06 July, 2007
Nafaz-e-Shariat Muhammadi (TNSM -- Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic
Laws, in English) came into being in 1992 with the appointing of the
founding member Maulana Sufi Mohammad as its amir (head). Sufi Mohammad
started his Islamist politics as a member of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI)
but left it in 1981 after creating harsh differences with JI central
leadership and renounced electoral politics. He declared that the politics
of elections was haram (forbidden under Islamic law). He also declared
that the religious parties, which take part in elections, were also
un-Islamic. "We want to see the imposition of shariah here and
in the rest of the country and the rest of the world....The Jamaat-i-Islami
wants to come into power in Islamabad. They are even ready to accept
the American [brand of] Islam." Sufi stated in an interview in
1995 to the press.
There is no doubt that the
emergence of TNSM was a direct outcome of the jihad in Afghanistan.
The region of Dir/Malakand division where TNSM became popular in the
beginning abuts the province of Kunar in Afghanistan. The most important
demand of TNSM after formation was the imposition of sharia in the Malakand
division. TNSM has been waging an unrelenting struggle for the imposition
of sharia in the Malakand division. In 1990, they announced that they
had imposed the Islamic law and forbade the people from going to courts
of law. As TNSM grew in numbers and influence, they started using violence
for the acceptance of their demand. In one instance, tens of thousands
of its followers blocked the highway for nearly one week.
Under their growing pressure,
the then Chief Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao (now Federal Interior
Minister) entered into an accord with TNSM to establish Qazi Courts
in replace of regular courts in Malakand Division and the NWFP governor
imposed sharia in the Malakand division in May 1994 through an ordinance.
However, the ordinance could not come into operation even after the
passage of four months. This provoked the TNSM activists and they agitated
all over the division, provoking widespread agitation. The group started
kidnapping government officials. During one such violent agitation,
they even occupied the Kanju airport and other government buildings.
They even killed Member of NWFP Assembly Badiuz Zaman. The government
also promised to impose sharia law in other parts of the area as well.
The rebellion and insurgence was brought under control after the loss
of a number of lives.
Soon after the terrorist
attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in September 2001,
most of the Islamist and jihadist parties agitated against the coming
American attacks on Afghanistan. The TNSM was in the forefront of agitation
in their region. Sufi led thousands of his followers to Afghanistan
via Bajaur Agency with an array of weapons, including swords, axes and
bazookas where most of them died. To their total surprise, the Taliban
refused to welcome them and asked them to return to Pakistan after handing
their weapons over to them. In the meanwhile, the American war-crafts
started carrying out air strikes against the Al-Qaeda and their hosts,
the Taliban. The Taliban, who had some sort of plan to escape the bombardments,
disappeared and left the TNSM cadres to suffer heavy casualties. The
new Afghan government arrested most of them. The Pakistani government
arrested Sufi Mohammad on his return. A special court sentenced Sufi
Mohammad and 30 others to seven years for leading thousands of his followers
to Afghanistan in spite of government restrictions.
Local political and social
circles argue that thousands of mujahideen were killed as a result of
Sufi Mohammad's incompetence and lack of combat skills. As a result,
Sufi Mohammad lost much of his support. Gen. Pervez Musharraf banned
the TNSM as a terrorist organisation along with other militant organisations
on January 15, 2002. The organisation became inactive.
As a result of Sufi Mohammad's
imprisonment, his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah is leading the TNSM.
Maulana Faqir Mohammed is one of the prominent leaders. Maulana Liaquat,
another of the prominent TNSM leaders, was killed during the aerial
strike claimed by the Pakistani security forces on a Madrasa (seminary)
in the Chingai village at Bajaur Agency on October 30, 2006. The government
has said that the Ziaul Uloom wa Taleemul Quran seminary, run by Maulana
Liaquat, was being used for training militants. At least 83 people were
killed in the aerial raid. Faqir Mohammad and Maulana Liaquat were wanted
by the government for harbouring Taliban operatives and training militants.
The executive body is the highest policy making organ of the TNSM. The
organisation has a large number of ex-servicemen, including many retired
Commissioned Officers, within its ranks, revealed by the information
obtained by the website of South Asia Terrorist Portal (SATP).
When an earthquake struck
Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and parts of the NWFP in October 2005, Sufi
Mohammad's followers capitalised on the incident and are using it to
reorganise TNSM. There is a strong and growing belief among the people
of Swat and Malakand districts that the earthquake was punishment for
their misdeeds. Remnants of the TNSM have been encouraging them to burn
their valuable electronic equipment in order to avoid the sinful life
and prevent further retribution.
The magnitude of this movement
can be gauged from news item reported by the newspapers. According to
the news report, on April 14, hundreds of people gathered after Friday
prayers at two different villages. Maulana Abdullah was leading the
procession at the Bilogram village in Malakand when he and his followers
gathered in a nearby area and set fire to thousands of audio and videocassettes,
televisions, computers and CDs. The same episode took place simultaneously
at Barikot village in Swat. Furthermore, the aftershocks from the October
8 earthquake are still occurring and continue to frighten the region's
inhabitants. On April 11, for instance, another powerful aftershock
jolted the whole area. These aftershocks result in more determination
by the local populations in these districts to set their music-related
appliances on fire. TNSM also started to operate its FM radio. Thousands
of people tune into this radio programme transmissions. This radio station
was recently banned by the government and, as a result, thousands of
people staged demonstrations against this decision.
Fazalullah established this
FM radio station at Imam-dairi, a small town in Swat district. The station
is used to deliver teachings of the Quran and persuade people to destroy
their musical appliances by arguing that listening to music and performing
other sinful acts caused the recent earthquake. According to the broadcast,
if believers do not give up their musical and electronics equipment,
it may invite the anger of God. As a result of these teachings, thousands
of inhabitants voluntarily destroyed their electronic goods in just
a few days and this chain of events has continued with short intervals.
Additionally, as a result of TNSM's religious urgings, 50 families announced
the end of their years-old rivalries, hundreds gave up the use of drugs
and unaccountable numbers disconnected their cable television connections.
Religious parties termed
the government's decision to ban the radio station as a conspiracy to
prevent religious teachings, and accuse the Musharraf regime of acting
on the orders of the America .On April 20, the press reported that so
far 10,000 people have set their electronic goods on fire as a result
of motivation given by the FM radio station of Fazalullah, who declared
that watching television is un-Islamic. There are a number of worrisome
events -- one being the attendance of more than 30,000 people at the
Friday congregation at Imam Dheri (headquarter of TNSM).
Maulana Fazalullah, popularly
known as Maulana Radio, has a large admirers club. The female listeners
of this FM channel are making their husbands to grow beards and abandon
what the Maulana describes as 'un-Islamic'. Women in increasing number
attentively listen to the sermons of Maulana Fazlullah on 'illegal'
FM radio stations in and around Swat. Fazalullah speaks to his listeners
regularly via his FM radio and advocates against sending kids to schools
for attaining secular education, rather emphasises to train these little
souls for jihad against the infidels. He has made an impression of himself
and issues fatwa as and when he wishes to. According to the latest news
reports, the Lady Health Workers in Swat, Buner and Dir districts have
refused to administer polio vaccination to the children, solely because
of their fear of victimisation by the fanatic followers of Maulana Fazalullah.
In Swat, most of the people
from Imams Dherai, Damghar, Kanju, Kabal, Matta, Kuza bandi, Bara bandi,
Mingora, Saidu Sharif , Charbagh, Shalpin, Fatehpoor and from all over
Swat valley have set the electronics goods on fire . Also Nazim of Charbagh
Union Council Behroom Khan announced to grow bread in a public gathering
under the pressure of this militant organisation.
The defunct TNSM and the
MMA-led provincial government had struck many 'compromise' agreements
to ease tension over the use of an illegal FM radio station, and a campaign
against TVs and VCDs in Swat. "A potential clash between the TNSM
and the provincial government has been prevented because of the deal,"
provincial Minister Hussain Kanju and Jamaat-e-Islami leader told the
press, after a meeting with TNSM leader Maulana Fazlullah. According
to the agreement, the TNSM will end its drive against TVs and VCDs and,
in return, the government will release its activists. The government
has also allowed the TNSM to use an 'illegal' FM radio station and so
far released its 79 activists, in the month of August 2006.
Dr. Fazal Rahim Marwat, a
teacher at Pakistan Study Centre, Peshawar University, states with regard
to objectives of TNSM in said areas that "Swat and Dir were formerly
princely states of Indian Union and joined Pakistan after decades of
partition in 1947. In these princely states, the people were more used
to personal rule. It appears that it has been the mind of Sufi Muhammad
-- later Fazalullah -- that once having control over the hearts and
minds of innocent people of these areas, the next step would be to have
a virtual clerical state where he would rule as a dictator. The public
support could be used for bargaining chip to negotiate with the central
government to recognise his 'right' of governance over the said areas
otherwise he has other options." (Political Philosophy, TNS, June
If we analyse the political
scenario of TNSM-controlled areas, we see that Swat, Malakand and Dir
in the NWFP are politically motivated areas and as such are greatly
influenced by the country's mainstream political parties. Dir and particularly
upper Dir is a stronghold of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI). Malakand and Swat
are jointly politically influenced by the Awami National Party (ANP),
Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and Jammat-e-Islami
(JI). If we analyse the results of recent local bodies' elections, ANP,
a progressive nationalist party, has become the party who has won the
highest number of Nazims and councillors in Swat and Buner. In Dir,
ANP has got surprising seats and interestingly won the Union Council
and Tehsil from which JI's provincial head and then Provincial Senior
Minister, Siraj-ul-Haq also hails. Also ANP has won its first National
Assembly seat from Bajaur Agency (a stronghold of TNSM and bordering
area to Afghanistan) in by-election. Ideologically, the masses in these
towns are not committed to the cause of the Taliban or religious extremist
Locals said militants from
Waziristan are present in Swat in great numbers. There are reports that
the region is fast becoming a source of manpower for terrorist activities
and getting people motivated and involved in incidents like that of
the Lal Masjid in Islamabad (The News, June 18,2007). Nazish Brohi,
author of 'The MMA offensive, Three years in powers', published by Action
Aid Pakistan, opined that MMA has lost its reputation during its five
years of provincial government and will use TNSM in upcoming general
election in Malakand Division in order to defeat progressive political
(The writer is a researcher,
hails from Swat and works with SDPI, Islamabad. Email: email@example.com)
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