on 'larger/blatent' scale! Unlike the Army controlled Pakistan using militants as the instrument of its state policy, with no democracy to check it....the out flow of opium from Afghanistan to the world to fund the terror activities....with no law/parliament to check....as the law is Radical Pakistani Army Generals(with one finger on the nuclear button).

USA and USSR of the cold war had many missiles and nuclear war heads; but these were professional armies, thus there was never an incident of nuclear attack!!.....Can we trust Mullahs,religious fanatics,war/drug lords, Pakistan Army with nuclear weapons!!!!......

So please don't say that the Student is simply following the teacher.....the teacher (USA) is a true democratic country unlike the student(immature/fanatic/undemocratic Pakistan Army)!!! The world can't afford the terrorists to have a safe heaven on such magnitude and scale....Period.

Posted by Villiger at September 21, 2011 10:42 PM ET:

Has anyone noticed that just in the last month the Pak Army has been trying to make all the right noises. Panetta/Obama have also just issued ultimatums re HQN.

2012 will see the battle move centre-stage to Pakistan, unless Pak changes course, which i think it is incapable of.

Posted by CL at September 25, 2011 2:00 AM ET:

Any religion - whatever it maybe - needs basic education to understand and comprehend its deep meanings.... Hence most Christian priests I know holds a Phd degree or a masters in something.

Islam on the other hand is blind faith reading a holy book (in arabic ) which nobody in pakistan knows its meanings (in arabic ).

So they can twist and turn its meanings to suit their needs to fool their fellow illiterate people. Stop the saudi sponsored madrasas and start proper schools in science and world knowledge and spare 1 hour each day to learn the quran also same time.

No other way around.

Posted by jack at September 25, 2011 11:18 PM ET:

Exactly, Saudi sponsored madrassas should be checked!
What is hapenning in poor & illeterate countries(Asian & African) is that, the saudi put their sulprus oil money in the name to promote islam! They don't fund the scientific institutions but illetrate and fanatic imams/clerics to spread their interpretation of islam to the poor and illetrate. These madrassas give away supper only to those who join as student! Since most people in 'African/asian' countries don't even get a proper meal a day, people here are ready to jump around the imam's and clericks skewed teachings! Once brain washed at young age these madrassa students spend their life seeing the world as enemy of islam and themselves to be islams so called self proclaimed soldiers.....it's a viscious cycle!
The rich saudi kingdom that has nothing better to do than promote this stupid non true version of islam and supress the true information to their popullation!!
The lazy saudi kings enjoy the luxaries of the modern world to the fullest and the lazy sulprus money goes all over the world to spread the hatred and skewed version of islam....this all, to rake the saudi kings tobe supreme race among all muslims and to show them that saudi kings are true muslims!.....
This is the exact root cause of all terror!!
These stupid Pakistanis are no different, they have been illetrate for generations and controled by lazy saudi money, which goes to madrassas and the pakistan Army, no wonder it's the epicentre of terrorism!

Posted by jack at September 25, 2011 11:19 PM ET:

Exactly, Saudi sponsored madrassas should be checked!
What is hapenning in poor & illeterate countries(Asian & African) is that, the saudi put their sulprus oil money in the name to promote islam! They don't fund the scientific institutions but illetrate and fanatic imams/clerics to spread their interpretation of islam to the poor and illetrate. These madrassas give away supper only to those who join as student! Since most people in 'African/asian' countries don't even get a proper meal a day, people here are ready to jump around the imam's and clericks skewed teachings! Once brain washed at young age these madrassa students spend their life seeing the world as enemy of islam and themselves to be islams so called self proclaimed soldiers.....it's a viscious cycle!
The rich saudi kingdom that has nothing better to do than promote this stupid non true version of islam and supress the true information to their popullation!!
The lazy saudi kings enjoy the luxaries of the modern world to the fullest and the lazy sulprus money goes all over the world to spread the hatred and skewed version of islam....this all, to rake the saudi kings tobe supreme race among all muslims and to show them that saudi kings are true muslims!.....
This is the exact root cause of all terror!!
These stupid Pakistanis are no different, they have been illetrate for generations and controled by lazy saudi money, which goes to madrassas and the pakistan Army, no wonder it's the epicentre of terrorism!