Pakistan's 'Army of Islam'

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Pakistan's 'Army of Islam'

Tuesday, 21 August 2018 | Priyadarshi Dutta

Pakistan's 'Army of Islam'

It seems unlikely that General Bajwa can alter the motto of the Pakistan Army, which is to fight for Allah and not the nation. It has everything to do with religion and little to do with national security

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is in the eye of a controversy for hugging Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa at the swearing-in ceremony of Imran Khan in Islamabad. The overture, to be honest, was from the side of General Bajwa. But the General being in his uniform, Sidhu possibly could not have been ignorant of his identity. The General reportedly stated that they desired peace and made his reverence for Baba Nanak (Guru Nanak Dev) obvious.

Sidhu is being criticised because he hugged the Chief of an Army, whose hands are stained with the blood of Indian soldiers. Cross-loC terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir could not have been organised without active support of the Pakistan Army. Infiltrators have always been the advanced guard of the Pakistan Army even during the India-Pakistan wars of 1948, 1965 and 1999. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh (Retd), who served as a Captain in the Indian Army during the 1965 war, is miffed with his Cabinet colleague’s behaviour.

A Pakistani Army Chief beseeching peace to a Punjab Minister is a climb down, semantically at least. General Pervez Musharraf, in the aftermath of the 1999 coup, notwithstanding the Kargil fiasco, was still offering India war if it wanted war, and peace if it wanted peace.

If General Bajwa desires peace, Pakistan can surely have it at no extra cost and with no extra effort. All it has to do is to do nothing; not organise infiltration of terrorist, not target Indian Army post across the loC and international border. Pakistan is trying to wrest the Kashmir Valley through proxy war. India is not trying to wrest Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

But will General Bajwa be able to change the creed of the Pakistani Armyij Its creed is to fight for Allah rather than the nation. This is not an allegation, but a self-declaration. One has to merely visit the website of the Pakistan Army to find out what the institution has to state about itself. I request readers to kindly visit the section ‘Motto of Pakistan Army’ from side navigation menu of ‘Pakistan Army’ on the left hand bar of Pakistan Army’s official portal   

The motto features a poster containing Tariq’s prayer. Who is this Tariq, by the wayij Tariq Ibn Ziyad (670-718 AD) was the commander of the Arab-Berber Muslim Army, which in 711 AD, invaded Spain from Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar. He used the rock of Gibraltar as his launching pad. In fact, the word Gibraltar is Spanish derivation of the Arabic name Jabal-Tariq or the mountain of Tariq.

Tariq’s military campaign was offensive in nature in the cause of Islam. The prayer, as quoted, reads: “These Ghazis, these devoted souls of Your lordship/Whom you have blessed with zeal of Your worship,/Their legions overcame deserts and river,/And trample mountain to dust with fervor/They care not for world’s pleasures/The love of the lord are their treasures,/The mission and aim of Momin is martyrdom,/Not the booty of war, nor crave for a kingdom.”

Tariq was neither a Pakistani, nor a figure from South Asian history. He carried the crescent banner of Islam to Europe. Any guess why should he be an ideal for the Pakistan Armyij This because, in the heart of hearts, the Pakistan Army believes in Tariq’s mission of Islamic military conquest.

The motto of Pakistan’s Army seems to be an exposition of theological principles. The section on Jihad-fi-Sabilillah is instructive. “The real objective of Islam is to shift the lordship of man over man to the lordship of Allah on the earth and to stake one’s life and everything else to achieve this sacred purpose. The Arabic word ‘jihad’ means to struggle ‘or’ to strive. In as much as ‘jihad’ is a struggle, it is a struggle against all that is perceived as evil in the cause of that which is perceived good, a cosmic and epic struggle spanning time and all dimensions of human thought and action, and transcending the physical universe.”

Shifting the lordship of man-over-man to lordship of Allah on the earth, spoken in the context military, is a very political rather than philosophical goal. It means a land, which is not under the political control of Muslim, must be conquered by them for the sake of Allah. This is exactly what Tariq did.

The section on Jihad-fi-Sabilillah, however, cautions that Muslims should not be aggressor, cruel or revengeful while fighting. Fighting has to be done under certain rules, as prescribed by the Quran. But Tariq was an aggressor. So were Mahmud of Ghazni and Ahmed Shah Abdali et al — after whom Pakistan had named its missiles.

The motto of the Pakistan Army has everything to do with religion and little to do with national security. Patriotism is not one of the virtues the Pakistan Army is actuated by, according to its motto. It would not be wrong to call it Army of Islam rather than Pakistan Army.

Now compare this with the ideals of the Indian Army. The corresponding section in the Indian Army’s official website:  is ‘The Ethos’ under ‘About Us’. The ethos of the Indian Army as given on its website:

i) Spirit of comradeship and brotherhood of the brave, regardless of caste, creed or religion. The motto is “One for all and all for One.”

ii) To do and die for “Ns” ie Naam (honour of the unit/Army/Nation), “Namak” (loyalty) and “Nishan” insignia or flag or the unit/regiment/army/nation.

iii) Non-discrimination on account of caste, creed or religion; a soldier is solider first and anything else later.

General Bajwa, despite his grooming in the Pakistan Army, might be sincerely desirous of peace. But it seems unlikely he can alter the motto of the Pakistan Army. It is this motto that spurs Pakistan to fight for Kashmir  because it is a Muslim-majority Province under the rule of India.

The underlying reasons could be anything else, like securing riverheads in Jammu & Kashmir to meet Pakistan’s ever-increasing demand for water. A recent UNDP study says a looming water scarcity will adversely affect Pakistan’s stability. Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) warned that the country may run dry by 2025 if the authorities didn’t take immediate action. Then there is all the more reason to celebrate Tariq. He conquered the water-rich Spain for the Moors of water-scarce northern Africa.

(The writer is an independent researcher based in New Delhi. The views expressed herein are his personal)

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