Pakistan, regional balance and terrorism

Pakistan, regional balance and terrorism

- in Lectures

IMG_1287Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.08.33Open discussions in association with the Gulf Cultural Club

seminar on
Pakistan, regional balance and terrorism
Tuesday 8th August 2017
Speakers: Dr Sayed Inayatullah Andrabi, Sheikh Mosharraf Hussain and Dr Kamal Helbawi
Chairman: Shabir Razvi

Chairman: Shabbir Rizvi: Good evening, brothers and sister, ladies and gentlemen – welcome. Today we have a programme which I think impinges a lot on what is happening in the Middle East. The topic of the programme is Pakistan: regional balance, turmoil and terrorism. Obviously all of you may recall Pakistan came into being in 1947 when the British government decided to leave the subcontinent and split that nation into two parts which later on became three parts: Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. So there has been a development that has taken place in the subcontinent and particularly in Pakistan.

Historically Pakistan was created as a place for Muslims but with a very open secular outlook. Even the founder of Pakistan, Mohamed Ali Jinnah, was very careful, very particular and adamant that it should be a nation for all whether they were Christians, Muslims or Hindus when they were living in that particular territory at that time.

But we all know over the last seventy odd years what has been going on in Pakistan: we have had democratic experiments and in between there has been military rule on a continuing basis. It brings us to the recent resignation of Nawaz  Sharif as prime minister of Pakistan and once again it has exposed two aspects of the political system of that country. How fragile it is and how solid its foundations are.

One must remember that Pakistan of all the 57 Muslim countries is the only nuclear power so that gives it an extra dimension to our discussion. Despite the volatile nature since its  independence  from India almost seven decades ago, Pakistan has reeled from successive leadership crisis often  precipitated by violent death of its prime ministers including Benazir Bhutto, the first and last woman to hold this post. She was not the only one. There was another one in the 50s that was one of the founding members of Pakistan who was also assassinated.

The country has survived existential upheavals but is still plagued by the corruption of its elites and terrorism. As the Kashmiri problem lingers on, the border tension on the Pakistan – India border has always been a worrying time bomb. And again both nations have fought numerous wars in the last 70 years on this particular issue.  Pakistan’s involvement in the Middle East (supplying troops and police to defend repressive regimes) has also been deeply problematic and controversial.

Pakistan has sold its troops to various Middle Eastern countries among them Bahrain and  Saudi Arabia. You  may recall that Mr Zia Al Haq, when he was in the army, he was the main culprit in Jordan over the killing of the Palestinians over 30 years ago. Pakistan’s army, Pakistan’s military’s hands are dripping with blood as to what is going on in the Middle East. So our discussion today is where is Pakistan heading to?

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.07.24Dr Syed Inayatullah Andrabi: Respected ladies and gentlemen, salam  aleikum. It isandorabi a real privilege to be here this evening to talk about Pakistan which as Brother Shabbir Rizvi rightly said is the only nuclear country in the Muslim world. And it  has the largest and most organised army in the Muslim world.

We have to basically get a proper perspective and proper diagnosis of what we are talking about. What is the problem? There are problems which are very peripheral, very superficial. If for example you go to the doctor with the symptoms of a cold he may say you were probably not dressed properly last night when it was very cold. And it does not go beyond last night.  But sometimes he may prescribe an X-ray or a blood test just to see the depth of the problem. The problem may be looked into more deeply. There may be roots to the problem. It may not be that just last night you were not properly dressed. It may go beyond that.

So when we talk about Pakistan its successes and failures or any problem we should be rightly diagnosing it without coming up with any remedial suggestions or recommendations. My submission with regard to this is first a universal sort of rule which would apply when we look at the problem of today, the day and age in which me and you are existing  and living.  When we look at the problem around us there is rule of thumb – it  can be traced to the colonial past.

I am not the only one saying this. There is a world body of academics and scholars who subscribe to this view  all the problems we are facing now are because of the colonial past: we started with the Spanish and  the  Portuguese adventurers and they went to different parts of the world. It was the British, the French and ultimately it was the British and French and ultimately if you come to the core of it, it was the Anglo-Saxon world which has created the present world in which we are living.

Palestine goes there, Kashmir goes there. It was because they had a massive, extensive reach in the world. They transported Indians to Africa because they wanted coffee to be grown there. They shipped people from place to another. They discovered the first world, the America’s, they created the sugar plantations there. They brought them from Africa – we call that the slave trade. They were manipulating, they were moving things from here to there. If we are in a mess it is of their making.

This would apply to all problems. Something will apply to problems which are particular to the Muslim world. When we talk of any problem of the Muslim world: be it Pakistan, Palestine anywhere something will apply. I will draw your special attention to  his. There is something wrong, something   basically, actually fundamentally wrong. When we talk of politics and Islam in politics, we should rule by Islam there is something particularly lacking. We do not have a legitimising theory of politics. They have decided on one thing after shedding blood and killing millions in two wars – they have come to understand that it is the will of the  people, the representation of the  people – which is legitimate. Anyone who is not elected by the people is not legitimate.

We all know there were serious problems with Islam after the demise of the Prophet. We see wars fought which climaxed with the martyrdom of Hussein. The martyrdom of   Hussein is not just a historical event. It is sowed the seeds of the  rot which set in and unless that rot is addressed we are not going to go anywhere, I tell you.

Imam Khomeini when he led the Islamic revolution of Iran said that what has happened now is the extension of Imam Hussein’s movement. He got the legitimacy from there and that is right. It is not eternal. In time you cannot return. The Sunnah of Allah is always forward – you cannot return. But it is not about return. Unless we analyze what  the problem is, what led to the martyrdom of Hussein, what led to the massacre there, what led to those sad happenings which so far human history cannot produce an example of –  such barbarism which happened in the fields of Kerbala.

My point is that when we look at the problems which the Muslims are facing there is some basic rot.  If you google my name you will see my writings on the internet. When  the  Muslim Brotherhood formed the government in Egypt in 2011 after the Tahrir Square uprising, I was very clear and I predicted (it was not an astrologer’s prediction – I am not a astrologer)  that this is not going to last. I published this on the internet. It is not going to last because it is exactly like someone who is not trained in driving is put in the driving seat: it will be a disaster. When Morsi went I wrote  two articles. They are also on the internet. All you have to do is to google my name and you will get what I am saying.

So my submission (I am cutting it short) in coming to Pakistan is that when you look at the Muslim problems they are universal and there is a basic rot which has to be addressed. The Islamic Revolution of Iran was basically addressing this. Something very important in our history, in our quest, in our search for the future happened. If we turn a blind eye to it we will not get anywhere.

Now coming to the particular case for Pakistan, I am very sorry. I have to be sorry.  There is a very important point which relates to the discourse on  Pakistan, India and all this. We must bear in mind that the British Empire was constituted by present-day India, Pakistan, Burma and Sri Lanka.

All of us know about the Austro-Hungarian  empire and the European empires. Empires finish and we have nation states. Europe was re-organised into nation states after empires collapsed. The same thing happened in the sub continent. The British Empire came to an end and new states came into being: the Republic of India,  post 47 India. I did my masters and doctorate in the Indian city of Poona, I have travelled in India, I have a good pulse of India. I tell you with all the authority at my command that the age of India does not go post 1947. It was also created.  If Pakistan was created,  India was also created. The Republic of India did not exist before. It came into being in 1947.

We have Indian history. It goes to Muslim rule which started from Kabul. It was a huge stretch of land, stretching from part of the world to the other. It is a big story. The Republic of India as it exists now came into being in 1947. Similarly Pakistan had come into being. The states had come into being because the empire was over. States came up: Burma, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

So there was no partition of the world. A reorganisation took place. An empire was reorganised into four states. They key to today’s discussion lies here: understanding Pakistan’s problems. Here lies the key. The key lies here that India was born in 1947 but it was in the late 19th century that Indian national thought originated from Bengal in the east of India. It originated from there. There was a huge debate about Indian thought and those of you who  know the Indian reality must know that India is a deeply religious country. Nothing is secular in India. If I had to   speak here the time would have been fixed according to some astrology. It is all permeated by religion.

So Indian national thought made  India into mother India, a mother India which has to be worshipped. This is all documented in books everywhere. Indian national thought then became the Indian National Movement led by Gandhi who was a very capable leader who led it very successfully and then the Indian nation state was born in 1947.

Now look at Pakistan. There were three stages: first the thought, then the movement, then the state.  We can understand  it in reference to Labour. The Labour Party in this country originated as basically a thought, first.  Some people were mobilised around the thought and it changed into a movement and then the movement changed into a party. That is how it happened.

In the case of Pakistan there is a problem in that there is not much  thought. Jinnah created Pakistan, he was the founder. But the same guy, Jinnah, when he  was a congressman said that India will be divided over my dead body. And in one the conferences, it was a Muslim League and Congress conference, the two leaders were travelling and they exchanged notes with each other.  The Muslim League guy took the Congress notes and Congress guy took the Muslim League notes. They spoke at their conferences. It did not make much difference. There was nothing particular about the Muslim League. It was just a congress.

But then something started happening in 1930 with Iqbal. He was arguing about a separate land of Muslims. That was in 1930. And then in 1940 there was the thought of Pakistan but there was no formidable and strong movement like  the Congress Movement  led by Gandhi. It was basically Jinnah. There was too much haste. It was not a formidable movement with a proper apparatus but something came into being because the West –  the British government -thought it was in their interests to have a Pakistan. Punjab was portioned, Bengal was portioned and it was nowhere in the Pakistan plan.  Gudhur was given to India which was the only land route to Kashmir. If Gudhur was not given to India, India would have fly to Kashmir – there is no land route. This was against the plans of the Muslim League and Jinnah the leader and the founder of Pakistan made noises about it but Mountbatten and the British authorities sat with Jinnah. He could not do anything. He had to take what was given to him.

There are other points but I will now bring up the main points. The weakness of Pakistan originates from its creation and consequently Pakistan so far has not emerged as a proper sovereign state. A sovereign state means a state which is independent in its own decision making and outlook and a state which can independently what its aims, goals and interests are. The proof is that Kashmir is lingering on.

The Soviet Union was there. Pakistan was a frontline state against the Soviet Union. The Soviet   Union was dismembered so America realised its objectives. America got something which was in America’s interests and not necessarily in Pakistan’s interests. But what was in Pakistan’s interest? Pakistan has not been able to do it so far. My submission is that Pakistan has failed so far to work for itself.  There was the recent cold war but something more important is going on.

After the Islamic revolution the top priority of the American administration has been how to deal with it. They have been hooking Pakistan into this. They have not fully succeeded but they have not failed either. We must understand that the United States cannot do independently  in the Muslim world. It has to get the services of Al Saud. The Saudi  Kingdom  is the US office for the Muslim world.

Now Pakistan is being sucked into the Saudi-led coalition against Iran. We can say that so far Pakistan has failed to work for its own interests. It has been working for others’ interests and that is why I had to dig into history. The weakness comes from the creation of Pakistan and when I told you about the Muslim problems, deep down we have to go quite deep into our Muslim history.

There are so many problems everywhere but if you ask me what is the main problem problem. If we identify that all the problems will be solved or explained. That one problem is this. It is very simple. I am not resorting to ideology. It is a practical problem. When there is a house there must be a leader of the house who decides what should be spent, who will come into the house and   who lives there.

Pakistan is a country where there are many powerful groups: there is the army, there is the bureaucracy, there are feudal lords. There is a catalogue of problems. They could agree and find some common ground. They could agree and a consensus could come into place. Pakistan lacks this consensus. Different groups, different quarters are pulling in their own direction and this is the problem that must be addressed through consensus.

Once again, go to India. In India there is a consensus. That is why there is no problem in government. They fight with one another but there is a bottom line – that means there is a consensus. That means at least there is a denomination where they agree. Then they disagree. This is lacking in Pakistan. I will stop here and I will be happy to take questions and maybe I can elaborate on some points more.

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 11.09.13Maulana Musharraf Hussaini: Thank you very much for giving me a chance to talkhussaini about Pakistan. The political weather is hot in Pakistan and the financial weather and other weathers around Pakistan are also hot. First a little bit of background. I will just summarise some events and get to the point of what is going on in Pakistan, why it is going on and how it can be improved.

First of all we come to the background of Pakistan which we can’t ignore: the Mughals and the emperors in Pakistan. But before that we come to the longest living empire on the face of the earth: the Ottoman Empire which spread from the Hijaz (now Saudi Arabia) right up to Crimea from Hungry to Africa.

The First World War was fought to dismantle the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire was led by the Sunnis but it was not according to the Sunnis faith an Islamic government. They had open opinions and respected the Prophet and   Islamic values were inculcated there. And  the  result of the First World War was the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire into small states which we see in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

The outcome of the First World War was the creation of   one of the   big countries in the Middle East which has more influence on the Muslim World than any other country:  the Saudi regime and the Saudi kingdom.  The outcome of the Second World War was the creation of the state of Israel. We can’t separate these two things.

Now coming to what happened in the sub continent in Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. They were one country ruled by the Muslim Mughal empire. They ruled them for nearly 200 plus years. After that the British Empire took over. There were other people who were trying: The Dutch, the French the Portuguese   but the British East India Company was the one who won the war to influence the sub continent and it became part of the British Empire.

In 1947 Pakistan was created on one   side and India on the other side. This was the only country where the two portions were about a thousand miles apart: East Pakistan which is nowadays Bangladesh and West Pakistan.  The one who was a leader in the creation of Pakistan was the poet and philosopher Mohamed Iqbal and the leadership   and the movement was led by Mohamed Ali Jinnah.  The real vision of Pakistan was that of Allama Muhammad Iqbal who was also an Islamic thinker.

When Pakistan was created it inherited to many things from India and from the   British. The system there most of the rules are still the British rules which are ruling the part of the constitution although it has been amended. In reality those rules are still ruling them.

It was a surprising thing for me when I came to understand that the total number of British people who went there and who created that system in the subcontinent only totalled 28,000. The rest of them were the Indian people who were forming the infrastructure of the British Empire   in India. Not only that. During the Second World War a great number of soldiers were recruited from the subcontinent who  fought for the British Empire in Africa and in other parts of the world.

When Pakistan was created there were riots there as well. Too many people say that the Muslims started killing those who were Hindus or the non Muslims who were travelling from the Pakistani nominated divided areas to India.  And some people say the Muslims who wanted to come to Pakistan were killed and butchered   on their way.

In my opinion there were some other forces which ignited that problem from both sides. It wasn’t the people.  The people were travelling. They knew that some people would be coming from Pakistan. There was  killing and massacres on both sides of the borders where the hatred was furthered enhanced and boosted.

I don’t think it was because of the Muslims. They said that they were reacting. The non Muslims on the Indian side and the Muslims on the Pakistani side were saying that they were reacting to what happened there. But who started that? That is not understood. Nobody bothered to think about that.

The Muslims in India and Pakistan were linked to the Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate movement was started during the tenure of the British Empire. Anyhow after the Second World War Pakistan came into existence in 1947 but the system was still there, the Kashmir problem was there. The first war between India and Pakistan was fought because of Kashmir in 1948. In 1947 they got independence and in 1948 there was the first war between India and Pakistan. After that there was another war in 1965 and another in 1971 and there were problems arising between them.

The Muslim population in Pakistan had been very much linked to the Ottoman Empire and they had strong religious roots. And everybody knows that the slogan made for the creation of Pakistan was that we want a separate homeland for the Muslim nation as a separate nation. Pakistan was created in the name of Islam.  And the name for Pakistan was also Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Problems arose because some people challenged Islam. Islam was challenged by Salman Rushdie. Pakistan was the first country where the people came out in the streets and protested against that. When Al Aqsa Mosque was attacked in the 60s   the Pakistani population was the first one to come and protest against the occupation of the Al Aqsa mosque. It is happening again but no one from outside Palestine has done anything about it.

The Pakistani people had the inclination to support   Islam. Islam was deeply rooted in the minds and souls of the people of Pakistan. We see in the October War in the Middle East that  Israel defeated six countries in ten days paralyzing their armies and air force and taking the land of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon. Their armies were paralyzed. The country which helped them in the 60s in re-establishing   their army, air force and navy and training their cadets was Pakistan. So they had a link with the Muslim world and with Islam. That was the normal thing that was going on.

Coming   to the Islamic movements in different parts they were there. Different people tried to get benefit from these Islamic movements and tried to use them for their own benefit. But in the meantime came the Islamic revolution in Iran and that was a great time because Carter said we thought this was an island of peace in turmoil. And they could expect that a revolution in the name of Islam would come in Iran. The King had full authority and control over the country and in no time there was a strong revolution. It was not something that happened by chance and all of a sudden there was a revolution. It was a well thought out and well calculated revolution whose grass roots were in Islam.  Not as the communists say that when the people become hungry they bring revolution. This revolution was in the name of Islam.

And the world systems were worried the country in which the next revolution was most likely to occur was Pakistan which at that time was the most populous Muslim country. Bangladesh was also linked there.  They had their eyes on Pakistan because Islam was supported there.

So what happened? I will try and summarise everything in 20 minutes. Now to address that. They wanted to put a stopper in front of that revolution which was in the name of Islam. They still call it   an Islamic revolution but it was divided. I myself am still a witness to what happened at that time. They wanted to put a stop to it. That  when the time of  Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of the Pakistan People’s Party was ending.  He fought and won the elections and a revolution was brought in all of a sudden. That revolution was related to the yellow, orange and green……….. That was the initial stage of such revolutions and all the political parties got together.  Bhutto in his last speech in Rawalpindi said all this is happening because of my nuclear plans: because I want to make this country a nuclear country. That is why the white elephant wants to get rid of me. That was the time.

In those talks between the opposition leaders and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the main player was the Saudi ambassador, Riaz Al Khatib, who was organising everything. He was the main player in those talks. Zia Al Haq  brought in the revolution and it was confirmed that the talks had ended on a positive note and there was an agreement between the opposition parties and the People’s Party. But even then the revolution came and General Zia Al Haq took over. He said we will have elections. We will put democracy back on track. Zia Al Haq  made the largest number of umrah pilgrimages to  Saudi Arabia when he was the ruler of Pakistan. The total of all the trips made by the other rulers were less than those of Zia Al Haq. I would say he was fully in line with Saudi thought.

When Saudi Arabia was created after WW2 there was a new school of thought created by Mohamed Abdul Wahab. That was in line with the Saudi government. This was all just like we have got with the Church of England  and  the royal family. The Saudis have got Mohamed Abdul Wahab’s  teachings along with them. I would not say that the present day teachings of Wahabism or the followers of Wahab are the same. That was the initial thing that was created.  [I don’t have time to go into Lawerence of Arabia.]

Saudi  influence was boosted and that was the time when the structure of the Pakistani government was taken over by the Saudi regime, during the tenure of Zia Al Haq. In the meantime America decided to take ist revenge on the Soviet Union.  Communism was against Islam, they don’t believe in God. But God is on the dollar with the words in God we trust. Those teachings of the Wahabis were introduced to the fighters who were fighting against the Russians in Afghanistan and a genetically modified Islam was introduced and today’s takfiris are the present-day result of that. Osbama Bin Laden, wh ever they are, they came into existence through that war.  The people wanted Islamic rule in Afghanistan but Islam was modified and reintroduced. The straight-forward Muslim population was thinking this is the real Islam, I am serving Allah and I am serving the Prophet of Islam and I am serving Islam. This was not the reality.

After what happened in Afghanistan another thing that was introduced in Pakistan was sectarianism. They wanted the Islamic revolution or Iran to be labelled as a Shia revolution to alienate the Sunnis population which is about 70 percent of the Muslim population. That population will say this is a Shia revolution. If we call it an Islamic revolution everybody will think we are included in it and it will include everybody and it will spread to other parts. They tried to stop it. I know about the posters which were posted against the Shia by an organisation known as Anjuman Sahabia Safia. It was a proxy of the Saudis. I know none of their points were valid. They were lies. If you bring that poster anybody from any school of thought will say it is all lies.  They thought until   the truth comes we will have enough time to organise ourselves. So sectarianism was the second thing.

Zia Al Haq’s legacy brought in the people that trained these people. They were thinking they were training these people for Afghanistan and to be more realistic after we win the war in Afghanistan we will  bring that genetically modified Islam and the special school of thought. Maybe they were thinking we can utilise them in Kashmir to win the war against India in Kashmir.

Unlikely 9/11 happened and everything was re-planned. That was a previous plan but after 9/11 America said if you are not with us you are with them. We will bomb you and we will do this and that and we will start bombing right from Gawader up to Tajikistan, Pakistan you will not find it – we will take you to the stone age. And they have taken Syria to the stone age. They have taken Libya to the stone age. They have taken Yemen to the stone age. So this was not just a phenomenon – it was a reality.

General Pervez Musharaf, being the president at that time, diverted from them. When he did that there was a head on collision between those forces which had been fighting in Afghanistan.  They were later defined as Taleban.

Terrorism has now become a tool of influence. Everybody is utilising it like they are using the media and financial and political mechanisms. Similarly terrorism is being used as a tool  of influence by all those powers which are fighting in name against terrorism.

About 50 people were trained by the USA at a cost of about £57 million, approximately one million dollars per person. And when they crossed from Turkey into Syria they laid down their weapons to the subordinates of Al Qaeda and those types of proxies of Al Qaeda. Weapons no  problem for them.  Communications  no problem for them. All these things, terrorism, sectarianism, the global players still want the divisions they made after WW1. Kurdistan was divided into four parts one part with Turkey, one with Syria, one with Iraq and one Iran. Baluchistan was divided between Iran and Pakistan. The Pushtu speaking people were divided into two parts, one portion in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan. Punjabi speaking people were divided into two portions one in India and one in Pakistan.

Now because everything has settled down they want to realign the same game. They need a third world war for this realignment. Kurds and Baluchis have the same culture and the same language – they should come together. We are on the brink of that and the international players know that very well. We are 98 percent. If we increase our level of awareness we can stop it. Take off the divisions: white, Asian, black and African we are all human beings. It is by chance that I am   born to a Pakistani family. If I had been born to a white family I would have been a goran. It is by chance someone is born to an African family. It is not our division. Take off the skin we are all the same. We need to act like a human family belonging to the same father and the same mother. The time is clear. Jesus Christ and Imam Mahdi is coming and  will unite the world. We need to prepare ourselves for that time. Thank you very much.

Chairman: I like the concept of genetically modified Islam. It is something I will take home with me and use it quite often. Perhaps what is happening to the world is genetically modified Islam. The problems that we see on a world scale.

Dr Kamal Helbawi: It is very difficult to speak after two giants. I would like tohelbawi concentrate on three main points after the introduction. In the introduction I would like to say I am Egyptian by birth and I am Pakistani by love and living in Pakistan and I am British by nationality. When we were almost driven away by the Americans from Islamabad we lived with Dr Saeed Shehabi in the same street. So I used to ask my children, young ones, is it better here or in Pakistan.  And all of them shouted with one voice, Pakistan, Pakistan. Even the children they loved Pakistan. You can’t forget the roads and the mountains and the restaurants where you could eat with one pound only. You can eat whatever you like from Tabak or from different areas.

I can’t go deep into the background as the other two brothers covered it properly. I would like to tell you one important reality or fact for me. You cannot make a consensus on a country like Pakistan. We will differ as long as the distance from Karachi to Islamabad. If you have 200 political parties in Pakistan with a population of almost 200million then we will certainly differ.

The three main points I would like to discuss with you or shed some light on are the Afghanistan war when I was very close to the leaders of jihad (we can say ‘war’ or we can  say ‘jihad’) and to the people of Afghanistan to the movement and to even the leaders in Pakistan. I don’t like to mention names, but from the top and to the media and other others. That was my role as the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Afghanistan and in Pakistan.

I liked very much what Professor Qursheid once said in his lecture: Helbawi is working in Pakistan and doing some good work. It is a good bridge between Arabs and dajan and we hope that this would continue. But during the time of Peru Rigali in power the Americans insisted to take me home with them so the second day I was in London, thanks to God. The next day they went to my office in the Institute of Policy Studies, searched the place and  took  my secretary and my assistant for three months interrogation. So the Afghan War was a very a very complicated plot, very complicated planning and many of us were deceived by that war.

It was also a source of violence and terrorism. I am talking about the Arabs I knew and whom I tried to discuss many issues with. So the Afghan war, I have to as I wrote before, to give my deep thanks to the Pakistani people and to the Iranian people – both of them Pakistan hosted at least five million refugees and Iran hosted at least two million refugees. I saw the Afghanis walking in Peshawar or in Quetta or on the borders. I saw them in every place. No one asked them who are you and why are you here. They worked, they were learning, getting educated, living with their families.

I am talking about the people of Pakistan. I lived with them, I ate with them, I discussed with them all of our cultural events and they were really good people. And this is an asset and an advantage for progress and for the Muslim ummah to start with. This is a very good point. Things may be lacking in some other places but we don’t like to continue condemning. We have to do something positive and I propose in the third point some related issues as well.

The second point I would like to shed some light on is the challenges and the problems facing Pakistan. Maybe we can summarise them in general: some people say General Haq, some people say Hamid Gul ISI, some people say Pervez Mushraf, some say Benzair Bhutto some people say Nawaz Sherif, but they are complicated challenges facing the ummah that we have to understand and deal with. The potential in Pakistan is a very high potential. The people, freedom there, we can’t find such freedom in the Arab world, even with the army. There is a big difference between the armies and the leaders in the Arab world and the army and leaders in Pakistan.

The constitutional  court that recently issued the order against Nawaz Sherif.  You can’t find that in the whole Arab world including Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries. We have to understand some of the real problems and challenges facing Pakistan. So  one of these problems, as I said, is how to understand Islam and freedom. How to be a Sunni or a Shia without conflict or without war against each other. How to   understand Islam and how to understand the freedom on the ground and to deal with   that properly and avoid different images of conflict that I have seen myself in Pakistan.

Number two   corruption whether during the time of Mohamed Ali Jinnah since it started in 1947 or Zia Al Haq or Ali Butto  – say whatever you say. Since 1947 I lived in Pakistan but I lived with Pakistan since 1947 when it was created. I was ten years old at that time and it was for us a dream. Pakistan is becoming a Muslim state. It is a dream. And the sincere Arab scholars were invited to Pakistan on many occasions to make the constitution. A lot of work was done at that time.

It is corruption on all levels even at the time of hajj. The money paid in the religious area witnessed a lot of corruption. How to deal  with this corruption. It reminded me of Nigeria because I lived in Nigeria. Now it reminds me of Egypt. This is one of the main problems we have to tackle – corruption in Pakistan. On all levels. It is not only Nawaz Sherif. Corruption has strong roots in our Muslim world and in Pakistan specifically.

The third problem is the  frontier areas, Quetta and Peshawar. On many occasions while I am coming through to Peshawar I saw palaces. Who owns these palaces? They say someone who deals in drugs or steals arms. There is corruption from one side and the danger of not controlling the  tribal areas, is the real challenge.  This is what the British troops and the colonialists left in Pakistan. One of the main problems.

Number four is Westernisation and American hegemony. You live in a Muslim country. You go to Lahore the cultural city and other cities. You go to Karachi wherever you go you find American hegemony and Westernisation. I am not saying this is exceptional to Pakistan but I am saying it is one of the main challenges facing Pakistan at present.

Number five: terrorism and violence. This has many roots. You can say from the Afghan War. OK. You can say from Taleban, OK. You can say Hamid Gul is the godfather of Taleban. Say whatever you like. But I am telling you, violence and terrorism in Pakistan is a real challenge to progress and scientific advancement. Pakistan is great because I saw Abdul Kadir Khan one of the most famous scientists in nuclear power. Pakistan managed to protect him not like Yahya Mushahid in Prague, the Egyptian who was killed in France. Not like all the nuclear power scientists who were killed in America or in other places. Pakistan managed to protect Abdul Kadir Khan and I used to see it written in Islamabad, the house or residence of Abdul Kadir Khan. You do not know where he is living. Others are well known. They make news release when they travel and they become easy targets. So terrorism and violence is a real problem in the face of advancement and progress.

The last point, the regional role.  We all have to work for that: Pakistan, Iran the Asian independent states, Tajikistan Azerbaijan and others. Turkey and Afghanistan. Forget about the Arabs now. Give them some time to sleep. Really forget about the Arabs. These countries again: Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, the independent Asian states and Afghanistan should work together and  come together. America will never think of   harming any of them at any time. Let us start and you will see a good Muslim state – or at least an advanced Muslim state in Pakistan. Salam Aleikum.

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