After throwing out Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government in October 1999 General Musahraf's military rule gave an intuition of liberator and reformer, who's ideal was Kamal-ata-Turk of Turkey, and who wanted to make Pakistan as moderate Islamic country, free of corruption, politically stable and economically empowered to face the present day challenges.
Many of us who closely observe Pakistan's internal & external policies, may identify Musharaf's role satisfactory onto war against terrorism however his internal policies shows clear confusion and double standard about Pakistan's future as being a moderate Islamic country.
Musharraf's loathing for two mainstream political parties i.e. Pakistan People's Party, Muslim League Nawaz Sharif Group (MLN) and the military's declared intent to keep two former prime ministers out of power, soft election rules in eligibility of candidacy for assemblies provided the MMA with an open political field. As a result, unexpected, however, first time in Pakistan's history, religious parties have gained parliamentary power after being just street power for years, religion is once again at the heart of debates in legislation and public discussions.
The victory of the religious parties in the October 2002 elections may have caught us by surprise. An alliance of six religious parties - the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) won majority in two provinces, significant presence in National Assembly & Senate, vowing to Islamic state and society through "Taliban" like policy in their speeches. The MMA emphasized its election campaign on Islam and anti-U.S. slogans, targeting government's pro-U.S. policies and promising the enforcement of Sharia law in Pakistan. MMA now runs the government in the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), bordering on Afghanistan, and shares power in Baluchistan.
The Jamaat-i-Islami and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, the largest parties in the MMA, have always maintained close ties with the military, its agencies and military dictators over the years. Qazi Hussain Ahmad of Jamaat-I-Islami have remained source supporter of Rabani, Hikmat Yar and Mujahdeen whereas Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam with Mullah Umar and Taliban through its strength of madrasas in NWFP and Baluchistan provices. Third strenth of MMA is Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan a political power of Davbundi Ulamas (religious leadership), which also have a network of workers through its madresas in Karachi, Hyderabad and southern punjab. Tehreek-Jaferia another member of this alliance is influenced by Iranian political philosophy and have close ties to Iranian political/religious leadership.
Now MMA is trying to fool International community by playing a role of opposition as well as key supporters of army government by assisting the military to keep their feet in power struggle of Pakistan's political culture and domestic legitimacy, in return the MMA got major concessions, such as the release of their workers who were involved in terrorist activities from jails and the dropping of several charges of riots and other major offences against them. In the NWFP and Baluchistan, Islamization is now official policy. Initial steps, such as a ban on music in public, attacks on cable television operators, ban on public display of women on signboard and commercial holdings, separate schools for both genders, isolation of women and police action against video shops are signs of what lies ahead as the MMA implements its program.
It is yet to perceive that how much success MMA will have to implements their agenda in their governments. The MMA however, stresses that implementation will remain within constitutional limitations.
General Musharaf has chosen to follow his military precursor, creating alliances of convenience with religious organizations to curve democratic rival, the mullahs' usefulness for the military goes beyond its own borders. On one hand interaction with Mujahideen, Taliban in Afghanistan, infiltration of guerillas in Kashmir, backing up Hizabullah, palastinians, and newly liberated central Asian states for greater Islamic solidarity, on the other hand Pakistan's nuclear program brings the MMA and the military together. The more Musharraf looks for domestic authenticity, the more important role mullahs will get.
Musharaf's government claims to follow pro-U.S. policies whereas Mullah Military alliance threatens Pakistan's stand against axis of evil, the military's unwillingness to disentangle from religious sector is not in accordance with Musharaf's announcements, "disappearance of terrorist groups", mullah's support for LFO (Legal Framework Order), constitutional amendments, and their stillness on convenient arrest of Dr. Abdul Qadeer and other nuclear scientists are contradictions to Mullah's traditional temperament.
So to speak, General Musharif might be innocent, his intentions might be good, and he might only be looking for domestic legitimacy but Christian and other religious minorities are concern about mullah military alliance, which is direct threat to civil liberty, religious freedom, tolerance in Pakistan and peace process with the neighboring countries.
If Musharif really wants to make Pakistan a liberal & moderate Country his government should revoke all constitutional amendments that discriminate on the basis of religion and sex, revise laws that denies equal rights of minorities, release victims of blasphemy law, bring procedural amendment for blasphemy law, regulate madrasses, stop hateful religious sermons from Mosque and literature, develop and implement legislation regarding "jihad" and curb activities aimed at recruitment and funding of organizations involved in militant activities.
West & US should provide targeted conditional funding, which can improve situation of education, democracy and religious tolerance, change of curriculum of hatred from educational system, institutional development, through non governmental network, investment in media and IT technology so that average Pakistani can be exposed to out side world. Efforts should be made to subvert the hatred impregnated in youth's intellect that non-Muslims, west and US are our enemies. Otherwise this Mullah Military Alliance can bring some other surprises in future.