A tradeoff from Pervez Musharraf to Parrot Musharraf

Rais Khan

In his famous book titled “In the Line of Fire”, the former dictator of Pakistan reflected on certain borrowed and some old ideas espousing their birth to his credit without realising that world has come closer and his claim could be challenged in the face of available truths. After describing his formidable achievements in military and political fields, Musharraf turned to his intellectual endeavours on Page-297 and wrote as, “The idea of ‘enlightened moderation’ dawned on me in my study one night when I was mediating on all this. To stop violence, we need a global solution.” Then on Page-299, he referred to the essence of his idea in these words, “In any case, enlightened moderation has nothing to do with Islam and its teachings. It has more to do with Muslims and their emancipation.” In his article entitled “A Plea for Enlightened Moderation” published in Washington Post on June 01, 2004, Musharraf invited Muslims’ attention to Islam and its teaching when he pleaded as, “We have a glorious past. Islam exploded on the world as the flag bearer of just, lawful, tolerant and value-oriented society. We had faith in human exaltation through knowledge and enlightenment. We exemplified tolerance within ourselves and toward people of other faiths.”

One is flabbergasted to find mutual contradictions between Musharraf’s statements. In his article he pleaded with Muslims to take heed from Islam and its teachings of tolerance, justice, self-development through knowledge etc but in his book he took a volte-face to disown any Islamic teachings. It only shows, with due respect to Musharraf, his eccentric and crank nature in thinking and formulating ideas. Such inconsistency and incoherence in his cogitation lead one to believe in the assertion of the senior generals that Musharraf’s Kargil operation was complete faux pas strategically and gaffe tactically. He probably used wrong inputs into the brainstorming sessions and relied on obsolete tools and techniques during evaluation and selection phases of the development of his strategic plan.

Contrary to his claim that the idea of enlightened moderation dawned on him one night, let it be clear that he improvised nothing rather the whole game plan was spoon-fed to him. Musharraf only used his person and the high office of the COAS of Pakistan Army as a relay agent to propagate an alien thought process of his mentors. Though information on US Government endeavours to affect Muslims’ enlightenment are available through various sources, David E. Kaplan, a distinguished investigative journalist, provided detailed expose in his article spreading over ten pages dated April 25, 2005 in US News & World Affairs under the title “Hearts, Minds and Dollars”. According to Kaplan it was July 2003 and the US Government’s leading players in winning the ‘war of ideas’ against terrorism had gathered at National Defense University in Washington DC. There were crisis managers from White House, diplomats from State Department, Pentagon specialists in psyops – psychological operation.

He further wrote, “The White House has approved a classified new strategy, dubbed Muslim World Outreach that for the first time states that the US has a national security interest in influencing what happens within Islam. Because America is, as one official put it, ‘radioactive’ in the Islamic world, the plan calls for working through third partners – moderate Muslim nations, foundations, and reform groups to promote shared values of democracy, women’s rights, and tolerance. In at least two dozen countries, Washington has quietly funded Islamic radio and TV shows, coursework in Muslim schools, Muslim think tanks, political workshops or other programs that promote moderate Islam.”

Elaboration further he wrote as “You do it quietly, says Zeyno Baran, a terrorism analyst at the Nixon Center who advised on the strategy. You provide money and help create the political space for moderate Muslims to organise, publish, broadcast and translate their work” Kaplan said, “US officials are working quietly through third parties to train madrasah teachers to add math, science, civics and health to their curriculum. The most ambitious program is in Pakistan… The agency (USAID) is working through private foundations and Pakistan Ministry of Education on what officials call a ‘Model Madrasah” program that may eventually include over a thousand schools.”

So what Musharraf projected as ‘His Idea’ and later on as ‘his strategy’, are, in fact, directives of the US Muslim World Outreach agenda. Even the modus operandi that he has laid down for his idea of enlightened moderation on Page 281 of his book is a verbatim of what is contained in the MWO programme. Once an idea is available it is not difficult to raise structure on it. The likes of Shahab and Gohar are always at hand to web and then inject idiomatic substance into the borrowed ideas.

Even if Musharraf rejects to receive any impulse from the idea of MWO, he cannot escape the truth that such ideological dispensation was tried in the eighteenth century with the connivance and sanction of French philosopher Voltaire and his companions, though strongly opposed by Rousseau and others, and was named as Enlightened Despotism aka enlightened authoritarianism. Musharraf only changed the nomenclature to enlightened moderation with the same philosophy and methodology as practised by Frederick the Great, Catherine of Russia or Joseph of Rome.

The idea in 18th century Europe was and still is in Musharraf’s version to keep the ruler and his/her junta above the pale of law or any constraints and devise rules, limits, behavioural etiquettes etc for the subject masses.

Looking at the MWO agenda and to the role of Musharraf to enthusiastically propagate its message across the Muslim world, one is reminded of the meaningful words of Jean Paul Sartre, a French philosopher and intellectual of world repute. Sartre wrote a foreword to Fanon’s book entitled “The Wretched of the Earth” wherein he expressed his thoughts as, “In the 19th century, the golden age of colonization, we used to bring these African, Asian and Latin American ‘Pseudo-freethinker’ to Europe and walk them around Lisbon, Paris, London and Amsterdam. After a few months of having amused them with learning a few gestures, dancing, slight change of accent, modern living and various imitations, we would send them back to their own lands. Upon return these people would recognize themselves as superior races and would assume a mission on par with a loud speaker. That is, they would parrot to their people what we had taught them. These individuals were not only the colonizer’s crème of the crop but also they were a bridge for transferring our wishes to their native people.” If what Kaplan wrote in his article is true and there exists an idea with an organisation like MWO then one is shocked to find former COAS to come down of grace with a tradeoff from Pervez Musharraf to Parrot Musharraf.

If I am permitted to take a leaf out of quality management discipline and define integrity in that context then integrity of a person which is an important element of his/her character and moral standards, can be defined as ‘the totality of characteristics that bears on a person’s ability to withstand the temptation and lure of wealth, power and pelf, fame etc. It also means simply to not violating one’s own identity. It is not limited to financial integrity alone but intellectual integrity is an important feature of this virtue. Has Musharraf, who condemns national leaders with mean labels, been able to protect his intellectual integrity by not allowing himself and his office as pawn in other’s game?



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