Sep 2, 2008

Hypocrisy: The cover for the failures of Islamic Politics

I was talking with a friend in Kabul over the phone earlier today as he was walking out of Indra Gandhi Paediatric Hospital in Kabul. My friend signed in her daughter who is seriously ill into Indra Gandhi hospital a few days ago but she has not received the appropriate treatment and the hospital condition is dire. He could not get his daughter to Charsad Bistar hospital which is slightly better condition because it does not admit children. He was on his way to ISAF hospital where a foreign friend offered to help him get his daughter signed into the hospital. ISAF hospital is not open to general public and the condition is very good as it is for treating foreigners. After I got off the phone I was thinking about the hospitals in Kabul and there is one thing strikingly similar about all Kabul hospitals: they are founded and funded by foreign countries. Indra Gandhi Hospital, obvious enough from the name, was established and mentored by Indians. Charsad Bistar was founded by Russians. It is modern and big and rival any US funded public building. ISAF hospital is run by NATO and the administration rotates between European nations. All these hospitals were built at the time when the Afghan government developed close ties with the country of sponsors. Kabul hospitals date back to fifty years and it shows how the country always relied on foreign support. Afghanistan has always relied on foreigners to sustain some sort of government. It was true fifty years ago and it is true today. Doud Khan leaned toward USSR in the 70s because he needed money to bridge 70% deficit in his government budget; huge chunk of Afghan governments came from abroad and the reliance has been increasing ever since while the politics of Afghanistan is pervasively becoming ‘Islamic’ which means militancy and violence has been encouraged though Jihadi ideology. Jihad in its essence is xenophobia, Jihad is nurturing an attitude of hatred toward foreigners and they do not have to be non believers. Jihad in Afghanistan has been mostly concerned with massacring the next village or the other tribe. Below I will try to analyse how Jihadi groups, which are strongest ever in Afghanistan today, are subdued to Americans and international community.

I argue that Jihadis and Islamic politics which means no state affair could be contrary to the principles of Islam, as stated in the Afghan constitution, is based on hypocrisy. Islamic politics are so vulnerable to interpretation that it lacks any principle. Afghan politicians interpret Islam in the way to suite their purpose; it could be argued that Islam as a state mechanism provides a cover for tyranny. Afghan Jihadi leaders have killed thousands fighting an opponent because they believe the opponent has links with a foreign state while they are also supported by a similar foreign government. Islamic politics is not the only source of evil in Afghan society; the society inherently is closed and rejects any change except when it is forced up on it.

Change is an important concept of any society. Change means to exclude everything that is predictable. This means that only events that could not be expected in accordance with the prevailing state of knowledge qualify as change.

Afghanistan is a tribal society and tribal morality gave rise to a closed society, which confers rights and obligations on members of the tribe and discriminates against outsiders. Tribal morality doesn’t recognise certain fundamental human rights. Rights differ based on tribal, ethnic or religious affiliations. Afghan society, being a tribal society, is built on the absence of change. In such a society, the mind has to deal with one set of conditions only: that which exists at the present time. What has gone before and what will come in the future are perceived as if they were identical to what exists now. There is no need to distinguish between thinking and reality. This traditional mode of thinking has only one task: to accept things as they are. Islamist can get away with their actions until they admit they are devoted muslims which appeals to the status quo. The public would not challenge them because that is a change. This supreme simplicity extracts a heavy price: it generates beliefs that may be completely divorced from reality. Abdul Rassool Sayyaf commander who is famous for beheading ethnic Hazaras and then pouring boiled oil on their scored necks to watch what he called ‘dead dance’ is driving in a smart car in Kabul today. Perhaps the reason Afghan society does not protest actively against such gruesome action is they are detached from reality. The traditional mode of thinking can prevail only if members of a society identify themselves as part of the society to which they belong and unquestioningly accept their place in it. a better term than traditional or tribal to explain Afghan society is to call it ‘organic society’, a society in which individuals are organs of a social body. This explains why a women is killed if the husband is taunted about her. Paighure is tribal code and it is to punish a woman if she is misperceived by some other person in the society. She is not an individual but rather an agent of the society/tribe. Afghan society being an organic society does not function along side a working government. Afghan society is vulnerable to forms of social organisation that had a better grasp of reality.

Change as it occurs in Afghan society causes uncertainty. There are two ways to deal with uncertainty: we can accept it or deny it. the former leads to a critical mode of thinking; the later to a dogmatic mode. Each approach has its merits and drawbacks. The state of affairs in Afghanistan constantly changes, people are confronted by an infinite range of possibilities. Understanding what is going on from the haze of possibilities requires critical thinking. Critical thinking has a major drawback that it does not satisfy the quest for certainty. In a rapid changing place like Afghanistan critical thinkers can rarely provide answers because of the amount of uncertainty. On the other hand Islam and Islamic politics offers certainty through dogmatic thinking. The dogmatic thinking gives people the illusion of certainty but it distorts reality. Islamic leader despite their atrocities continue to appeal to society as oppose to any other form of politics because they are dogmatic in their action and Islamic in their ideology.