Resistance and Control in Pakistan

Resistance and Control in Pakistan

Resistance and Control in Pakistan

Resistance and Control in Pakistan

Synopsis

How can people in the West make sense of contemporary unrest in the Muslim world? Is Islamic fundamentalism to be understood purely in religious terms? In Resistance and Control in Pakistan , one of the world's leading authorities on Islam, Akbar S. Ahmed, illuminates what is happening in the Muslim world today and assesses the underlying causes. He does this by telling the dramatic story of the revolt of the Mullah of Waziristan in northwest Pakistan and by placing it within the context of other movements occurring elsewhere in the Islamic world. He examines the social structure and operative principles in Muslim society and scrutinizes the influence of religion in a society that is undergoing modernization.

Excerpt

On September 11, 2001, when death and destruction visited New York and Washington dc, few members of the Wazir and Mahsud tribes living in far-away South Waziristan Agency in Pakistan imagined they would one day be involved. Yet on the second anniversary of September 11, us officials told abc television that Osama bin Laden was probably hiding in the Agency territory situated in the Tribal Areas of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan (ABC 'World News Tonight' with Peter Jennings, September 8, 2003). Media commentators went scurrying to locate the Agency on the map; I was interviewed on the show and was asked to describe the people and places of that area.

The South Waziristan Agency and the North Waziristan Agency together constitute what in the area is called Waziristan, which means the land of the Wazirs. There live two powerful and fiercely independent tribes, the Wazir and Mahsud. the two tribes were described as 'panthers' and 'wolves' respectively by Sir Olaf Caroe, the last British Governor of the Province, who wrote one of the most popular books on the Pukhtun tribes, The Pathans (1965). the Wazir tribe lives on both sides of the international border and crosses it freely. the two tribes are generally poor and there is little difference in wealth between the elders and the rest of the tribe. They live by what is called Pukhtunwali, or the code of the Pukhtun. Honor, hospitality and revenge are its primary features.

The South Waziristan Agency is redolent of the British imperial encounter with Asia: the Great Game, the Durand Line, formidable terrain and tribes-in this case, the Wazir and Mahsud. T.E. Lawrence visited the Agency. Its tribes provoked the usually cerebral Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, to note: 'Not until the military steam-roller has passed over the country from end to end, will there be peace' (Howell, Mizh, 1979, p. 36). British officers, including the popular Raj novelist John Masters, who wrote about these tribes, called them 'physically the hardest people on earth' (Masters, Bugles and a Tiger, 1965, p. 161). in 1920, they mauled

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