‘New Clashes in Islamabad’ by Tariq Ali for Counterpunch, July 10, 2007
Yet another crisis erupts in Pakistan. The first was dominated by civil society with lawyers and judges demanding a separation of powers and an independent judiciary. Simultaneously a group of preachers in an Islamabad mosque began to take direct action of a violent sort and demand the full implementation of the sharia (religious laws to further increase the social control of women) and a special religious police to ensure their implementation. A mosque under extremist control in the heart of Islamabad has been the spearhead of these demands. It is situated not too far from government buildings.
How could they have got the valuable urban land and built the mosque and madrassahs over two blocks without government support at some stage? They didn’t. The father of the two preachers who have led the action worked for military intelligence long before Musharraf appeared on the scene. Having been once helped and funded by the State they were later declared illegal and are hence short of funds. Even a year ago they might have been bought off, but no offers were on the table. Now it was too late. Armed jihadis began to shoot at police and soldiers. Musharraf sent in his favourite fixer to broker a deal, but neither side could accept the demands of the other. The militants challenged the regime and it hit back early yesterday morning. read more