THE WAY IT WAS: Gallan baatan —Mian Ijaz Ul Hassan

The rhetoric of the Jama’at could no longer muddle the people. People found Bhutto’s sharp voice, which cracked under emotions at high pitch penetrating deeper into their hearts than lofty utterances coursing through well-greased gullets

Last Tuesday, GEO’s Amna Samna programme had Professor Ghafoor, Vice President of the Jama’at-e Islami. The compere asked him all sorts of questions but Prof Ghafoor proved too slippery for him. Jama’at leaders appear to be very docile and gentle. They are eloquent and courteous, and adamant without being rude. Those who do not know them well are amazed to see how their actions can be so contrary to their studied mannerism and manicured appearance.

In 1970, at the Punjab University Students’ Union Elections, Hafiz Idrees the Islami Jamiat Tulaba — student wing of JI — candidate for presidentship lost to Jehangir Badr. There was some confusion over the ballot paper for the General Secretary’s election but none about the president. The university instituted a Tribunal for recounting the votes to settle the dispute. The Jamiat insisted that the Tribunal be dissolved and their candidate declared the winner.

To force the issue, in the middle of night, they attacked the Vice Chancellor, Allama Allaudin Siddiqui’s residence. The gentle chancellor, who had never disagreed with anyone in his life, presumably hid under the bed while the student hurled threats and adjectives at the scrambled bed sheets. This naturally provoked an unwholesome situation in the entire Campus. One thing lead to another as a result of which Jehangir Badr, the undisputed winning candidate for president was sent to jail for a year and along with ten other students rusticated for two years. In the subsequent election when the Jamiat fielded M Hafeez Khan, Badr was again arrested for participating in the anti-Ayub student’s movement. He was cleverly released just one day before the polling. The Establishment preferred the Jamiat to the Nationalist Students’ Organisation (NSO) the main radical force on the campus that supported Badr.

In the subsequent decade with the support of Zia, the Jamiat virtually dismembered the academic traditions of the university to fulfil his private religious agenda. Student activities were restricted to whatever the Jamiat wished to do. About 80 teachers were transferred at an hour’s notice to far-flung places without even rental accommodation available. Some were despatched to colleges at the intermediate level; others to degree colleges where the subjects of their specialisation were not even taught. Those who reported on duty very soon resigned. A whole crop of some of the finest minds in the country was sheared at the behest of a dictator.

The Jamiat was given open field. They introduced a culture of religious bigotry and intolerance. They introduced violence in the colleges and on the Campus — above all they introduced firearms. I recall the time when NSO members were throttling from pillar to post to procure a pistol — one single pistol — with which they planned to defend themselves against the organised force of the Jamiat, which they suspected planned to attack their hostel.

In the early days before the 1971 national elections, The Jamiat was on the rampage in Lahore. Punjab University has always been their nursery from where they have traditionally raised their cadre, not for parliamentary politics but to penetrate the state. No one can deny that the strategy hasn’t worked. Even ‘the Chief’ cannot deny that there is a constant pressure exerted on him. Unlike other student organisations the Jamiat had paid political workers who were admitted as students to the university and colleges. Most of them were armed and rode motorcycles bought for them by the Jamiat.

Armed and supported by the university and civil administration, they flexed their muscles on the dissenting students and the academia. During Zia-ul Haq’s period the Jamiat imposed its complete hegemony on the campus. They had their protégés recruited, promoted and designated as heads of department. Even a peon could not be appointed without their clearance.

When in the above-mentioned programme the compere asked Prof Ghafoor why the Jama’at had joined Zia’s government; I was hoping the professor would recount the benefits the Jama’at gained by siding with the dictator. Instead of giving an honest answer that one would have expected it was almost embarrassing to find a respectable old man hedging around the question. It is common knowledge that the Jama’at was the first political party that brazenly abandoned the other PNA ingredients and joined the Zia regime. Professor sahib for an answer to no avail produced a number of pigeons from his magic hat.

As they say in Punjabi in galleen baateen (glib talking) no one can checkmate the Jama’at. But the compere remained focussed and persisted on asking innocent questions and then extending a long rope. He rarely demonstrates such patience but the tactics worked.

Everyone now knows how the Jama’at and the Jamiat helped Zia to produce an army of innocents from the universities and colleges, who were sent to sacrifice their lives on behalf of the US against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Ironically today they have been encouraging a new generation of brave innocents to kill themselves fighting against their former masters and secular Muslim governments.

When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto formed the PPP, Maulana Maudoodi the Jama’at founder opposed it tooth and nail. PPP was branded as un-Islamic; socialism was declared an ideology of the Jews. Maulana Maudoodi warned that if anyone uttered the ‘name’ of socialism, he would have his tongue pulled out from its root. It was not long before people could see through the hypocrisy of the Jama’at, its close affiliation with the CIA and the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East. The rhetoric of the Jama’at could no longer muddle the people. People found Bhutto’s sharp voice, which cracked under emotions at high pitch penetrating deeper into their hearts than lofty utterances coursing through well-greased gullets. What happened later is another story.

But to round it up it is interesting to learn that Farooq Sattar of the MQM has had finally revealed to him, “ JI is a fascist party.” — Friday Times, May14-20, 2004. “Chananni nein kia, lotey noon, ‘ Ja way chaikan wallia’” — “ a sieve declaimed to an urn with a spout, ‘Be gone you with many holes.’”

Prof Ijaz-ul-Hassan is a painter, author and a political activist. His e-mail is