Actions in Malakand, Afghanistan in line with sharia: Sufi
* TNSM chief does not see his actions in Malakand during 1994 as haram * Says his jihad was ‘self-defence’
* Unwilling to back or condemn Al Qaeda’s actions
By Iqbal Khattak
PESHAWAR: Sufi Muhammad has condemned bombings, suicide attacks and attempts on General (r) Pervez Musharraf’s life as ‘terrorism’, but has dubbed his own actions in Malakand in 1994 and Afghanistan in late 2001 “in line with sharia”.
The outlawed Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM) chief arrived in Mingora on Tuesday afternoon to shoulder the responsibility of spearheading efforts to restore peace to a region that has borne the brunt of security operations against Taliban since 2007.
During an interview with Daily Times in February 2005, while behind bars in a Dera Ismail Khan prison, the 74-year-old TNSM chief appeared to have lost some of his ‘rough’ edges, saying the war being waged against Pakistan by so-called jihadi elements was terrorism and haram. “This is terrorism,” he had said, referring to the bombings and attempts to kill Musharraf. “I condemn all such activities,” he added. “What is happening in Waziristan is against sharia. Fighting against one's own army is not allowed in Islam.”
However, Sufi Muhammad remained non-committal about the activities of Al Qaeda, Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden. “I neither welcome what they are doing nor do I oppose them. In any case, why should I be asked about them? I am only responsible for my own actions before God.”
Contradiction: The contradictions are obvious. Sufi Muhammad rose against his own government when his followers besieged Malakand. He also violated Pakistani laws when he instigated his followers to cross into Afghanistan and fight alongside the Taliban. He is still unprepared to admit to any flaw in his decision to send so many youth to their deaths and says the religious groups betrayed the cause of jihad in Afghanistan. “Before the US invasion [of Afghanistan], all religious parties had decreed jihad. But when the moment of action came they went back on their word,” he claimed. “The US would not have succeeded in defeating the Taliban had these religious parties, I mean all those in the [Muttahida] Majlis-e-Amal, not betrayed Afghanistan,” he added. The TNSM chief mobilised 10,000 untrained volunteers to fight the American-backed Northern Alliance.
Self-defence: Why does he continue to defend his own actions when they patently violated Pakistani laws? “That jihad was in self-defence. Dying is part of such struggles. I have told you that I am a sharia lover and sharia says when the infidels attack a Muslim country anywhere in the world, jihad becomes mandatory.
“If I had not done what I did, God would never have forgiven me,” he said, adding that sending volunteers to Afghanistan did not mean he had links with the Taliban. “I never met Mullah Omar or Osama Bin Laden. I did not do this for the Taliban. What I did was in line with the sharia.”
Jihad or terrorism: Taking Sufi Muhammad's argument to its logical conclusion, one can perhaps also say the actions of Al Qaeda are not terrorism, and thus in line with jihad, as that too is self-defence. This line of argument threw Sufi off-guard and he merely repeated his earlier assertion that these acts were not Islamic. “Should you not condemn Bin Laden and the Taliban clearly and unequivocally?” was the obvious next question but his answers implied that he was not prepared to do that.
However, Sufi Muhammad is openly contemptuous of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA). “I do not believe in democracy. The MMA seeks enforcement of sharia through democracy. That is impossible. Sharia and democracy clash with each other and one cannot bring in Islamic laws through a democratic set-up,” he said. “The only difference between other parties and the MMA is that the MMA leaders wear turbans. There's no other difference.”