Syed Munawar Hassan: Last of the Mohicans

Professor Dr. Husnulameen

1. Siraj-ul-Haq Saheb is trying his best to initiate the process of Jamaat’s transformation to a “post-Islamist” party. Post-Islamism here stands not for secularism or anti-religious position, rather, an inclusive approach to politics that keeps power and rights at the center, pays less attention to ideology and more focus to minorities concerns, youth issues etc. Unfortunately, Siraj Saheb and and his team lacks the required intellectual resources needed for such a transformation. They really don’t know the strategies how to operationalize this concept in the Pakistani context. Yet, he and his close teams members are looking forward to such a transformation that can shape the Jamaat along the Turkish or Tunisian model of Islamism.
2. The challenge Siraj is facing is no more different than what Qazi Saheb faced in the 1990s when he tried to introduce some key reforms within the Jamaat. The only advantage Siraj Saheb has is the presence and support of a formidable rank and file support, and the absence of most of the JI’s buzerg hazarat. Munawar Hasan Saheb’s seems to be the last of the Mohicans.
3. A prematuure Sociology of the Ijtemaa’, in my humble view, is the following. The abstract ideas of Islamic State/revolution were almost missing, and were replaced with little bit concertized Islami Pakisan is Prosperous Pakistan; there were no jihadi slogans written around the stage or anywhere in the jalsa gaah; almost no pictures of mujahedeen and kalashinkovs; the security was still given to Hizb al-Mujahideen; Amir of the Hizb al-Mujahideen Salahuddin arrived in the camp but I didn’t see that enthusiasm for him among the participants; The women and middle-age participants was significant; also good number of people from Balochistan, Chitral and Sindh. Honestly, not much youth.
4. A social media camp was established with significant number of young people having laptops and high speed internet connections, trying to set “trends” on the Twitter and Facebook. They put a lot of effort and energy in this. I went closer to one of my ex-student who was sitting there and asked him what is the situation? He told: “the social media is dominated by PTI. For the last two days, we are struggling to beat PTI-Larkana popular trend, but we couldn’t. We are still on number three.” Imagine it was PTI Larkana and not PTI Pakistan. It shows PTI’s invincible presence on the social media.
5. The number of participants was really significant. I don’t know the exact number, but may be in the range of 150,000 to 200,000. Overall, I found “affluent” classes in the Ijtemaa’. Significant number of personal cars; many people had booking in hotels and guest houses. Very unlikely, I think, in the past Ijtemaaat.
6. The Al-Khidmat and Industrial expo was something to be appreciated and expedite for further class analysis. I was impressed with the size and volume of charity and relief work by Al-Khidmat Foundation. I was in the company of Mr Inayat Ullah Khan Saheb (Senior Minister KPK), and so had access to rich data and information. There were some 200 stalls by the industries, schools’ networks and other business organization that are run by the Jamaat affiliate enterpreuers. This is something I want to further analyze in furtuer: the new social basis of the JI.
7. Any analysis of the Ijtemaa’ content/program reveals two things: (1) it was poor in terms of its coverage of issues and political value; (2) but at the same time, it revealed/symptomatic of change.

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