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    South Asia
     Jul 8, 2011

'Stooges' time is up in Pakistan'
By Mahan Abedin

Hizb ut-Tahrir (HuT), or the Liberation Party, was founded in 1953 in Jerusalem. The party advocates the politics of pan-Islam by calling for the re-establishment of the Islamic caliphate.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is active in most Muslim countries in addition to Western Europe, North America and Australia. Since the targeted assassination of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by United States special forces in Pakistan in early May, the Pakistani chapter of HuT has come under increasing media and security attention because of its alleged penetration of the higher reaches of the powerful Pakistani military establishment.

To investigate this issue further, Asia Times Online conducted an

exclusive interview with Hizb ut-Tahrir's spokesman in Pakistan, Naveed Butt.

Butt grew up in Islamabad and began his degree at the University of Engineering and Technology in Lahore before transferring to the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he completed a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. Since 2000, he has been the media spokesman for HuT in Pakistan.

Asia Times Online: How do you explain the explosion in alarmist stories about Hizb ut-Tahrir Pakistan by the Pakistani and international media?

Naveed Butt: Western governments along with their media are well aware of the global impact and reach of Hizb ut-Tahrir, especially in the Muslim world. Both America and Britain know that openly declaring our party as the real opponents will further galvanize support for our call and objectives.

Therefore, they try their level best to ignore us in the media whilst at the same time they use their agent Muslim rulers to hamper our activities through oppression, mass arrests, torture and persecution. The Hizb's influence and activities in the ummah [Muslim community] have now forced the West to address us through their media and so do their agents in Muslims countries.

Ignoring such a high-profile incident [alleged HuT support for militancy and HuT penetration of the Pakistani armed forces] would mean encouraging people within the armed forces to look for alternatives. Therefore, the Western and Pakistani media at the behest of the governments quickly jumped in on it and started concocting lies and causing unnecessary alarm amongst the masses. Having said that, there have been exceptions, and there are many sincere journalists in Pakistan who have come out openly and exposed these lies and supported the Hizb's non-violent political struggle for the khilafah [caliphate].

ATol: What was Brigadier Ali Khan's precise relationship with Hizb ut-Tahrir Pakistan? [1]

NB: The policy of Hizb ut-Tahrir is that we neither confirm nor deny such accusations or allegations.

ATol: To what extent is the Pakistani military sympathetic to the views and goals of Hizb ut-Tahrir?

NB: We call on the people of power to fulfill their Islamic duty and stop the munkar [transgression] by using their authority. We call upon them to eject all those who have revolted against Allah and His Messenger by conniving with the imperialists.

It is well known that seeking nusra [support] from the people of power was a part of the methodology of the Prophet Mohammad (saw) [2] for establishing the Islamic state, and the Hizb follows this method in letter and spirit. Unlike in some other countries. the Pakistani army is not an elitist army. They come from all strata of society.

Hence, whatever exists in the public opinion of the country, more or less the same thoughts and emotions are carried by the military as well. The Hizb has been working in the masses for the last 10 years and hence it is not surprising that like the masses, the idea of khilafah and the unification of the Muslim ummah resonates with officers of the armed forces.

ATol: What has been the reaction inside the Pakistani military to the targeted assassination of Osama bin Laden on May 2?

NB: The Pakistani military is part of society and they share the same Islamic feeling as the masses. Therefore, the thing that disgusted and infuriated the army was the sheer audacity and arrogance of the US and blatant subservience of the [Pakistan] military top brass.

No sane person in Pakistan, let alone an army officer who is more aware of Pakistani security capabilities and standard operating procedures, is willing to buy the absurd explanation that the US came from across the border, conducted an operation for 40 minutes and then safely flew back without the knowledge and consent of the top army and civilian leadership.

This incident alone was enough for the officers of the armed forces to conclude that they are actually led by a bunch of US stooges. This is why [Chief of Army Staff] General [Ashfaq Parvez] Kiani himself visited various military garrisons and gave explanations in town-hall style meetings including at the National Defense University (NDU) and Quetta Staff College in order to pacify the angry officers.

His basic argument was built around fear, ie we are weak and cannot counter the US hence we have to accept this humiliation and violation of Pakistani sovereignty. Obviously, officers of a professional army that possesses nuclear capability are not willing to buy this. This is why the US and their agents, such as General Kiani, feel very vulnerable and have started to harass anybody who has Islamic inclinations.

There are reports that all those officers who are known to be Islamic in orientation are not being promoted to higher ranks even if they deserve to be; or they are given posts which are not sensitive. This in turn produces frustration and disenchantment which, obviously, is not going to help the US in winning hearts and minds within the armed forces.

ATol: In regards to the violation and gradual erosion of Pakistani sovereignty by the United States government, is there a point at which the Pakistani military will snap and react against America?

NB: It is not a matter of if but rather when. The frustration, anger and disgust currently present in the Pakistan army cannot be sustained, especially when more and more people now believe that they should not be fighting America's "war of terror".

Numerous officers have either quietly resigned or they have been court-martialed for refusing to fight their Muslim brothers in FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas]. This pressure cannot be sustained indefinitely. And evidence points to the fact that it [the breaking point] will occur sooner rather than later. However, a decisive break with America can't happen under the current political and military leadership, it has to be under a new sincere Islamic leadership, ie the khilafah state.

ATol: To what extent are Pakistan's political elites in conflict with the military over America's growing role in the country?

NB: The "politicians" versus "military" paradigm must itself be questioned. Just as there are some sincere people in the armed forces who are ready to challenge American tyranny, there is also a growing band of sincere politicians who are against America. Just as there are collaborators in the military leadership who have sold the country and its people to America for personal gain, there are also similar people in the political leadership.

ATol: As the situation inside Afghanistan becomes increasingly critical to the Western alliance, and in view of Pakistan's and America's divergent views on the desired outcome to the Afghan conflict, do you envisage an armed confrontation between Pakistan and America?

NB: Under the current traitor leadership there is no serious challenge to the American hegemony in the region and its attempts to pillage the huge material resources of Afghanistan that are estimated to be worth around one to three trillion dollars.

They have squandered an opportunity. Merely cutting off the NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] supply line permanently and expelling US officials from Pakistan would force America into a hasty retreat. As for the US fighting Pakistan, if America were to make that mistake, I ask the question; if they have not been able to subdue small groups of mujahideen in Afghanistan in a decade of fighting, what chance do they have against the strongest and most battle-experienced Muslim army in the world?

And this is why on March 11, 2009, in his presentation to key [US President Barack] Obama officials including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Interagency Policy Review of Afghanistan-Pakistan for the Obama administration, Bruce O Riedel, said they had looked at the extreme option of invading Pakistan, and, of course, immediately dismissed it. Invading a country that possesses dozens of nuclear weapons would be something beyond madness. Everyone agreed.
ATol: To what extent is the Pakistani Taliban a creature of the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)?

NB: Infiltrating a loosely knit organization such as the Taliban is not difficult for any government. There is enough evidence to conclude that the US has been able infiltrate the loosely structured Taliban to cause chaos in Pakistan. This was further confirmed by [Central Intelligence Agency operative] Raymond Davis' links with militant organizations. This is why the "militants" instead of targeting US assets, such as offices of the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation], CIA and Blackwater [Xe Services], were targeting mosques, Islamic universities, markets and bus stations. The whole purpose was to start a civil war or fitna [strife] where Muslims would die on both sides.

ATol: How will the ISI react to a popular revolution in Pakistan, aiming to overthrow the entire political establishment and replace it with a more representative system?

NB: Well, this is a question for the ISI to answer and I am only a spokesman of Hizb ut-Tahrir. However, the traitors within the Arab intelligence services did their best to stop the popular revolutions, but they were not successful in spite of deploying all their resources. Therefore, if a popular revolution starts in Pakistan, I advise the military and the political leadership to flee to their master's abode like [former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine] Ben Ali and the Afghan Central Bank governor [Abdul Qadir Fitrat]!
ATol: Do you fear greater Indian meddling in Pakistan and Afghanistan in the light of the growing turmoil in Pakistan?

NB: The recent Pakistan-India dialogue has shown that Pakistan has completely backed off from her traditional stance. The Pakistanis have decoupled Kashmir from trade negotiations and in principle agreed to grant India land access to Afghanistan.

On the other hand, it is well known that China is a regional threat to US interests in South and Far East Asia. America wants to use Pakistan and India as a block against China. For this very purpose, Kashmir and other irritants must be buried, not resolved, since any just solution will not be acceptable to India.

It was for this reason that the US is dictating that Pakistan backs down from her longstanding stance on Kashmir. [Former Pakistan president General Pervez] Musharraf was the first to initiate this divergence; [current President Asif Ali] Zardari is only staying the course. Hence, with agents like Zardari, [current Prime Minister Yousaf Raza] Gilani and Kiani one can only expect capitulation and surrender before India. So, yes, if these agents are not ejected, India's influence in Kashmir and Afghanistan will only increase.

ATol: To what extent have the problems noted above set back the quest to reclaim Kashmir from India?

NB: Reclaiming Kashmir is no longer on the Pakistan government's agenda. Hence, now we don't even hear the slogan "Kashmir banay ga Pakistan" [Kashmir will become Pakistan]. All we hear is about how much economic benefit we can get by trading with India.

Just last year, when Kashmir's streets were full of thousands of protesters, Pakistan observed a deafening silence. This was a clear signal that not only has Pakistan stopped supporting jihadi organizations resisting India's brutality, but she has also halted political support to the freedom struggle. The only way Kashmir can be liberated is through organized jihad under a state that mobilizes the armies. This would only be possible by establishing the khilafah.

ATol: What is your view on the recent conference in Tehran on the global fight against terrorism, which was attended by the heads of state of Pakistan and Afghanistan? Can Iran help redefine terrorism in a manner that suits global Islamic interests?

NB: That conference has actually exposed the real face of the Iranian regime. Everybody knows that Pakistan and Afghanistan are nothing but stooges of America and what they consider as terrorism is according to the definition as laid down by the United States.

In such a circumstance, cooperating with Afghanistan and Pakistan is actually cooperating with America. I don't see how by working with Pakistan and Afghanistan, Iran can benefit Muslims. The real vision for these and all Muslim countries is unification into a single state to represent all Muslims, regardless of their race or school of thought; a state that will stand for their interests with their considerable combined resources to end American terrorism practiced by official US armed forces and private military organizations.

1. Brigadier Ali Khan and four majors were arrested last month for alleged links to the HuT. They are being interrogated in the garrison town of Rawalpindi by the Special Investigation Branch of the Military Intelligence. 2. Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam is an expression Muslims use whenever the name of Prophet Mohammad is mentioned or written. The meaning is: "May the blessings and the peace of Allah be upon him [Mohammad].

Mahan Abedin is an analyst of Middle East politics.

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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