Sunday, 11 September 2016

QK Archives: Interviewing Qazi Hussain (2001)

Interview November 2001 published by Newsline

“Vietnam was a picnic for the US forces compared to Afghanistan”

– Qazi Hussain Ahmed
Amir, Jamaat-e-Islami

By Sairah Irshad Khan

This interview was conducted via e-mail. In the absence of a direct interface, Qazi Hussain chose not to answer several questions and sidestepped others.
Q: You have vehemently opposed the position adopted by the Pakistan government vis-a-vis the allied action against Afghanistan. What other choice did Pakistan have – unless you consider being put in the same corner as Afghanistan is in today a viable alternative…

A: In spite of the indiscriminate bombardment of Afghan cities and countryside for more than three weeks, the American coalition has not achieved any of its targets and the Taliban are as defiant as ever. The Zahir Shah alternative is fading away, especially after the tragic end of Commander Abdul Haq – built up into a legend by the western media – one of the key figures in the future government set-up designed by the Americans and their Pakistani advisors. There is every possibility of America being bogged down in Afghanistan. In the opinion of an ex-Russian general, Vietnam was a picnic for the US forces when compared to the situation [they will encounter] in Afghanistan.

In one of his interviews, Pervez Musharraf prophesied that the days of the Taliban were numbered. On the contrary, it is Pervez Musharraf’s government that has become extremely unpopular, and it will be impossible for such an unpopular government to maintain political stability and law and order for much longer.

Instead of asking hypothetical questions about of what would have happened if we would have refused to follow the American line, let Pervez Musharraf and the American administration explain their objectives and their future line of action, because according to the majority of international observers, they have been trapped in a blind alley.

Even if they capture Kabul, they cannot set up a stable alternative Afghan government, and ultimately the anti-American forces around the world will come overtly or covertly to the rescue of the Taliban in the same fashion as the Americans supported the anti-Soviet mujahideen.

Q: Don’t you think exhorting the people to lay siege to Islamabad, asking for the government to be overthrown, and calling for attacks on airports or public facilities is tantamount to anti-state activity?

A: The nation is facing the worst crisis in its history after the 1971 war with India when it disintegrated under military rule. In order to face this crisis in a united manner, the constitutional institutions must be restored immediately. The All Parties’ Conference, under the aegis of the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), has demanded an interim government with the agenda of free and fair elections. In supreme national interest, the present unconstitutional regime of the self-proclaimed president, Pervez Musharraf, must bow before the national resolve and resign, the army must go back to the barracks, an interim national government should be formed, and elections should be held. The Jamaat-e-Islami has a tradition of organising such peaceful national movements.

Q: If you feel as strongly about a jihad against the ‘infidel’ Americans as you have proclaimed, why are you and your sons not at the vanguard of the jihad, fighting on the frontlines in Afghanistan with the youth that your calls for jihad have inspired to cross the border and join the Taliban?

A: I have got my own jihad front. Even in the armed forces everybody is not supposed to hold a gun and go to the front line.

Q: Considering you so avidly espouse the madrassah system of education, why didn’t you educate your children in such institutions, and furthermore, given your disdain for all things American, why did you send your son to the States in pursuit of higher education?

A: My father was a renowned religious scholar (alam-e-deen). He educated and trained us in both educational traditions – madrassah/religious education at home and school, and college/university education. I have received all my religious education privately from my father and elder brother, and obtained a Masters degree in geography from the University of Peshawar. My elder brothers were both men of letters, both religious and mundane.

I have trained my children in the same tradition. They are highly educated in both traditions. My elder son earned a Masters degree in Islamic Economics from the International Islamic University, Islamabad, and subsequently he got a Masters degree in Economics from Boston University. He returned to Pakistan to serve the nation as a lecturer and as an executive director of an Internet Service Provider. My eldest daughter is a lecturer in Islamic Studies. My second daughter is a Hafiza-e-Quran and graduate in law and Shariah from the International Islamic University. Additionally, she holds a Masters degree in English literature. My second son is pursing an MBBS degree and is currently in the final year of his studies. All my children are educated in the traditional religious way as well as in the modern way. This is the system of education being propounded by the Jamaat-e-Islami. We cannot go against modern education, but we want all educated people and all citizens of Pakistan to also be good Muslims. For this purpose we want to introduce a uniform educational system.

Q: Given your very vocal support for the Taliban – which clearly does not endorse your views on education or women in the workforce – do you consider the Taliban’s Afghanistan the ideal Islamic state?

A: We are for the full implementation of the constitution which provides a sufficient basis for the development of an Islamic polity in Pakistan. We are for the implementation of the recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology. This is our concept of bringing about an Islamic change in Pakistan.

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