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3. Politics

5. Prelude to Pakistan, 1941–1947

The development of the Jama‘at’s political outlook and plan of action is largely a result of its interactions with the various Pakistani governments since 1947. The manner in which the Jama‘at’s political agenda has unfolded to give shape to its plan of action cannot be examined apart from the political context in which the party operated. The Jama‘at’s politics, and especially the manner in which they have changed over time, are a function of the party’s experiences with the political process in Pakistan and the vicissitudes of its continuous interaction with other actors in the political arena. This has defined the party’s role in the political process.

Three interrelated processes have together served as the fundamental determinant of the nature of the Jama‘at’s political activism and have also outlined the historical paradigm which has governed the party’s development. The three are the emergence of a more balanced mix of ideological fidelity and pragmatism in the Jama‘at’s politics, the enclosure of the party’s ideological perspective and political aspirations within the territorial boundaries of the Pakistani nation-state, and the articulation and unfolding of the Jama‘at’s legitimating function within that state. Together these molded both the impact Islamic revivalism made on the state and, conversely, the influence involvement in the political process had on Islamic revivalism. The Jama‘at’s political discourse and organizational consolidation interacted with the objectives and needs of the Pakistan state to produce a symbiotic relationship between the two, above and beyond the mutual antagonisms which have characterized the relations between the party and Pakistan’s various governments.

When Pakistan was created in the summer of 1947, the Muslim League and the Jama‘at were at loggerheads, though instances of cooperation continued both before and after. The convergence of objectives of these two communalist programs, and Jama‘at’s hostility to the Congress party, in 1937–1939 had established a common ground. Mawdudi began his forays into politics by asserting Muslim communal consciousness against Congress’s secular nationalist platform in 1937, two years before he even took notice of the Muslim League in his proclamations or written works. His program was first articulated in a series of articles in the Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an and later published in Musalman Awr Mawjudah Siyasi Kashmakash (1938–1940) (Muslims and the Current Political Struggle) and Mas’alah-i Qaumiyat (1947) (Question of Nationality), where he attacked his erstwhile mentors among Congress supporters, ‘Ubaidu’llah Sindhi, Abu’l-Kalam Azad, and the leaders of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind.[1] In these works Mawdudi depicted the Congress as a convenient front for the Hindu drive for power and as a secular and, worse yet, socialist party, whose views were incompatible with Muslim values.[2] He therefore challenged the wisdom of siding with the Congress, asserting: “There are no common grounds between our movements [Muslim and the Hindu]; our death is their life, and their death our life.”[3] Nor was Mawdudi persuaded by the anti-imperialist rhetoric and logic of the Muslim supporters of the Congress. Combating the evil of imperialism, Mawdudi argued, did not justify sacrificing Islam.[4]

The fight against imperialism…and expulsion of the British has meaning for us only in the context of la ilaha ila’llah [there is no god but God];…otherwise there is no difference between imperialism and idol-worshipping democracy [the Congress’s position]. Lot goes and Manat [Qur’anic terms referring to evil and pagan forces] replaces it.[5]

Although Mawdudi’s line of attack was directed against pro-Congress Muslims as a whole, his most acid remarks were reserved for Mawlana Husain Ahmad Madani (1879–1957), the head of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind at the time, and one of the most outspoken and ardent supporters of the Congress party among Indian ulama. Madani was vehemently anti-British and dedicated to the nationalist cause; he was instrumental in establishing a base of support for the Congress among Muslims. In 1939 Madani had presented his views and the Jami‘at-i Ulama’s political platform in a pamphlet entitled Mutahhidah Qaumiyat Awr Islam (United/Composite Nationalism and Islam). The small tract soon became the basis for the Congress party’s Muslim policy, and hence the focus of Mawdudi’s most caustic invective. Mawdudi censured Madani’s thesis and challenged his political and ultimately religious authority, accusing him of sacrificing Islam at the altar of his anti-British sentiments. Mawdudi couched his arguments in religious terms, which not only undermined the Jami‘at-i Ulama’s political platform but also weakened its religious justification, hindering the ulama’s efforts to accommodate Indian nationalism within the framework of Muslim orthodoxy. So forceful was Mawdudi’s charge against Madani and the Jami‘at-i Ulama that Mufti Kifayatu’llah, a senior Jami‘at-i Ulama stalwart, advised his colleagues not to engage Mawdudi in embarrassing debates.[6] These debates had already prompted Muhammad Iqbal to remark, “Mawdudi will teach a lesson to these Congressite Muslims,”[7] and had led some enthusiastic Muslim League workers to refer to Mawdudi as “our Abu’l-Kalam [Azad].”[8]

Desperate to attract some support for its two-nation platform from the religious quarter, the Muslim League developed a keen interest in Mawdudi’s anti-Jami‘at-i Ulama crusade, which gave it a religious justification for rejecting the Congress’s plea for a united stand against colonial rule. Muslim League speakers borrowed such terms as hukumat-i ilahiyah (divine government) and khilafat-i rabbani (divine caliphate) from Mawdudi’s repertory, and his contribution to the Muslim League’s political agenda was often cited and acknowledged in private along with those of Iqbal and Mawlana Hasrat Muhani.[9]

Mawdudi’s writings were widely distributed in Muslim League sessions between 1937 and 1939.[10] League workers found this effort especially productive in Amritsar in 1939, when scores of copies of the Musalman Awr Mawjudah Siyasi Kashmakash were distributed.[11] A similar attitude was evident in the League’s central committee, which authorized the widespread circulation of Mawdudi’s religious decrees against the Jami‘at-i Ulama leaders in 1939.[12] Mawdudi’s usefulness to the League, however unintended, was nevertheless significant.[13] One Muslim League leader wrote of Mawdudi in retrospect that “the venerable Mawlana [Mawdudi]’s writings in Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an greatly furthered the League’s religious and national demands.”[14] The Jama‘at’s contribution to the League’s enterprise is perhaps the best example of an aspect of the growth of support for Pakistan in north and northwest India that has not thus far received its due attention.

So favorable was the impression that the Muslim League had of Mawdudi in 1939 that Mawlana Zafar Ahmad Ansari, then the secretary of the central parliamentary board of the Muslim League, who was at the time advocating the party’s cause before the senior ulama, took it upon himself to approach Mawdudi with a view to officially enlisting his support for the Muslim League. Mawdudi, not unexpectedly, turned down his offer, for he saw his contribution to the League and his success in stemming the tide of Muslim religious fervor for the Congress as a sign not of the confluence of his views and those of the Muslim League, but of the fundamentally religious nature of the Pakistan movement, his own inherent qualities as a leader, and his ultimate destiny to lead that movement. The nature of relations between the Jama‘at and the Muslim League was not decided by Mawdudi’s opposition to the Congress alone, but involved the competition between the two for power.

Relations with the Pakistan Movement

Mawdudi’s revivalist agenda took shape at a time when the Muslim League was a force to be reckoned with and the question of a separate Muslim homeland became a serious proposition. As a result, the course of the Jama‘at’s development became ineluctably bound to Muslim League politics. Since then the relationship between the two has influenced both the Jama‘at’s development and the Islamization of the political discourse in Pakistan. It has been a curious aspect of these relations, which the Jama‘at’s critics characterize as “opposition to Pakistan,” that the Jama‘at was more tolerant of the Muslim League’s support for a separate Muslim homeland in 1941 than it was in 1947. Its attacks on the character of the Muslim separatist struggle became more virulent as the League became more prominent in Muslim politics. The Jama‘at did not object to Pakistan but to its creation under the aegis of the League. Mawdudi readily admitted that he was opposed to the Muslim League because it was clear to him that Jinnah never intended Pakistan to be an Islamic state and later lamented that Jinnah’s successors had construed all criticisms of the League as criticisms of Jinnah, and all criticisms of Jinnah as disloyalty to Pakistan.[15] Malik Ghulam ‘Ali, who had been an ardent supporter of Pakistan when he joined the Jama‘at in 1941, recollects that many proponents of Pakistan like himself congregated around Mawdudi. They did not see Mawdudi as anti-Pakistan but viewed his position as reflective of the vision for a “true Pakistan.”[16] The problem of harmonizing the Jama‘at’s roles of holy community and political party unraveled in the face of the Jama‘at’s stand on Muslim separatism.

Jinnah helped form Mawdudi’s political thinking. It was Jinnah who showed Mawdudi the political potential of religion and, by the same token, blinded him to the importance of socioeconomic factors in the development of the Pakistan movement. Although Mawdudi followed the Muslim League’s example in courting the politically important educated Muslim middle classes, this measure by itself did not constitute a socioeconomic reading of what was involved in the Pakistan movement. For Mawdudi never saw the League’s success as a product of the Congress party’s Hinduization of India under Gandhi’s influence and its subsequent intransigence vis-à-vis Muslim demands, nor did he believe that it was born of the frustrations of the educated Muslim middle classes with British rule. Instead, Mawdudi understood the power of the Muslim League to stem from Jinnah’s appeal to Islamic symbols and Muslim religious sensibilities, and this conviction lay behind his adherence to the idea of the holy community’s political relevance, which early in its existence put a built-in brake on the Jama‘at’s development into a full-fledged party. Time and again over the course of the next four decades, the Jama‘at leaders cited the Muslim League’s famed slogan, “Pakistan ka matlab kiya hey? La ilaha ila’llah” (What is Pakistan about? “There is no god but God”), to prove this point.[17] For Mawdudi the League’s successful use of religious symbols proved that Islam was the ultimate source of power and legitimacy in the Muslim community. The composition of the League’s leadership—which Mawdudi regarded as secular and Westernized men who were at best modernist or “nominal” Muslims—was ample testimony to this.[18] Mawdudi was convinced that Muslim politics would be receptive to intrusive forays by religious forces, which, in turn, emboldened his demand for an Islamic state. He argued that the nature of the Muslim political discourse, as reflected in the increasingly chiliastic program of the Muslim League, attested to the Muslim community’s desire for such a state. Without it why part with India at all? There was no point in substituting Hindu rule with a godless one:[19] “If I could secure one square mile of territory in which none other than God would reign supreme, I would value every speck of its dust more than the entirety of India.”[20]

In the increasingly religious context in which the struggle for Muslim interests took place—when religion portended power and political success—the Jama‘at’s proclivity for political activity soon turned into an open claim to leadership. Mawdudi believed that the religious tenor of the League’s discourse had created expectations among Muslims which, given the party’s secular nature, it was neither willing nor capable of fulfilling. Only the Jama‘at, argued Mawdudi, was equipped, qualified, and truly willing to advocate the Muslim cause and to deliver on Muslim demands. He was naturally superior to the Westernized Jinnah, who neither prayed nor spoke proper Urdu as a leader for his community.[21] The Muslim League, Mawdudi surmised, could at best only partially satisfy the appetite for the Islamic polity which it had whetted among the Muslims;[22] the League was to be the precursor to “a veritable Pakistan,” pointing the way for the “vanguard”—the Jama‘at—to create and run the Islamic state for the Muslims of India. If Muslims had mobilized so enthusiastically around Muslim League’s half-baked Islamic appeal, then the Jama‘at was bound to sweep away the Pakistan movement once Muslims had heard Mawdudi’s message and learned of the Jama‘at’s religiously more meaningful program. Mawdudi’s conclusion required that the Jama‘at act as a political party, but it also underscored its claim to being a holy community—the true repository of the Islamic message that would shape the future of the Muslims. Thus began the Jama‘at’s muddled understanding of its sociopolitical function.

Mawdudi also saw the Muslim League as a “one-man show,” and therefore incapable of the kind of organizational activity which the realization of a Muslim state demanded. It was bound to falter with its frail leader and its weak ties to the religious sentiments that were sustaining it. Mawdudi therefore kept his distance from the League, preparing the Jama‘at as a “rear guard” (‘aqab lashgar),[23] waiting in the wings for the opportune moment to step into the Muslim League’s shoes,[24] despite pressures among members for cooperation with the League,[25] especially whenever electoral victory by the Congress threatened. This attitude was most clearly reflected in the Jama‘at’s decision not to support the League in the Indian elections of 1945; Mawdudi argued that he could not render assistance to “a party with no morals.”[26] In later years, he explained: “we did believe in a separate Muslim state, but chose not to interfere with the League. Had the Qa’id [Jinnah] failed, then we would have stepped in.”[27]

When the Jama‘at was formed in August 1941, then, although it was a direct response to the Muslim League’s Lahore Resolution of March 1940, which resolved to create Pakistan, its intent was not to stop the creation of Pakistan but to take the Muslim League’s place at the head of the struggle for a Muslim state, to prevent Pakistan’s secularization, and to deliver what the Muslim League had promised but could not possibly deliver. The Jama‘at’s agenda and objectives were devised to counter what it saw as the shortcomings of the League, which Mawdudi had viewed as serious enough to warrant the Jama‘at’s “wait-and-see” policy. In May 1939, Mawdudi had asserted that forming the party “implie[d] changing the government.”[28] When the Jama‘at was formed two years later, the only government it sought to change, as is evident from its propaganda and political activities, was that of the future Muslim state.[29] The Jama‘at emerged as a movement leading to the “renaissance” of Islam (nash’at-i naw) that would culminate in the rule of religious law (iqamat-i din), as distinguished from the Muslim League’s territorial and cultural conception of Muslim nationhood combined with a secular government.[30] As early as 1942, the Jama‘at began to devise plans for operating in Pakistan should it materialize.

Mawdudi’s aversion to the Muslim League and its policies was not only doctrinal but it also had its roots in his understanding of what the trials and tribulations of the Muslims in India had been. For Mawdudi, who had witnessed the decline of the nizam’s state in Hyderabad, Muslim rule by itself was a hollow and ephemeral concept. When and where it had existed, it had not guaranteed the rights and political fortunes of Muslims; it was a model of government the shortcomings of which were borne out by history. If Muslims sought a panacea to their quandary, they had to look farther than the League’s manifesto to the fundamental sources of power and glory in Islam. In Tonk (Rajasthan) in 1947, Mawdudi exclaimed, “[If the Muslim League] sincerely stood up as the true representative of Islam, the whole of India could become ‘Pakistan.’ ”[31]

From its inception the Jama‘at emphasized the distinction between “Islamic” and “Muslim” and, more important, “Islamic” and “secular.” For instance, it contrasted its members with the secular and Westernized leaders of the Muslim League with their moral laxity and fleeting loyalties, the blatant “opportunism” of the likes of Bengal’s Fazlu’l-Haq, and the “heterodox” faith of the Shi‘i Jinnah, the Isma‘ili Sir Aga Khan, and the Ahmadi Sir Chaudhri Zafaru’llah Khan.[32] By emphasizing this point and comparing their claims that they led the Muslims with its own claim of being a holy community, the Jama‘at gained a political advantage. In so doing it also came perilously close to undermining the League’s leadership, a sin of which the Muslim League has not absolved the Jama‘at to this day. Blunt as Mawdudi had been in his attacks on the Muslim League and its leadership and contrary to assertions by his critics, he did not promulgate an incontrovertibly anti-Pakistan platform. His rhetoric against the League always came in tandem with some form of support for partition.

The Two-Nation Theory

In 1935 Mawdudi shared a train compartment with B. G. Kher, the Congress party’s chief minister-designate of Bombay. Mawdudi felt that Kher humiliated those Muslims with whom he came into contact during the trip, and there and then decided that he could not live in a state ruled by Hindus.[33] As idealistic as he may have been, by the late 1930s even he could see that the dream of converting the whole of India to Islam no longer seemed possible. For that reason Mawdudi increasingly succumbed to the communalist feelings that had all along influenced his turn to revivalism and political activism. If he was opposed to Congress’s secular nationalism—aimed at gaining independence for India—it was primarily because he was a Muslim communalist at heart.

Many, including Mawdudi’s own supporters, have argued that the Jama‘at’s opposition to the Pakistan movement and the Muslim League was only the logical result of Mawdudi’s opposition to secular nationalism. Yet, Mawdudi’s rejection of secular nationalism was neither as steadfast, nor as jejune, as both his critics and his followers suggest. It was communalism, behind the facade of Islam—creating distinctions between the “self” and the “other”—which governed Mawdudi’s binary view of the world as sacred and profane. For Mawdudi, secular nationalism was a threat to communalism, and only for that reason did it feature in his ideological demonology, because secular nationalism meant Congress rule—a “Hindu Raj” in Mawdudi’s words. In 1938, in a lengthy article in Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an, he wrote, “Nehru’s promises of scientific progress and nationalist democracy will be tantamount to the extinction of Islam, and hence Muslims.”[34]

In the same article Mawdudi systematically attacked Congress’s position on secular nationalism and democracy as unworkable and detrimental to the interests of Indian Muslims. In its place he offered two “two-nation” schemes of his own,[35] proposing a state within a state (riyasat dar riyasat) that echoed Muhammad Iqbal’s demand for a “Muslim India within India.”[36] He then offered plans that would preserve the territorial integrity of India and still give Muslims substantial communal autonomy. The first plan favored dividing India into two “culturally autonomous” democratic entities, which would form the “international federation” of India with a constitution similar to those of “Switzerland, Australia, or the United States.”[37] The constituent entities would be equal partners in running the state, would have distinct boundaries, and would be sovereign in their internal affairs, with the power to formulate and implement their own laws. For matters pertaining to the state as a whole, such as the formulation of its confederate constitution, a constituent assembly would be formed, the members of which would be chosen through elections based on proportional representation.

Should the first plan not prove popular, Mawdudi devised a second one, in which India would again be reorganized along confederate lines, this time with fourteen territories, thirteen of which—Ajmer, Awadh, Baluchistan, East Bengal, Bhopal, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jawrah, Junagadh, North-West Frontier Province, North and West Punjab, Sind, and Tonk—would be awarded to Muslims, and a single large fourteenth would be Hindu. The thirteen were “justly” suggested by Sayyid ‘Abdu’l-Latif whom Mawdudi lauded for the plan’s wisdom in redrawing the map of India along communal lines. Twenty-five years would be allotted for exchanging populations between the thirteen territories and their Hindu neighbor. The fourteen territories would be bound by an Indian confederacy, but would enjoy sovereignty over their internal affairs. These plans clearly underscored Mawdudi’s communalist inclinations, but still in an Indian framework. But that would not be the case for long. Even at the end of this revealing article he wrote that if the second plan too was rejected, Muslims would “have no choice but to demand a completely autonomous unit, tied together [with its Hindu counterpart] only for defense, communications, and trade,”[38] an idea which was not too distant from what the Congress, the Muslim League, and the viceroy were debating at the time.

These ideas of Indian confederacy, however, increasingly gave way to sober realization of the fractious direction in which Indian politics were heading. Mawdudi, like most Muslim communalists, began to feel the constraint of the narrowing range of options before him. When asked in 1938–1939 about his choice of the title “Daru’l-Islam” (Abode of Islam) for his project in Pathankot, Mawdudi explained “it means only a Muslim cultural home and not a Muslim state, but if God wills it, the two may become one.”[39] By Muslim state, he surely no longer meant the entirety of India, for he had left South India two years earlier, having concluded that there was no future for Muslims in that region.[40] It was following the elections of 1937, when Indians were given limited self-government, and over the course of the following decade that, like many of his coreligionists who resided in Muslim minority provinces, Mawdudi, too, began to succumb to the temptation of secessionism. As his dream of an “Islamic India” was shattered by harsh realities, talk of converting the whole of India to Islam gave way to talk of an “Islamic state” in a separate Muslim territory. From this point on, the Jama‘at’s relations with the Muslim League became more complex, marked by both competition and concord. Beyond the rivalry which characterized the relations between the two, the basis for a symbiotic relationship anchored in their shared communal outlook also emerged during this period.

Competition with the Muslim League

Between 1941 and 1947 the language and tone of the League’s political program was increasingly Islamized, and relations between the two parties in those years were affected by this change in character, which not only created a common ground between the two but also made the Muslim League more susceptible to Mawdudi’s maneuvers. The League’s appeal to Islamic symbols created a niche in the political arena for the Jama‘at and prepared the ground for its activities. The Muslim League’s actions began directly to influence the Jama‘at’s reactions. In collaboration, and more often in confrontation, with the League, the Jama‘at found a political existence, as the League’s policies became the Jama‘at’s calling. When in a speech before the students at Aligarh Muslim University in 1938 Mawdudi first outlined his idea of the Islamic state, he did so by comparing and contrasting it with the Muslim League’s plans for Pakistan.

So long as he was unsure of the future, Mawdudi had sought to keep his options open by maintaining the Jama‘at’s distance from the Pakistan movement. This did not attest to his aversion to Muslim communalism but to his rivalry with the Muslim League. Behind Mawdudi’s sanctimonious derision of the League’s enterprise lay his own political ambitions. To attract the League’s constituency, the Jama‘at intensified its campaign to expose the “un-Islamic” nature of the Muslim League’s program, believing that a people moved by religious concerns and loyalties were bound to gravitate toward the party that best represented the essence of their communal identity. That Mawdudi was proved wrong suggests that religion could serve as the handmaiden of communalism, but not as its mainstay. Although Muslims were attracted by the Islamic symbols, their political decisions were not religiously motivated. Muslim communalism encompassed Islam, but went far beyond the theological boundaries of the faith. It was not long before it became apparent that the Jama‘at’s campaign had failed to dent the League’s following, let alone derail its plans for Pakistan. Party members, however, did not lose heart and decided that theirs was not a political problem. Mawdudi explained the Jama‘at’s failure to attract a following by citing Jinnah’s wealth and his own comparatively meager means.[41] He could not find much solace in that argument for long, however, and relieved his frustrations by further escalating his scurrilous attacks on the Muslim League.

From 1939 onward, Mawdudi ceased to attack the Jami‘at-i Ulama and the Congress and directed his invective against the Muslim League instead. As uneasy as the Muslim League felt about Mawdudi’s broadside blasts against Jinnah and his program and despite its reactions to them, he presented no real dangers to the League. For Mawdudi and the Jama‘at in those years had no concrete strategy; their idea of an Islamic state was too vague, intangible, and often unpalatable to the average Muslim to be persuasive; and their hatred of the Congress and the Hindus still outweighed their dislike for the League. More important, unlike the Ahrar, the Jama‘at had never openly sided with the Congress and, unlike the Khaksar, their anti–Muslim League rhetoric had never been translated into violence. Therefore, the Muslim League’s attitude toward the Jama‘at between 1939 and 1947, despite the party’s periodic genuflections toward Mawdudi, remained by and large cautious but cordial.

The rapport between the two parties was further strengthened by personal and, on occasion, institutional contacts. While the Jama‘at and the League found themselves at loggerheads in the 1940s, the cordial relations between Mawdudi and the League’s leaders continued to determine the Jama‘at’s politics. Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali (a future prime minister of Pakistan), himself a deeply religious man, had been an acquaintance of Mawdudi since the 1930s; Nawwab Bahadur Yar Jang, also a pious man and a prominent Muslim League leader, was also close to Mawdudi. They not only reduced Mawdudi’s distance from the League but also tempered the League’s reaction to Mawdudi’s rhetoric. A similar influence was exerted by Muslim League workers who had grown close to the Jama‘at, and on occasion had even joined the party.[42] As a result, Mawdudi himself proved to be more flexible toward the Muslim League than is today thought to have been the case. A copy of Mawdudi’s Islam ka Nazriyah Siyasi (Islam’s Political Views), for instance, inscribed with the compliments of the author, is kept in the collection of Jinnah’s papers at the Ministry of Culture of Pakistan.[43]

Mawdudi proved even more amenable if Muslim League overtures raised his and the Jama‘at’s standing in the Muslim community. In 1940 the president of the Muslim League of the United Provinces, Nawwab Sir Muhammad Isma‘il Khan invited Mawdudi to participate in the Majlis-i Nizam-i Islami (Council of Islamic Order) in Lucknow, which was convened to devise a plan for incorporating religion into the structure of the future Muslim state. Mawdudi accepted without hesitation.[44] The council was to consist of Isma‘il Khan, Chaudhri Khaliqu’l-Zaman, Nawwab Shamsu’l-Hasan, Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Mawlana Azad Subhani, ‘Abdu’l-Majid Daryabadi, and Mawdudi.[45] To be invited to this select council with religious luminaries was no doubt a great honor. The Muslim League may have been hard-pressed to find other religious leaders who would attend; or it may have sought to placate Mawdudi through this invitation; or it may have viewed the occasion as an opportunity for rewarding Mawdudi for his denunciation of the Congress and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind. Isma‘il Khan may also have been asked to invite Mawdudi by his friends among the League’s leaders. Whatever the case, it boosted Mawdudi’s ego and raised his stature as a religious leader. Between 1939 and 1947, the Muslim League paid back the favor Mawdudi had rendered it during the two preceding years by taking on the pro-Congress Muslim leaders.

Another cooperative effort between the Jama‘at and Muslim League came about at the request of Mawdudi following the Jama‘at’s formation. It pertained to a division of opinion between the Muslim League and the Jama‘at over the ultimate shape of the state of Pakistan. Soon after the formation of the Jama‘at in 1941, Qamaru’ddin Khan, the secretary-general of the Jama‘at, was dispatched to Delhi to meet with Jinnah. Through the good offices of Raja Mahmudabad—a deeply religious and generous patron of the League—a meeting was arranged between Qamaru’ddin Khan and Jinnah at the latter’s residence. During the meeting, which lasted for forty-five minutes, Qamaru’ddin Khan outlined the Jama‘at’s political platform and enjoined Jinnah to commit the League to the Islamic state.[46] Jinnah responded astutely that he saw no incompatibility between the positions of the Muslim League and the Jama‘at, but that the rapid pace at which the events were unfolding did not permit the League to stop at that point simply to define the nature of the future Muslim state: “I will continue to strive for the cause of a separate Muslim state, and you do your services in this regard; our efforts need not be mutually exclusive.” Then he added, “I seek to secure the land for the mosque; once that land belongs to us, then we can decide on how to build the mosque.” The metaphor of the mosque no doubt greatly pleased Qamaru’ddin Khan, who interpreted it as an assurance that the future state would be Islamic. Jinnah, however, cautioned Qamaru’ddin Khan that the achievement of an independent Muslim state took precedence over the “purification of souls.”

At the time, the Jama‘at decided not to make this meeting public, although it had served to quell the anxieties of the pro-Pakistan members of the Jama‘at and had been seen as a green light for greater political activism by the party. If anything, Jinnah had hinted that his task was only to secure the land for the “mosque”; its building, the Jama‘at concluded, would be the work of the religiously adept. What this meant for the Jama‘at was that a continuum existed between the activities of the Muslim League and those of the Jama‘at; where one ended at partition the other began: the Jama‘at-i Islami was to inherit Pakistan. The symbiotic relationship between the League and the Jama‘at, within a communalist framework, was strengthened.

As India moved closer to partition, however, the Jama‘at’s competition with the Muslim League intensified, gradually overshadowing the concord which the contacts with the League in 1939–1941 had engendered. Perturbed by the League’s domination of the Pakistan movement, the Jama‘at increasingly focused its energies on undermining Jinnah’s position in the movement. The party’s attacks became more venomous and direct, transforming the relations between the Jama‘at and the League.

In October 1945, Mawdudi issued what amounted to a religious decree (fatwa) forbidding Muslims to vote for the “secular” Muslim League in the crucial elections of 1945.[47] Muslim League leaders were understandably irritated at such behavior from the head of a party that was not even taking part in the elections and concluded that the move proved the Jama‘at’s pro-Congress sentiments. But, unperturbed by the implications of its anti–Muslim League campaign, the Jama‘at pushed ahead with its line of attack, which by 1947 became caustic vituperations. Mawdudi himself set the tone when in Kawthar in January 1947 he referred to the “Pakistan of the Muslim League” as “faqistan” (the land of the famished) and “langra” Pakistan (crippled Pakistan).[48] While these insults were directed at the secular nature of Jinnah’s program for the new state, they incensed Muslim League leaders and rank-and-file members alike; they were having enough trouble defending their cause against the Congress party. They began to retaliate: when, at a regional Jama‘at-i Islami convention in Madras, Mawdudi said that “the Jama‘at’s sole objective is to present Muslims with virtuous leadership and to stop the ascendancy of a corrupt [fasiq’ufajir] leadership at the helm [of the Pakistan movement],”[49] the crowd erupted into chants of “Long live the Muslim League,” “Long live the qa’id-i a‘zam [Jinnah],” and “Down with the Jami‘at-i Ulama [i.e. the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind].”[50] The crowd then turned the meeting into a Muslim League rally.

The Congress party was quick to take advantage of these confrontations, and this further deepened the antagonism between the League and the Jama‘at. The subtlety of the Jama‘at’s own communalism was all but drowned by the clamor of its confrontation with the League. Hopeful of enlisting the Jama‘at’s support and anxious to embarrass the League, the Congress openly wooed Mawdudi. In April 1947, during the Jama‘at’s regional convention in Patna, Gandhi attended a lecture by Amin Ahsan Islahi. After the lecture, Congress officials in the city announced that Gandhi had been invited to the session by the Jama‘at’s leaders, and a possible merger of the party into the nationalist movement might be in the making. Gandhi also lauded Islahi and endorsed his views, which the Mahatma argued “attacked the political uses of Islam!”[51] Muslim League officials, already distressed by Mawdudi’s attacks, were finally provoked into saying what some of them had felt all along: the Jama‘at was Congress’s Trojan horse among the Muslims.[52] The pro-Muslim League Nawa’-i Waqt of Lahore led the charge against Mawdudi, accusing him of anti-Pakistan activities, collaboration with the Congress party, and political duplicity.[53] For the Muslim League, the Jama‘at had until that day been at worst a tolerable inconvenience, and at times a valuable “Islamic” tool against the pro-Congress ulama; it was now clearly a nuisance. Gandhi’s remarks changed the balance of relations between the Jama‘at and the Muslim League to the latter’s advantage. The Jama‘at, however, was not reconciled either to this change in its status or to the shift in its debate with the League from questioning the orthodoxy of the Muslim League’s program and leaders to questioning its own loyalty to the Muslim separatist cause.

Caught off guard, the Jama‘at appealed to Nawa’-i Waqt to publish the whole text of Islahi’s speech that Gandhi had alleged had been favorable to the Congress’s position, and it denied ever having invited Gandhi to the session. Nawa’-i Waqt declined to publish either the text or the denial; the League was not going to let Mawdudi off the hook that easily. To the dismay of the Congress, in May Mawdudi issued another salvo against the “secular, irreligious nationalist democracy” promised by the League, but sensing the adverse climate, desisted from attacking it further. In June 1947, Mawdudi wrote an open letter to the Muslims of India, encouraging them to choose Pakistan over the “Indian Republic,” and in July 1947 he encouraged the Muslims of the North-West Frontier Province to turn out their Congress ministry and to vote for Pakistan in the referendum which was scheduled to decide the fate of that province.[54] In the same month, he issued a terse rebuttal to the well-publicized and damaging charge by the Congress that those Muslims who complained about the idea of the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine—as many Indian Muslims including Jinnah had—could hardly justify their demand for a Muslim one.[55] Fearful of giving vent to accusations of being anti-Pakistan, the party withdrew into the “splendid isolation” of Pathankot.

Although the birth of Pakistan followed an ebb in the relations between the Jama‘at and the Muslim League, the concord which had characterized the relations between the two until 1945 continued to define their relationship at a more fundamental level. Since both were ultimately striving to secure communal rights for Muslims, the Jama‘at and Muslim League each legitimated the political function of the other in furthering their common communalist cause. It was the structure of this relationship that determined the interactions between the Jama‘at and the fruit of the League’s toil—the Pakistan state—more than their bickering over the nature of that state may suggest. The Jama‘at legitimated communalism in Islamic terms and helped the League find a base of support by appealing to religious symbols. The Muslim League, in turn, increasingly Islamized the political discourse on Pakistan to the Jama‘at’s advantage, creating a suitable gateway for the party’s entry into the political fray. The Muslim League leaders elevated the Jama‘at’s status, while institutional contacts and personal links between the two parties gave more concrete shape to the structure of relations between the two. Conflict, contact, and concord was rooted in communal interests and the legitimating role of Islam. That framework has governed the scope and nature of relations between the two parties since partition.


1. Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, Musalman Awr Mawjudah Siyasi Kashmakash (1938–1940), vol. 1, 317–20, and 327–28. Also see idem,Mas’alah-i Qaumiyat, reprint (Lahore 1982), 52–59, 63–64, and 70–72. [BACK]

2. On elaboration of these charges and Mawdudi’s attacks on Nehru’s socialist inclinations, see Mawdudi, Musalman, vol. 1, 308–9, 457–58, and 464–68. Also see Abad Shahpuri, Tarikh-i Jama‘at-i Islami (Lahore, 1989), vol. 1, 293–307. [BACK]

3. Cited in ‘Abdu’l-Ghani Faruqi, “Hayat-i Javidan,” HRZ, 27. [BACK]

4. Mawdudi, Musalman, vol. 3, 162–63. [BACK]

5. Ibid., 127. [BACK]

6. Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi, Ulema in Politics: A Study Relating to the Political Activities of the Ulema in South Asian Subcontinent from 1566–1947 (Karachi, 1974), 352. [BACK]

7. Cited by Mian Muhammad Shafi‘ in Iqdam (June 9, 1963): 1. Shafi‘ had been Iqbal’s private secretary. [BACK]

8. Interview with ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan. [BACK]

9. Zafar Ahmad Ansari, “Tahrik-i Pakistan Awr ‘Ulama,” Chiragh-i Rah 14, 12 (December 1960): 233. [BACK]

10. Interview with Malik Ghulam ‘Ali, a former Muslim League worker, in Awaz-i Jahan (November 1989): 20–21. [BACK]

11. Manzuru’l-Haq, “Mawlana Mawdudi, Hama Pahlu Shaksiyat,” in Jalil Ahmad Rana and Salim Mansur Khalid, ed., Tazkirah-i Sayyid Mawdudi (Lahore, 1986), 113. The author was himself a Muslim League worker in Amritsar at the time. [BACK]

12. Ansari, “Tahrik,” 232. [BACK]

13. See, for instance, the interview of Sayyid Sharifu’ddin Pirzadah, Jinnah’s secretary, in Jasarat (Mawdudi Number 1973), 2, where the interviewee asserts that Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an was critical in galvanizing support for the Muslim League in such places as Aligarh. [BACK]

14. Nawwab Sadiq ‘Ali, Bi Tiq Sipahi (Karachi, 1971), 28. The Nawwab had been the supreme commander (salar-i a‘la) of the Muslim League’s national guard and, later, the secretary to Liaqat ‘Ali Khan. [BACK]

15. Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, Tahrik-i Pakistan Awr Jama‘at-i Islami (Multan, n.d.), 2. [BACK]

16. Interview with Malik Ghulam ‘Ali. [BACK]

17. See, for instance, Mawdudi’s interview with Radio Pakistan of April 8, 1975, printed in TQ (October 1980): 17. [BACK]

18. JIKUS, 27. [BACK]

19. TQ (October 1980): 18. [BACK]

20. Mawdudi, Musalman, vol. 3, 127. [BACK]

21. See interview with Sayyid Abu’l-Khayr Mawdudi in Nigar (September 1963): 63. Mawdudi was not alone in his opinion of Jinnah. The American envoy in Karachi writes of the reaction to naming Jinnah as the “Father of Pakistan” in the following terms: “Although the more ardent followers of the Muslim League rejoiced, there were numbers of others who were not so enthusiastic on the ground that Jinnah was not as orthodox a Muslim…and that he had been known to use alcoholic beverages”; U. S. Consulate, Karachi, disp. #41, 7/8/1947, 845F.00/8–1947, NA. [BACK]

22. In a letter to Dr. Zafaru’l-Hasan, dated 23 Rabi‘u’l-Thani 1356 (1938–1939), Mawdudi stated that Muslims were demanding an Islamic state and hence “cannot fully identify with the Muslim League”; the letter is reprinted in Al-Ma‘arif 18, 1–2 (April–May 1985): 249. [BACK]

23. Letter to Zafaru’l-Hasan in Al-Ma‘arif 18, 1–2 (April–May 1985): 249–50; the term “rear guard” in reference to the Jama‘at’s strategy was also cited in TQ (December 1937): 301. [BACK]

24. TQ (August 1948): 2–3. [BACK]

25. Interview with Malik Ghulam ‘Ali. [BACK]

26. Kawthar (October 28, 1945): 1. [BACK]

27. Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, “Ham ne Tahrik-i Pakistan ke Sath Nehin Diya Tha,” Nawa’-i Waqt (August 15, 1975): 3. [BACK]

28. TQ (May 1939): 171. [BACK]

29. SAAM, vol. 1, 256. [BACK]

30. TQ (May 1939): 50–51. [BACK]

31. RJI, vol. 5, 93. [BACK]

32. Shahpuri, Tarikh, vol. 1, 474. [BACK]

33. CRTIN, 299, and JIKUS, 23. [BACK]

34. TQ (October–December 1938): 306. [BACK]

35. Ibid., 85–320. [BACK]

36. From Iqbal’s presidential address to the Muslim League on December 29, 1930; cited in Farzana Shaikh, Community and Consensus in Islam: Muslim Representation in Colonial India, 1860–1947 (Cambridge, 1989), 200. [BACK]

37. TQ (October–December 1938): 317. [BACK]

38. Ibid., 318–20. [BACK]

39. The text of the letter in which Mawdudi responded to this question is cited in Shahpuri, Tarikh, vol. 1, 396–97. [BACK]

40. In fact, Mawdudi’s position in this period led to a series of serious criticisms against him in Al-Islah by Amin Ahsan Islahi, who took exception to his views and accused Mawdudi of “Muslim nationalism” and of stealthily supporting the Muslim League; cited in NGH, 58. [BACK]

41. Cited in SAAM, vol. 1, 138–39. [BACK]

42. Malik Ghulam ‘Ali, “Professor Mawdudi ke Sath Sath Islamiyah College Se Zaildar Park Tak,” HRZ, 119. [BACK]

43. Qaid-i A‘zam Papers Seal, Paper Number 952, Ministry of Culture, Pakistan. The book was sent to Jinnah in January 1940. [BACK]

44. Sarwat Saulat, Maulana Maududi (Karachi, 1979), 22–23. [BACK]

45. The council was headed by Mawlana Azad Subhani, and its findings were later published in Mawlana Muhammad Ishaq Sindihlawi, Islam ka Siyasi Nizam (A‘zamgarh, n.d.). [BACK]

46. The details of this meeting were narrated by Qamaru’ddin Khan in Thinker (December 27, 1963): 10–12. [BACK]

47. TQ (September–October 1945): 2–3. [BACK]

48. Kawthar (January 13, 1947, June 13, 1947, and June 17, 1947). [BACK]

49. RJI, vol. 5, 140–41. [BACK]

50. Opponents of the Jama‘at among Muslim League workers have often viewed the Jama‘at-i Islami and Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind as one and the same. [BACK]

51. RJI, vol. 5, 257. [BACK]

52. Ibid., vol. 5, 170–77, and 253–62. [BACK]

53. Nawa’-i Waqt (April 30, 1947): 1. [BACK]

54. Kawthar (June 21, 1947): 2 and (July 5, 1947): 1. However, Mawdudi qualified his decree by stipulating that a vote for Pakistan was not a vote of confidence in the Muslim League; MMKT, vol. 1, 285–88. [BACK]

55. Kawthar (July 5, 1947): 1. [BACK]

6. Entering the Political Process, 1947–1958

After Mawdudi had unveiled the Jama‘at-i Islami’s political objectives in Pakistan for the first time in July 1947,[1] he collected his troops and moved to Lahore on a truck, escorted by units of the Pakistan army. His first contact with the leaders of the new state took place soon after through the Muslim League ministry in Punjab. While he was still living in a tent in Islamiyah Park, Mawdudi met with the Muslim League chief minister of the province, Nawwab Iftikhar Husain of Mamdot.[2] In that meeting Mawdudi asked for permission to begin work among the refugees, and he discussed the future of Kashmir.[3] Mawdudi impressed upon the nawwab Pakistan’s obligation immediately to take the offensive in Kashmir and secure control of strategic locations there, and asked the chief minister to relay a message to that effect to Prime Minister Liaqat ‘Ali Khan.

The Nawwab of Mamdot was a powerful member of the landed gentry of Punjab and was at the time embroiled in a struggle with Liaqat ‘Ali Khan and his chief ally in Punjab, Mian Mumtaz Daultana, over the control of that province.[4] The chief minister was eager to enlist the support of Islamic groups such as the Jama‘at to stave off Daultana’s challenge.[5] Mamdot, therefore, not only welcomed the Jama‘at’s offer to assist with relief work among the refugees, but invited Mawdudi to deliver a series of talks on Radio Pakistan.[6] All unwitting, Mawdudi had walked into the midst of a tug-of-war in Pakistani politics that was to determine relations between the Jama‘at and the central government.

Mawdudi quickly learned that, given the balance of power in Pakistani politics, the Islamic parties were bound to play the role of power brokers. Muslim League leaders, concluded Mawdudi, were not as inimical to sacralization of politics as their postindependence rhetoric may have indicated. In fact, as the central government in Karachi faced difficulties in exerting control over the new country’s wayward provinces during 1947–1948 and the crisis before the state grew, the legitimating role of Islam and the power of its spokesmen became more evident. Politicians who otherwise decried the political role of religion were under the circumstances not altogether indifferent to the entry of Islamic groups into the fray. The example set by Mamdot was followed elsewhere, in Lahore as well as in other provincial capitals. The relations between the Muslim League and the Jama‘at during the prepartition years were now expanded to encompass the relations between Islam and the state of Pakistan. The holy community found great strength in acting as a party.

Pakistan was founded in the name of Islam, but it had little else in the way of common national or cultural values around which to unite. Besieged with the threats posed by separatism and ethnic tensions—which were compounded by the problem of integrating autonomous princely states, such as Kalat and Bhawalpur, into Pakistan—and in the absence of a widely shared notion of nationhood, Islam became the only viable foundation on which to build unity. Although many Pakistani political leaders did not like it, faced with the gravity of the situation few could resist the temptation of appealing to Islam. It was the only course open for leaders who discouraged mass politics, failed to adopt meaningful political platforms, and avoided elections. In the words of one observer, “"an Islamic State,’ [became] a political motto to be used by the Muslims and, more particularly, by the Muslim League to continue indefinitely their predominant position in Pakistan politics.”[7] The tendency to Islamize the national political discourse became even stronger when the League grew concerned over Communist activity. The Communist threat was taken seriously, especially after a plot with the backing of the left was uncovered in the army in 1951, which came to be known as the Rawalpindi conspiracy case.[8] The alleged military plot was hatched in the Pakistan army by officers who favored a resumption of hostilities with India over Kashmir. It took its name from the garrison where the army headquarters were located. There is evidence that it may have had Communist backing and aimed at restructuring the political order of the country, especially after the leftist poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz was arrested for his part in the conspiracy, which led Liaqat ‘Ali Khan to tell the parliament that the objective of the coup was to install a Communist government.[9] Islam, it was thought, was the one force capable of averting a Communist future for the country.[10]

The appeal of Islam to a wide spectrum of Pakistani leaders was proof of the deeply entrenched loyalty Pakistanis had to Islam and their acceptance of its relevance to their concerns. Islam could not, however, be manipulated for political ends without the intercession and ultimately the interference of the Islamic parties, and herein lay the dilemma of waving the Islamic banner for political ends. Factors which also made Islam appealing to politicians, by making it easy for Islamic parties to go into politics, limited the ability of the same politicians to manage successfully the role of Islam in politics.

The conclusion the Jama‘at had reached from the Muslim League’s attempt to design a role for Islam in the future constitution of Pakistan in Lucknow in 1940 is instructive. The task of drawing up a constitution for Pakistan had begun there, in a session presided over by ulama, in which Mawdudi also participated, all at the behest of the Muslim League. In the Jama‘at’s eyes the Lucknow session was proof that Pakistan could not exist divorced from Islam. The Muslim League’s role in convening the session suggested to Mawdudi that even Jinnah and his lieutenants were aware of that fact. For the Jama‘at’s leaders little had changed in this regard since partition. Islam could not be divorced from Pakistani politics, just as it could not have been divorced from partition politics. To the chagrin of many in the Muslim League, the party was therefore caught in a situation where first it emphasized Pakistan’s Islamicity and then ridiculed and undermined those leaders and parties whose political fortunes were predicated upon Islamization.[11] As early as 1948 the Muslim League began to appeal to Islamic symbols, though at the same time it still viewed parties such as the Jama‘at as inherently opposed to its vision of Pakistan.

The Jama‘at did little to assuage the Muslim League’s doubts. Not only was the party’s rhetoric and confrontational style generally unpalatable to the League, but also the Jama‘at reached its modus vivendi with the Pakistan state after a number of direct, although unsuccessful, challenges to it. Conflict between the Jama‘at and the Muslim League–controlled government predated the party’s decision to accept the legitimacy of the state and to participate in the political process.

In December 1947 the Jama‘at had already begun to demand greater Islamization with the specific objective of highlighting the duplicity of the Muslim League in their appeals to Islam.[12] Amin Ahsan Islahi stated rather cavalierly that “Pakistan will deserve its name only if it becomes an Islamic state.”[13] The Jama‘at felt that the League’s conception of Pakistan was merely territorial, opening the door for maneuvering by the “rear guard.” The Jama‘at, just as it had expected to lead the Pakistan movement, now saw its rise to power in the state to be imminent. Mawdudi saw the Jama‘at in its “Meccan” era, and expected it to enter a “Medinan” one shortly after partition,[14] a reference to the flowering of the Islamic community following the Prophet’s migration from Mecca to Medina. Mawdudi believed that Pakistan was built for the sole purpose of “demonstrating the efficacy of the Islamic way of life.”[15] Using Jinnah’s metaphor of the “mosque,” Mawdudi asked, “Will the architects who are well-versed in building bars and cinemas spend their energies in erecting a mosque? If the answer is in the affirmative, it will indeed be a unique experiment of its kind in human history; godlessness fostering godliness to dethrone itself!”[16]

Soon these sporadic outbursts gave way to an organized campaign. On January 6 and February 19, 1948, Mawdudi presented two lectures at the Law College in Lahore.[17] In them he presented a coherent plan for the Islamization of Pakistan and set guidelines for drawing up an Islamic constitution. He emphasized the viability of such a constitution, to put pressure on members of the Constituent Assembly and to expose their “true intent.” Was Pakistan made in the name of Islam or not? And were they going to establish an Islamic state or not? After Mawdudi delivered these talks, he was challenged by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, the renowned Pakistani literary figure, and by Muslim League leaders such as Raja Ghazanfar ‘Ali that his schemes were incongruous and inoperable. Mawdudi thenceforth was careful to emphasize the feasibility and practicality of his ideas.[18]

The Lahore lectures were followed by a lecture tour of Pakistan in April and May 1948, during which Mawdudi continued to harp on the same themes. During this tour he made overtures to the ulama, hinting of a grand Islamic alliance, a suggestion the Muslim League viewed with considerable concern. In March, Mawdudi sent an emissary to Karachi to contact a number of Constituent Assembly members and press upon them the Jama‘at’s demands; he was to encourage them to pass a resolution which would confirm that Pakistan was an “ideological state.”[19] The emissary failed to solicit the resolution. ‘Umar Hayat Malik, then the vice-chancellor of the University of Punjab, a man sympathetic to the Jama‘at’s position, advised Mawdudi to act directly. He argued that while members of the Constituent Assembly were not prepared to pass a resolution, they were not necessarily opposed to it either. They simply did not want to take a stand before the electorate.[20] If the Jama‘at succeeded in mobilizing public opinion in favor of it, argued Malik, they would be more favorably disposed.[21] Mawdudi took the advice, and the Jama‘at began a concerted public campaign for an Islamic constitution. Pakistani politicians did not take kindly to his attempt to force their hand, especially since his rhetoric was pleasing to the Muhajirs who also served as the Muslim League’s base of support. Muslim League leaders were particularly perturbed by Mawdudi’s threats that Islamization could not be left to the League and required direct action by devout Muslims themselves.[22] Jama‘at members believe that as early as 1947 members of the cabinet had demanded action against their party. Jinnah had, however, opposed clamping down on the Jama‘at, or so Jama‘at leaders were told by Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali. With Jinnah out of the picture the cabinet debated the idea of placing restraints on the Jama‘at’s activities, and subsequently leading party members were placed under surveillance. The grant of a school in Lahore to Mawdudi in compensation for property he had lost in India was revoked on the direct orders of Liaqat ‘Ali Khan.[23] The Jama‘at’s political naïveté and maverick style in the following months only further strained the Muslim League’s tolerance.

The 1947 Independence Act had stipulated that until a new constitution was promulgated Pakistan would remain a British domain, and oaths of allegiance by all government employees from the governor-general on down would be made in accordance with the provisions of the India Act of 1935. Early in 1948, Mawdudi was asked about swearing an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. In a private letter to the questioner, Mawdudi declared that such an oath would be “sinful,” arguing that a Muslim can, in clear conscience, swear his allegiance only to God. The letter soon found its way into the press, causing much consternation among the authorities, even in Punjab, where Nawwab of Mamdot’s ministry was favorably disposed to Mawdudi.

Soon thereafter the Jama‘at became embroiled in yet another controversy. In April 1948 India and Pakistan had reached an interim cease-fire agreement over who controlled Kashmir, the provisions of which among other things provided that the government of each country would desist from hostilities against the other and that the press in each country would refrain from publishing incendiary articles. Pakistan, however, had continued to struggle for the freedom of Kashmir, now mainly through covert means. In a letter to Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani, the doyen of Pakistani ulama at the time, Mawdudi argued that regardless of the merits of this agreement, now that it had been signed by the government its terms were binding on all Pakistani citizens. A Muslim government, and its citizenry were compelled by the shari‘ah to abide by the terms of agreements to which they were a party. Covert operations, it could be surmised from Mawdudi’s letter, for so long as the India-Pakistan agreement was standing, would be in violation of the shari‘ah and as such could attest to the “un-Islamic” nature of the Pakistani state.[24]

Rumors regarding the contents of Mawdudi’s letter to ‘Uthmani began to circulate, and the letter was interpreted as a religious decree (fatwa) against jihad in Kashmir. In May 1948, during a speech in Peshawar, a province in which many of the volunteer Pathan tribal forces fighting the covert war in Kashmir were recruited, Mawdudi was asked by the director of information of Pakistan’s provisional Kashmir government to explain his position on the jihad. Mawdudi responded that so long as the government of Pakistan was bound by the terms of its cease-fire agreement with India, it could not declare a jihad in Kashmir, lest it violate the shari‘ah’s injunctions to abide by the terms of the agreement. Since jihad had to be declared by a proper governmental body, added Mawdudi, there was no possibility that any other source could declare one. Therefore Pakistanis could not wage jihad in Kashmir as long as their government was officially observing a cease-fire.

Mawdudi had thus tied the question of Kashmir to the Islamicity of the state. An Islamic state could not engage in covert operations, nor wage jihad through proxy, and since Pakistan could not forego Kashmir, it was best in Mawdudi’s opinion to resume hostilities against India, which is what Mawdudi had recommended to Mamdot in 1947. Mawdudi’s explanation only further complicated the matter for Pakistani authorities. The force of his argument was sufficiently provocative to bring the wrath of the government upon the Jama‘at. India, however, would provide even a better pretext for that.

The Srinagar and Kabul radio stations broadcast reports of Mawdudi’s challenge to the Pakistan government as a “decree against” war in Kashmir, hoping to dampen the resolve of Pakistan’s “freedom fighters.” The Pakistan government was not only incensed but also found the Jama‘at sufficiently liable on the charges of sedition being circulated by the authorities, along with tales of Mawdudi’s disloyalty to the Pakistan movement, to effectively silence this most outspoken of the Islamic parties. Undaunted, Mawdudi issued his rebuttals, while restating his arguments in simpler terms, all to his own detriment. The government, understandably, was not assuaged by Mawdudi’s remark that “it was sheer hypocrisy to sanction a jihad, stealthily declared, while Pakistan told the whole world that it was in a state of cease-fire with India”;[25] Pakistan should either desist from jihad or, preferably, go to war. The government understood Mawdudi to be saying that only an Islamic government could declare jihad, which they believed to be more seditious than the argument that there could be no jihad during the cease-fire.[26]

Unable satisfactorily to explain its ostensibly “unpatriotic” casuistry to Pakistanis, and especially to the all-important Muhajir community, which was then subject to “Indophobia” and obsessed with Kashmir, by August 1948 Mawdudi was compelled to alter his stand. Debating the logic of jihad in Kashmir gave way to solemn oaths of allegiance to Pakistan, denunciation of Indian policy in Kashmir, and declarations of support for Pakistan’s claims over Kashmir.[27] He now argued that while the cease-fire agreement was binding on the government volunteers could still participate in the freedom movement in Kashmir. When in September the Pakistan government officially admitted to its involvement in the conflict in Kashmir, eager to demonstrate the logic of his position, Mawdudi lost no time in supporting a jihad.[28] It was with the same thought in mind that in 1989, when Kashmir erupted in turmoil, the Jama‘at took the lead in the “jihad in Kashmir” campaign in Pakistan. But the party’s intellectualized approach to politics had overestimated the power of Islamic dicta and underestimated the appeal of nationalist and patriotic sentiments. The stand seriously damaged its image, and it never fully recovered.

The Kashmir episode had not yet fully died down when Mawdudi’s high-handed style landed the Jama‘at in yet another controversy. In August 1948, Mawdudi was again asked about the issue of swearing allegiance to the state. In an unnecessarily detailed response Mawdudi said again that the allegiance of a Muslim was to God alone, and therefore until Pakistan became an Islamic state ruled by the writ of the shari‘ah, a Muslim was forbidden to declare allegiance to it and, more to the point, to serve in a “non-Muslim,” i.e., the Pakistan, army.[29] Undermining the army was not a trifling matter. Mawdudi’s attitude was increasingly seen to be deliberately subversive and dangerous. The editor of the pro–Muslim League newspaper, Nawa’-i Waqt, Hamid Nizami, began a series of articles in which Mawdudi was depicted as an Indian agent, a supporter of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind, and a Congressite.[30] Muslim League leaders, especially those in the civil service and the armed forces, who were generally less inclined to be religious, successfully argued that the Jama‘at’s menace had clearly outstripped its political utility;[31] the party was doing more to undermine the state than to support it. This group, led by the senior Muslim Leaguer, Raja Ghazanfar ‘Ali, defense secretary General Iskandar Mirza, and possibly the ranking general and later commander-in-chief of the armed forces, General Muhammad Ayub Khan, prevailed upon Liaqat ‘Ali Khan to clamp down on the Jama‘at. In October 1948, the Jama‘at’s publications, Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an,Kawthar,Tasnim, and Chiragh-i Rah were closed down, and Mawdudi, Islahi, Mian Tufayl, and editors of some of the Jama‘at’s newspapers were apprehended.[32] The minister of the interior declared the Jama‘at to be a seditious party on a par with the Communists and proceeded to extend the civil service code that barred bureaucrats from joining Communist organizations to membership in the Jama‘at.

It then lost no time in strictly enforcing the code to eliminate the Jama‘at’s influence from the civil service.[33] Twenty-five Jama‘at members and sympathizers were forced to resign from the civil service in October and November 1948.[34] In December another ordinance was issued by the prime minister, this time forbidding government employees from reading Mawdudi’s works and Jama‘at literature. Between 1949 and 1951, the government further clamped down on the Jama‘at by arresting more of its leaders and by either closing more of its magazines or demanding new forbidding security deposits for allowing them to operate.[35]

The Jama‘at was stunned by these developments. Mawdudi had never thought of his challenges to the legitimacy of the state as seditious or disloyal; “enjoining the good and forbidding the reprehensible” was after all incumbent on the holy community. He failed to appreciate the gravity with which the government had viewed his religious decrees. His first reaction had been to rejoice in the prominence the confrontation gave to the party.[36] However, once in the Lyallpur (later Faisalabad) jail, he saw matters differently. He still saw no fault in himself, but decided the matter tested the government’s commitment to democracy. He concluded that the government had moved against the Jama‘at with such force only because Jinnah was no longer a restraining influence on the authority of Muslim League leaders. The Jama‘at now began to appreciate Jinnah for abiding by the promise he had given Qamaru’ddin Khan in Delhi to allow the Jama‘at to work toward Islamizing Pakistan and for his unbending adherence to principles of individual freedom and due process of law. In 1948, Mawdudi praised him for his democratic spirit.[37] The Jama‘at has since then repeatedly appealed to Jinnah’s memory, more emphatically each time it has been persecuted under the provisions of the Public Safety Act or the Defense of Pakistan Rules. Mawdudi’s experiences gave the Jama‘at’s political thinking an acute awareness of the importance of civil liberties and thenceforth fused its clamor for Islamicity with demands for constitutional rights.

Mawdudi interpreted the government’s actions as a ruse to guarantee the secular nature of the state at a time when the constitutional debates were reaching a climax. The Jama‘at was silenced and Mawdudi was stowed away, relieving the Constituent Assembly of their constant pressure.[38] The government, by casting the party in an unsavory light, had encouraged its radicalization. Its members, however, balked at the prospect of being a subversive party, a truly revolutionary force. Instead, Mawdudi chose to desist from questioning the legitimacy of the state and to concentrate on ensuring the virtue, efficacy, and Islamicity of its governments. The distinction between Pakistan and the Muslim League was once again emphasized. Opposition to the League was tantamount to questioning the authority of the state, and Mawdudi set out to do all in his power to reverse the impression that that was what he was doing. The demand for an Islamic state was redirected into a demand for an Islamic constitution. This way Islamicity could be combined with the party’s newly found dedication to constitutional rights and the Pakistan state.[39]

From his prison cell, Mawdudi pushed for the resumption of the campaign for Islamization, but this time with the objective of confirming the Jama‘at’s commitment to the state. The government had failed to silence the Jama‘at, but it had compelled it to do away with its romantic idealism. The Jama‘at now reentered the fray, not as a distant observer—a “rear guard” waiting to benefit from the Muslim League’s failure—but as a participant in the political process. Although it still viewed itself as a holy community, its posture became that of a political party. Unable to interact directly with the government or as yet to mobilize the masses effectively, Mawdudi and the Jama‘at turned to the ulama as a convenient vehicle for realizing their aims.

The ulama at that time did not possess a clear agenda of their own, nor a clear idea of what their objectives in Pakistan were. However, under the leadership of Mawlana Shabbir Ahmad ‘Uthmani, a token convert to the Muslim League from the ranks of the eminent Deobandi ulama, they had a great deal of leverage with the government. Aware of their power, Mawdudi sent two Jama‘at leaders, ‘Abdu’l-Jabbar Ghazi and ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan, to contact some of them, and especially ‘Uthmani, with a view to creating a united religious front against the government. The two were themselves members of the ulama, and were also serving as the Jama‘at’s provisional amirs while Mawdudi was in jail. The immediate aim of these contacts was to influence the content of the Objectives Resolution which the prime minister was going to present to the Constituent Assembly as a statement of the government’s intentions with regard to drafting of the constitution, and which was approved in March 1949. Ghazi and Hasan worked diligently to bring the various ulama groups into an alliance and were especially successful in influencing Mawlana ‘Uthmani, who was then a member of the Constituent Assembly and showed an interest in Mawdudi’s ideas, which were relayed to him from prison through Ghazi.

Mawdudi’s efforts from behind bars proved fruitful, and the alliance with ulama augured well for the Jama‘at. The demands he had voiced through ‘Uthmani did appear in the Objectives Resolution, and the ulama would be an effective medium for political action in the campaign for an Islamic constitution.[40] The alliance also confronted the government with a new dilemma: their efforts to sideline the Jama‘at had instead resulted in a more formidable alliance for the cause of Islam. Breaking up this alliance would became a major concern of the government in the years to come.

The Jama‘at was quick to proclaim victory following the passage of the Objectives Resolution, letting its hand show through ‘Uthmani’s sleeve. Mawdudi’s own reaction was more guarded. For him this was not yet victory; the battle had just begun. The government should not be allowed to think that it had mollified the Islamic parties, nor should the ulama be allowed to relax their vigil. His first public statement on the passage of the resolution was therefore, to everyone’s surprise, far from enthusiastic: “This is a strange rain, before which there were no clouds rising, and after which no growth is visible.”[41] He ordered the Jama‘at to begin educating the masses on the contents of the Objectives Resolution, lest the government manipulate their ignorance and interpret the resolution into extinction.[42] The government retaliated by extending Mawdudi’s sentence.

Officially the party did not forego its moment of glory and declared the Objectives Resolution a victory for Islam and for the Jama‘at and a statement of the government’s good intentions. It was a commitment by the government to Islamization. This simultaneously gave the political order a new face and permitted the Jama‘at to accept its legitimacy. Mian Tufayl recollects that the resolution was described by the Jama‘at as a Muslim testimony of faith by an unbeliever, a symbolic but consequential act of conversion.[43]

The Jama‘at’s stand was also, in part, motivated by the deterioration of the relations between Karachi and Dhaka. Throughout 1949 public opinion in East Pakistan had voiced its opposition to the policy directives from Karachi and the hegemony of the Punjabi and Muhajir elite. East Pakistan was threatening rebellion. The Jama‘at viewed the challenge to the authority of the central government with grave concern, and consequently sided with the state against East Pakistan, which provided the party with a pretext for gaining entry into the political system without compromising doctrine. The Bengali challenge to Pakistan’s federal arrangement may also have softened the state’s resolve to eliminate the Jama‘at, creating a climate that would be conducive to the Jama‘at’s political enfranchisement. With Mawdudi still in prison the Jama‘at’s shura’ declared that the party would participate in the Punjab provincial elections scheduled for March 1951, thereby consolidating the Jama‘at’s new orientation.[44]

For the Jama‘at, accepting the state’s legitimacy after its promulgation of the Objectives Resolution meant that the task of Islamization would be carried out from within rather than from without, but even more important that it would be carried out. The resolution ensured that Pakistan had to evolve into an Islamic state if the government was compelled to carry through its promise as reflected in the resolution. Hence, in July 1950, the Jama‘at began its campaign in Punjab, using the election to disseminate its ideas, to “Islamize” the campaign, and to influence the composition of the future Punjab Assembly. Meanwhile, aware of the rapidly changing political environment and the need personally to oversee the Jama‘at’s transition to its new political existence, Mawdudi demanded his release. He had been imprisoned in October 1948 under the provisions of the Public Safety Act but had not been officially charged with any crime. Hence, soon after his jail term was extended, Mawdudi wrote to the chief secretary of the Punjab government, arguing that the government should either bring charges against him or release him. He quoted at length from Jinnah’s criticisms of the Public Safety Act before the central assembly of India in 1935 to make his point.[45] The Jama‘at, meanwhile, organized a letter-writing campaign to the press and the government, lamenting the unconstitutional persecution of Mawdudi for “the crime of loyalty to God” at a time when the government itself had passed the Objective Resolution which placed national sovereignty in God.[46]

The tactics were effective, but the fate of Mawdudi still rested with the judiciary, which has time and again defied the state to give the Jama‘at a new lease on life. In an earlier ruling, the Lahore High Court had declared that the terms of those jailed under the Public Safety Act could be extended only twice. Mawdudi’s jail term had already been extended on two occasions. Since he could no longer be held under the Public Safety Act, the court ordered his release in May 1950.[47] Mawdudi was impressed by the independence of the judiciary, which was later reflected in his ideas of how the Islamic state should function.

No sooner had he taken off his prison garb than he launched a fresh campaign for the Islamic state, setting a new tone for the Jama‘at’s bid for power. He reiterated his declaration of prepartition days that the ruling establishment—whom he now referred to derisively as the “innovators” (ahl-i bid‘at)—were incapable of realizing the aims of the Objectives Resolution. Only those firmly rooted in Islamic learning, the followers of tradition (ahl-i sunnat), could be entrusted with realizing the task set before the state.[48] This distinction had the added advantage of drawing a line between the government and the religious alliance as a whole; for a silent war between the Jama‘at and the government over the loyalty of the ulama was already afoot. As it began to act more like a party, the Jama‘at’s campaign against Liaqat ‘Ali Khan’s administration extended ever farther. The party would no longer challenge the government only over Islam alone, but over a range of issues that it deemed politic. For example, the Jama‘at opposed Liaqat ‘Ali Khan’s plans for a land-reform bill on the grounds that Islam protected the right to private property,[49] although the Muhajir community which the Jama‘at was also courting at the time favored land reform.[50] More frequently, however, the government came under fire for its autocracy, an attack that soon found a life of its own.

In October 1950, the Basic Principles Committee of the Constituent Assembly presented its interim report on the distribution of power in the future legislature. The Jama‘at criticized the report for its autocratic bent and unequal distribution of power among the provinces. Mawdudi especially objected to powers the report had vested in the presidency. He depicted the report, uncharitably, as a reiteration of the Government of India Act of 1935, and in violation of the spirit of the Objectives Resolution.[51] Its government design was thoroughly secular, argued Mawdudi, and had no basis in the Islamic doctrines of governance and statecraft. The government, ever more sensitive to the Jama‘at’s carping, once again closed the party’s publications, Kawthar,Tasnim,Qasid and Jahan-i Naw, and jailed the editors of the first two.[52]

The committee report had also come under fire from other quarters for its distribution of power between the provinces and the center. It was rejected by Bengalis of all political hues, creating the first serious crack in the edifice of the Pakistan state. The Jama‘at, true to its legitimating role, scurried to the support of the state, reiterating the preeminence of Islam and Urdu in the scheme for a united Muslim state.[53] Bolstering the position of the state was not, however, tantamount to a vote of confidence for the government. Mawdudi astutely combined his support for the unity of Pakistan with his demand for a truly Islamic constitution, which, he argued, would underscore the two guarantors of the unity of Pakistan: Islam and an equitable distribution of power in a just and constitutional arrangement. The interim report, Mawdudi argued, was deficient on both counts.

The government, unable to withstand criticism from both the Bengalis and the Islamic parties, was compelled to withdraw the interim report, and it challenged the religious divines to present a viable substitute. The Jama‘at responded by initiating negotiations with leading Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam (Society of Ulama of Islam) leaders, Mawlanas Zafar Ahmad Thanwi, Ihtishamu’l-Haq Thanwi (‘Uthmani’s successor), and Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘, to devise a new report that would keep Islamization moving. These contacts eventually culminated in a major gathering of thirty-one ulama in Karachi in January 1951, under the aegis of the eminent divine Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, which demanded an Islamic state and proposed twenty-two principles to be submitted to the Constituent Assembly for consideration.[54] Mawdudi’s imprint on this report was evident in its emphasis on an independent judiciary. The ulama convention, to the government’s chagrin, was yet another display of the alliance between the ulama and the Jama‘at, of which Mawdudi was openly proud. It was perhaps the success of this ulama convention that prompted the government to organize an anti-Jama‘at campaign in Indian religious circles in 1951. Numerous books, pamphlets, and religious decrees denouncing Mawdudi and his ideas were published, all with the hope of driving a wedge between the self-styled religious maverick and the conservative divines. The anti-Jama‘at campaign soon overflowed into Pakistan. It was spearheaded by Mawdudi’s old rivals in the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind, Brailwi ulama in both India and Pakistan, and those among the Indian ulama who had always viewed Mawdudi’s ideas as religiously suspect. It was supported by such prominent ulama as Husain Ahmad Madani and ‘Abdu’l-Majid Daryabadi. The scope of the campaign soon spread to all schools of Islamic thought in Pakistan. It remained focused on religious issues and sought to undermine Mawdudi’s claim to religious leadership. It accused Mawdudi of religious innovation, violating the sanctity of immutable religious doctrines and practices, messianic tendencies, and insulting the memory of the Prophet and his companions. Since much of the attacks were put forth in the form of religious decrees, they greatly damaged the Jama‘at’s popular standing and religious prestige. Moreover, in its own propaganda the government continuously associated the Jama‘at with the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind, hoping to provoke the Jama‘at into a renewed attack on the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Hind and thereby create trouble between the Jama‘at and the Deobandi establishment in Pakistan.[55]

After the campaign against the interim report, the Jama‘at’s promotion of Islamization was intertwined with an effort to safeguard the constitutional rights and civil liberties of Pakistanis, which was tantamount to an “Islamic constitutionalist” platform. What began as a tactical consideration to protect the Jama‘at’s rights in a polity dominated by secular forces bent on consolidating power in the executive increasingly became doctrine. Constitutionalism presented the Jama‘at with a useful slogan and a political program with which to appeal to educated people. As politically opportune as this platform may have seemed, however, it was more than a mere ploy. It had its roots in Mawdudi’s experience with the Public Safety Act and the independent spirit of the Pakistani judiciary on the one hand and the desire to placate the secular opposition to Karachi’s policies on the other.

The Jama‘at’s political platform and role as a party were put to the test in the Punjab provincial elections of March 1951. The Jama‘at was not contesting any tickets; instead it took upon itself the role of judging the moral caliber and Islamicity of the candidates. It would assist those candidates whom it found morally upright, religiously committed, and favorably disposed to the intent and aims of the Objectives Resolution. This peculiar approach to elections reflected its continued adherence to the idea that it was still essentially a holy community and its cautious approach to party politics. Although the Jama‘at did not officially endorse any party, it is safe to assume that few, if any, of the candidates supported by Mian Mumtaz Daultana, the “progressive” chief minister of Punjab, were found virtuous (salih), and that many of the candidates put forth by Nawwab of Mamdot’s Jinnah Awami League (Jinnah People’s League) and Husain Shahid Suhrawardi’s Awami League, who had forged an electoral alliance, received the Jama‘at’s blessing and support. Mamdot had courted Mawdudi after he was ousted as chief minister of Punjab by Daultana. Mawdudi was receptive to those advances in part because Liaqat ‘Ali Khan and Daultana had also increased pressure on the Jama‘at. Suhrawardi, then leader of the Awami League, had made overtures to the Jama‘at in 1950 to form a joint front to defend Mamdot against the Liaqat-Daultana axis. Mawdudi’s initial response was favorable, and hence, on January 12, 1951, the Jama‘at participated in the Awami League and Azad Pakistan (Free Pakistan) party conference in Rawalpindi to object to Daultana’s strong-arm tactics in the election campaign. The cooperation between Suhrawardi and the Jama‘at continued until 1952, when Suhrawardi became prime minister.[56] The Jama‘at began by organizing 1,390 voter councils (panchayat) in thirty-seven electoral districts across Punjab to determine the moral caliber of the various candidates,[57] and ended up supporting fifty-two candidates in the race for the 192 seats of the Punjab Assembly.

Despite the Jama‘at’s efforts, however, the chosen candidates did not do well in the elections. The eight months and the Rs. 127,000 the party spent on the campaign had yielded only 50,000 signatures supporting its Islamization proposals and 217,859 votes for its chosen candidates out of the estimated total of 4,500,000 votes cast (24 percent of the province’s total population of 18,816,000 at the time).[58] It had secured the election of only one “virtuous” candidate (see table 7).[59]

This poor showing was due in part to the campaign having run afoul of Daultana’s ministry, which, along with the government in Karachi, had clamped down on the Jama‘at and greatly diminished its ability to wage an effective campaign. Mawdudi had come under attack by a flurry of religious decrees from the progovernment ulama; the Jama‘at’s newspapers in Punjab, Kawthar,Tasnim, and Qasid, were closed down, and the pro–Muslim League press attacked the Jama‘at and, as was usually was the case, had “exposed” its “anti-Pakistan” background. Government machinations also worked against the Jama‘at sufficiently to compel the disappointed and exhausted party not to participate in the North-West Frontier Province provincial elections scheduled for later that year, for Daultana’s strong-arm tactics would pale before those of the North-West Frontier Province chief minister, ‘Abdu’l-Qayyum Khan, who had always shown a penchant for outdoing the central government when it came to clamping down on religious activists. The Jama‘at initially put forward five candidates in those elections; after the papers of three were rejected, it decided to withdraw from the race.[60]

7. Results of the 1951 Punjab Provincial Elections
  Seats Won % of Vote
Source: Radio Pakistan News, quoted in U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, desp. #136, 4/9/1951, 790D.00/4-951, NA.
Muslim League 143 51.1
Jinnah Awami League / Awami League 32 22.7
Independents 16 23.7
Azad Pakistan Party 1 2.0
Islam League 0 0.4
Communists 0 0.1
Total 192[a] 100.0

The balance in relations between the Jama‘at and the government, however, changed significantly in October 1951 when Liaqat ‘Ali Khan was assassinated. The prime minister’s death made Khwaja Nazimu’ddin, the Bengali Muslim League leader and the governor-general at the time, prime minister. He was known to be a pious man, as were a number of men he chose as his ministers: Mawdudi’s personal friend Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali became the minister of finance, and the pro-Jama‘at Ishtiaq Husain Quraishi was appointed minister of state for refugees and overseer of the ministry of information. Meanwhile, the consummate bureaucrat, Ghulam Muhammad, was appointed to the office of governor-general. Known for his secular ways, Ghulam Muhammad’s elevation was of less comfort to the Jama‘at.

Nazimu’ddin’s administration greatly encouraged religious activism because it led various Islamic parties to expect better returns for their activism. Mawdudi took advantage of the situation to formalize the party’s increasingly politicized agenda and to push for fundamental changes in the government apparatus. By 1952 his speeches had become centered on the virtues of democracy seasoned with Islamic precepts.[61] In January, Mawdudi began to criticize severely the Public Safety Act—under the provisions of which he had been imprisoned—and the Public Representatives Disqualification Act. The latter act had originally been devised to discourage abuse of office among elected representatives by disqualifying those found guilty of corruption or illegal acts. It had, however, been widely used by Muslim Leaguers to control the provincial legislatures and to keep the opposition in line. The Jama‘at’s promotion of civil rights became so open that the American envoy in Lahore included Mawdudi in “the usual array of leftist talent” active in civil rights campaigns in his report to his superiors on the leadership of Pakistan’s Civil Liberties Union.[62]

In May, in a speech in Karachi, Mawdudi presented his most lucid formulation yet of Islamic constitutionalism, intermeshing Islamization with a demand for a democratic constitution. In the following months this theme was repeated across Pakistan. Expecting a new report from the Basic Principles Committee that would set the agenda for the debates on the constitution, the Jama‘at’s activities on behalf of an Islamic constitution reached a fever pitch. The party celebrated a “constitution week” in November 1952, organizing demonstrations, the largest of them in Karachi, and dedicating an entire issue of the Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an to discussing the details of the Islamic constitution of Mawdudi, all in the hope of preventing the committee report from sidelining the idea.[63] The committee, having caught a glimpse of the reaction which it could expect from the report, postponed its presentation, arguing that there was need for further consultation. It was not presented until December 22, 1952.

The final draft of the committee’s report made several concessions to the Islamic parties, which were duly acknowledged by Mawdudi, who attributed them to the efficacy of the Jama‘at’s organizational activity. Having smelled victory and sensed weakness in the government, Mawdudi now raised the stakes. He demanded that Pakistan be called the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” that the shari‘ah be made the supreme law in the land, and that ulama boards be set up to oversee the passage of laws in the country.[64] In addition, he called for the further streamlining of electoral procedures, to be supervised by the supreme court of Pakistan, which would limit the government’s ability to manipulate future elections to the Jama‘at’s disadvantage. Finally, he demanded that Pakistan follow a nonaligned foreign policy—that is, maintain a greater distance from the West—which was then becoming an article of faith among Islamic groups across the Muslim world. His incessant demands backed by his Islamic constitutional platform and the increasingly rambunctious party activism on the streets were closely monitored by the government, especially the bureaucracy and the army, which determined their decisions regarding the fate of the Jama‘at after the government and Islamic parties became locked in combat yet again in 1953–1954.

The Jama‘at’s activism in the 1948–1953 period anchored the constitutional debate in Islam and introduced Islamic concepts to the national political discourse. The Jama‘at’s propaganda and maneuvering and Mawdudi’s untiring campaign for Islamization foiled the attempts both of Muslim Leaguers such as Raja Ghazanfar ‘Ali to extricate Islam from politics and of the government to manipulate Islam for its own ends. The Jama‘at mobilized the ulama and the masses, set the terms of the debate, and defined the role of Islam in the state. Throughout this period, the party supported the unity of Pakistan by underlining the primacy of Islam and Urdu in the national culture. At the same time, it was at odds with the government over virtually every issue, from war in Kashmir to the refugee problem to any center-province standoff, and the constitution. Conflict continued in relations between the two, even as the inseparable entanglement of Islam and Pakistan continued to keep the Jama‘at and the government in an uneasy symbiosis.

The Jama‘at itself also underwent change during this period. Opposition to the state was supplanted by maneuverings within the state system, and the party’s ideological proclamations and idealistic approach to politics gave way to an Islamic constitutionalist platform. Yet the Jama‘at’s political enfranchisement, as significant as it was in institutionalizing its ideological zeal, did not resolve the discord between the party and the government in Lahore and Karachi. Nor did it ease the tensions within the party between those who viewed it as a holy community and those who saw it as a political party. Although the Jama‘at made giant strides in transforming itself into a full-fledged party, just as it did in the 1940–1947 period, its use of Islam to gain political advantage deepened its commitment to the holy community.

The Anti-Ahmadi Controversy, 1952–1954

The status of minorities in Pakistan had long been of major concern to a number of the Islamic parties and to the ulama. Mawdudi, however, had never given much attention to what their place should be, believing that the question would be automatically resolved within the overall framework of an Islamic constitution. The other Islamic parties did not agree, particularly when it came to the Ahmadis, a sect which had emerged at the turn of the century in Punjab. The Ahmadis follow the teachings of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (d. 1908), who claimed he had experienced divine revelation. The orthodox believe that the Ahmadis, also known as Qadiyanis or Mirza’is, stand outside the boundaries of Islam despite the Ahmadis’ insistence that they are Muslims. For Ghulam Ahmad’s claims are incompatible with the Muslim belief that Prophet Muhammad was the last of the prophets. The opposition of the ulama to the Ahmadis predated the partition, and the Deobandis had campaigned against them as early as the 1920s. Mawlana ‘Uthmani had written a book in refutation of the claims of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad in 1924.

The Ahmadi issue had been the favorite of the Majlis-i Ahrar-i Islam (Society of Free Muslims), a populist Islamic party created in 1930 that grew out of the Khilafat movement and that was best known for the impassioned style of its speakers. The Ahrar had vacillated between supporting the Congress and the Muslim League before partition and did not declare its allegiance to Pakistan until 1949. The one constant throughout its existence, aside from its socialism, had been its vehement opposition to the Ahmadis. The Ahrar had first expressed this opposition in 1934, when Shah ‘Ata’u’llah Bukhari, the party’s leader, had demanded the official exclusion of the Ahmadis from Islam and the dismissal of Sir Zafaru’llah Khan—the Ahmadi Muslim League leader and later Pakistan’s foreign minister—from the viceroy’s council.[65] Following partition, the erstwhile pro-Congress Ahrar moved to Pakistan, and after losing a significant portion of its membership between 1947 and 1950, its new leader, Taju’ddin Ansari, joined hands with Daultana’s faction of the Muslim League in Punjab.

With the passage of the Objectives Resolution, the Ahrar decided to utilize the state’s professed loyalty to Islam to elicit a ruling on the Ahmadis. Throughout 1949 it incited passions in Punjab against them (they had meanwhile established their Pakistan headquarters in Rabwah, not far from Lahore). The Ahrar were once again demanding the ouster of Zafaru’llah Khan, this time from the cabinet, and to weaken his position went so far as to argue that two of the defendants in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case were Ahmadis.[66] The anti-Ahmadi campaign soon found support among the ulama, and served as the foundation for a religious alliance comparable to the one forged earlier between the Jama‘at and the ulama.

The Ahrar found an unexpected ally in the putatively “progressive” chief minister of the Punjab, Mian Mumtaz Daultana, who had found the obstreperous Islamic party and the emerging anti-Ahmadi alliance a useful counterbalance to Mamdot and the Jama‘at in the election campaign. Mamdot had defected from the Muslim League earlier in that year and had formed the Jinnah Awami League. The resignation of the former chief minister had greatly damaged the Muslim League’s standing in Punjab, all the more so as Mamdot’s electoral strategy—forming alliances with the Awami League and the Jama‘at—was threatening Daultana’s position. Mamdot had been particularly effective in depicting Daultana and his allies in Karachi as “un-Islamic.”[67] The struggling Muslim League, also aware of challenges by the Jama‘at on its right and Mian Iftikharu’ddin’s Azad Pakistan party on its left could hardly withstand charges of secularism. Daultana therefore decided to mobilize the Ahrar to shore up the religious legitimacy of his ministry.

The Punjab elections became a platform for the Ahrar’s anti-Ahmadi propaganda. Daultana, bogged down in the election campaign and eager to build a base of support among the religious electorate, turned a blind eye to these activities. Nor did he show any signs of discomfort with the Ahrar following his victory in the elections. The continued pressures exerted on the Muslim League by Mamdot, Suhrawardi, Mawdudi, and Mian Iftikharu’ddin made the Ahrar an indispensable asset. Further emboldened by Daultana’s sweep of Punjab, the Ahrar set out to turn the Ahmadi issue into a national debate.

The dire economic conditions in Punjab at the time—a rise in food prices and famine precipitated by the landowners—meanwhile provided fertile ground for the Ahrar’s agitations.[68] The Islam League (formerly Tahrik-i Khaksar) had already done much to translate popular discontent into an Islamic movement. Throughout the summer of 1952, when food prices and the grain shortage reached their peak, Mawlana Mashriqi organized numerous anti-Muslim League demonstrations, demanding the amelioration of suffering and a greater Islamization of government. The economic situation in Punjab no doubt made local politics susceptible to religious activism. As social unrest spread, demonstrations led by religious activists in general and the Islam League in particular turned into riots. The Islam League’s penchant for violence convinced the government of the dangers of allowing the continued sacralization of politics and eventually led to Mashriqi’s arrest.

The Jama‘at had also tried to take advantage of popular discontent. It organized the February 24, 1952, demonstration at Machi Gate of Lahore to protest the hike in the price of wheat flour, a protest that soon turned into a riot, which was forcibly quelled by the police. Although the Islam League and the Communists were implicated by the authorities as the main culprits, the role of the Jama‘at in the whole affair did not go unnoticed.[69] It was, however, the Ahrar, with its socialist leanings, that assumed the role of the Islam League after Mashriqi was arrested. The Ahrar continued to articulate economic grievances in Islamic terms, but with a new twist; it tied the demand for economic justice to the Islamicity of the state by questioning the status of the Ahmadis. Every harangue against government policy and demand for greater Islamicity were accompanied by complaints about the discrepancy between the wealth of the Ahmadi community and the poverty of the struggling Muslim masses: in the homeland of Muslims, it was the Ahmadis who reaped the benefits and the Muslims who suffered hunger and hardship. This strategy was by and large successful, though it was the Ahmadis themselves who set off the final conflict. Zafaru’llah Khan played directly into the Ahrar’s hands. On May 17, 1952, the foreign minister turned down Prime Minister Nazimu’ddin’s pleas of caution and addressed a public Ahmadi session in Karachi. By openly admitting his religion, Zafaru’llah Khan gave credence to the charge made by the Ahrar that the government was “controlled” by the Ahmadis. For the other Islamic groups and the ulama, who viewed the Ahmadis with opprobrium, the very presence of an Ahmadi minister in the cabinet was proof of the un-Islamicity of the state. The Ahrar and the ulama, infuriated by the foreign minister’s action, organized a protest march; the marchers clashed with the Ahmadis, and there was a riot.

On May 18, Sayyid Sulaiman Nadwi, Pakistan’s new spiritual leader, convened an ulama board to formulate an official policy. Shaikh Sultan Ahmad represented the Jama‘at on the board. The board demanded that the Ahmadis be declared a non-Muslim minority, that Zafaru’llah Khan be removed from his cabinet post, and that all key government jobs be cleansed of Ahmadis. The board also elected a majlis-i ‘amal (council of action) to implement its recommendations. Amin Ahsan Islahi became the vice-president of this majlis, and Malik Nasru’llah Khan ‘Aziz one of its members.

The Jama‘at’s shura’ considered the unfolding events: a number of the Jama‘at leaders, including Sultan Ahmad, Islahi, and Nasru’llah Khan ‘Aziz, favored the party’s wholehearted participation in the agitations as a policy natural for the holy community to support; Mawdudi, who was keen on formalizing the Jama‘at’s political role, was reluctant to approve. He argued that the Ahmadi issue would be resolved automatically once the country was Islamized and that in the meantime riots would only tarnish the image of the Islamic groups, lessen the appeal of an Islamic constitution, and, by playing into the hands of the opponents of Islamization, was bound to derail the whole campaign for an Islamic state. The holy community’s choice of policy could not be premised on religious considerations alone; it had to be examined in light of the party’s political aims. Mawdudi was, moreover, not keen on alliance with the Ahrar built around the Ahmadi issue or any other cause. He never subscribed to the kind of impassioned denunciations which characterized the ulama or the Ahrar’s encounters with them. Mawdudi had always believed that proper Islamization would “reconvert” the Ahmadis to Islam, and the Islamic state would find a political solution to their place in society.[70] However, even among the Jama‘at’s members there was support for the riots. It was clear that they could open up contacts with the Punjabi masses, whose politics had thus far been dominated by landowners and pirs. Until then the Muhajirs had served as the Islamic parties’ main constituency; now the Islam League, Ahrar, and the anti-Ahmadi riots had opened Punjabi politics to the Islamic groups. Given its political objectives, the Jama‘at could not ignore the opportunity. The desire to sustain the momentum for an Islamic constitution had to be balanced against the opportunities the agitations presented.

The shura’, therefore, would not give its wholehearted endorsement to the majlis-i ‘amal, then dominated by the Ahrar; but in recognition of the preeminence of the Ahmadi issue, it incorporated the demands of the majlis-i ‘amal into its own constitutional proposals. The August 1952 issue of the Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an carried a lengthy denunciation of the Ahmadis written by Mawdudi, and promised to include the demand for their exclusion from Islam into the Jama‘at’s proposals for an Islamic constitution. The Jama‘at members who sat on the majlis-i ‘amal, in keeping with Mawdudi’s views, sought to temper the Ahrar’s violence, but when they failed, the Jama‘at officially dissociated itself from the majlis-i ‘amal on February 26, 1953.[71]

Between July 1952 and January 1953, Mawdudi had lobbied the ulama against the agitations, hoping instead to keep their attention on the Islamic constitution and to preserve the alliance which had produced the Objectives Resolution, repeating the argument that the Islamic constitution would provide a solution to the Ahmadi issue along with a host of other problems. Mawdudi was increasingly worried about what effect the riots were having on the government of Nazimu’ddin, which the Jama‘at regarded as an asset, and about the distraction they presented from the constitutional cause. In June 1952, when the Ahrar were busy with their campaign against the Ahmadis, the Jama‘at launched a nationwide drive to collect signatures in support of the Islamic constitution. In July, as the agitations grew worse, the Jama‘at demanded that the government reveal the contents of the Basic Principles Committee report before the assembly convened in order to ascertain its Islamicity. There followed a joint declaration of the Jama‘at and other ulama parties to hold a “Constitution Day” in Karachi on December 19, 1952, which the American envoy called “the only effort in Karachi on behalf of the constitution.”[72] Finally, in January 1953, when the Ahrar were engaged in fine-tuning their anti-Ahmadi campaign, the Jama‘at joined the Jinnah Awami League, the Awami League, and the Azad Pakistan party in opposing the Muslim League by objecting to the committee’s report.[73] The Jama‘at, however, failed to redirect national attention away from the Ahmadi issue. The majlis-i ‘amal, dominated by the Ahrar, and nudged along by Daultana and the Punjab Muslim League,[74] proved a more decisive force in determining the position of the ulama than Mawdudi’s cautions.

In July 1952 the Punjab government imposed Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code restricting public gatherings. On July 19 the Ahrar organized a large demonstration in Multan which culminated in clashes with the police and the deaths of six people. Fearful of further escalation, Daultana sought to reign the Ahrar in, though his approach remained conciliatory. On July 21, after securing from the Ahrar a promise to help restore order, the Punjab government lifted the Section 144 restrictions and the ban on the Ahrar’s paper, Azad. A week later, in a gesture of conciliation, upon the insistence of Daultana[75] “the council of Punjab Muslim League…adopted a resolution by a vote of 264 against eight in support of the anti-Ahmediya agitation.”[76] Given the Punjab government’s response, the Ahrar found more reason to push for a showdown. On July 27, despite the Muslim League’s endorsement of the Ahrar’s position, it demonstrated against the League in Punjab and assaulted its councilmen.[77] Daultana ordered the arrest of some 137 people and put Punjab under heavy police protection.[78] The breakdown in the constitutional effort, which Mawdudi had feared, soon followed.

After a brief lull in January 1953, the Ahrar resumed its campaign in full force, and by arguing that the Muslim League resolution was not definitive enough again mobilized the ulama. Sacrificing their greater interests in the Islamization of Pakistan, the ulama, including the Jama‘at leader, Sultan Ahmad, gave Nazimu’ddin an ultimatum: either sack Zafaru’llah Khan and declare the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority within a month or face “direct action”—a euphemism for widescale riots.[79]

Nazimu’ddin had initially tried to win over the agitators by expressing sympathy for the anti-Ahmadi cause. But he had refused to ask for Zafaru’llah Khan’s resignation, because in his view such a move would have upset the United States—which regarded Zafaru’llah Khan as an ally—and jeopardized the grain aid, which, given the gravity of food shortages in Punjab, was a risk he could not take.[80] On August 14 he issued a decree which forbade those holding public office from proselytizing, an open reference to the Ahmadis and Zafaru’llah Khan, but this too failed to subdue the agitations, and he soon came under pressure to take a tougher stand. At this point he changed his strategy completely. He initiated a virulent attack against the ulama in the press that, given his reputation for piety, was a bolt out of the blue for the majlis-i ‘amal and a cause for remorse for Mawdudi. When his trip to Lahore on February 16 was marked by strikes and black-flag demonstrations and the agitators threatened to carry their protest to Karachi on the occasion of Zafaru’llah Khan’s return from abroad, the government reacted swiftly; on February 27 it ordered a number of ulama and Ahrar leaders to be rounded up and placed in protective custody.

Mawdudi was no longer able to remain aloof. The constitutional debates were set aside. The government and the Islamic parties were now clearly on opposite sides, and the loyalties of the Jama‘at naturally lay with the latter. The Ahrar’s meteoric rise to prominence and the direction public opinion was taking led the Jama‘at to reassess its own approach to the crisis. Mawdudi and Sultan Ahmad participated in an all-Muslim parties convention in January 1953, where they approved the declaration of the session which demanded the resignation of Nazimu’ddin.[81] Mawdudi then joined the majlis-i ‘amal, but quickly withdrew.[82] Mawdudi and the Jama‘at became entangled in the agitations, which between February and March spread throughout Punjab. On March 5, 1953, Mawdudi published the most systematic denunciation of the Ahmadis since the beginning of the crisis: Qadiyani Mas’alah (The Ahmadi Problem). It was designed to establish his primacy in the religious circles, to confirm his religious credentials before the ulama who had chastised him for not supporting the agitations, and to upstage the Ahrar. In doing so, the book placed Mawdudi squarely at the center of the controversy.[83] True to form, Mawdudi, who was opposed to the agitations, now became their leading figure.

The federal cabinet, although disturbed by Daultana’s machinations, continued to vacillate. General Iskandar Mirza—the doyen of the bureaucracy and the defense secretary—was, however, sufficiently alarmed by the rising tide of agitations in Punjab, and especially by the Punjab government’s decision to endorse openly the demands of the agitators to act. On March 6, the Punjab government, in its capacity as the representative of the people of Punjab, dispatched a provincial minister to Karachi to put before the central government the demands of the agitators and push for the dismissal of Zafaru’llah Khan.[84] Viewing Nazimu’ddin’s indecision and Daultana’s “flirtations with the mullahs as yet another example of the ineptitude and destructive potential of the politicians,” on March 6 General Mirza ordered General A‘zam Khan to place Punjab under martial law.[85] Soon thereafter Daultana resigned, and Mawdudi, along with Mawlana ‘Abdu’ssattar Niyazi (the minister for religious affairs from 1990 to 1993) and a number of Ahrar leaders, was arrested.

Mawdudi was charged with violating martial-law regulations and “promoting feelings of enmity and hatred between different groups in Pakistan” by publishing the Qadiyani Mas’alah, as well as inflammatory articles in Tasnim.[86] Some twelve Jama‘at leaders, including Islahi and Mian Tufayl, and twenty-eight workers, including the publisher of the Qadiyani Mas’alah, were also held on these charges; and Jama‘at’s newspapers, Kawthar and Tasnim, were closed down.[87] The Jama‘at’s headquarters were raided, and its papers and funds were confiscated. Mawdudi, the editor of Tasnim, and the publisher of Qadiyani Mas’alah, would be tried on charges of sedition in May.

The anti-Ahmadi agitations, as Mawdudi had feared, proved to be the undoing of Nazimu’ddin, and a major setback for the Islamic constitution. With martial law in place in Punjab, and a climate of uncertainty and crisis reigning in the country, the governor-general, Ghulam Muhammad, found ample room for maneuvering and summarily dismissed Nazimu’ddin on April 17, 1953. In this he was backed by leaders such as General Mirza who had already taken issue with Nazimu’ddin’s “flirtations with the mullahs” and placed the entire responsibility for the crisis in Punjab on his shoulders.[88]

The pious Nazimu’ddin was replaced by the more secular Muhammad ‘Ali Bugra. The change was immediately reflected in the constitutional debates. The Constituent Assembly played down the Islamic provisions of the Basic Principles Committee report, and the interim constitutional proposals of June 1953 did not even mention the hitherto agreed-upon provisions regarding the place of Islam in the constitution.[89] A special court of inquiry was set up under the supervision of Muhammad Munir, the chief justice of the supreme court of Pakistan, to look into the roots of the agitation in Punjab and to roll back the gains made by Islamic groups. The power of religious activists was effectively reduced by the adroit Justice Munir, who depicted them as incompetent judges of how to run a modern state. The inability of the ulama and the lay religious activists to produce a unanimous response to such axiomatic queries as “the meaning of a Muslim” led to the conclusion that no such definition of Islam, let alone of an Islamic constitution, existed and that the religious experts were best advised to leave the constitution-making process alone and concentrate on putting their own house in order.

Munir’s incisive inquiry, known popularly as the “Munir Report,” was later singled out as the most celebrated “modernist” expression of backlash against Islamic activism and an indictment of religious activism, an act of bravado allowed by the change in the balance between the government and the Islamic parties. Munir’s inquiry continues to cast its shadow over the activities of the sundry Islamic parties in Pakistan to this day.

By blaming Pakistan’s developmental crisis on the “perfidious” meddling of the Islamic parties in politics, the Munir Report turned the central question before the Pakistan state on its head. Islam was depicted as an unwelcome intruder into the political arena and an impediment to national development. What the Munir Report failed to realize was that, as deficient as the program of the Islamic groups may have been, in the absence of representative institutions, national elections, national parties with a strong organizational apparatus and a meaningful political platform, and shared national values Islam was all Pakistanis had in the way of a cohesive force, and that was the very reason why politicians had continued to appeal to it. In a society with arrested political development and state formation and deeply divided along ethnic, linguistic, and sectarian lines, Islam had become the intermediary between state and society, the more so as the former had faltered and the latter grown unruly. Islam could not be selectively appealed to and then successfully manipulated. Forays into the domain of the ulama and the Islamic groups by politicians and the resultant sacralization of the political discourse could generate uncontrollable and undesirable outcomes. Costs and responsibilities had to be shouldered by Jinnah, Liaqat ‘Ali Khan, Nazimu’ddin, and Daultana, to name only a few of Pakistan’s political leaders of the time, as well as by those whom the Munir Report sought to implicate.[90] By inviting Islam into the political arena, it was the politicians, and not the Islamic activists, who confirmed the centrality of Islam to the national political discourse.

The same motives that governed the politicians’ appealing to Islam now conditioned the role of Islam in the politics of the masses. Just as the politicians had opened the door to political activism by the Islamic parties, so had the masses. With no national elections in which to express their demands, nor any national parties to represent their interests rather than those of the elite, the masses, whose commitment to Islamization until that point was by no means certain, turned to Islamic slogans and Islamic parties to express their political demands and vent their frustrations. But as the Punjab crisis indicated, neither the ruling elite nor the masses were capable of controlling the flow of Islam into politics or the sacralization of the national political discourse. Munir had really focused on the symptoms rather than the causes of that sacralization. The lesson of the Punjab crisis might have eluded Munir but not the military and bureaucratic elite. From it they concluded that secularism was the handmaiden of political stability, and, moreover, only an apolitical polity could help bring about a secular society.

Politicians and Islamic activists alike agreed that what happened in Punjab was a testament to the emotive power of Islamic symbols. The ulama and Mawdudi may be ridiculed, but in the absence of nationally shared values or a viable state ideology they were bound to rise again. The Munir Report was the last attempt to extricate Islam from Pakistan’s politics; neither Munir nor Ghulam Muhammad, nor in later years, Ayub Khan, however, could find a substitute for its role. Islam held the state together. Whenever Pakistan fell into crisis in the years to follow, politicians and people alike appealed to Islam’s symbols and loyalties to construct political programs and social movements, thereby expanding the wedge through which Islamic groups entered the political arena. As Justice Munir was busy systematically rolling back the gains made by the Islamic parties, Nuru’l-Amin, the chief minister of East Pakistan, told Prime Minister Bugra that “Islam was the League’s one hope of warding off defeat in east Bengal”[91] and keeping the wayward province under Karachi’s control. He then assured the public that the Muslim League was determined “to give the country a full-fledged Islamic Constitution within six months.”[92]

Changes in the political climate in 1953 also proved to be a problem in the Jama‘at’s legal battles. In May the military tribunal convened to determine the fate of those arrested in Punjab. After a brief trial, on May 8 the tribunal found Mawlana ‘Abdu’ssattar Niyazi and on May 11, Mawdudi, guilty of sedition; both were sentenced to death. Many among Pakistan’s leaders were convinced that India was behind the Punjab disturbances, which made Mawdudi and Niyazi guilty not only of sedition but also of treason.[93] This, however, does not explain why the harshest sentences were reserved for only these two religious leaders. The tribunal also sentenced the publishers of Tasnim and Qadiyani Mas’alah to three and nine years in jail, respectively. The sentences were unexpectedly harsh, and in the case of Mawdudi was thought by many to be incommensurate to his role in the entire affair, which was limited to having published the Qadiyani Mas’alah, and even that book had been published the day before martial law was declared. In effect, Mawdudi had been arrested for violating a martial law ordinance that had not yet existed when the book was published. Mawdudi’s writings were hardly as inflammatory as those of the Ahrar leaders, none of whom received as severe a punishment. Even more perplexing, the most active of the Jama‘at’s leaders, Sultan Ahmad, had not even been arrested, and Mawdudi had received the same sentence as Niyazi, whose incendiary speeches had directly incited violence and on one occasion had led to the murder of a policeman outside of the mosque where Niyazi was preaching. The American consul-general in Lahore reported that the chief of the intelligence directorate of Punjab told him that “there is no evidence "as yet’ that Jamaat-i-Islami as a party was involved in the riots. He stated the arrests had been made of individuals against whom there was some evidence of participation in the riots…. He was sure a good case would be made” (emphasis in the original).[94]

The government was fully aware that the public regarded its case against Mawdudi to be weak. It had been hard-pressed even to explain his arrest. Four days before Mawdudi’s sentencing, Justice Munir told the consul that “he [had] already been getting many informal petitions and letters challenging the legal validity of actions taken under Martial Law and especially of cases tried under Courts Martial which in many cases meted out severe sentences.”[95] If the army, Justice Munir, or the secularist elite had thought they could cleanse the politics of Islamic parties this way, they were wrong. Nazimu’ddin criticized the sentence, and even offered to sign a petition for mercy for Mawdudi.[96] Prime Minister Bugra, too, was surprised with the sentence and remarked that Mawdudi could appeal, and should he do so would get a most sympathetic hearing.[97] Martial law and the persecution of religious groups proved to be highly unpopular enterprises, which only made heroes of the accused.[98] On May 13, Mawdudi’s sentence was reduced to fourteen years.

The Jama‘at, however, was not assuaged and continued to clamor for justice. On May 21 four Jama‘at leaders were arrested for protesting Mawdudi’s fourteen-year sentence, but they continued their campaign for his release and complained of government vindictiveness and strong-arm tactics toward their party. On June 18, 1954, for instance, Sultan Ahmad, the provisional amir of the Jama‘at, declared that Mawdudi’s arrest and sentence had nothing to do with the anti-Ahmadi agitations, and everything to do with his constitutional proposals.[99] Echoing a general sentiment among the Islamic parties, Sultan Ahmad stated that the government’s reaction to the agitations was merely a pretext for eliminating stumbling blocks to the passage of a secular constitution.[100] Justice Munir’s probing into the politics of Islamic activists under the pretext of determining the causes of the Punjab agitations had only added to their suspicions. Many religious leaders, including those in the Jama‘at, charged that the court of inquiry was better advised to look for the cause of agitation in economic injustice and the political maneuverings of Daultana.

Some in the military and the bureaucracy saw the Punjab agitations and the five-year campaign for an Islamic constitution as interrelated, and therefore believed that Mawdudi’s crime extended beyond his role in the Punjab agitations. Zafaru’llah Khan and Iskandar Mirza claimed that Mawdudi was “one of the most dangerous men in Pakistan,”[101] guilty of generating a national crisis. Munir himself believed that the Jama‘at had as “its objective the replacement of the present form of Government by a Government of the Jamaat’s conception,”[102] a point that was hardly new since the Jama‘at had openly advocated the establishment of a government to its liking since setting foot in Pakistan. But now the Jama‘at’s campaign for Islamization was depicted as a seditious undertaking whose result was the Punjab crisis. It followed that there existed no difference between Mawdudi’s apparently academic activities and Niyazi’s manipulation of the mob.

Mawdudi himself remained unapologetic. While he may have received assurances regarding the outcome of his case from Muslim League leaders,[103] he forbade his followers from seeking clemency on his behalf. They did, however, stage a number of strikes and street demonstrations decrying the “injustice.” To the government’s dismay, Mawdudi was gradually becoming a hero.

Reacting to pressures from within, reluctant to carry out the sentences against Mawdudi and Niyazi,[104] and dismayed by the Jama‘at’s success in arguing its case before the public, the government grew conciliatory. Mian Muhammad Sharif, a judge of the supreme court, was appointed by the government to review the tribunal’s judgment. Sharif recommended that the martial law administration commute the sentences. By the end of 1953 most of the Jama‘at’s workers had been freed, and in March 1954 Islahi was released. Mawdudi, however, was to be kept away for as long as the government could manage. The court, however, once again proved to be a boon for the Jama‘at. Following the ruling of the federal court on a petition of habeas corpus for two defendants in the Rawalpindi conspiracy case, Mawdudi and Niyazi filed a habeas corpus petition before the Lahore High Court in April. However, before the court could render a verdict, the government remitted Mawdudi and Niyazi’s sentences. After two years in prison, Mawdudi was released on April 29, 1955. Already a hero, he quickly became the spokesman for a religious alliance whose zeal he was determined to rekindle.[105]

The Constitution of 1956

The Jama‘at’s experience with martial law in Punjab and its dismay at the ouster of Nazimu’ddin had only increased the party’s dedication to the preservation and promotion of civil liberties. In July 1953 the Jama‘at celebrated “Islamic Constitution Day.” In November of the same year it ordered its workers to join various civil liberties unions across Pakistan, and it contemplated forming a central civil liberties association.[106] The Jama‘at’s Islamic constitution and its civil rights cause were given a boost when the secularist governor-general Ghulam Muhammad, in an attempt to resolve the political stalemate in Karachi, summarily dismissed the Constituent Assembly on October 24, 1954. With no constitution in place, the governor-general was theoretically responsible only to the British Crown. Although Mawdudi was then still in prison and conceivably at the mercy of Ghulam Muhammad’s good will, the party quickly organized demonstrations against the governor-general’s decision and in support of the petition challenging the dismissal filed before the Sind High Court by the speaker of the dismissed assembly, Maulvi Tamizu’ddin, on November 7, 1954.[107] The Sind High Court ruled against the governor-general’s action. Ghulam Muhammad appealed the ruling before the Supreme Court, where Justice Munir reversed the Sind High Court.

The case presented not only a suitable cause célèbre around which to organize and to reinvigorate the languishing religious alliance, but an occasion to challenge both Ghulam Muhammad and Justice Munir. The dismissal of the assembly had also removed the only institutional avenue open to the religious alliance for influencing the constitutional process, which now lay fully in the hands of secularist leaders. The restoration of the assembly was, therefore, a matter of life and death for the Islamic constitution, and yet another proof that the fate of Islam was enmeshed with that of democracy in Pakistan. Under political pressure the government restored the assembly in May 1955. In August both Ghulam Muhammad and Bugra left office, to be replaced by General Iskandar Mirza and Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali, respectively. Given the resumption of constitutional debates, the Jama‘at redoubled its efforts on behalf of the Islamic constitution, though rather less zealously. It did not, for instance, put forth candidates to contest the elections to the Constituent Assembly of June 21, 1955. In light of the Munir Report’s debilitating criticisms and the government’s dismissal of the Constituent Assembly, the party now felt that it should avoid issues of substance and concentrate on obtaining any constitution at all. The pious Muslim Leaguer and civil servant Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali, whom Mawdudi had known since the 1930s, meanwhile received Mawdudi’s endorsement for the renewed constitution-making process after he relaxed government pressure on the Jama‘at and protected Mawdudi from further harassment. For instance, Muhammad ‘Ali personally intervened on Mawdudi’s behalf when the government had decided to prosecute him once again for his role in the anti-Ahmadi crisis by using a legal technicality.[108] Pressure was brought to bear on the government to arrest Mawdudi and other martial law prisoners. The charges against Mawdudi and his codefendants were officially dropped eight days later.[109]

The government took steps to bring the Jama‘at into the constitution-making process by pushing for greater Islamization.[110] Thirty-four members of the Constituent Assembly signed a declaration at the Jama‘at’s behest in May 1955, pledging to retain in the new constitutional draft the Islamic and democratic provisions adopted by the old constituent assembly. Meanwhile, Sardar ‘Abdu’rrabb Nishtar, president of the Muslim League, and Mahmud Husain, minister of education, pressed to include in the Basic Principles Committee report a recommendation to establish an ulama board to advise the legislature.[111]

On February 29, 1956, the Constituent Assembly formally ratified the draft constitution proposed by Muhammad ‘Ali. It was approved by the governor-general on March 2 and took effect on March 23. The constitution recognized some token demands of the Islamic parties—naming the state the “Islamic Republic” of Pakistan and subjecting all legislative undertakings to the veto of the “repugnancy clause.” This clause (number 205), argued that no laws could be passed that were repugnant to the teachings of the Qur’an and the hadith and that all laws passed to date could be examined in light of the religious authorities and, if need be, repealed. But none of the concessions were substantive ones. The recommendations made by the Board of Ta‘limat-i Islamiyah (Board of Islamic Teachings), the Objectives Resolution, and the reports of the Basic Principles Committee found no place in the constitution. Islam was not declared the official religion of Pakistan, nor was it stipulated that the speaker of the National Assembly, who could become president under special circumstances, must be a Muslim. Furthermore, the constitution of 1956 closely paralleled the India Act of 1935 and, hence, despite its prima facie adherence to the Westminster model, gave broad powers to the president to which the Jama‘at was opposed. The constitution had retained all those features of the earlier interim committee reports which Mawdudi had most vehemently denounced as authoritarian.

Mawdudi and the Jama‘at, however, quickly accepted the constitution as an “Islamic” constitution. The only serious criticism lodged by Mawdudi was to the “preventive detention” clause of the constitution, which given his recent experiences with the heavy-handed policies of the government, was derided as outright authoritarian.[112] This decision was doctrinally suspect but politically prudent. Mawdudi no doubt wanted to support Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali and to make the best of a bad situation. Bengali discontent with Karachi’s political intrigues had increased markedly after 1954, when the Muslim League had been routed in East Pakistan’s provincial elections. Pakistan, Mawdudi decided, needed a working constitution, and debating over what it should be could only further divide the country. The political maneuverings of General Mirza, who was no less a threat to the Jama‘at’s interests than Ghulam Muhammad, added to the party’s anxiety. Since October 1954, when Ghulam Muhammad had dismissed the Constituent Assembly and forced Prime Minister Bugra to admit generals Mirza and Ayub Khan into the cabinet, the military had taken a more direct role in managing the affairs of the country. A prolonged constitutional deadlock could only have benefited General Mirza and his allies in the bureaucracy and the armed forces, who were impatient with Pakistani politics and were predisposed to dispense with the entire process. Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali, who generally sought to minimize resistance to the constitution, had no doubt been instrumental in helping Mawdudi come to these conclusions.[113] So had the ransacking by the police of the party’s offices eleven days earlier and its promise to continue such harassment.[114]

In addition, unless quickly promulgated, Muhammad ‘Ali’s constitutional draft was likely to be challenged by more secular versions. In 1955 the law minister, Isma‘il Ibrahim Chundrigar, had drafted a constitution with the help of Britain’s parliamentary counsel, Sir John Rowlatt.[115] The “Chundrigar constitution,” as it was dubbed by a British diplomat, did not envision Pakistan as an “Islamic” Republic, and provided for no parliamentary body to determine whether or not legislation was repugnant to Islam. It referred to Islam only twice—when it stipulated the religion required of the president and when it suggested that oaths should be taken in the name of Allah.[116] Chundrigar viewed Islamic legislation as a restriction on the sovereignty of the parliament and wished to do away with it. It is clear that the law minister’s initiative would have been particularly damaging to the Jama‘at’s cause. The party agreed to forego the hope of a constitution to its liking and to accept Muhammad ‘Ali’s formulation.

Soon thereafter, Muhammad ‘Ali’s power began to wane. Mawdudi’s efforts to mobilize support failed, and the architect of Pakistan’s first constitution was removed from office on September 12, 1956. He was replaced by the veteran Bengali politician Husain Shahid Suhrawardi, whose mix of Bengali nationalism and populism did not sit well with West Pakistan’s landed and bureaucratic elite. The Jama‘at did not approve of his secular outlook and populist inclinations. Once Suhrawardi, an ally of Mamdot, had taken over the Jinnah Awami League and secured a base in Punjab, he had moved steadily to the left and toward the Bengali nationalists, forming the United Front to expand his base of support in East Pakistan. Given all this, the Jama‘at was certain to resume its antigovernment agitations. The new government’s interpretation of the constitution would soon provide the necessary pretext.

The constitution of 1956 had left the question of the division of the electorates unresolved. Most West Pakistanis favored categorizing Muslims and non-Muslims as separate electorates. Suhrawardi and the East Pakistan Assembly had already voted in favor of joint electorates.[117] Soon after Suhrawardi took office, the Jama‘at moved to oppose Suhrawardi over the joint electorate issue[118] and launched a campaign which placed the issue at the center of Pakistani politics.[119] The party argued that joint electorates would make a mockery of the state’s claims to be Islamic and open the elections to machinations by the “anti-Pakistan” Hindu voters who were still numerous in East Pakistan. The party found itself in the same camp with many of its erstwhile enemies and rivals—the Muslim League and the Republican party leaders, and the bureaucratic and military elite who opposed Suhrawardi and the Awami League on the electorates issue.[120] The issue was largely symbolic, revealing the continued communalist outlook of the Pakistanis. Before the partition they had fought for separate electorates in India to establish their communal identity and protect the special interests of the Muslim minority. The force of their arguments was still echoing in Pakistan; they still reacted to the issue as if they represented a religious minority. They felt threatened by the Hindu electorate, whom they believed would use the joint electorates to promote Bengali nationalism at the expense of the Islamic, and by implication Pakistani, cause. The Jama‘at was motivated by anti-Hindu sentiments, since Hindus were the main beneficiaries of joint electorates in East Pakistan. The party’s idea of social organization was based on the Muslim/non-Muslim (zimmi) dichotomy and the overriding role of Islam in Pakistan’s politics. In this case the interests of many Pakistani leaders and the religious sensibilities of the Jama‘at had converged. The electorates issue was only the first of many examples of cooperation between the Muslim League and the Jama‘at. For instance, when in March 1958 the prime minister, Malik Firuz Khan Noon, severely criticized Western powers for abandoning Pakistan on Kashmir, and called for Pakistan to steer away from overreliance on the West, none welcomed his initiative more than the Jama‘at.

Hence once Suhrawardi and the Awami League were replaced by a Muslim League government, the Jama‘at found itself markedly closer to the government.[121] Between 1957 and 1958, as the clamor for provincial autonomy among Bengalis came to dominate Pakistani politics, strikes and demands for economic justice grew, and as the hand of General Mirza in steering Pakistan toward military rule became more apparent, the Jama‘at joined in the political process more actively.[122] To counter General Mirza’s growing strength, the government was compelled to woo the Islamic parties. When Prime Minister Noon called an “all-parties conference” in 1958, the Jama‘at was invited to attend,[123] a move the Jama‘at regarded as propitious. The Jama‘at had concluded that the electorates issue, which threatened to destabilize the political order, would be decisive in any future general election. Believing that most Pakistanis shared the party’s enthusiasm for separate electorates, it expected to benefit in the anticipated elections from the anti–joint electorate tide. During a preelection rally in East Pakistan, Mawdudi declared rather cavalierly that “99% of West Pakistan’s population and 80 to 90% of East Pakistani Muslims are against the system of joint electorates.”[124]

On April 28, 1958, the party contested twenty-three seats in the Karachi municipal elections and won nineteen of them. The elections to the ninety-six seats of the city corporation, ninety-one of which were open to Muslims, were closely contested and stirred great popular interest.[125] The elections were used by most parties as a trial run for the general elections to gauge the popularity of the various parties.[126] Although the Karachi electorate was by no means typical of Pakistan as a whole, the Jama‘at’s victory still gave it a considerable boost. The U. S. embassy reported to the secretary of state that the Jama‘at had done surprisingly well in the elections, “the most striking aspect of the election results.”[127] The party had won a large proportion of the seats it had contested, coming second after the Muslim League with sixty-one seats.[128] Taking the results as a sign of greater victories to follow, the Jama‘at began preparing for the national elections, to that end forging an alliance with Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali’s newly formed Nizam-i Islam (Islamic Order) party. Preparations ended abruptly when on October 7, 1958, generals Iskandar Mirza and Muhammad Ayub Khan staged a military coup, dismissed the civilian government, and shelved the constitution of 1956.

Between 1948 and 1958 the Jama‘at found its place in Pakistani politics. Following an uncertain start, and periodic confrontations with the government, it utilized its campaign for an Islamic constitution to replace its original ideological orientation with greater pragmatism, to articulate a political program, and generally to move along the path of becoming a full-fledged political party. It found a clear-cut political platform by amending its Islamic vision to include a commitment to democracy and constitutional rights. In the process it infused the political discourse with religious references and ideas whose language and symbols have left such an indelible mark on Pakistani politics. The Islamic parties came to constitute a distinct interest group with specific demands on the state. Although these parties, and the Jama‘at most notably among them, continued to fight the state, the symbiosis between Islam and the state was, nevertheless, strengthened.


1. Kawthar (July 28, 1947): 3. [BACK]

2. Sarwat Saulat, Maulana Maududi (Karachi, 1979), 29. [BACK]

3. Saulat, Maulana Maududi, 29; and interview with Mian Tufayl Muhammad in Takbir (November 16, 1989): 56. [BACK]

4. Syed Ahmad Nur, From Martial Law to Martial Law: Politics in the Punjab, 1919–1958 (Boulder, 1985). [BACK]

5. Interview with Mian Tufayl Muhammad. [BACK]

6. These talks were delivered between January 6 and February 10, 1948. They were later published as Islam ka Nizam-i Hayat, and published in English in Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, The Islamic Way of Life (Leicester, 1986). [BACK]

7. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #189, 4/28/1948, 845F.00/4–2848, NA. [BACK]

8. For more details see Ayesha Jalal, The State of Martial Rule: The Origins of Pakistan’s Political Economy of Defence (Cambridge, 1990), 119–24. [BACK]

9. U. S. Embassy Karachi, disp. #1671, 5/29/1951, 790D.00/5–1651, and disp. #1394, 3/28/1950, 790D.00/3–2851, NA. The British envoy in Pakistan took a less drastic view of the Communist threat, and attributed the plot largely to frustrations over Kashmir. He explained Faiz’s part in the affair as conjectural; see U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, tel. #FL1018/18, 3/10/1951, FO371/92866, PRO. [BACK]

10. See, for instance, Civil and Military Gazette (January 28, 1950): 2 and (June 6, 1951): 1. Similar sentiments were expressed by Liaqat ‘Ali Khan; U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #33, 9/15/1950, 790D.001/9–650, NA. Also the IJT, for instance, as a bulwark against communism in Pakistan, received financial support from the Muslim League between 1949 and 1952; see interview with Khurram Jah Murad in JVNAT, vol. 1, 70. [BACK]

11. Freeland Abbott, Islam and Pakistan (Ithaca, 1968), 193. [BACK]

12. See Kawthar (November 25, 1947): 7; (December 13, 1947): 2; (December 17, 1947): 1; (December 25, 1947): 4; and (January 25, 1948): 2. [BACK]

13. Ibid. (March 5, 1948): 1. [BACK]

14. See Rana Sabir Nizami, Jama‘at-i IslamiPakistan: Nakamiyun ke Asbab ka ‘Ilmi Tajziyah (Lahore, 1988), 44–45. [BACK]

15. This comment was made in February 1948 and was later printed in Syed Abul ‘Ala Maudoodi, Islamic Law and Constitution (Karachi, 1955), 1. [BACK]

16. Ibid., 53. [BACK]

17. These lectures were subsequently published in Islamic Law and Constitution (Karachi, 1955). [BACK]

18. Interview with Mian Tufayl Muhammad in Takbir (November 16, 1989): 48. [BACK]

19. Ahmad Ra’if, Pakistan Awr Jama‘at-i Islami (Faisalabad, 1986), 26. [BACK]

20. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #328, 7/26/1948, 845F.00/7–2648, NA. [BACK]

21. Ra’if, Pakistan, 26. [BACK]

22. For an example of such an assertion, see Kawthar (December 25, 1947): 4. [BACK]

23. Interview with Begum Mawdudi. [BACK]

24. Interviews with Mian Tufayl Muhammad, Sultan Ahmad, and ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan. [BACK]

25. SAAM, vol. 1, 225. [BACK]

26. Report of the Court of Inquiry Constituted under Punjab Act 11 of 1953 to Enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953 (Lahore, 1954), 226. [BACK]

27. TQ (June 1948): 121–26. [BACK]

28. Ibid., 357. [BACK]

29. SAAM, vol. 1, 359–60. [BACK]

30. Nawa’-i Waqt (September 2, 1948): 1; (September 3, 1948): 1; and (September 3, 1948): 4. [BACK]

31. In the words of one observer, while Muslim League leaders may have never forgiven the Jama‘at’s opposition to their cause before the partition, many shared the party’s social and moral concerns and were therefore generally more tolerant of the Jama‘at. The high civil servants, such as Iskandar Mirza, Ghulam Ahmad, or ‘Aziz Ahmad, in contrast, were far more secular in outlook than the politicians and by the same token less tolerant of the Jama‘at; U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #61, 7/27/1956, 790D.00/7–2756, NA. [BACK]

32. RJI, vol. 6, 133–34 and 138–39. Between 1948 and 1951 additional Jama‘at leaders were jailed for various periods; ibid., 133–35. [BACK]

33. On October 16, 1948, in the Division Classified Letter No. F.4/8/48 EST.(SE) the Jama‘at was declared a subversive organization, the membership of which was prohibited for Pakistani government employees. Other organizations cited in this code were the Anjuman-i Azad Khiyal Musaniffin (Society of Free-Thinking Writers) and the Punjabi Majlis (Punjabi Council), both of which were Communist bodies. The code is interestingly still in the statutes, and was cited in the latest edition of the Civil Service Code printed during the Zia years; see ESTA CODE: Civil Service Establishment Code (Islamabad, 1983), 317. [BACK]

34. RJI, vol. 6, 136–37. [BACK]

35. Ibid., 136–42. [BACK]

36. SAAM, vol. 1, 360. [BACK]

37. Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, Shakhsiyat (Lahore, n.d.), 273–80. [BACK]

38. RJI, vol. 6, 101–2, and JIKUS, 57–58. [BACK]

39. For a detailed account of the constitutional debates, see Leonard Binder’s excellent analysis in Religion and Politics in Pakistan (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1961). [BACK]

40. As an indication of the importance of the alliance with ‘Uthmani, Mian Mumtaz Daultana observed at the time that the Objectives Resolution was a personal favor to ‘Uthmani by Liaqat ‘Ali Khan, in that the sovereignty of God was acknowledged in the resolution; see Afzal Iqbal, Islamization of Pakistan (Lahore, 1986), 41. In a similar vein ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan recollects that ‘Uthmani personally interceded with the authorities on a number of occasions to obtain the release of Mawdudi from prison; interview with ‘Abdu’l-Ghaffar Hasan. [BACK]

41. RJI, vol. 6, 107–8. [BACK]

42. Ibid., 110–11. [BACK]

43. Interview with Mian Tufayl. [BACK]

44. RJI, vol. 6, 115. [BACK]

45. SAAM, vol. 1, 365–66. [BACK]

46. Ibid., 370. [BACK]

47. Ibid., 244. [BACK]

48. MMKT, vol. 2, 82–99, and Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, Sunnat’u Bid‘at ki Kashmakash (Lahore, 1950). [BACK]

49. SAAM, vol. 1, 373. [BACK]

50. On the Muhajir’s demands for land reform, which were first aired in 1949, see U. K. High Commission, Karachi, disp. #18, 5/3/1949, DO35/8948, and disp. #31, 9/3/1949, DO35/8948, PRO. [BACK]

51. MMKT, vol. 2, 161–65. [BACK]

52. RJI, vol. 6, 138–39. [BACK]

53. TQ (June 1950): 360–65. [BACK]

54. RJI, vol. 6, 115; and Binder, Religion and Politics, 216–17. [BACK]

55. For a full discussion of this issue, see Seyyed Vali Reza Nasr, “The Politics of an Islamic Movement: The Jama‘at-i Islami of Pakistan,” Ph.D. dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991, 410–21, and RJI, vol. 6, 140–42. [BACK]

56. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #49, 9/25/1950, 790D.00/9–2950; disp. #72, 11/3/1950, 790D.00/11–350; and disp. #84, 11/30/1950, NA. [BACK]

57. RJI, vol. 6, 118. [BACK]

58. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #136, 1/31/1952, 790D.00/1–3152, NA. [BACK]

59. RJI, vol. 6, 117–29. [BACK]

60. Ibid., 121; and U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #660, 12/11/1951, 790D.00/11–2851, NA. [BACK]

61. For details of these speeches, see MMKT, vol. 2. [BACK]

62. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #189, 5/1/1952, 790D.00/5–152, NA. [BACK]

63. TQ (November 1952). [BACK]

64. MMKT, vol. 2, 385–432. [BACK]

65. Yohanan Friedmann, Prophecy Continuous: Aspects of Ahmadi Religious Thought and Its Medieval Background (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1989), 37. [BACK]

66. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #1882, 6/21/1951, 790D.00/6–2151, NA. [BACK]

67. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #1103, 1/27/1951, 790D.001/1–2750, 2, NA. [BACK]

68. Nur, From Martial Law, 315–16, and Jalal, State of Martial Rule, 144–51. [BACK]

69. U. S. Consulate General Lahore, disp. #146, 2/27/1952, 790D.00/2–2752, NA. [BACK]

70. Malik Ghulam ‘Ali, “Professor Mawdudi ke Sath Sath Islamiyah College Se Zaildar Park Tak,” in HRZ, 123–24. [BACK]

71. SAAM, vol. 1, 441. [BACK]

72. U. S. Embassy Karachi, disp. #59, 7/17/1952, 790D.00/7–1752, NA. [BACK]

73. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #3, 7/14/1952, 790D.00/6–1452; U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #591, 12/11/1952, 790D.00/12/1152, NA. [BACK]

74. Daultana’s financial and logistical support for the Ahrar and his direct role in precipitating the crisis in Punjab are detailed in reports of U. S. and British diplomats; see U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #41, 10/1/1953, 790D.00/10–153, and disp. #58, 11/19/1953, 790D.00/11–1953, NA; and U. K. Deputy High Commissioner, Lahore, disp. #23/53, 11/17/1953, DO35/5296, PRO. [BACK]

75. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #10, 7/28/1952, 790D.00/7–2852, NA. [BACK]

76. Jalal, State of Martial Rule, 153. [BACK]

77. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #12, 7/31/1952, 790D.00/7–3152, NA. [BACK]

78. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #17, 8/4/1952, 790D.00/8–452, NA. [BACK]

79. Binder, Religion and Politics, 294. [BACK]

80. Mawlana Abu’l-Hasanat, the president of the majlis-i ‘amal, told the Court of Inquiry of Justice Munir that Nazimu’ddin had intimated to the majlis that if Zafaru’llah Khan was dismissed “Pakistan would not get one grain of American wheat”; U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #41, 10/1/1953, 790D.00/10–153, NA. Similar views were also expressed by the Ahrar leader Taju’ddin Ansari, who said Nazimu’ddin had sympathized with their cause, but argued that Zafaru’llah Khan’s presence in the cabinet was essential to receiving wheat from the United States. See U. K. Deputy High Commissioner, Lahore, disp. #20/53, 10/1953, DO35/5296, PRO. Sayyid Amjad ‘Ali, who negotiated the wheat loan from the United States, recollects no such threat on the part of the United States; interview with Sayyid Amjad ‘Ali. [BACK]

81. Report of Court, 50. [BACK]

82. The Jama‘at’s relations with the majlis-i ‘amal were sufficiently ambivalent to implicate the Jama‘at in later court proceedings; see ibid., 69–71: “While Jama‘at’s criticism[s] of acts of violence by agitators were only indirect and veiled, Mawdudi was throughout emitting fire against the Government in a most harsh language.” [BACK]

83. The book was not rounded up by Martial Law authorities until March 23, and in eighteen days it sold fifty-seven thousand copies; SAAM, vol. 2, 32. [BACK]

84. U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, disp. #405, 3/6/1953, DO35/5326, PRO. [BACK]

85. In his memoirs, unpublished in full to this date, General Mirza takes full responsibility for martial law in Punjab. See General Iskandar Mirza’s “Memoirs,” 52–54 (unpublished manuscript). General Mirza’s claim is confirmed by reports of U. S. and British diplomats; see U. S. Embassy, Karachi, tel. #5258, 4/16/1953, 790D.00/4–1653, and tel. #1913, 4/7/1953, 790D.00/4–753; U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #71, 1/5/1954, 790D.00/1/454, NA. Also see U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, disp. #56, 4/18/1953, DO35/5377, PRO.

Other sources detailing the course of events which led to the imposition of Section 92a in Punjab place greater emphasis on the role of the central government and Nazimu’ddin in the events leading to the declaration of martial law. Aware of Daultana’s dealings with the Ahrar, and eager to prevent him from assuming the image of a martyr once the martial law was imposed, the army prevented his resignation. Daultana was forced to negotiate with Nazimu’ddin, and agreed to hand in a letter which explicitly endorsed and supported the army’s direct action. The army even summoned Daultana’s links with the Ahrar to Karachi, indicating that unless the chief minister cooperated in the termination of his political career a case would be made against him and he could face a trial at a later date. The final deal which led to Daultana’s resignation also explains the fact that Justice Munir in his probe into the agitations glossed over the chief minister’s role in the agitations, and then in camera; U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #159, 3/17/1953, 790D.00/3–1753, NA. Also see U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, disp. #442, 3/11/1953, DO35/5326, PRO.

One British source has pointed to General A‘zam Khan as the prime mover behind the coup, reporting that “General Azam, who had for the past two days been pressing for authority from Nazimu’ddin but had not been able to get any orders, had taken over (as I understood it), entirely on his own”; U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, disp. #417, 3/7/1953, DO35/5326, PRO. In light of the foregoing and evidence to the contrary, it is unlikely that A‘zam Khan acted independently. The period March 4–6, during which A‘zam Khan had demanded action, was likely used by General Mirza and Nazimu’ddin to elicit concessions from Daultana. [BACK]

86. The articles were published in February 28 and March 7, 1953, editions of the magazine; see HRZ, 134. [BACK]

87. Ibid. [BACK]

88. Memoirs of General Mirza, 46–48. [BACK]

89. Binder, Religion and Politics, 305. [BACK]

90. Even the uncompromisingly secularist Iskandar Mirza appealed to Islam to bolster his political standing and promote national unity. For instance, during a tour of Pathan tribal areas in October 1957, he lectured the tribes on the importance of Islamic unity; U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #58, 10/10/1957, 790D.00/10–1057, NA. [BACK]

91. Jalal, State of Martial Rule, 184. [BACK]

92. Cited in U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, savingram #199, 11/26/1953, DO35/5284, PRO. [BACK]

93. Civil and Military Gazette (July 22, 1952): 1. [BACK]

94. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #169, 4/2/1953, 790D.00/4–253, NA. [BACK]

95. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #185, 5/7/1953, 790D.00/5–753, NA. [BACK]

96. U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, savingram #94, 5/13/1953, DO35/5284, PRO. [BACK]

97. U. K. Deputy High Commissioner, Lahore, disp. #10/53, 5/19/1953, DO35/5296, PRO. [BACK]

98. For instance, the Awami League, hardly a friend of the Jama‘at at this time, announced its intention to hold a Mawdudi Day on May 22, 1953, and was thwarted in its efforts only by government pressure; U. S. Consulate, Dacca, disp. #99, 5/28/1953, 790D.00/5–2853; also see U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #192, 5/31/1953, 790D.00/5–2153, NA. [BACK]

99. Report of the Court, 92, and Abdur Rahman Abd, Sayyed Maududi Faces the Death Sentence (Lahore, 1978), 14–15. [BACK]

100. See Na‘im Siddiqi and Sa‘id Ahmad Malik, Tahqiqat-i ‘Adalat ki Report Par Tabsarah (Lahore, 1955). [BACK]

101. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, tel. #1711, 5/12/1951, 790D.00/5–1253, NA. In an interesting exchange soon after the anti-Ahmadi agitations came to an end, the U. S. Consul reports that Malik Firuz Khan Noon, chief minister of Punjab, asked the American consulate general not to give any money to the Jama‘at should the party ask for it under the pretext of waging an anti-Communist crusade. The chief minister then explained that the consulate should be aware that the Jama‘at was “very dangerous” and that the anti-Ahmadi alliance could be revived to “kill off the Muslim League.” U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #103, 1/4/1955, 790D.00/1–455, NA. [BACK]

102. Muhammad Munir, From Jinnah to Zia (Lahore, 1979), 55. [BACK]

103. Abu’l-Khayr Mawdudi, who seems to have always taken pleasure in cutting his younger brother’s ego to size, mentions that such Muslim League stalwarts as Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani, Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali, and the ousted premier, Nazimu’ddin, had told Mawdudi that he would not be harmed; cited in Ja‘far Qasmi, “Mujhe Yad Hey Sab Se Zara Zara…” in Nida (April 17, 1990): 28–34. Also see Aziz Ahmad, “Mawdudi and Orthodox Fundamentalism in Pakistan,” Middle East Journal 21, 3 (Summer 1967): 369–70, where the author argues that Nazimu’ddin and Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali interceded on Mawdudi’s behalf with the authorities, preventing his execution. King Saud of Saudi Arabia, too, intervened on Mawdudi’s behalf with Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad; cited in Sayyid Asad Gilani, Maududi: Thought and Movement (Lahore, 1984), 103–4. After Mawdudi’s sentence was commuted, the Muslim League of Punjab lobbied for his release from prison; U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, disp. #INT.29/26/4, 5/1/1954, DO35/5405, PRO. [BACK]

104. ‘Abdu’ssattar Niyazi recollects that a section of the army was unhappy with the decision of the military tribunal in Mawdudi’s and Niyazi’s cases; interview with ‘Abdu’ssattar Niyazi in Herald (January 1990): 272. [BACK]

105. For instance, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the former grand mufti of Palestine, congratulated Mawdudi, which appeared in the press; cited in U. K. Deputy High Commissioner, Lahore, disp. #16/55, 8/8/1955, DO35/5297, PRO. [BACK]

106. Chaudhri Ghulam Muhammad, “Pakistan Main Jumhuri Iqdar ki Baqa Awr Furugh,” Chiragh-i Rah, Tahrik-i Islami Number (November 1963): 211. [BACK]

107. On the Jama‘at’s efforts to assist the petition, see Nawwabzadah Nasru’llah Khan, “Ham Unke, Vuh Hemarah Sath Rahe”, in HRZ, 37. [BACK]

108. On May 22, 1955, the governor-general amended the Emergency Powers Ordinance of 1955 to validate the Constituent Assembly for Pakistan Act of 1949 (expanding and redistributing the seats of the Constituent Assembly). As a result, all acts passed by the Constituent Assembly after 1949, including the Martial Law Indemnity Act of 1953, could be argued to be valid. Prisoners arrested under the Indemnity Act such as Mawdudi had been released when the law had been declared invalid; U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, disp. #203, 10/31/1955, DO35/5120, PRO. [BACK]

109. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #767, 5/28/1955, 790D.00/5–2855, and disp. #776, 6/2/1955, 790D.00/6–255, NA. [BACK]

110. Faruqi writes that Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali maintained close contact with Mawdudi throughout 1956 and frequently consulted him over the constitutional draft; ‘Abdu’l-Ghani Faruqi, “Hayat-i Javidan,” HRZ, 29. [BACK]

111. U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, disp. #56, 4/18/1953, DO35/5372, P.3, PRO. [BACK]

112. TQ (January–February 1956): 2–8. [BACK]

113. Nur, From Martial Law, 351–55. [BACK]

114. U. S. Consulate General, Lahore, disp. #159, 1/6/1956, 790D.001–656, NA. [BACK]

115. Letter from I. I. Chundrigar to United Kingdom’s high commissioner, Sir Alexander Symon, dated 1/9/1956, DO35/5119, PRO. [BACK]

116. U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, confidential memo to Commonwealth Relations Office, London, 10/22/1955, DO35/5119; U. K. High Commission, Karachi, internal memo, 11/30/1955, DO35/5119. Interestingly, although a few months earlier the British had turned down Iskandar Mirza’s request for advice on constitutional matters, this time the high commissioner thought otherwise and sent Chundrigar’s draft constitution to Rowlatt for consideration; letter from U. K. High Commission, Karachi, to Commonwealth Relations Office, London, 9/23/1955, DO35/5119, PRO. [BACK]

117. The vote in the East Pakistan provincial assembly had been 159 to 1; U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, tel. #1585, 10/2/1956, DO35/5107A, PRO. [BACK]

118. Mawdudi went on a tour of East Pakistan to campaign against joint electorates, hoping to influence the East Pakistan provincial assembly’s decision on the matter; MMKT, vol. 4, 31–32, 66–70, 77–80, 166–79, and 182–83. [BACK]

119. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #61, 7/27/1956, 790D.00/7–2756, NA. [BACK]

120. In fact, it was the Jama‘at’s successful anti–joint electorates campaign that gave Iskandar Mirza a handle in 1958 to keep Suhrawardi’s challenges to him and the Noon government at bay; U. S. Embassy, Karachi, tel. #1890, 1/31/1958, 790D.00/1–3158, NA. [BACK]

121. Suhrawardi left office on October 11, 1957. His successor, Isma‘il Ibrahim Chundrigar, remained in office until December 16, 1957, and was replaced with Malik Firuz Khan Noon, whose tenure of office extended until October 7, 1958. [BACK]

122. See Mawdudi’s criticisms of General Mirza’s policies in MMKT, vol. 4, 125–32. [BACK]

123. Nasru’llah Khan, “Ham Unke,” 37. [BACK]

124. Cited in U. S. Consulate, Dacca, disp. #247, 4/3/1958, 790D.00/4–358, NA. [BACK]

125. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #678, 4/10/1958, 790D.00/4–1058, NA. [BACK]

126. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #939, 4/11/1958, 790D.00/4–1158, NA. [BACK]

127. U. S. Embassy, Karachi, tel. #2708, 5/1/1958, 790D.00/5–158, and disp. #1094, 790D.00/5–2958, NA. [BACK]

128. The Jama‘at, moreover, defeated the Awami League and the National Awami party (with one seat each), both of which were deemed far more powerful than the Jama‘at. The U. S. Embassy attributed the Jama‘at’s success to its good rapport with the Muhajir community, owing to its long history of social work among that community, its good choice of candidates, and the efficiency of its campaign. The Jama‘at, it is reported, spent a total of Rs. 40,000 on the campaign, an average of less than Rs. 2,000 per candidate; U. S. Embassy, Karachi, disp. #1094, 790D.00/5–2958, NA. [BACK]

7. The Secular State, 1958–1971

The coup engineered by generals Iskandar Mirza and Muhammad Ayub Khan was a blow to the cause of Islamic constitutionalism and the Jama‘at-i Islami’s plans for the national elections. Its members were convinced that the generals had staged the coup to destroy the Islamic constitution of 1956, and eliminate the possibility of an electoral victory by Islamic parties. The military’s intentions were especially suspect as it lost no time in preparing a new constitution, setting up a committee for that purpose in December 1958. The Jama‘at’s performance in the Karachi municipal elections—winning eighteen of twenty-three contested seats—must have caused consternation among the supporters of secularism.[1] The coup, Mawdudi argued, was staged specifically to stop the Jama‘at and its allies from getting any closer to power. If General Mirza’s own memoirs are any indication, the Jama‘at’s conclusions were not that far off the mark:

On 8th January 1956, the draft of the proposed constitution was published. I was very doubtful about two of its features. I was opposed to inserting Islamic provisions into the machinery of government. We have seen how Liaqat Ali Khan’s “Objectives Resolution” gave a handle to the Ulama, and allowed them to go and almost destroy Pakistan in 1953. But the Muslim League never learnt anything from past experience. Despite my repeated warnings, Muhammad Ali deliberately created an “Islamic Republic” for Pakistan, giving the Ulama another invitation to interfere. Maulana Maudoodi and his party were given a heaven-sent opportunity to mess up the state.[2]

Iskandar Mirza singled out the Jama‘at, although in the preceding three years the biggest challenge to his authority had come from Suhrawardi, and the most formidable problems before the polity had been the feud between the Muslim League and the neophyte Republican party, the debate over consolidating West Pakistan provinces into a single unit, and the worsening economic situation. Iskandar Mirza also took seriously the possibility that either Noon or Suhrawardi would take control of the legislature and thereby challenge him for the presidency, a fact which may also explain why he delayed the general elections.[3] In justifying his preoccupation with the Jama‘at despite the more formidable challenges to his authority, General Mirza said the politicians were able neither to withstand the temptation of “flirting with the mullahs” nor to avert or contain the political crisis that resulted.[4] The progress of the country depended on purging Islam from the political process; secularism could be guaranteed only through martial rule.[5] The coup had been staged not only to arrest the decline of the country’s political institutions and to resolve the crisis of governability, but also to foil the “insidious” plans of the Islamic parties—the Jama‘at in particular—to manipulate the political process.[6]

The generals had done away with the fruits of a decade of Islamic activism and, at least according to the Jama‘at, had stolen the elections from them.[7] The party’s hostility toward General Mirza and, after his dismissal and exile later in 1958, toward General Ayub Khan is not surprising. Only the restoration of the constitution and the democratic order could bring the party to power. The alliance between secularism and martial rule reinforced the party’s commitment to Islamic constitutionalism, which would be the means for restoring the Jama‘at’s political fortunes.

The new secular composition of Pakistani politics led some in the Jama‘at to favor returning to the isolation and moral high ground of the holy community, but others, Mawdudi among them, believed that the Jama‘at could best fight the government by remaining in the fray as a political party, and over time this latter view gained the upper hand. As the generals sought to depoliticize the political process, the Jama‘at became more and more politicized but did not radicalize, a development which stands in clear contrast to revivalist movements in Pahlavi Iran and Nasser’s Egypt. The Jama‘at confronted a political and administrative establishment less willing to yield to pressure and more willing to exert it. The opposition also labored under the disadvantage that martial law at this stage enjoyed a certain popularity. The coup had brought a modicum of stability to a fractious polity. The new regime’s anticorruption, price-control, and economic readjustment policies, although not popular with business, were certainly welcomed by many Pakistanis, who had grown weary of food shortages and financial crises.[8] As a result, opposition to the new regime at first had little effect. Given the mood of the country at the time, even arguments for a constitution failed to rally the masses. The party was therefore compelled to look for another political program.

The Jama‘at’s problems were compounded by the changes in national politics which followed the coup. The generals instituted a new political system that sidelined the politicians, the power brokers who had the greatest need to appeal to religious symbols and slogans. They replaced them with the most anglicized, and hence least religiously inclined, Pakistani leadership from among the civil service and the military.[9] By suspending the democratic process, the coup immunized the power structure against political activism of any sort. The architects of the coup then set about changing the focus of the constitutional debates from “why Pakistan was created” to “where Pakistan is heading,” that is, from ideological to developmental concerns. The Bureau of National Reconstruction, established in January 1959 and directed by a military man, was charged with the task of devising a new outlook that would be both a secularizing and unifying force.[10] This agenda was supported by the national press[11] and had the blessings of the leftists, who could expect to benefit from the cleansing of Pakistani politics of its Islamic elements so the national political discourse could focus on socioeconomic concerns.[12]

This shift away from the symbiosis between Islam and Pakistan stretched the ties that bound the Jama‘at to the state to the point of rupture, but somehow the party remained within bounds. Faced with government hostility and the secularization of politics during the Ayub era, the Jama‘at resisted the temptation to withdraw from the political process. Mawdudi wanted above all to avoid the fate of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood under Nasser and to that end steered the Jama‘at clear of radical solutions to the challenges posed by the Ayub regime.[13] This was an arduous task which tested the limits of Mawdudi’s hold over the Jama‘at. “We put up with Ayub,” Mawdudi wrote, “with the patience of Ayub [Job].”[14]

The Jama‘at’s restraint during this period is all the more amazing when one realizes how radical Pakistani politics became during the 1958–1969 period. Modernization and industrialization, combined with the secularization of society in those years, divided Pakistani society into a secular and Westernized ruling class and the mass of people living according to time-honored Indo-Islamic traditions. Each adhered to its own cultural, social, and political outlook, which resulted in alienation between the rulers and the masses. Had the regime remained in power, such a cleavage could have eventually culminated in revolution and the collapse of the social order. To this extent the Jama‘at was more sensitive to the changes in the structure of Pakistani society than the government and did more to avert the polarization of the country.

Throughout the Ayub era, the Jama‘at continued to campaign for Islamic constitutionalism, with its mixture of Islam and democracy. At times Islam was even thoroughly overshadowed by democracy. This simultaneous appeal to tradition and modernity proved to be a way to bridge the widening political and cultural gap between the traditional and the modern and helped preserve the Pakistani state when the policies of the ruling establishment were pushing it increasingly to the brink of crisis.

Efforts to Eliminate the Jama‘at, 1958–1965

No sooner had martial law been declared than the new regime began to squeeze the Islamic parties out, both to eliminate religion from politics and to justify suspending the 1956 constitution. But given the nature of the Pakistan state and the complexities of Islam’s relation to it, such a radical measure proved not to be viable. The government turned to less drastic measures. It toned down its secular rhetoric, and pursued its agenda under the guise of religious modernism, hoping to negotiate a new role in society for Islam. Islam, it was apparent to the new regime, could not immediately be sidelined but it could be reformed, modernized, depoliticized, and eventually eased out of politics. In a surprise move, on May 3, 1959, Ayub Khan addressed a gathering of the ulama from both East and West Pakistan. He devoted his speech to exhorting the divines to do away with obscurantism and interpret religion in ways that were more relevant to the country’s developmental agenda and that would fight communism.[15]

The general’s speech set the tone for subsequent relations between the military regime and the Islamic groups. Thenceforth, the government sought to take the monopoly of interpreting Islam away from Islamic parties to control the nature and scope of religion’s interaction with society and politics. The national concern for “Islamicity” in literary and political circles quickly gave way to lip service to the “principles of Islam,” a change that in effect undermined the religiopolitical platform of parties such as the Jama‘at. The government sought to limit the scope of their activities and demands, exclude them from the political process, and subject them to state control. To accomplish this, Ayub Khan turned to state-sponsored institutions that could appropriate the right to interpret Islam and control its flow into politics.

This job was given to two ministries, interior and education, and information and broadcasting. Together they launched a propaganda campaign questioning the loyalty to Pakistan of the self-styled spokesmen of Islam, their knowledge of modern statecraft, and even their moral and ethical standing. Under the provisions of the Waqf (endowment) Properties Ordinance of 1959, religious endowments were nationalized, and the government took over the management of shrines and mosques. Then it formulated its own conception of Islam, and its own religiopolitical platform, thereby entering the domain of the ulama with the goal of appropriating for the state the right to interpret Islam and implement its teachings. The government’s synthesis was essentially modernist, premised on reforming Islamic law and interpreting its tenets liberally in light of the needs of the government’s developmental objectives. Qazi Shahabu’ddin, the minister of education, information, and broadcasting, was particularly vocal in furthering the government’s cause, and his pronouncements on a host of religious issues soon incensed the ulama.

The actual task of devising a new vision of Islam was delegated to the Institute of Islamic Culture (Idarah-i Thiqafat-i Islam) of Lahore, headed by Khalifah ‘Abdu’l-Hakim (d. 1959), and, more significantly, to the Islamic Research Institute of Karachi, headed by Fazlur Rahman (d. 1988), a confidant of Ayub Khan. The two institutions outlined the government’s strategy against the ulama and Islamic parties, providing an intellectual rationale for the essentially political campaign against the religious forces. The polarity between traditionalists and innovators (ahl-i sunnat and ahl-i bid‘at), identified by Mawdudi in earlier times, had now taken shape in earnest. However, while the government’s attempts to appropriate Islamic symbols in politics undermined the Islamic parties, it also attested to the government’s inability to do away with religion altogether. Secularism had to be presented with a veneer of Islamization. Using this wedge, the Islamic parties soon regained their momentum and were able to find new links between religion and politics which provided them with additional strategies by which to gain entry into the political process.

The campaign against the ulama and the Islamic parties unraveled when the secular opposition found common grounds for cooperation with the Islamic parties. In December 1959, Ayub Khan introduced his Basic Democracy scheme, a system of political representation based on voter councils at various levels which officially did away with parties and ended political pluralism in Pakistan. Two months later he was elected president of Pakistan with the vote of the “basic democrats.” Soon thereafter he commissioned the chief justice of the supreme court Muhammad Shahabu’ddin to look into the causes of the “failure” of the 1956 constitution with a view to preparing a new one. The Jama‘at, aware that Islam would most likely be singled out as a negative influence to be excluded from constitution making, began to mobilize the dormant religious coalition. A meeting of ulama and Jama‘at leaders was convened in May 1960 in Lahore to present a set of proposals for future constitutional debates and to demand the abrogation of the marriage of convenience between “bureaucracy and autocracy” that Basic Democracy represented. They enjoined the government to hold national elections open to all. The government reacted by summoning Mawdudi to appear before the authorities in Lahore, where he was chastised for violating martial law regulations that prohibited political activities.[16] By and large, however, the government took little notice of this effort to revive the religious alliance and continued with its reform measures.

The government’s team of religious reformers drew up plans for a new family law, which was introduced as the Family Laws Ordinance of March 1961.[17] It was the first in a series of legal and social reform measures designed to hasten Pakistan’s development. The ordinance and the “fundamental changes” in Islamic laws governing marriage, divorce, and inheritance laws which it entailed suggested that government policy was no longer solely directed at limiting the influence of Islamic parties but was also beginning to encroach on the ulama’s domain. The Jama‘at took the lead in organizing street demonstrations and publishing pamphlets to inform the public of the government’s transgression.[18] The government, unwilling to compromise, set out to silence the opposition. Mian Tufayl Muhammad, who had published the fatwas of fourteen eminent ulama denouncing the ordinance, along with a number of Jama‘at workers, was put in prison.[19] For the Islamic parties, ending the government’s effort to loosen the hold of the ulama over the life and thought of Pakistanis was a question of survival. The lines of battle were drawn, and the ordinance served as the first test.

The draft constitution was introduced on March 1, 1962. It made some references to Islam: it was to be the official religion of Pakistan, and the “repugnancy clause” and other Islamic provisions of the 1956 constitution were kept intact. Their implementation, however, was no longer mandatory and was to be overseen by the Advisory Council of Islamic Ideology, which was to be controlled by the president. The constitution substituted specific references to the Qur’an and religious traditions (sunnah) with the word “Islam,” which made the sources of Islamic law much vaguer. Most procedural matters were also reformed to discourage the intrusion of religious forces into the constitutional process. To underscore the intent of the constitution, “Islamic” was dropped from the nation’s official name, which became merely “Republic of Pakistan.”

The new constitution represented a blow to the party’s fundamental interests; it was certainly a setback for the cause of Islam in Pakistan, one which, if allowed to stand, would be the end of the Jama‘at. In a decision that reflected its determination to survive, the Jama‘at decided not to respond until June when the new legislature was to meet and martial law to be lifted.[20]

After the Political Parties Act of July 17, 1962, the Jama‘at began to act. In August the shura’ prepared a resolution which called for the restoration of democracy and denounced both the new constitution and the Basic Democracy system. Thenceforth, Mawdudi systematically fused democracy and Islam in its campaign against the Ayub regime. Convinced that democracy alone could safeguard the interests of Islam before Ayub’s autocratic secularization policies, the party harped on the theme throughout Ayub Khan’s term of office. It was a curious feature of the Ayub Khan era that religious modernism went hand in hand with martial rule, while the fortunes of revivalism became intertwined with those of democracy.

The challenge of the authoritarian government and its determination to inculcate a modernist interpretation of Islam in Pakistan were too important to be tackled by the religious alliance alone. In October 1962, through the intermediary of Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali, the Jama‘at began negotiating with the secular political opposition to Ayub Khan, then led by Suhrawardi under the umbrella of the National Democratic Front. The rank and file of the Jama‘at did not approve of associating with this proponent of joint electorates, a man whom the Jama‘at had once attacked with the same fervor that it now used to challenge Ayub Khan.[21] The Jama‘at, however, had few other choices, and in the first of a series of rulings, Mawdudi argued that the dangers posed to Islam by Ayub Khan warranted compromise. The Jama‘at had to act as a party, making compromises that would not have been possible for a holy community.

After martial law was lifted, the Jama‘at intensified its activism. Initially a minor irritant, the party quickly became a thorn in the side of the government. Mawdudi pressed the government to amend the new constitution to add “Islamic” to Pakistan’s official name, demanded greater guarantees for fundamental individual rights, and excoriated the government’s overtly pro-Western foreign policy.[22] More disturbing to the government was that the Jama‘at emerged from the martial law period intact and, by 1962, was the most organized and robust of the Pakistani political parties. Generally concerned with controlling political activism in Pakistan, the government became particularly sensitive to the Jama‘at’s politics and began to look for a solution.

The government commissioned the Ministry of Information to conduct a study of the Jama‘at and to propose a course of action for containing its activities. A report presented to the cabinet in 1961–1962 argued that the Jama‘at was essentially a seditious and invidious force with the potential to become “yet another Muslim Brotherhood,”[23] and recommended measures similar to those taken by Nasser against the brotherhood in Egypt. The cabinet did not endorse this line of action, partly because although the report focused on the Jama‘at it had been vague in distinguishing between it and other Islamic parties the government was not willing to attack. The solution was also too drastic for the government to take seriously. Some in Ayub Khan’s coterie of advisers, such as Hakim Muhammad Sa‘id (the minister of health), Allahbakhsh K. Brohi (the minister of law), and Afzal Chimah (the speaker of the legislature), who were also religiously inclined, began to defend the Jama‘at.[24] Chimah advised Ayub Khan to mollify, and thereby co-opt, the party, a plan Ayub Khan favored. During a trip to Lahore in 1962 he invited Mawdudi to the governor’s mansion and suggested that he leave politics to the politicians and dedicate himself to religious studies instead. For encouragement he offered Mawdudi the post of vice-chancellor of the Bhawalpur Islamic University. In no mood to be appeased, Mawdudi rejected both the offer and the counsel, but he continued to keep the Jama‘at’s radical tendencies in check. When, soon after this meeting, he was pressed by his followers to take more militant measures, in a tone reminiscent of medieval Islamic political thinking, Mawdudi declared that he had no intention of creating “a chaotic situation in which forces inimical to the interests of Islam find an opportunity to capture power.”[25]

After their meeting, Ayub Khan kept a close watch on the Jama‘at. By 1963 it had become apparent that Suhrawardi’s national coalition had broken down, providing the government with an opportunity to finish off the opposition by attacking, one by one, the constituent parties of the National Democratic Front. The Jama‘at topped the government’s list of targets, especially so after September 1963, when in a defiant mood, Mawdudi had announced that “even if Convention Muslim League [Ayub Khan’s party] nominated an angel [in the future elections], the Jama‘at would oppose him.”[26]

When the Jama‘at submitted a request to hold an open meeting in Lahore in October 1963, the government first stalled, then refused them a permit to use loudspeakers. The Jama‘at petitioned the Lahore High Court for a ruling, but to no avail. The party held its meeting without loudspeakers. Halfway through the opening session, Mawdudi’s speech was interrupted by hecklers; then a gun was aimed at Mawdudi, and during the ensuing commotion, a Jama‘at worker was shot dead.[27] The Jama‘at criticized these tactics as undemocratic, but the campaign had only begun. Habibu’llah Khan, the minister of the interior, followed the Lahore clash with a highly publicized literary campaign against the Jama‘at, which within a year produced some seventy-two books and pamphlets against the party and its ideas.[28] The government now seriously contemplated liquidating the Jama‘at and looked for the appropriate excuse.

Earlier in 1963, during a trip to Mecca, Mawdudi had met with Ayatollah Sayyid Ruhu’llah Khumayni.[29] Soon thereafter Khalil Ahmadu’l-Hamidi, the director of the Arabic Translation Bureau, wrote an article in Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an in which he severely criticized the Shah of Iran’s regime and its secularizing policies.[30] The Iranian consulate in Karachi complained, and the government accused the Jama‘at of sabotaging Pakistan’s foreign policy and closed down Tarjumanu’l-Qur’an. In January 1964, backed by a lengthy charge-sheet which accused the Jama‘at of anti-Pakistan activities, the government halted the party’s operations. Mawdudi, Mian Tufayl, the entire shura’, and forty-four other members were arrested and put in jail.[31]

The Jama‘at challenged the government’s action before the provincial high courts of East and West Pakistan. It won its case in the East Pakistan High Court and lost in the West Pakistan High Court. The government appealed the first ruling, and the Jama‘at the second. The cases went before the Supreme Court, which declared the banning of the Jama‘at to have been illegal and ordered the party restored. Mawdudi and other Jama‘at leaders were freed from prison in October. The relations between the Jama‘at and the government were now visibly deteriorating.

While the Jama‘at’s leaders were incarcerated, Pakistan was gearing up for a presidential election, scheduled for January 1, 1965. The opposition parties, including the Jama‘at, had formed the Combined Opposition Parties, an electoral coalition which was led by such Muslim League leaders as Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali and Daultana. Once again the Jama‘at saw itself in an alliance of convenience with an erstwhile enemy, and this time the Jama‘at’s politically motivated compromises went even farther. In Mawdudi’s absence, the coalition’s leaders had agreed that Fatimah Jinnah—Muhammad ‘Ali Jinnah’s sister and a popular Muhajir leader—would be the opposition’s presidential candidate.[32] Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali was sent by the coalition to secure Mawdudi’s agreement to this unpalatable choice.[33] Muhammad ‘Ali met with Mawdudi in prison, and by playing on his increasing apprehension over the course the Ayub regime was taking, convinced Mawdudi of the urgency of the situation and the necessity of giving Fatimah Jinnah unwavering support. Mawdudi acceded to the coalition’s demand, partly because Jinnah was popular among Muhajirs, who then constituted the Jama‘at’s base of support. The decision opened Mawdudi to a barrage of criticism and provided the government with the opportunity to divide the Islamic parties and embarrass and paralyze the Jama‘at. The government appealed to conservative ulama for support in defeating a woman’s bid to rule Pakistan and received it; in the process it weakened both the Jama‘at and the Combined Opposition Parties. Numerous religious decrees were issued by the government’s newfound allies among the ulama, denouncing Mawdudi and his religiously dubious justification for supporting a woman’s candidacy.

The controversy was then used by the government to engineer a split in the ranks of the party by instigating Kawthar Niyazi to challenge Mawdudi’s authority in the party.[34] In this the government failed. Mawdudi retained control over the Jama‘at and undaunted by the fatwa campaign pushed the Jama‘at to the forefront of the opposition coalition’s campaign. Mawdudi himself toured Pakistan, denouncing Ayub Khan for his dictatorship and secularism, and demanded a restoration of democracy as the first step toward the establishment of the Islamic state. In his zeal to dethrone Ayub Khan, Mawdudi increasingly appealed to democracy and less to Islam. He reorganized the Jama‘at to match the government’s campaign operations. Despite his efforts and the hopes and aspirations of the Combined Opposition Parties, however, Miss Jinnah failed to unseat Ayub Khan, a defeat that was particularly ominous for the Jama‘at. Victory in the presidential elections gave Ayub Khan confidence and bestowed some legitimacy on his government, and with them the opportunity to hound the Jama‘at more effectively. That party, which following the elections had braced itself for renewed government pressure, was spared by the reemergence of problems in Kashmir and the resumption of war with India.

The End of Ayub Khan’s Rule

Throughout the presidential campaign, Ayub Khan and his foreign minister Zulfiqar ‘Ali Bhutto had sought to divert attention from democracy and Islamicity by rekindling passions over Pakistan’s irredentist claims to Kashmir. Having whipped up passions over Kashmir to generate demands for action, the general then led Pakistan down the path to war. Eager to consolidate his hold over the country, soon after the presidential election Ayub Khan decided to resolve the Kashmir issue once and for all and in the process redeem Pakistan’s strategic and national interests in the region. The subsequent escalation of conflict in Kashmir led to a costly war between Pakistan and India in September 1965.

War put a hold on the conflict between the government and the opposition parties. On September 6, 1965, Ayub Khan invited Mawdudi along with opposition leaders Chaudhri Muhammad ‘Ali, Chaudhri Ghulam ‘Abbas, and Nawwabzadah Nasru’llah Khan to a meeting in Islamabad, where they preached to him about his duties and obligations, none more than Mawdudi. Eager to secure their cooperation, and especially to get the Jama‘at’s blessing, the general chose to regard the meeting as a boost for his regime. A photograph of Ayub Khan talking with Mawdudi while surrounded by the other opposition leaders adorned the front page of Pakistani newspapers the following day.

Anxious to assist the state in this moment of crisis and to erase the memory of his stand on the jihad in Kashmir in 1948, Mawdudi declared a jihad to liberate Kashmir from India.[35] He was again invited to meet with Ayub Khan in September, this time alone, where he lectured the president on the virtues of the Islamic state. Ayub Khan talked Mawdudi into publicizing his declaration of jihad, this time on Radio Pakistan,[36] a clear indication of the Jama‘at’s importance and the government’s need to appeal to Islam to bolster its rule, the very notion which for seven years it had diligently worked to erase from the political scene.

Mawdudi was pleased with the government’s overtures and basked in his newfound status as senior statesman. Ayub Khan’s attentions had not only given him political prominence but had also attested to the continued salience of Islam, and hence the Jama‘at, in the political life of Pakistan. After the cease-fire between India and Pakistan was declared on September 23, 1965, Mawdudi again appeared on Radio Pakistan, this time to speak on jihad in peacetime.[37] The Jama‘at meanwhile focused its attention on relief work in the war-ravaged areas of Punjab[38] and pushed the government to agree to the cease-fire if it led to a plebiscite in Kashmir over the future of that territory.[39]

The Jama‘at did not intend to become religious window dressing for the government, nor to be restricted to religious affairs. Mawdudi used the thaw in the Jama‘at’s relations with the government to underscore his belief that the fate of Pakistan as a state was meshed with the Muslim reality of the country. He called upon the government to move toward the greater Islamization of Pakistan to strengthen the state and to realign Pakistan’s foreign policy by bringing the country closer to the rest of the Muslim world.[40] Mawdudi’s argument was not welcomed by the government, which, with the war at an end, no longer felt the need to placate its opposition. Moreover, the government saw Mawdudi’s proclamations as a criticism of its seven-year rule and as unsolicited interference with its management of the affairs of the country. Just as in the 1950s, the political benefits of Islamic symbols for the government were matched by their costs. Islam bolstered the stability of the state and legitimated the government’s rule, but it also sanctioned greater religious activism and led to the interference of Islamic parties in political matters, all of which bore consequences that the government, short of using force, was unable to control.

The Tashkent agreement of January 1966, which marked the cessation of hostilities, proved to be unpopular. It fell far short of the expectations of the Muhajir community and the Punjabis, who had borne the brunt of the Indian offensive and wanted a favorable resolution to the dispute over Kashmir. Discontent first manifested itself in student demonstrations in Lahore[41] and soon extended beyond the Tashkent agreement to encompass a whole gamut of complaints. The country became the scene of large-scale leftist agitation which manifested pent-up socioeconomic frustrations. The Jama‘at was taken unawares and for the first time began to view socialism with greater alarm than the secular modernism of the regime.[42] On January 16, Mawdudi, who hoped to become the opposition leader, convened a meeting of the opposition at his house in Lahore, where he criticized the Tashkent agreement for sidestepping the future of Kashmir and for its tacit acceptance of a “no-war” arrangement with India.[43]

Despite their opposition to the government, it soon became apparent that Mawdudi and his supporters would be unable to successfully ride the tide of discontent. They, too, narrowly looked at Pakistani politics solely as a struggle for Islam and democracy and were oblivious to the significance of the socioeconomic changes that Pakistan had undergone in the meantime. Although the Jama‘at’s position supported the interests of the Muhajirs who were opposed to Ayub Khan, Bhutto and the Awami League, and favored Islamization, it failed to note the extent to which socioeconomic imperatives were propelling the mounting antigovernment agitations, regarding them instead as resulting from frustrations over Kashmir or Indian intrigues supported by atheists and unpatriotic Pakistanis. The realization of the depth and breadth of socioeconomic discontent which led Zulfiqar ‘Ali Bhutto to leave the cabinet and form the Pakistan People’s Party completely eluded the Combined Opposition Parties, still cast in the mold of the early 1960s and free of populism. In addition, emphasizing the role of Islam in Pakistan had committed the party to the unity of the state, therefore making it unsympathetic to ethnic and linguistic sentiments, which were now ineluctably predicated upon socioeconomic cleavages. The Awami League, and especially its left wing, led by Mawlana ‘Abdu’l-Hamid Khan Bhashani, was a bulwark of leftist agitation. Mawdudi was opposed to the left. That Shaikh Mujibu’l-Rahman, the leader of the Awami League, and Bhashani were behind the agitations was enough to prompt him to reaction. In the February gathering of the opposition parties, Mawdudi criticized the left and engaged Mujib in a bitter altercation over the Awami League’s controversial six-point plan for provincial autonomy.[44] This altercation also marked a major turning point in the Jama‘at’s ideological unfolding. Mawdudi’s discourse ceased to be preoccupied with the West, but became anchored in defense of Islam against socialism and communism. Many projects were abandoned to focus the party’s energies on preparing literature which could stem the rising tide of socialism in Pakistan.[45]

The Awami League’s politics were also interfering with the Jama‘at’s designs. Having gained prominence in the Combined Opposition Parties, the Jama‘at now had a vested interest in an orderly transfer of power from Ayub Khan to the opposition coalition, which Mawdudi hoped to lead. Opposition to the left combined with political self-interest blinded the Jama‘at to the grievances that underlay leftist agitation. Mawdudi kept the Jama‘at in the coalition and continued to demand Islam and democracy, while fighting to cleanse Pakistani politics of the menace of the left. The Jama‘at was particularly disturbed by the growing popularity of Maoism in Punjab, the fruit of China’s assistance to Pakistan during the war, as well as by Bhutto’s populism and “Islamic socialism.”

Confrontations were still largely restricted to polemical exchanges, however. In 1967, Muhammad Safdar Mir published a series of articles in the Pakistan Times criticizing Mawdudi for supporting capitalism and feudalism.[46] The articles soon generated a debate between the Jama‘at and the left, serving as a prelude to the more open hostilities that were soon to break out in Punjab, Sind, and East Pakistan.

In the meantime, relations between the government and the Jama‘at also continued to strain. Ayub Khan, as perturbed as he was with leftist agitations, proved to be equally impatient with the opposition coalition’s campaign, and especially with the Jama‘at’s activities. The main issue was, once again, the government’s intrusions into the jealously guarded domain of the ulama and the Islamic groups. In May 1966, Fazlur Rahman, director of Islamic Research Institute, declared that religious tax (zakat) rates should be increased to add to the state’s financial resources, and usury (riba’) should not be equated with interest but with the real rate of interest only, permitting the normal functioning of banks. The Jama‘at severely criticized the government’s “misguided tampering with Islam.”[47] Fazlur Rahman reciprocated by advising Ayub Khan that Mawdudi’s religiously controversial book, Khilafat’u Mulukiyat (Caliphate and Monarchy), published in June 1966, was a direct attack on his government.[48] The dispute culminated in another showdown between the government and the Jama‘at in January 1967, when Mawdudi and a number of ulama rejected the “scientifically” determined observation of the moon by the government—which is traditionally observed by the ulama to mark the end of the holy month of Ramazan.[49] The religious divines had again rebelled against the government’s attempt to interfere in their affairs and were once more jailed. Mawdudi remained in prison from January 29 until March 15, 1967, when the High Court of West Pakistan rejected the legality of the invocation of the Defense of Pakistan Rules under the provisions of which he had been jailed. The controversy, however, came to an end only when Ayub Khan agreed to dismiss Fazlur Rahman in September 1968.[50]

The Jama‘at attempted to use the entire episode to reinvigorate its campaign for an Islamic constitution, but to no avail. For while the Jama‘at had been deadlocked with the government over Fazlur Rahman, the Awami League had unabashedly escalated its agitations, further radicalizing Pakistani politics. Mawdudi had sought to diffuse the situation to the Jama‘at’s advantage by challenging Bhashani and Mujib in his speeches, demanding changes in the constitution of 1962, restoration of democracy, and redress for the political grievances of the East Pakistanis. The focus of the Jama‘at’s activism, however, had been shifting to street clashes with the Awami League in East Pakistan and with leftist groups in West Pakistan.

The main force behind this campaign was the Islami Jami‘at-i Tulabah, which since 1962 had successfully organized students to protest a number of antigovernment causes, usually unpopular educational reforms.[51] The government, already apprehensive about the Jama‘at’s activities, had tried to halt student unrest by restricting the IJT and arresting and incarcerating numerous IJT leaders. This served only to politicize and radicalize the student organization still further.

Given the Jama‘at’s antagonism to the left and that the party had arrogated the role of defender of Pakistan’s territorial unity, the student organization could not remain immune to provocations from the left, especially in East Pakistan. In the 1962–1967 period, the IJT developed into an antileft force, with the tacit encouragement of the government. The government actively encouraged the IJT in its clashes with the leftist National Student Federation in East Pakistan and with labor union activists in West Pakistan.[52] Its success in attracting new recruits from among the ranks of religiously conscious students in Punjab, and anti-Bengali Muhajirs in Karachi and Dhaka, further encouraged its antileft activities and showdowns with the left and Bengali nationalists. Opposition to the Tashkent agreement, however, continued to give the IJT its much needed antigovernment image, which helped consolidate the organization’s base of support on campuses. This two-tiered policy of simultaneous opposition to the left and to the government gradually disappeared as the student organization sublimated its opposition to Ayub Khan in favor of a crusade against the left, especially in East Pakistan. From 1965 onward, the IJT became increasingly embroiled in confrontations with Bengali nationalist and leftist forces in East Pakistan, first at Dhaka University, and later in pitched battles in the streets.

In May 1967 the Combined Opposition Parties, including the Awami League, formed a new coalition, the Pakistan Democratic Movement. In its first resolution, the new coalition demanded the reinstatement of the 1956 constitution, the restoration of democracy in Pakistan, the resolution of the Kashmir crisis, the adoption of a nonaligned foreign policy, and greater regional autonomy for East Pakistan. Mawdudi interpreted the resolution as a new call for an Islamic constitution and in his subsequent elaboration of the resolution throughout 1967 and 1968 launched into tirades against the Awami League’s six-point plan and Mawlana Bhashani’s homegrown version of Maoism. Mawdudi’s rhetoric combined with the IJT’s clashes with the Awami League in East Pakistan greatly weakened the Pakistan Democratic Movement, and the alliance finally collapsed when, implicated in an antigovernment conspiracy case, the Awami League withdrew from its fold. The movement was replaced by a new multiparty arrangement called the Democratic Action Committee.

The new coalition demanded the lifting of the state of emergency and the rescinding of the criminal law amendment which had been invoked to arrest Mujib for participation in the same conspiracy. These were both tools the government was using to deal with the worsening political situation and which the Jama‘at and the Awami League both wanted eliminated so they could pursue their political objectives more freely. Faced with Mujib’s rising popularity following his arrest, the government responded by lifting the emergency and abrogating the amendment. It was a Pyrrhic victory for the opposition. To begin with, it did away with the demands that the Jama‘at and the Awami League had shared and which had fostered a working arrangement between them. Instead, tensions between them escalated in East Pakistan following the government’s conciliatory overtures. It also removed the rationale for democratic demands from the political agenda and focused attention instead on provincial demands in East Pakistan and populist demands in West Pakistan. Consequently, Mawdudi’s efforts to revive interest in the Islamic constitution came to naught. The Jama‘at’s political agenda became completely divorced from the critical political issues in the country.

In August 1968 Mawdudi was taken ill and was compelled to leave Pakistan for medical treatment in England. During the months he was gone the Jama‘at’s affairs were overseen by Mian Tufayl. Mawdudi’s absence reduced both the Jama‘at’s prominence in the Democratic Action Committee and reduced the party’s flexibility. Mian Tufayl did not provide new strategies for confronting either the more rambunctious Awami League or the new force in Pakistani politics, the People’s Party and was unable to control the IJT, which soon became a force unto itself, drawing the Jama‘at into the quagmire of East Pakistani politics.

Mawdudi returned before the Round Table Conference between Ayub Khan and the Democratic Action Committee, which convened in March 1969 to reform the constitution of 1962 with a view to accommodating the Awami League’s demands for autonomy. No mention was made of the socioeconomic grievances which Mujib and Bhutto were manipulating so successfully. Mawdudi’s address to the conference was totally removed from the realities of Pakistani politics. He placed the entire blame for the crisis on the government’s intransigence over the demand for Islamization, which, he argued, was the only policy that could keep Pakistan united.[53] The conference not only left the committee more vulnerable than ever to the populist challenges of Mujib and Bhutto but also made clear the chasm that separated Jama‘at’s political outlook from that of the rest of Pakistan. The committee and the Jama‘at were only shadows of the Combined Opposition Parties in 1965. The real force in the polity was now the Awami League and the People’s Party.

This was not lost on the Jama‘at. Soon after the conference, the party stopped attacking the government and directed its invective more squarely against Bhutto, Bhashani, and Mujib, accusing them of encouraging violence and acting undemocratically and in violation of Islamic dicta. Mawdudi still resisted populism, however, and regarded with contempt Islamic thinkers such as Bhashani and Ghulam Ahmad Parwez who mixed Islam with leftist ideas, a course of action which distinguished the Jama‘at from Shi‘i revolutionaries in Iran.

On March 25, 1969, General Ayub Khan resigned. Mawdudi declared the move a victory for the Round Table Conference that would now allow the establishment of the Islamic order which he believed democracy would bring. In a display of political naïveté, he exhorted Bhutto and Mujib to demobilize their forces. To his dismay, however, he soon learned that democracy and Islam were for the moment irrelevant. With no political platform to lure the masses, the Jama‘at had to accept the martial rule of General Muhammad Yahya Khan and to follow the IJT into the streets against the Awami League and the People’s Party.

The Regime of Yahya Khan, 1969–1971

After Ayub Khan’s resignation, power was not transferred to the Democratic Action Committee, who had negotiated with the government in the Round Table Conference, but to a military government. The Jama‘at’s first reaction was to negotiate with the government rather than to appeal to the masses, who were clamoring for economic justice and provincial autonomy. When Yahya Khan assumed power, the Jama‘at quickly renewed its demands for the restoration of democracy and Islamization and for the reinstatement of the constitution of 1956 as the only satisfactory framework for putting the state on the road to Islam and democracy.[54] Although Yahya Khan, a Shi‘i with a reputation for heavy drinking, was by no means a favorite of the Jama‘at, the party once again acceded to an alliance of convenience. Both were opposed to the left and looked upon Bengali nationalism with suspicion. With no political manifesto to recapture popular support, the Jama‘at was compelled to cast its lot with the central government, hoping that the system could be democratized after the left had been routed. Without the left to turn to, the people would cast their vote for the Jama‘at in the elections. The party assumed that the investiture of Yahya Khan meant the army was going to crush both the Awami League and the People’s Party, because Yahya Khan had often declared that no party opposed to the “ideology of Pakistan”—by which the Jama‘at understood he meant Islam—would be acceptable to his government. The Jama‘at could only rejoice at the prospect and lend support to the regime and its promise of a democracy cleansed of the left.

These impressions were strengthened in personal contacts between the Jama‘at’s leaders and members of Yahya Khan’s circle of advisers, including Nawwabzadah Shair ‘Ali Khan, the minister of information, who was the main architect of the new regime’s political strategy,[55] through whom they lobbied to become the party that would inherit the reins of power. On March 23, 1969, Mawdudi and Mian Tufayl met with Yahya Khan in Lahore; they came back convinced that Yahya Khan was going to turn Pakistan over to them after the left and the Bengali nationalists had been dealt with. Mian Tufayl lauded Yahya Khan as a “champion of Islam” and declared that the basis for the general’s future constitution—the Legal Framework Order—not yet unveiled, would be “Islamic.”[56] Political exigency had led Islamic constitutionalism into an unholy alliance with the very regime it had fought against. Democracy, the condicio sine qua non of Islamization, for the duration of the Yahya Khan regime was replaced by martial rule. The Jama‘at’s shift, however, was not doctrinal; martial rule was merely to be the midwife of an “Islamic democracy.” This new strategy meant that all efforts to formulate a new political platform in place of Islamic constitutionalism were shelved, and the party’s energies became concentrated on combating the Awami League and the People’s Party. Fighting communism became a substitute for a sound and efficacious political platform, as the Jama‘at tried to alter the political climate rather than adapt to it.

In West Pakistan, Mawdudi launched a crusade against Bhutto and his economic policies, arguing that only Islam would remedy the socioeconomic grievances that Bhutto’s “Islamic socialism” falsely claimed to be able to solve. the Jama‘at’s attacks prompted Safdar Mir to resume his criticisms of Mawdudi and the Jama‘at in Nusrat, a pro–People’s Party monthly published in Lahore, but Bhutto, from his prison cell, ordered the articles stopped. Although the leftists in the People’s Party regarded the Jama‘at as the enemy, Bhutto hoped to mollify the party,[57] hopes that were soon dashed when violence broke out in Lahore, Multan, and Karachi.

In East Pakistan the Jama‘at launched a propaganda campaign to convince the Bengalis that their loyalties lay first with Islam and Pakistan, not with their ethnic, linguistic, cultural, and provincial roots. In the violent clashes with the Awami League that followed, an IJT worker was killed on the campus of Dhaka University, giving the party its first martyr in the battle against the left.[58] Mawdudi demanded that the IJT cleanse Pakistani universities of the left. Yahya Khan’s offer to hold elections in December 1970 only added fervor to the Jama‘at’s campaign to bring the party closer to Yahya Khan’s regime,[59] although it also continued to demand the reinstatement of the 1956 constitution to retain a semblance of an oppositional role vis-à-vis the government.

In December 1969 the Jama‘at published its election manifesto, with minor variations a reiteration of its Islamic constitutionalist platform and a testimony to the party’s obliviousness to sociopolitical issues. Forty years of drawing-room politics had left them without the means properly to interpret politics, much less turn popular demands into a plan of action. Its slow development into a party had denied it any mechanism for formulating policy positions the electorate could relate to. Pakistan’s economy had undergone a great many changes during the Ayub Khan era. The country had gained an industrial infrastructure and had made significant strides in developing its economy. This development had been accomplished at great social and political costs, however.[60] Rapid industrialization and growth through the “functional utility of greed” openly advocated by the regime and its host of foreign advisers had arrived hand in hand with a notable increase in poverty in both urban and rural areas, as well as a widening of the gap between rich and poor, giving rise to greater class consciousness.[61] Between 1963 and 1967, when opposition to Ayub Khan gained momentum, the percentage of the poor—those whose incomes were below Rs. 300 per month—had somewhat declined in both the rural and the urban areas, from 60.5 percent to 59.7 percent and from 54.8 percent to 25 percent, respectively,[62] but the disparity in the distribution of wealth between the provinces and between the propertied classes and the masses had increased.[63] According to Mahbub ul-Haq, “By 1968 22 families controlled 2/3 of Pakistan’s industrial assets; 80% of banking; 70% of insurance.”[64] Economic growth had favored the industrial sector at the cost of the traditional economy, the cities at the cost of the hinterland, and Punjab and West Pakistan at the cost of East Pakistan. The business elite had amassed great fortunes, as had senior civil servants and high-ranking members of the armed forces, while the middle class and the poor had lost ground. Corruption, which by 1967 had infested the country, had only further discredited the government’s promise of economic progress in the eyes of those who had not shared in its fruits. Agricultural policy had caused large-scale migration to the cities, while industrialization had generated grievances among the labor force, whose numbers had risen threefold in the 1960s. These statistics and their reflection in the political mood of the country explain, in good measure, the popularity of Mujib’s six-point program and Bhutto’s “clothing, bread, and shelter” (kapra, roti, awr makan) motto.

The Jama‘at’s manifesto made only token references to economic grievances; they were by and large left to the Islamic state to solve. It attacked feudalism and capitalism, promised to limit land ownership to two hundred acres, and proposed a minimum wage of Rs. 150–Rs. 200 and better working conditions, but these promises were divorced from any concerted political attack on the ruling classes and buried among demands for Islamization, greater democratization, and opposition to the idea of “sons of the soil,” a reference to Bengali and Sindhi nationalist sentiments. This treatment of socioeconomic issues in the manifesto therefore fell far short of attracting support from the Pakistani electorate.

The manifesto bore the unmistakable imprint of Mawdudi’s thinking. It posed three questions, the answers to which Mawdudi assumed were self-evident to Pakistanis, since he was convinced that they were more concerned with Islam and patriotism than socioeconomic issues. The questions were (1) Should Pakistan retain its Islamic foundations?[65] (2) Should Pakistan remain united? and (3) Is not the Jama‘at the only party running in the elections which is capable of maintaining the primacy of Islam while fostering national unity? Mawdudi believed that once the Pakistani electorate had confronted these questions squarely, they would vote for Islam, national unity, and the Jama‘at. His campaign was therefore designed to place these three questions at the center of the national political debate.

That the strategy would not work became apparent first in East Pakistan. The party’s campaign there came to an abrupt end when Mawdudi was prevented by Awami League supporters from reaching a Jama‘at rally in Dhaka. Clashes followed which led to the death of three Jama‘at workers.[66] After that there were bloody confrontations between Jama‘at workers and Mawlana Bhashani’s supporters in East Pakistan and Punjab. In West Pakistan the Jama‘at had more room to maneuver. There it launched a campaign against the People’s Party’s platform, the watershed of which was the Glory of Islam Day (Yawm-i Shawkat-i Islam), on May 30, 1970. The Jama‘at organized rallies, marches, speeches, and political meetings across West Pakistan to bring Islam back into the center stage of Pakistani politics.[67] Convinced the celebration was a great success and had popularized the party’s election manifesto,[68] the Jama‘at decided to field 151 candidates for National Assembly seats, challenging nearly every seat the People’s Party was contesting.

In fact, however, the Glory of Islam celebrations had not improved the Jama‘at’s support and had done nothing to derail the electoral campaigns of either the People’s Party or the Awami League. They had produced one unexpected side effect, however. They caused a serious rupture in the religious alliance, which since 1958 the Jama‘at had led by awakening the heretofore dormant Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam and Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan and bringing them into the political arena. The Jama‘at believes that this development resulted from the machinations of the People’s Party, KGB, or the CIA.[69] The two parties were apparently convinced by the Glory of Islam celebration that a religious platform was politically viable. The ulama, since 1947 willing to cooperate with the Jama‘at in politics, were not prepared to submit to Mawdudi in religious matters. As the anti-Mawdudi fatwa campaign of 1951 and the clamor against Mawdudi’s book Khilafat’u Mulukiyat in 1965–1966 indicate, they were not pleased with Mawdudi’s religious views. They decided that the Glory of Islam celebration represented a concerted effort by Mawdudi to monopolize religious thought and become the cynosure of the religious establishment. To the ulama this was a danger much greater than any posed to Islam by the Awami League or the People’s Party. The Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam’s Mawlanas Mufti Mahmud and Hazarwi thereafter criticized the celebration, and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan proceeded to field forty-two candidates for National Assembly seats in competition with Jama‘at’s candidates. These moves divided the religious and anti–People’s Party vote and took seats away from the Jama‘at. This division accounts in part for the success of the People’s Party and the Jama‘at’s defeat. In eighty-two electoral constituencies in Punjab, where the People’s Party was strongest, 260 candidates from right-of-center parties and another 114 independent rightist candidates divided the vote. Four parties had the demand for an Islamic constitution on their election manifestos, and another four favored it.[70]

The Elections of 1970 and Their Aftermath

Between May and December 1970 the Jama‘at campaigned frantically. Competition with the Awami League and clashes with Bhashani’s supporters escalated tensions in East Pakistan and Punjab, and clashes with the People’s Party tied down the Jama‘at in West Pakistan. These conflicts, combined with the challenge from the party’s religious flank, taxed the Jama‘at’s energies. Despite untiring efforts, it won only four of the 151 National Assembly seats which it contested, all in West Pakistan, and only four of the 331 provincial assembly seats it had aimed for, one in each province except Baluchistan (see tables 8–11). It trailed far behind the Awami League and the People’s Party in the final tally of seats and to its dismay and embarrassment finished behind the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam and Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan. The Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam even gained enough seats to serve as a partner to the National Awami party (National People’s Party) in forming provincial governments in Baluchistan and North-West Frontier Province. To the Jama‘at’s surprise the two ulama parties did better than the Jama‘at, although they had contested fewer seats and received a lower percentage of votes cast. In elections to the National Assembly, the Jama‘at’s share of the total vote was at 6.03 percent, as opposed to the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam’s 3.98 percent and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan’s 3.94 percent. Where the Jama‘at had won only four seats (and none in East Pakistan, where its share of the total votes cast was 6.07 percent) the ulama parties had won seven seats each. In provincial elections the Jama‘at received 3.25 percent of the votes cast, the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam 2.25 percent, and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan 2.11 percent. In contrast with the Jama‘at’s four provincial seats, the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam had won nine and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan eleven. The Jama‘at’s 6.03 percent of the votes cast in National Assembly elections had yielded only 1.3 percent of the seats, and its 3.25 percent share of the vote in provincial elections a mere 0.67 percent of the seats. The results turned the Jama‘at into an ardent advocate of proportional representation for Pakistan. Finally, partly because they had competed with one another, the Islamic parties taken together did poorly in both parts of Pakistan. This limited the political power of Islam and further constricted the Jama‘at.

8. Votes Cast for the Islamic Parties in the 1970 National Assembly Elections
  East Pakistan Punjab Sind NWFP Baluchistan Total
Source: Report on the General Elections, Pakistan 1970–71 (Islamabad, n.d.) 2:68–69.
Jama‘at-i Islami 1,044,137
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam, West Pakistan 158,058
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam / Jami‘at-i Ahl-i Hadith 485,774
0 7,744
0 521,764
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan 0 1,083,196
0 1,299,858
9. National Assembly Seats Contested and
Won by the Islamic Parties in the 1970 Elections
  East Pakistan Punjab Sind NWFP Baluchistan Total
Source: Report on the General Elections, Pakistan 1970–71 (Islamabad, n.d.) 2:70–99, 100–21.
Jama‘at-i Islami
Seats contested 71 44 19 15 2 151
Seats won 0 1 2 1 0 4
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam, West Pakistan
Seats contested 15 46 21 19 4 105
Seats won 0 0 0 6 1 7
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam/Jami‘at-i Ahl-i Hadith
Seats contested 49 3 0 2 0 54
Seats won 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan
Seats contested 0 41 8 1 0 50
Seats won 0 4 3 0 0 7
Total seats contested 781 460 170 143 25 1579
Total seats won 162 82 27 25 4 300
10. Votes Cast for the Islamic Parties in the 1970 Provincial Assembly Elections
  East Pakistan Punjab Sind NWFP Baluchistan Total
Source: Report on the General Elections, Pakistan 1970–71 (Islamabad, n.d.) 2:268–69.
Jama‘at-i Islami 678,159
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam, West Pakistan 76,735
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam/Jami‘at-i Ahl-i Hadith 223,634
0 241,289
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan 0 448,008
0 0 632,159
11. Provincial Assembly Seats Contested and Won by the Islamic Parties in the 1970 Elections
  East Pakistan Punjab Sind NWFP Baluchistan Total
Source: Report on the General Elections, Pakistan 1970–71 (Islamabad, n.d.) 2:270–355.
Jama‘at-i Islami
Seats contested 174 80 37 28 12 331
Seats won 1 1 1 1 0 4
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam, West Pakistan
Seats contested 23 72 23 35 14 167
Seats won 0 2 0 4 3 9
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam/Jami‘at-i Ahl-i Hadith
Seats contested 63 4 5 2 0 74
Seats won 1 0 0 0 0 1
Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan
Seats contested 0 73 15 0 0 88
Seats won 0 4 7 0 0 11
Total seats contested 1,850 1,323 579 319 164 4,235
Total seats won 300 180 60 40 20 600

The election results dealt a severe blow to the morale of Jama‘at members. Mawdudi’s leadership was questioned, as was the party’s time-honored reliance on Islamic symbols and the putative Islamic loyalties of Pakistanis. The election results, moreover, effectively eliminated the Jama‘at as a power broker. The Jama‘at quickly regrouped, however, this time to defend Pakistan against the polarization of the country between the Awami League and the People’s Party. The Jama‘at leaders encouraged Yahya Khan not to discriminate against the Awami League and to allow Mujib to form a government.[71] When Yahya Khan refused, the party broke with him, accusing him of unfair partiality toward the People’s Party, which the Jama‘at was convinced would have disastrous consequences for Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Jama‘at excoriated the People’s Party for lobbying with the generals to deny the Awami League the fruit of its victory.

The Jama‘at’s argument did not endear it to the Awami League; Mawdudi’s attacks on Bhashani and Mujib, the former for his religious views and the latter for his rapacious political ambition, had continued with his criticisms of Yahya Khan and Bhutto. Its pro-Pakistan and anti–Awami League propaganda had increased the violence between IJT supporters and Bengali nationalists following the elections. As the situation in East Pakistan deteriorated throughout 1971, the Jama‘at members became convinced of a Communist-Hindu plot to dismember Pakistan. Driven by its dedication to Pakistan’s unity and unable to counter the challenge of the Awami League, the Jama‘at abandoned its role as intermediary and formed an unholy alliance with the Pakistan army, which had been sent to Dhaka to crush the Bengali nationalists.

After a meeting with General Tikka Khan, the head of the army in East Pakistan, in April 1971, Ghulam A‘zam, the amir of East Pakistan, gave full support to the army’s actions against “enemies of Islam.” Meanwhile, a group of Jama‘at members went to Europe to explain Pakistan’s cause and defend what the army was doing in East Pakistan; another group was sent to the Arab world, where the Jama‘at drew upon its considerable influence to gain support.[72] In September 1971 the alliance between the Jama‘at and the army was made official when four members of the Jama‘at-i Islami of East Pakistan joined the military government of the province.[73] Both sides saw gains to be made from their alliance. The army would receive religious sanction for its increasingly brutal campaign, and the Jama‘at would gain prominence. Its position was, in good measure, the result of decisions made by the Jama‘at-i Islami of East Pakistan, then led by Ghulam A‘zam and Khurram Jah Murad. This branch of the Jama‘at, faced with annihilation, was thoroughly radicalized, and acted with increasing independence in doing the bidding of the military regime in Dhaka. The Lahore secretariat often merely approved the lead taken by the Jama‘at and the IJT in Dhaka. Nowhere was this development more evident than in the IJT’s contribution to the ill-fated al-Badr and al-Shams counterinsurgency operations.

In the civil war, two thousand Jama‘at and IJT members, workers, and sympathizers were killed and upward of twelve thousand held in prison camps.[74] The East Pakistan war also had its bright side insofar as the nationalist credentials of the party, which had repeatedly been accused of being “anti-Pakistan,” could no longer be questioned. As one Jama‘at leader put it, “While the Muslim League youth took refuge in their opulent homes, it was the Jami‘at [IJT] which gave its blood to save Pakistan.”[75] The party, which had been routed at the polls only a year earlier, now found a new measure of confidence that facilitated its return to the political arena.


1. Interview with Mian Tufayl Muhammad in Takbir (November 16, 1989): 53. [BACK]

2. General Iskandar Mirza’s unpublished memoirs, 109–10. [BACK]

3. U. S. Embassy Karachi, disp. #537, 12/20/1957, 790D.00/12–2057; tel. #1470, 12/20/1957, 790D.00/12–2057; and tel. #1471, 12/20/1957, 790D.00/12–2057, NA; and U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, disp. #21, 4/14/1958, DO35/8936, 5–7, PRO. [BACK]

4. General Mirza’s unpublished memoirs, 110. [BACK]

5. As early as 1953 General Mirza had hinted at changing the regime because of “a growing possibility that unprogressive and anti-Western Moslem religious elements might become dominant in Pakistan”; U. S. Embassy, Karachi, tel. #278, 11/2/1953, 790D.00/11–253, NA. [BACK]

6. In December 1957 he accused the Jama‘at of making Islam into an “elastic cloak for political power.” Cited in U. S. Embassy Karachi, tel. #1549, 12/31/1957, 790D.00/12–3157, NA. [BACK]

7. TQ (June 1962): 322. [BACK]

8. Syed Ahmad Nur, From Martial Law to Martial Law: Politics in the Punjab, 1919–1958 (Boulder, 1985), 405; also see U. K. High Commission, Karachi, preliminary report, 10/25/1958, 4–5, DO134/26; U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, fortnightly summary, 10/29/1958, DO134/26; and U. K. High Commission, Dacca, report, 11/7/1958, DO134/26, PRO. [BACK]

9. Altaf Gauhar, himself a high-ranking Pakistani civil servant during the Ayub Khan era, writes that since 1947 the civil bureaucracy, given its British traditions, had been the repository of the greatest animosity toward Mawdudi in Pakistan; Altaf Gauhar, “Pakistan, Ayub Khan, Awr Mawlana Mawdudi, Tafhimu’l-Qur’an Awr Main,” HRZ, 41–42. The fact that following the coup the military did away with the ministerial position and appointed eleven civil servants to oversee various government operations, forming a quasi-cabinet under Ayub Khan, further strained relations between the Jama‘at and the government. [BACK]

10. U. K. High Commissioner, Karachi, disp. #INT.83/6/2, 3/10/1959, DO35/8949, PRO. [BACK]

11. Noteworthy in this regard are the editorials of Z. A. Suleri in Pakistan Times, which articulated the government’s position to a large number of Pakistanis. On Suleri’s views, see Anwar Hussain Syed, Pakistan: Islam, Politics, and National Solidarity (New York, 1982), 109–11. [BACK]

12. Quraishi claims that the left eagerly pushed Ayub Khan to clamp down on the Islamic groups, and especially the Jama‘at. Leftist propaganda soon created a climate wherein any talk of religion was derided as “Jama‘ati” and hence deemed as insidious; see Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi, Education in Pakistan: An Inquiry into Objectives and Achievements (Karachi, 1975), 268–69. [BACK]

13. Mawdudi, in fact, disapproved of the brotherhood’s increasing radicalization; TQ (April 1956): 220–28. [BACK]

14. Sayyid Asad Gilani, Maududi: Thought and Movement (Lahore, 1984), 135. [BACK]

15. The text of the speech is enclosed with U. K. High Commission, Karachi, disp. #INT.48/47/1, 5/25/1959, DO35/8962, PRO. [BACK]

16. SAAM, vol. 2, 121. [BACK]

17. The Commission on Marriage and Family Law was first set up in 1955 with a view to enhancing the legal status of women. The Family Law Ordinance began with the report of that earlier committee, which had been presented in 1956. [BACK]

18. On March 14, 1961, ulama led by the Jama‘at issued a statement in Lahore denouncing the ordinance; SAAM, vol. 2, 65, and Khurshid Ahmad, Studies in the Family Law of Islam (Karachi, 1961). [BACK]

19. SAAM, vol. 2, 65–66. Also see Mian Tufayl Muhammad, ed. and trans., Statement of 209 Ulema of Pakistan on the Muslim Family Law Ordinance (Lahore, 1962). [BACK]

20. SAAM, vol. 2, 58. [BACK]

21. Kawthar Niyazi, Jama‘at-i Islami ‘Awami ‘Adalat Main (Lahore, 1973), 19. [BACK]

22. SAAM, vol. 2, 128–34. [BACK]

23. Interview with S. M. Zafar. [BACK]

24. Interview with Hakim Muhammad Sa‘id, and personal correspondence with Allahbakhsh K. Brohi, 1985–86. [BACK]

25. Cited in Muhammad Saeed, Lahore: A Memoir (Lahore, 1989), 224–25. [BACK]

26. SAAM, vol. 2, 156–57. Ayub was particularly riled by Mawdudi’s attacks on his person and decided to retaliate; interviews with Hakim Muhammad Sa‘id and S. M. Zafar. [BACK]

27. SAAM, vol. 2, 187. [BACK]

28. Sarwat Saulat, Maulana Maududi (Karachi, 1979), 59. [BACK]

29. In Mecca, Mawdudi had delivered a lecture about the duties of Muslim youth in contemporary times. Khumayni, who had attended the lecture, was impressed with Mawdudi, and stood up and praised him for his views. Later that evening, along with a companion, Khumayni went to Mawdudi’s hotel, where the two men met and talked for half an hour, aided by Khalil Ahmadu’l-Hamidi, Mawdudi’s Arabic translator. Khumayni described the outlines of his campaign against the Shah to Mawdudi during that meeting; interview with Khalil Ahmadu’l-Hamidi; and Bidar Bakht, “Jama‘at-i Islami ka Paygham Puri Duniya Main Pahila Raha Hey,” Awaz-i Jahan (November 1989): 33–34. [BACK]

30. Khalil Ahmadu’l Hamidi, “Iran Main Din Awr La-Dini Main Kashmakash,” TQ (October 1963): 49–62. [BACK]

31. SAAM, vol. 2, 169–70; and ISIT(1), 6–7. [BACK]

32. On the reasons for the Combined Opposition Parties’ choice of Miss Jinnah, see Rounaq Jahan, Pakistan: Failure in National Integration (New York, 1972), 150–51. [BACK]

33. Nawwabzadah Nasru’llah Khan, “Ham Unke, Vuh Hemarah Sath Rahe,” HRZ, 39. [BACK]

34. Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani, the senior statesman and governor of Punjab in 1953–1954 who later became a close friend of Mawdudi, had related to the Jama‘at’s leaders that Kawthar Niyazi had, since the 1950s, maintained close contacts with the Punjab government and was put up to challenging Mawdudi by the authorities; interviews. [BACK]

35. MMKT, vol. 6, 63–67. [BACK]

36. Gauhar, “Pakistan,” 43. [BACK]

37. MMKT, vol. 6, 85–94. [BACK]

38. ISIT(1), 8–9. [BACK]

39. MMKT, vol. 6, 78–79. [BACK]

40. Ibid., 97–102, and 138–43. [BACK]

41. Salim Mansur Khalid, “Talabah Awr I‘lan-i Tashqand,” TT, vol. 1, 216–23. [BACK]

42. For instance, in 1967 the Jama‘at journal Chiragh-i Rah dedicated an entire issue to the study of socialism. [BACK]

43. SAAM, vol. 2, 209. [BACK]

44. Chaudhri ‘Abdu’l-Rahman ‘Abd, Mufakkir-i Islam: Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi (Lahore, 1971), 361. [BACK]

45. Interview with Na‘im Siddiqi in Takbir (September 26, 1991): 28. [BACK]

46. Mir’s articles were later published as Muhammad Safdar Mir, Mawdudiyat Awr Mawjudah Siyasi Kashmakash (Lahore, 1970). [BACK]

47. MMKT, vol. 6, 279–82. [BACK]

48. ‘Abd, Mufakkir-i Islam, 361–64. [BACK]

49. Fazlur Rahman meanwhile declared that the government’s position on the citation of the moon was binding on the religious divines, a position which only incensed the Jama‘at and the ulama further; see Pakistan Times (January 16, 1967): 1. [BACK]

50. The resignation followed wide-scale opposition, mounted by the Jama‘at against Fazlur Rahman’s book Islam (Chicago, 1966); see Israr Ahmad, Islam Awr Pakistan: Tarikhi, Siyasi, ‘Ilmi Awr Thiqafati Pasmanzar (Lahore, 1983), 55–60. [BACK]

51. Zia Shahid, “Amiriyat, Talabah, Awr Garmi Guftar,” TT, vol. 1, 180–82. [BACK]

52. Interviews with Shaikh Mahbub ‘Ali and Muti‘u’l-Rahman Nizami in JVNAT, vol. 2, 16–17 and 223–25, respectively. [BACK]

53. MMKT, vol. 8, 188–92; and S. M. Zafar, Through the Crisis (Lahore, 1970), 204–5. [BACK]

54. On demands put before the Yahya Khan regime, see ISIT(1), 15. [BACK]

55. On the minister’s views on the notion of the “ideology of Pakistan,” see Nawwabzadah Shair ‘Ali Khan, Al-Qisas (Lahore, 1974). [BACK]

56. Cited by Sayyid As‘ad Gilani in an interview in Nida (April 17, 1990): 14–15. [BACK]

57. Interview with Muhammad Safdar Mir. [BACK]

58. SAAM, vol. 2, 328. [BACK]

59. For instance, in the fall of 1969 the IJT entered into direct negotiations with the martial law administrator of the province, General Nur Khan, who hoped the IJT would be able to repeat its successful drive to control the University of Punjab in East Pakistan; see interview with Muhammad Kamal in JVNAT, vol. 2, 186–87. [BACK]

60. One observer has even challenged the veracity of the rates of economic growth cited for the Ayub era, arguing that they did not reflect indigenous economic activity but were bolstered by foreign aid. See Rashid Amjad, Pakistan’s Growth Experience: Objectives, Achievement, and Impact on Poverty, 1947–1977 (Lahore, 1978), 6. [BACK]

61. Khalid B. Sayeed, Politics in Pakistan: The Nature and Direction of Change (New York, 1980), 54–83. [BACK]

62. See S. M. Naseem, “Mass Poverty in Pakistan: Some Preliminary Findings,” Pakistan Development Review 12, 4 (Winter 1973): 322–25. [BACK]

63. For a discussion of the impact of economic changes during Ayub Khan’s rule on the distribution of wealth between the provinces, see Jahan, Pakistan, 51–107. [BACK]

64. Mahbub ul-Haq, The Poverty Curtain: Choices for the Third World (New York, 1976), 7–8. [BACK]

65. ISIT(1), 18–19. [BACK]

66. Ibid., 17. [BACK]

67. On the events of this day see ibid., 18. [BACK]

68. Pakistan Times (December 7, 1970): 1 and 7. [BACK]

69. Interviews with Khurshid Ahmad and Sayyid Munawwar Hasan. [BACK]

70. Sharif al Mujahid, “Pakistan’s First General Elections,” Asian Survey 11, 2 (February 1971): 170. [BACK]

71. Mashriqi Pakistan Talib-i ‘Ilm Rahnima, “Mashriqi Pakistan Akhri Lamhih,” TT, vol. 1, 316. [BACK]

72. Kalim Bahadur, The Jama‘at-i Islami of Pakistan (New Delhi, 1977), 133. [BACK]

73. The four portfolios given to the Jama‘at’s provincial ministers were revenue, education, commerce and industry, and local government; see ISIT(1), 23. [BACK]

74. Interview with Khurram Jah Murad. The interviewee, an overseer of the Jama‘at-i Islami of East Pakistan at the time, was kept at a prison camp between 1971 and 1974. Also see interview with Tasnim ‘Alam Manzar in JVNAT, vol. 2, 258, and ISIT(1), 24. As in 1947, the Jama‘at decided to divide in accordance with the new political reality. The Jama‘at-i Islami of Bangladesh was formed in 1971 and began to reorganize in 1972 under the leadership of Ghulam A‘zam. [BACK]

75. Interview with Khurram Jah Murad; a similar view was expressed by Liaqat Baluch (interview). [BACK]

8. The Bhutto Years, 1971–1977

The rise of Zulfiqar ‘Ali Bhutto and the Pakistan People’s Party to power between 1969 and 1971 promised to bring fundamental changes to the country, but they did not produce what Pakistan had hoped for. The People’s Party never managed to institutionalize the charismatic appeal of its leader, and his regime fell back into the mold of the country’s time-honored patrimonial politics. The advent of a populist government in Pakistan shaped the Jama‘at’s outlook on politics as well as the pace of its organizational change, but it was still unable to take advantage of the opportunities presented by Bhutto’s assault against the traditional power structure (1971–1973) and later the decline of his power (1973–1977).

The People’s Party rose to power as the movement which took most of the credit for ousting both Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan. It took over the reigns of power after the dismemberment of Pakistan, when Dhaka had fallen to Indian troops. This, combined with the impact of the new regime’s populist political and economic agenda, led to greater participation by various social strata in the political process, which the government was able neither to harness nor suppress. The problems of the new regime were further aggravated by Bhutto’s autocratic style and his unwillingness to use the army’s moment of weakness to strengthen both his party and civilian rule. As a result, the People’s Party bogged down in political disputes and lost sight of its agenda.

No sooner had Bhutto assumed power than the anti–People’s Party constituency became apparent. Between 1971 and 1977 it grew and became more powerful. As part of this opposition the Jama‘at channeled its efforts into a successful campaign of political agitation that eventually brought down the government.

The failure of Ayub Khan’s regime had unleashed the Islamic opposition in the political arena. The Bhutto government initially tried to control the activities of the Islamic parties by following the example of its predecessors, but given the gradual rise in the popularity of Islam, the weakening of the state following the civil war, and the mistakes made by the ruling party, it failed and the Islamic parties continued to press the state for greater representation. This led to a further decline in the government’s authority as the Islamic parties grew stronger. By the end of the Bhutto era, they were in a position to make a direct bid for controlling the state.

The inability of Islam to keep the two halves of the country united had not diminished the appeal of religion either to politicians or the people. Oddly enough it even increased it. The precariousness of Pakistan’s unity led Pakistanis to reaffirm their Islamic roots. Even the avowedly secularist and left-of-center People’s Party government did not remain immune and talked of “re-Islamizing” the country. The People’s Party government, much as Ayub Khan’s regime, sought to both manipulate Islam and marginalize its principal spokesmen, but did not succeed. Efforts to woo the religious vote provided the government with a mechanism for support, but also made it susceptible to criticism from religious quarters. By sanctioning the sacralization of politics, the People’s Party created the kind of political climate in which parties such as the Jama‘at had a clear advantage. Although not the main force behind the return of Islam, the Jama‘at proved to be its main beneficiary. For, given the prevailing climate, its views on an array of national issues were for once in tune with those of a larger number of Pakistanis. Its growing influence in the army, the most secular and anglicized of state institutions, was indicative of this trend.

Since the beginning of the East Pakistan crisis, Mawdudi had claimed that the problem before the country was the product of lackluster adherence to Islam. He in fact blamed the loss of East Pakistan on Yahya Khan’s womanizing and drinking.[1] The IJT echoed Mawdudi’s sentiments: its answer to “What broke up the country?” was “wine” (sharab). Some in the army apparently agreed. In 1972–1973, the military high command uncovered a conspiracy, later dubbed the Attock conspiracy, hatched by a group junior officers, led by Brigadier F. B. ‘Ali, most of them veterans of the civil war of 1971.[2] The officers were charged with sedition and brought to trial. S. M. Zafar, who defended the officers in court, recollects that they believed East Pakistan had been lost because of the government’s “un-Islamic” ways and Yahya Khan’s drinking in particular.[3] This concern for Islamicity in the army was the result of the officer corps having opened its ranks to cadets from the lower-middle classes after 1965, which made it markedly more subject to the influence of traditional Islamic values.[4] The Attock conspiracy certainly shows that the armed forces—dominated by Punjabi and Pathan officers, and the staunch defender of the unity of Pakistan and the integrity of the state—were no longer a bastion of secularism and were gradually turning to religion.

This trend was reinforced in the subsequent years thanks in part to Bhutto’s choosing General Muhammad Zia ul-Haq as the army’s chief of staff. Zia had long been sympathetic to the Jama‘at. He had been greatly impressed with Mawdudi’s works, and following his investiture as chief of staff, used the powers vested in his office to distribute the party’s literature among his soldiers and officers. When in July 1976 Zia gave copies of Mawdudi’s Tafhimu’l-Qur’an (Understanding the Qur’an) as “prizes” to soldiers who had won a debate arranged by the Army Education School, and subsequently proposed to include the book in the examination “for promotion of Captains and Majors,” Bhutto was greatly dismayed.[5] Finally, on November 24, 1976, Bhutto summoned the general before the cabinet to explain his actions.[6] Later during his trial before the supreme court, Bhutto was to remark, “I appointed a Chief of Staff belonging to the Jamaat-i-Islami and the result is before all of us.”[7] His statement underscores the Jama‘at’s increasing influence in the armed forces and the party’s role in bringing down his regime.

The revival of the Islamic dimension in Pakistani politics extended beyond the army, however. The People’s Party’s credo from its inception had been “Islamic Socialism”; Bhutto had said “Islam is our faith, democracy is our polity, socialism is our economy,” but under the pressures of Islamization, as he lost his grip over the hearts and minds of the people and with growing ties with the Persian Gulf states, he had to forego the second two in favor of the first.[8] The constitution of 1973, promulgated under the aegis of the People’s Party, reinstated “Islamic” as part of the official name of the state. But because Bhutto had been a protégé of General Mirza, and one of the most antireligious of Ayub Khan’s lieutenants, he was still regarded as a rabid secularist, and his gestures toward Islam were not thought to be genuine by those he sought to appease.[9] For instance, the People’s Party government named Kawthar Niyazi, who had gained prominence while a member of the Jama‘at, as its minister for religious affairs, a concession to the Islamic parties. Niyazi, however, was not held in high esteem either by the ulama or by the Jama‘at, since he had left the party in 1964, and the appointment was not popular with either of them.

The ulama, the Jama‘at, and religiously conscious Pakistanis were also greatly disturbed with the open flouting of religious values and mores by the prime minister and his coterie of friends and associates which belied their claim to promote Islam. This image of moral corruption was compounded by the widely held belief in religious circles that Bhutto enjoyed the financial and organizational backing of Pakistan’s Ahmadi community, rumors of which had been circulating since 1969. The government could do little to stop these charges or to allay the suspicions of the Islamic parties.[10] By 1974 the Ahmadi connection had become sufficiently damaging to the government to compel Bhutto to declare the Ahmadis to be a non-Muslim minority, but despite this concession the People’s Party government never managed to develop a following among the religiously inclined Pakistanis. It was caught in a situation of sacralizing the national political discourse, while it was unable effectively to appeal to Islam. In fact, given Bhutto’s policies and style, the re-Islamization of national politics would not favor him or his party. The un-Islamic ways of the People’s Party’s leaders never ceased to be a political issue. When, in 1976, the Jama‘at demanded the enforcement of the shari‘ah in public affairs it unexpectedly attracted some fifteen thousand new affiliates to its ranks.[11]

The confrontations between the People’s Party government and the Islamic parties soon extended beyond purely religious issues to other political and socioeconomic concerns, attracting others to the opposition. The result was the Nizam-i Mustafa, the opposition coalition that eventually toppled Bhutto’s government.

The People’s Party’s weakness was rooted in the very program of action which had brought it to office. Populism defined both the People’s Party’s base of support and that of its opposition. Throughout the 1970s the People’s Party ignored its supporters in favor of placating its opponents, substituting the party’s program for a balancing act between various Pakistani interest groups. Bhutto was compelled to eviscerate his agenda of its substantive content, purge his party of its left-of-center workers, and push the People’s Party in the direction of patrimonial politics. By the mid-1970s the People’s Party—populist by claim and leaning to the right in practice—was paralyzed. Discrepancies between ideals and reality spelled disaster for the party. The left wing and its network in the labor unions, who had played a pivotal role in bringing Bhutto to power, were purged in favor of the landed and industrial elite who had begun to join the ranks of the People’s Party from 1973 onward, in reaction to the growing strength of the Islamic parties. Rather than developing a reliable party machine, Bhutto placed his faith in the army, civil service, and the newly found Federal Security Forces. The government’s suppression of labor unrest in Karachi in 1973 alienated labor from the government, broke the monopoly of the left over its politics, and opened the workers up to the Jama‘at’s influence.

The People’s Party did implement new policies in the economy, but it failed to manage the changes it had initiated. As a result, the very policies which were designed to respond to the demands of the masses and thereby consolidate the People’s Party’s support became its undoing. Failing to harness the popular enthusiasm it had generated, the People’s Party’s rhetoric and socioeconomic policies instead coalesced the opposition.

The nationalization of industries and the use of the public sector to foster greater economic equity, which followed the People’s Party’s rise to power, had benefited the bureaucracy and the state bourgeoisie, whose powers had been increased to allow them to oversee the new state-run industries, more than it had the labor force. With the influx of its erstwhile enemies—landed gentry and business leaders—into the ranks of the People’s Party following its ascension to power, Bhutto’s populist agenda was turned on its head. The party was transformed into a patronage machine to benefit those with political clout rather than the poor. Bhutto’s appeal to Islamic symbols and to the support of the traditional elite and interest groups and his strong-arm tactics in dealing with the left disheartened loyal party workers and eroded the People’s Party’s base of support among the modern social sector, whose expectations had remained unfulfilled. As a result, in 1977, although labor union members and the urban, educated middle class, both of which were by this time far more numerous than in 1969, did not participate in the agitations that brought the Bhutto government down, more significantly, they also did little to save it. By abandoning ideological politics, the People’s Party government handed it over to the opposition, which mobilized Islam to wage all-out war against the government.

The opposition also found ample ammunition in People’s Party nationalization and land-reform measures. The propertied elite and the Islamic parties—the first motivated by its economic and business interests and the second by its belief in the sanctity of property—joined forces to denounce the government’s economic policies. Their opposition manifested itself in a host of anti–People’s Party issues. The government’s efforts at land reform in 1972, and the nationalization of agribusinesses—cotton-ginning and rice-husking mills—in 1976 (shortly before national elections) allied the landed gentry, small landowners, rural politicians, shopkeepers, and merchants who saw their economic interests threatened. This alliance, however, did not focus its attention on economic issues alone. Religious and political arguments were thought to provide a more effective basis for a social movement and had the added advantage of taking the debates beyond individual policies to challenge the legitimacy of the government as a whole. The alliance between the state and the bourgeoisie, which was the People’s Party’s avowed aim, produced a more significant alliance between the rural people and the landed classes. Bhutto responded with efforts to find his own base of support in the rural areas, but in line with the People’s Party’s dilemma of meeting the demands of diverse interest groups, the move was interpreted by city dwellers as having an “anti-urban bias” and further pushed the middle and lower-middle classes into the fold of the anti–People’s Party alliance.

The government confronted similar problems in its dealings with the bureaucracy. The civil service of Pakistan was used to having power under Ayub Khan and did not fare well under the rule of a politician. Bhutto’s power, although unleashed against the interests of the propertied elite, found its targets, for the most part, among the bureaucrats, the only group in Ayub Khan’s regime to be unaffected by the events of 1969–1971. In 1973 the civil service was formally abolished and was replaced by a national grade structure which permitted the lateral entry of political appointees into the bureaucracy. This move and Bhutto’s deliberate humiliation of senior bureaucrats were greatly resented and pushed the bureaucracy into the anti–People’s Party alliance. When Altaf Gauhar, one of Ayub Khan’s trusted lieutenants and a senior civil servant in the 1960s, was imprisoned in 1972–1973 on Bhutto’s orders, significantly he chose to use his time in jail to translate Mawdudi’s Tafhimu’l-Qur’an into English. The text was serialized in the Karachi daily Dawn.[12] Although alienated by the regime, the bureaucracy benefited from the nationalization of the industries which extended its activities. The gradual empowerment of the bureaucracy combined with its embittered attitude toward the People’s Party was a source of great concern to Bhutto. The People’s Party’s failure to evolve into a well-organized party eventually left Bhutto with no means to counter the power of the bureaucracy and placed him at its mercy.

The anti–People’s Party alliance also found an ethnic and provincial base of support. Bhutto’s open courting of the Sindhis, his use of the army to suppress dissent, and his conciliatory policy toward both India and Bangladesh were quite unpopular with the Muhajirs and the Punjabis. Throughout the electoral campaign of 1970, Bhutto had openly assailed the Muhajirs and promised the Sindhis a greater share of power in Sind as well as in the central government. Once in power, Bhutto delivered on his promises by distributing coveted bureaucratic and political positions to Sindhis without regard for bureaucratic procedures or merit. In addition, he closely allied the People’s Party with the secessionist Jiya Sind (Long Live Sind) party and emboldened the Sindhis by allowing vitriolic anti-Muhajir passages in the People’s Party newspaper, Hilal-i Pakistan.[13] The Muhajirs, who already blamed Bhutto’s intransigence for the loss of East Pakistan, did not take kindly to the new prime minister’s pro-Sindhi policies. In July 1972 the Sind provincial assembly, controlled by the People’s Party, passed the Teaching, Promotion, and Use of Sindhi Language Bill, which declared Sindhi the official language of the province, made its teaching in public schools mandatory, and made its use by civil servants obligatory. The assembly also passed a resolution stipulating that all provincial government employees—most of whom were Muhajirs and Punjabis—learn Sindhi in three months or be dismissed. The Muhajirs rose up in protest.[14] There were riots in Karachi, and Muhajirs and a good segment of Punjabi public opinion regarded this challenge to the primacy of Urdu as treasonous. For the Muhajirs and Punjabis, Bhutto was increasingly sounding like Shaikh Mujibu’l-Rahman in the 1960s.

Bhutto’s suppression of dissent in Baluchistan added to his problem. In February 1973 he summarily dismissed the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam–National Awami Party coalition government in that province, whereupon the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam–National Awami Party government of North-West Frontier Province resigned in protest. The Baluchis resisted, and a brutal guerrilla war broke out which by the December of 1974 pitched the Baluchi tribes against the Pakistani army. For the Jama‘at and its constituency the parallels between Baluchistan and the civil war in East Pakistan were uncomfortably close, and the Baluchistan debacle was yet another proof that the People’s Party must be defeated. The crisis compelled Bhutto to appeal to Islamic symbols to bolster the state to avoid yet another secessionist movement.

Also of concern to the already apprehensive Muhajir and Punjabi communities was Pakistan’s decision to recognize Bangladesh. In June 1972, Bhutto met with Indira Gandhi in Simla to discuss the geopolitical order in South Asia following the division of Pakistan. Although the meeting was a positive step in creating a framework for improving the relations between Pakistan and India, the agreements reached were not popular in all quarters in Pakistan. Two groups who had both fought to prevent the creation of Bangladesh, the Indophobic Muhajir community, many of whose members had suffered greatly at the hands of Bengali nationalists, and the Punjabis, who boasted the greatest numbers in the Pakistan armed forces, were vehemently opposed to recognizing the independence of Pakistan’s erstwhile province. The nonrecognition of Bangladesh campaign (Bangladesh namanzur), was spearheaded by the IJT and was concentrated in Lahore, Karachi, and Hyderabad; it found great support among Muhajirs and Punjabis. The Muhajir-Punjabi-Sindhi standoff in Sind, the Baluchistan imbroglio, and the dispute over the recognition of Bangladesh made the Muhajir community and a sizable portion of Punjabi public opinion—which had sent most of the People’s Party’s elected representatives to the National Assembly in 1970—a strong base of support for the anti–People’s Party alliance. The participation of religiously inclined groups in the anti–People’s Party coalition was guaranteed by its Islamic coloring. The government’s failure to attract mass support, combined with its disregard for the public’s religious sensibilities, provided the opposition with an open field for political action. The emergence of this discernible anti–People’s Party coalition provoked the government to resort to undemocratic measures which in turn further fueled the fire and emboldened the opposition.

Bhutto, confined by the realities of Pakistani politics and beguiled by the popular enthusiasm that brought him into office, missed an opportunity in 1972–1973 to transform his movement into a strong party; the Jama‘at fell into the same trap. The party grew in strength throughout the Bhutto era, when Islam was reintroduced into the political process and a constellation of dissident political forces and social groups formed the core of the anti–People’s Party alliance, but it failed to unite these forces and effectively manipulate and direct their political action and to develop a coherent sociopolitical program which could attract a base of support beyond mere opposition to the government. Even the Islamic constitution was shelved in favor of political action. The Jama‘at remained content to agitate against single issues such as Bhutto’s language policy in Sind, the nonrecognition of Bangladesh, and declaring the Ahmadis to be a non-Muslim minority. The party basked in the momentary glory of its leadership and failed to consolidate its position. The alliance of convenience between the Jama‘at and other anti–People’s Party forces remained transitory.

The Formation of the Opposition

Hostility between the Jama‘at and the People’s Party dated back to Yahya Khan’s regime. After the elections of 1970, the Jama‘at had pressed Yahya Khan to call on Shaikh Mujibu’l-Rahman to form an Awami League government and had berated Bhutto for betraying Pakistan’s interests by lobbying with the army to keep the Awami League out of office. This attitude led many in the People’s Party, especially in the party’s left wing led by Mi‘raj Muhammad, to encourage Bhutto to suppress the Jama‘at,[15] but others including Bhutto himself favored mollifying it.[16] The Jama‘at, meanwhile, having championed the cause of democracy for the preceding two decades, was compelled to recognize the People’s Party’s electoral mandate, albeit grudgingly. The government may have understood the Jama‘at’s move to be a sign of conciliation, but conflict continued to loom. On December 20, 1971, the Jama‘at announced its opposition by ridiculing Bhutto for assuming the title of chief martial law administrator, and demanded the formal abrogation of martial rule as the precondition for the start of the constitutional debate.[17]

Meanwhile the People’s Party and the IJT were fighting things out on the nation’s campuses. The IJT had proved to be a thorn in the side of the People’s Party since 1969, when it had begun soundly defeating People’s Party candidates in campus elections in Karachi and Punjab. The People’s Party was particularly unhappy with the IJT’s success at the University of Punjab in Lahore, a People’s Party stronghold. The IJT’s victory on Punjabi campuses not only shattered the myth of the People’s Party’s invincibility but also turned the IJT into an opposition party, the only political organization willing and able to challenge the People’s Party electorally. As a result, the IJT confronted the People’s Party on issues beyond campus politics. In January 1972 at a national educational conference in Islamabad, IJT students got a resolution passed which demanded the Islamization of the educational system in Pakistan.[18] Shortly after, IJT students disrupted the convocation ceremonies at Karachi University to keep the governor of Sind from addressing the gathering.[19] Convocation ceremonies thenceforth became an occasion for asserting student power; for instance, not until 1990 was a senior government official—on this occasion President Ghulam Ishaq Khan—again permitted to preside over the convocation ceremonies at the IJT-controlled campus of the University of Punjab in Lahore.

The episode at Karachi University showed that the IJT would be more than just a political inconvenience to the People’s Party. While the parent party advocated Islamic constitutionalism, the IJT demanded Islamic revolution. Victory at the polls at the University of Punjab had greatly boosted the morale of the student organization, whose growing radicalism continued to guide its politics. The tales of the heroism of the al-Badr and al-Shams counterinsurgency units in defense of East Pakistan, a project in which the Jama‘at had no direct role, had filled the IJT with revolutionary zeal. It was therefore not long before the IJT was able to exert a certain amount of control over the Jama‘at and the direction of its politics, and it was the students who pushed the party to adopt more unbending positions. In February 1972 the Jama‘at launched a countrywide campaign demanding the convening of the National Assembly, and in March it demanded an official investigation into the roles of Yahya Khan and Bhutto in the loss of East Pakistan.[20] The party stepped up its campaign against the continuation of martial law to revive its Islamic constitutionalist platform, which it had abandoned during the Yahya Khan period.

The National Assembly was convened in late April of 1972, altering the political climate of Pakistan once again. The Jama‘at welcomed the measure, abandoned its demand for the restitution of the 1956 constitution, and prepared itself for participation in the drafting of a new constitution. The government again understood the Jama‘at’s move as a sign of conciliation. There was reason for the government’s conclusion; Mawdudi had interceded to break the boycott by the opposition coalition, the United Democratic Front, of the constitutional debates in parliament.[21] But then the government, in what the Jama‘at regarded as a breach of faith, sent security agents, disguised as People’s Student Federation activists, to the University of Punjab to control campus elections in April and steal them from the IJT, using guns and other strong-arm tactics.[22] In the end, ballot boxes were confiscated, and the events created much bitterness toward the government among the IJT’s rank and file.[23]

In August 1972 the IJT took it upon itself to secure the release of two girls who had been abducted by the People’s Party governor of Punjab, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, for illicit purposes. The IJT rally in Lahore, which was well attended, secured the release of the abducted girls and embarrassed the government by revealing the extent of arbitrary rule and immorality in the ruling circles. Although the government’s immediate reaction was to disrupt an IJT session in Karachi in September, generally it sought to mollify the students. In late September, an IJT leader, Javid Hashmi, by now a national political figure, was invited to meet with Bhutto at the governor’s mansion in Lahore, and later with Mumtaz Bhutto, the People’s Party chief minister of Sind in Karachi.[24] The meetings attested to the IJT’s growing prominence, but the truce that resulted lasted only until December.

In the National Assembly, meanwhile, the Jama‘at had strongly opposed Bhutto’s pro-Sindhi policy as well as his handling of opposition to it, and had pressed the government to reveal its dealings with India over Bangladesh and the extent of its commitment to socialism. Its members were tenacious opponents and presented an obstacle to Bhutto’s monopoly on the constitutional process. Frustrated with the Jama‘at, the People’s Party resorted to force. On June 8, 1972, Nazir Ahmad, one of the Jama‘at’s most vociferous National Assembly representatives, was assassinated in his home constituency of Darah Ghazi Khan in Punjab.[25] Never before had any Pakistani government gone so far to silence its opposition. Although Mawdudi preached caution to the Jama‘at, and especially to the IJT, the assassination of Nazir Ahmad marked the beginning of the rapid radicalization of the IJT.

A month later Bhutto invited leaders of various Pakistani parties to Murree to report on his meeting with Indira Gandhi in Simla. The Jama‘at was represented by Mian Tufayl, who warned Bhutto against recognizing Bangladesh and “selling out Pakistan’s interests to India.”[26] Events in Sind soon thereafter provided the party with the means for precipitating a crisis over the issue. Muhajirs and Sindhis began fighting in July over the question of what was to be the official language of the Sind government. Emboldened by Bhutto’s rhetoric and enjoying the patronage of the People’s Party ministry in Sind, the Sindhis asserted their power at the expense of the Muhajirs. Bhutto was alarmed by the extent of discontent among the Muhajirs and by the fact that they could become supporters of the opposition, especially after the Jama‘at used the government’s decision to recognize Bangladesh as a way to mobilize them. Although the campaign for the nonrecognition of Bangladesh later found great support in Punjab as well, the Muhajirs represented its original base of support.

On September 25, 1972, Bhutto invited Mawdudi to a meeting at the governor’s mansion in Lahore to discuss recognizing Bangladesh, but no apparent understanding on the issue emerged from the meeting. The two made more headway in their discussion of the future role of the left in the People’s Party, which also featured prominently in that session. Mawdudi was adamant in his opposition to the left and, sensing Bhutto’s ambivalence, encouraged him to distance himself from them: “If they [the left] challenge you, we will support you.”[27] Mawdudi’s promise played an important part in Bhutto’s decision to downplay socialist themes in the constitutional debate and later to purge the left from the People’s Party. Leftist activists confirm this, claiming that the People’s Party gave the IJT free reign on Pakistani campuses to uproot the left in the universities.[28] In return, Bhutto got Mawdudi’s support for his constitution, although not before agreeing to call the state the “Islamic Republic” of Pakistan, and stipulating in the constitution that the president and prime minister must both be Muslim, and laws passed under the constitution would be compatible with Islamic law.[29]

During the meeting, Mawdudi also pressed Bhutto to adhere to his own democratic principles and said that fair play was the condicio sine qua non for any rapprochement between the Jama‘at and the government:

We have no policy of confrontation with anyone. In the remaining Pakistan [i.e., after the secession of East Pakistan] as long as your party enjoys a majority, we recognise your party’s right to rule the country constitutionally, democratically and with justice and fair play. We shall not exert to remove you by undemocratic and violent means. But you should also concede that we have a right to perform the role of the opposition in a peaceful and democratic manner. And this is our constitutional and democratic right, that we should point out and criticize the wrong policies of the government. If the ruling party and the opposition were to act within their limits, there would be no danger of confrontation between them.[30]

Given that the meeting took place soon after the assassination of Nazir Ahmad, Mawdudi’s proposals were conciliatory. The proceedings, moreover, revealed the extent of his own, if not the Jama‘at’s, commitment to the political process. It was also paradoxical that the leader of a putatively autocratic Islamic party lectured the leader of the avowedly democratic People’s Party on his constitutional duties. Relations between the two were thenceforth in good measure typified by Bhutto’s undemocratic ways and the Jama‘at’s demands that he abide by the country’s constitution. Neither side, however, viewed the exchanges in this meeting as binding, and soon thereafter they were at odds again. The government barred the Jama‘at from contesting by-elections in Swat and Darah Ghazi Khan; the Jama‘at reciprocated by intensifying its opposition to the recognition of Bangladesh.[31]

In October, Mawdudi, in his last political undertaking as amir, prepared a detailed case against the Simla agreement and the recognition of Bangladesh’s independence. The new amir, Mian Tufayl, continued the campaign through numerous meetings and gatherings across Pakistan.[32] The government reacted by arresting and jailing scores of IJT activists.[33] With Mawdudi no longer at the helm, the Jama‘at was unable to control the IJT, which became further enmeshed in violence and agitation with each bout of government repression. Its popularity only increased as it withstood arrest and imprisonment, and the repressive measures by the Federal Security Forces. By 1974 the IJT was winning campus elections at an increasing number of colleges across Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Karachi and Hyderabad in Sind, with larger margins than before. The Jama‘at gave the IJT its full support.

Throughout 1973 the Jama‘at expanded the purview of its anti government activities. The dismissal of the provincial government in Baluchistan in February 1973 gave the Jama‘at the opportunity once again to put Bhutto’s record during the East Pakistan crisis on trial. The Jama‘at lambasted the government’s increasingly “fascist” tendencies, stated that “Pakistan is not the fief of Mr. Bhutto,” and demanded that the ruling establishment abide by the constitution in its dealings with the provinces and opposition parties.[34] On February 18, 1973, Mian Tufayl was arrested and jailed for his criticism of the government’s policies in Baluchistan and his participation in the campaign for the nonrecognition of Bangladesh.[35] He remained in jail for a month, where he was badly mistreated by the Federal Security Forces. The Jama‘at’s leaders had not been strangers to Pakistani prisons, but never before had they suffered as they did during the Bhutto period.[36] Although in 1977 Bhutto formally apologized to Mian Tufayl for his poor treatment and blamed the wrongdoing on Khar,[37] Mian Tufayl remained bitter toward the People’s Party, which may in part explain why he supported General Zia in demanding Bhutto’s execution in 1979.

The government was finally able to resolve the Bangladesh controversy by convening an Islamic summit in Lahore in 1974. The full force of the support of Muslim heads of state silenced its critics and finally allowed Pakistan to recognize Bangladesh. In the same year, the Jama‘at had pressed Bhutto to convene the National Assembly and had participated in its proceedings when he finally did. But once there its representatives suddenly made an about-face and declared the assembly illegal because it was based on the elections of 1970, and the majority of the seats belonging to East Pakistan were never occupied. It therefore never had a quorum to operate and the 1973 constitution was thus not valid.[38] This pronouncement was followed by a flurry of criticisms against Bhutto’s economic policies, the moral laxity of the ruling elite, demands for a more aggressive posture toward India over Kashmir, and greater adherence to Islamic values, in the constitution as well as in the conduct of government affairs. The Jama‘at probably sensed the government’s weakness and the potential for mobilizing a political movement around Islamic symbols. The government must have reached the same conclusion, as it became noticeably more attentive to the demands of Islamic parties, thoroughly purged itself of its socialist trappings, and itself sought to ride the rising tide of religious fervor.

A renewed anti-Ahmadi campaign, under the banner of Finality of Prophethood (Khatm-i Nubuwwat), began on May 22, 1974, when a train carrying 170 IJT students en route to Lahore from Multan stopped in Rabwah, an Ahmadi town in Punjab.[39] Ahmadi missionaries boarded the train and distributed pamphlets and books among the passengers. The students reacted by staging an anti-Ahmadi demonstration at the station. A week later, on May 29, another group of Ahmadis boarded the train, which was carrying the same IJT contingent back to Multan and, in an ill-conceived move, attacked the students. Three days later the nazim-i a‘la of the IJT, delivered a tirade against the Ahmadis and revived the demand to declare them a non-Muslim minority. As in 1953–1954, the movement quickly gained momentum in Punjab. The Jama‘at was not initially in favor of pursuing the matter but since Mawdudi was away from Pakistan for medical treatment the party proved unable to influence the IJT, and quickly fell in line in order to retain control over the IJT and the flow of events.[40] ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad took up the issue in the National Assembly and Mian Tufayl met Bhutto regarding the unfolding events.[41] The leadership of the campaign remained with the IJT, which confirmed the student organization’s emergence as a semiautonomous organization. The anti-Ahmadi campaign also brought the IJT closer to a host of other Islamic groups, especially the rural and small-town-based Brailwis who have a special attachment to the memory of the Prophet and are therefore vehemently anti-Ahmadi. This alliance served as the basis for the IJT’s hold over the religious vote on university campuses well into the 1980s.

Thanks to its part in the anti-Ahmadi agitation, the IJT’s membership grew considerably, and it won nine consecutive student elections on various Peshawar and Karachi campuses.[42] The government approached IJT leaders, hoping to persuade them to desist from pursuing its campaign, but they flatly refused, and in fact on June 26 began to escalate the conflict. The ensuing 102 days produced 8,797 meetings and 147 processions, and despite the arrest of some 834 IJT leaders and workers, the government proved unable to stem the tide.[43] On September 7, 1974, the government capitulated, declaring the Ahmadis a non-Muslim minority. The polity, which only five years earlier had been overwhelmingly in support of populism and socialist idealism, had once again exposed itself to manipulation by Islamic symbols. The return of Islam to center stage was now complete. The fact that all this happened under the aegis of Pakistan’s most popular government to date, one which had a strong ideological basis of its own, only attested to the incomparable influence of Islam on the life and thought of Pakistanis. The seemingly implausible resurgence of Islam in lieu of socialism during the Bhutto era meant total victory for Islam and confirmed its central role in Pakistani politics. As populism lost its momentum to Islam, the fate of Bhutto’s government was sealed, long before Islam actually pulled down the People’s Party and its populist government.

The Pakistan National Alliance
and the Nizam-i Mustafa Movement

After the constitution of 1973 had been promulgated, a parliamentary opposition coalition, the United Democratic Front, emerged in the National Assembly. The Jama‘at was a member and used it as a forum for propagating its views on the government’s handling of politics, economics, and religious issues. Between 1974 and 1975 the Jama‘at registered 283 complaints against the government and the People’s Party for harassment and the closing of its paper Jasarat.[44] The Front proved to be an effective tool for dissent because its appeal to the constitution and use of parliamentary procedures emphasized how the government was abusing its power. For instance, in February 1975, following the banning of the National Awami Party and the arrest of Wali Khan, the Front’s members walked out of the National Assembly, damaging the democratic image of the government. Consequently, on October 21, 1975, opposition leaders decided to strengthen the United Democratic Front as an anti–People’s Party coalition. In a move indicative of the increasingly central role which Islam was playing, Mufti Mahmud of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam was made its leader.

While the composition of the Front already pointed to the Islamization of dissent, a number of government policy initiatives in 1976 accelerated this trend. In the summer of that year the government appointed the attorney general, Yahya Bakhtiyar, to head a committee charged with drawing up a legislative proposal for a women’s rights bill. The committee’s report was presented to the government in July. The Islamic parties immediately moved to oppose it, and Bhutto’s initiative was nipped in the bud. He was losing his grip over national politics and saw that his only course was to call for fresh elections. He appointed his minister of religious affairs, Kawthar Niyazi, to oversee the People’s Party’s press and public relations during the election campaign.[45]

The government announced that national elections would be held on March 7. The opposition immediately sprang into action. The United Democratic Front was disbanded and was replaced by the Pakistan National Alliance (PNA), which eventually incorporated nine parties.[46] The alliance adopted a religiously inspired platform, popularly known as Nizam-i Mustafa (Order of the Prophet), which favored the Islamic parties. The PNA gave the Jama‘at thirty-two national tickets and seventy-eight provincial ones.[47] The party took the possibility of an electoral victory seriously, even wooing the Shi‘i vote to break up the alliance between the People’s Party and the Shi‘i community. Mian Tufayl and ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad personally courted a number of Shi‘i politicians.

The PNA decided to contest Bhutto in his hometown constituency of Larkana in Sind. When Bhutto went to Larkana to declare his candidacy, the PNA announced that Jan Muhammad ‘Abbasi, amir of the Jama‘at-i Islami of Sind and a native of Larkana, would challenge him. ‘Abbasi was, however, kidnapped by Bhutto’s supporters on January 18, thereby preventing him from filing his papers on time and thus permitting the government to declare that Bhutto was uncontested in his bid for the Larkana seat.[48] In spite of these strong-arm tactics, the PNA’s campaign was sufficiently effective to compel the People’s Party to resort to rigging the elections in order to guarantee its victory.

Of thirty-one seats contested (18 percent of the PNA’s total of 168) in the National Assembly, the Jama‘at won nine (25 percent of the PNA’s total of thirty-six seats) (see table 12).[49] The Jama‘at did surprisingly well, winning two seats in Punjab (Multan and Muzaffargarh), three in North-West Frontier Province (Swat, Malakand, and Dir), and four in Sind (one in Hyderabad and three in Karachi). If the results of the rigged elections were any indication, the Jama‘at had been headed for its best electoral showings to date, dominating the PNA in the process. By July 1977, as a result of the PNA’s postelection agitational campaign, the Jama‘at’s popularity had risen still farther, enough so to suggest that it would have done even better if new elections were held. The government’s interference with the election secured it 155 of the total of 191 seats contested (77.5 percent of the National Assembly of 200 seats) (see table 13).[50]

12. Results of the 1977 Elections for the Jama‘at-i Islami
  Punjab NWFP Sind Total
Source: Election Bureau of the Jama‘at-i Islami.
Votes received by the Jama‘at 789,743 133,362 290,411 1,213,516
Seats contested by the Jama‘at 20 5 6 31
Seats won by the Jama‘at 2 3 4 9
Seats Won by the PNA 8 17 11 36

The PNA lost no time in denouncing the election, declaring the results fraudulent and unacceptable to the opposition. The PNA parties called for Bhutto’s resignation, boycotted the provincial elections scheduled for March 10, demanded new national elections, and called for a national strike on March 11. Mian Tufayl claimed that Bhutto had not only stolen the elections but had also deprived the Jama‘at of its best chance yet to assume power. Disturbances over the election results broke out in Karachi and quickly spread across Pakistan.

In a defiant mood Bhutto denied any wrongdoing, which only fanned the flames of the opposition. On March 18, ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad, then the secretary-general of the PNA, Chaudhri Rahmat Ilahi, and Mahmud A‘zam Faruqi of the Jama‘at, all of whom would become PNA ministers in 1978, were arrested along with other PNA leaders. On March 25, Mian Tufayl Muhammad and Sayyid Munawwar Hasan and, in early April, Mawlana Gulzar Mazahiri and Jan Muhammad ‘Abbasi were also apprehended.[51] Civil disobedience, street demonstrations, and clashes with the government organized in good part by the Jama‘at and the IJT, meanwhile, increased, deepening the cleavage between the government and the opposition. Demand for constitutional and democratic rights were in the process transformed into an Islamic social movement under the banner of the demand for Nizam-i Mustafa.

13. Seats Won in the 1977 Elections
  Punjab Sind NWFP Baluchistan Islamabad Tribal Areas Total
Source: Overseas Weekly Dawn (March 13, 1977), reprinted in Shahid Javed Burki, Pakistan under Bhutto, 1971–1977 (London, 1980), 196.
Pakistan People’s Party 107
0 115
0 0 0 36
Independent 0 0 1
0 0 8
Total 115 43 26 7 1 8 200

With all of the Jama‘at’s leaders behind bars, Mawdudi returned to center stage to lead the party. On April 2 he issued a statement inviting the government to negotiations with the PNA based on a set of preconditions: the release of all arrested PNA leaders and workers; the lifting of Section 144 and the abrogation of the Defense of Pakistan Rules, both of which authorized the government crackdown; trying in civilian courts all those cases which were referred to special tribunals by the government for violation of Section 144; and a declaration by the government to the effect that it would be open to amending the constitution through negotiations.[52] When the government did not respond, Mawdudi declared it illegal.[53]

Bhutto had all along regarded Mawdudi as a major force behind the PNA.[54] With the government’s options rapidly narrowing, he decided to break the impasse by dealing with Mawdudi directly. On the evening of April 16, 1977, under the pretext of “wishing to solicit the advice and good offices of an elder statesman,”[55] he went to Mawdudi’s house in Lahore. The news of Bhutto’s visit spread throughout the country, raising expectations for a break in the impasse. Many anti–People’s Party politicians and scores of PNA leaders pleaded with the Mawlana not to meet with Bhutto.[56] A crowd of IJT workers congregated outside Mawdudi’s house and began shouting slogans against Bhutto and Mawdudi. Mawdudi responded that he had not asked for the meeting, but common courtesy (adab) did not permit him to turn away a visitor.[57] The meeting, which lasted for forty minutes, did not bear the results Bhutto wished. Mawdudi counseled him to resign and allow a provisional government to take over while new elections were held.[58]

To stay in power Bhutto was compelled to devise a new strategy. He actively championed Islamization in the hope of co-opting a part of the opposition. Two days after his meeting with Mawdudi, he announced that in recognition of the demands of the Nizam-i Mustafa, casinos and nightclubs would be closed down, sale of alcoholic drinks and gambling would be banned, and generally activities proscribed by Islam would be against the law. In addition, he would reconvene the Council of Islamic Ideology under the supervision of Mufti Mahmud, the leader of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam and the PNA, so it could oversee the implementation of government-sponsored Islamization. The other two members of the council were to be Mawlanas Shah Ahmad Nurani of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan and Ihtishamu’l-Haq of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam; no member of the Jama‘at was included in the council. The Islamic parties rejected this idea and again demanded new elections.

Unable to stem the rising tide of PNA’s agitational campaign, Bhutto resorted to more repressive measures. On May 17, Mawdudi’s house was surrounded by police, and an attempt was made to arrest him.[59] The PNA issued a statement warning the government that the arrest of Mawdudi would start a rebellion.[60] With no way out of the impasse, Saudi Arabia intervened, using its financial leverage on both sides to end the stalemate. Negotiations began again on June 3. ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad of the Jama‘at served as a member of the PNA’s three-man team in the negotiations.[61]

The PNA contingent was careful to keep negotiations focused on the elections of 1977, the legitimacy of the government, and new elections. Islam and the Nizam-i Mustafa, on which Bhutto was willing to make substantial concessions, did not figure prominently. Bhutto now tried to divert attention from the negotiations by rallying Pakistanis around a nationalist and anti-imperialist platform. In a speech before the parliament on April 28 he declared, “The elephant [the United States government] is annoyed with me.”[62] His charge was that the PNA and the Jama‘at were being led by American agents who had been ordered to debunk the government because of its socialist and Third World leanings and because Pakistan’s nuclear program ran counter to American interests in the region.[63] No one was persuaded by Bhutto’s theory, and the accusation brought a sharp rebuke from Mawdudi.[64]

Negotiations went on for a month. During this period, Bhutto’s resolve gradually waned, and he became increasingly amenable to new elections. It is not certain whether the government and the PNA actually reached an agreement or not.[65] All sides, however, concur that the delay in reaching a final agreement during the last hours before the coup owed much to General Zia’s counsel to Bhutto. The general had warned him against entering into an agreement with the PNA based on preliminary understandings reached in the negotiations because the army would not accept its requirement of leaving Baluchistan in two months and releasing from custody National Awami Party leaders who had fought the army in that province. Bhutto’s indecision augured ill for the stability of the country. On July 5, 1977, the Pakistan army led by Zia staged a military coup, removed the government, arrested political leaders from both sides to the conflict, and imposed martial law.

The Bhutto years saw the apogee of the Jama‘at’s political activism. The party contributed to the repression of socialism and the reinstitution of Islam in national politics, which brought it to the verge of political victory. The Bhutto years, however, proved to be a short-lived aberration. For the success of agitational politics and the gains made by the resurgence of Islam diverted the party’s attention from the importance of opening its ranks to greater numbers and establishing more lasting relations with new groups in the society that the People’s Party’s economic policies and ill-conceived political measures had produced. When the coup of July 5 changed the political map of Pakistan, the alliance of convenience based on opposition to the government dissolved, leaving the Jama‘at once again at odds with popular politics. The Bhutto regime and the vicissitudes of the antigovernment agitational campaign also compromised the Jama‘at and the IJT’s moral resolve and initiated an irreversible trend toward a political activism that would become their vocation.


1. Cited in ‘Abdu’l-Ghani Faruqi, “Hayat-i Javidan,” HRZ, 31. [BACK]

2. There was another Attock conspiracy case in 1984. The first coup attempt is therefore often referred to as the first Attock conspiracy case. [BACK]

3. Interview with S. M. Zafar. [BACK]

4. See Stephen P. Cohen, The Pakistan Army (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1984), 86–104. [BACK]

5. See Stanley Wolpert, Zulfi Bhutto of Pakistan: His Life and Times (New York, 1993), 281. [BACK]

6. Interview with ‘Abdu’l-Hafiz Pirzadah. [BACK]

7. Quoted in Khalid B. Sayeed, Politics in Pakistan: The Nature and Direction of Change (New York, 1980), 162. Similarly, Stanley Wolpert reports that when in 1977 the director of the Inter-Services Intelligence sent a secret report to Bhutto, informing him of the Jama‘at’s influence in the army’s Multan barracks, the prime minister responded by saying that the Jama‘at was dangerous to the army only because it received General Zia’s “official blessings and respect. ” See Wolpert, Zulfi Bhutto, 280–81. [BACK]

8. Shahid Javed Burki, Pakistan under Bhutto, 1971–1977 (London, 1980), 53. [BACK]

9. Muhammad Salahu’ddin, Peoples Party: Maqasid Awr Hikmat-i ‘Amali (Karachi, 1982). [BACK]

10. On the importance of this issue in the eventual fall of the Bhutto government, see ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad, Pher Martial Law A-Giya (Lahore, 1988), 101. [BACK]

11. ISIT(2), 17. [BACK]

12. Altaf Gauhar, “Pakistan, Ayub Khan Awr Mawlana Mawdudi, Tafhimu’l-Qur’an Awr Main,” HRZ, 42–44. [BACK]

13. Tahir Amin, Ethno-National Movements of Pakistan (Islamabad, 1988), 144–48. [BACK]

14. Sayeed, Politics in Pakistan, 154. [BACK]

15. Mujibu’l-Rahman Shami, “Jama‘at-i Islami Awr Peoples Party: Fasilah Awr Rabitah, Ik Musalsal Kahani,” Qaumi Digest 11, 2 (July 1988): 13. [BACK]

16. Interview with Kawthar Niyazi. [BACK]

17. ISIT(1), 25; and Rudad-i Jama‘at-i Islami Pakistan, 1972 (Lahore, n.d.), 1–2. [BACK]

18. Interview with Tasnim ‘Alam Manzur, in JVNAT, vol. 2, 297–98. [BACK]

19. Zahid Hussain, “The Campus Mafias,” Herald (October 1988): 56. [BACK]

20. Rudad, 2–3. [BACK]

21. Sarwat Saulat, Maulana Maududi (Karachi, 1979), 85. [BACK]

22. Liaqat Baluch, “Rushaniyun Ka Safar,” TT, vol. 2, 220–21. [BACK]

23. ‘Abdu’l-Shakur, “Jahan-i Tazah ki Takbirin,” TT, vol. 2, 71–72. [BACK]

24. Javid Hashmi, “Ik Jur’at-i Rindanah,” TT, vol. 2, 51–52. [BACK]

25. Rudad, 5. [BACK]

26. Ibid., 6–7. [BACK]

27. Interview with Kawthar Niyazi. [BACK]

28. Interviews with ‘Azizu’ddin Ahmad and Khalid Mahmud. [BACK]

29. Cited in Wolpert, Zulfi Bhutto, 206. [BACK]

30. Cited in Saulat, Maulana Maududi, 83–84. [BACK]

31. Rudad, 9–11. [BACK]

32. Chaudhri Ghulam Gilani, “Ik Chatan,” TT, vol. 2, 18–19; and Sajjad Mir, “Wahid-i Shahid,” TT, vol. 2, 60. [BACK]

33. Hashmi, “Ik Jur’at-i Rindanah,” 52–53. [BACK]

34. Rudad, 19–20. [BACK]

35. ISIT(1), 34. [BACK]

36. On Mian Tufayl’s experiences in prison, see Mian Tufayl Muhammad, “General Zia ul-Haq Shaheed,” in Shaheed ul-Islam: Muhammad Zia ul-Haq (London, 1990), 50. [BACK]

37. Ibid. [BACK]

38. ISIT(1), 52, and Kausar Niazi, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan: The Last Days (New Delhi, 1992), 28–32. [BACK]

39. Salim Mansur Khalid, “Talabah Awr Tahrik-i Khatm-i Nubuwwat,” TT, vol. 2, 159–75. [BACK]

40. Abu Sufyan Muhammad Tufayl Rashidi, Tahaffuz-i Khatm-i Nubuwwat Awr Jama‘at-i Islami (Lahore, n.d.), 81–85. [BACK]

41. ISIT(2), 9–10. [BACK]

42. Ibid., 10. [BACK]

43. Ibid., 14. [BACK]

44. Ibid., 15–16. [BACK]

45. Niazi, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, 36–37. [BACK]

46. The nine parties were the Jama‘at-i Islami, Jami‘at-i Ulama Islam, Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan, Muslim League, Tahrik-i Istiqlal (Freedom Movement), Pakistan Democratic Party, National Democratic Party, Tahrik-i Khaksar, and the Muslim Conference. [BACK]

47. ISIT(2), 25. [BACK]

48. Ahmad, Pher Martial Law, 92–93; and Nizai, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, 70–71. [BACK]

49. Sharif al-Mujahid, “The 1977 Pakistani Elections: An Analysis,” in Manzooruddin Ahmed, ed., Contemporary Pakistan: Politics, Economy, and Society (Karachi, 1980), 73. The Jama‘at was originally given thirty-two tickets by the PNA, but it contested only thirty-one as Jan Muhammad ‘Abbasi was prevented by the government from running in Larkana, Sind. [BACK]

50. The difference between the share of the popular vote between the two contenders was, however, less staggering. The People’s Party won only 58 percent of the popular vote compared with PNA’s 35 percent. For these figures see, Burki, Pakistan, 196. What was contentious was that given the success of the PNA, the People’s Party was clearly less popular than in 1970, yet both its percentage of national votes and seats won to the National Assembly increased markedly, from 39.9 percent to 58 percent and from 81 to 155, respectively; see Mujahid, “The 1977 Elections,” 83–84. [BACK]

51. Ahmad, Pher Martial Law, 122 and 140–52. [BACK]

52. Saulat, Maulana Maududi, 96. [BACK]

53. SAAM, vol. 2, 460–61. [BACK]

54. For instance, in a speech before the parliament on April 28 Bhutto had referred to “the person inflaming the country in the name of Nizam-e-Mustafa, Maulana Maudoodi,” thus attesting to Mawdudi’s pivotal role in the crisis, at least in the People’s Party’s eyes; cited in Niazi, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, 91. [BACK]

55. Interview with Kawthar Niyazi. [BACK]

56. Interview with Begum ‘Abidah Gurmani. [BACK]

57. Ibid. [BACK]

58. Ahmad, Pher Martial Law, 152. [BACK]

59. Ibid., 182. [BACK]

60. Saulat, Maulana Maududi, 98. [BACK]

61. The government side consisted of Bhutto, ‘Abdu’l-Hafiz Pirzadah (minister of law), and Kawthar Niyazi (minister for religious affairs). The PNA was represented by Mufti Mahmud (Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam), ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad (Jama‘at-i Islami), and Nawwabzadah Nasru’llah Khan (Pakistan Democratic Party). For accounts of these meetings, see Kawthar Niyazi, Awr Line Kat Ga’i (Lahore, 1987); idem,Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto; and Ahmad, Pher Martial Law. [BACK]

62. Niazi, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, 89. [BACK]

63. Ibid., 89–94; for other examples of this allegation see Wolpert, Zulfi Bhutto, 277–302. Pakistan’s decision to embark on a nuclear weapons program had created tensions in the relations between the two countries; see, for instance, the alarmist report in U. S. Ambassador, Islamabad, tel. #4065, 4/26/1978, DFTUSED, no. 45, 19. [BACK]

64. Ahmad, Pher Martial Law, 194. [BACK]

65. Most PNA leaders, along with Niyazi and Pirzadah, believe that an agreement was reached; whether or not it would have been signed by all PNA parties or by Bhutto remains open to speculation. Interviews with ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad, Sardar Shairbaz Khan Mazari, ‘Abdu’l-Hafiz Pirzadah, Begum Nasim Wali Khan, and Kawthar Niyazi. Pirzadah argues that he and Mufti Mahmud finalized the agreement in the late hours of July 2 and Bhutto was to sign it on July 5. Niyazi too writes that a final accord was reached, and Bhutto had agreed to sign it; Niazi, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, 239–41. Begum Nasim Wali Khan argues that despite the enthusiasm of the negotiating team other PNA leaders had reservations about the agreement, and most were not likely to sign it. Absence of a formal agreement between the government and the PNA was used as an excuse by the armed forces to stage a coup in order to break the dangerous impasse. Those justifying the coup, therefore, argue that no agreement had been reached between the two sides. See, for instance, Lt. General Faiz Ali Chishti, Betrayals of Another Kind: Islam, Democracy, and the Army in Pakistan (Cincinnati, 1990), 66. [BACK]

9. Accommodation and Opposition, 1977–1988

Opposition to Bhutto had not only made the party popular and presented it with its first opportunity to further its political standing in Pakistan but it had also coalesced Islam and democracy into one political platform. The alliance between Islam and democracy quickly became antagonism between the two, however, when Zia came to power.

The Zia Regime

The military coup, dubbed Operation Fair Play, that toppled Bhutto in July 1977 caught the country’s political parties off guard and threw them into a state of confusion. In one fell swoop the coup had removed the opposition’s raison d’être. The government had been removed too quickly and by the armed forces rather than by the PNA, leaving the opposition with no immediate plan of action.

This confusion was compounded by the Islamic veneer of the new regime. For the first time in its history it appeared that Islamic parties would operate in a hospitable political environment and enjoy a certain amount of government patronage. Their ideological rapport produced what one party source called “a mother-daughter relationship” with Zia’s regime.[1] The general had hoped to restore state authority by controlling the Islamic parties by including them in his regime. What he offered was similar to what elsewhere has been termed inclusionary corporatism.[2] He had incorporated the demands of the Islamic parties into state ideology, thereby offering the Islamic parties a power-sharing arrangement in which the state would act as the senior partner, but the Islamic forces would gain from state patronage and enjoy a modicum of political activity. This strategy had short-run success because it appealed to the ideological sensibilities of the Islamic parties, but in the long run it failed as it ran counter to their fundamental political interests. The general’s mixture of Islam and autocracy generated corresponding tensions between the Jama‘at’s commitment to Islamization and its avowed democratic objectives.

The Jama‘at and its allies in the PNA were not pleased with Zia’s coup. For one thing the general had canceled the elections, though he emphasized the fact that Bhutto had never intended to abide by his agreement to hold elections and had himself planned to unleash the army against the opposition.[3] Therefore, had the army not acted with alacrity, according to the general, Pakistan would have been immersed in a blood bath and the alliance parties would have been thoroughly routed. Having removed the obdurate People’s Party government, Zia would now pave the way for the realization of the PNA’s demands for a democratic order. Zia also made full use of his reputation as an observant Muslim to gain the sympathy of the Islamic parties and quickly adopted the Nizam-i Mustafa, thereby adding to the PNA’s confusion over what political strategy to adopt. Zia also had a humble demeanor which, in contrast to the arrogant Bhutto, went a long way to impress the PNA leaders and also allay their fears.[4]

The Jama‘at was by no means immune to Zia’s manipulations. It had performed rather well in the elections of 1977, better than most of its allies in the PNA. If the campaign which followed the disputed elections of 1977 was any indication, the political fortunes of the party both within the PNA and nationally had subsequently soared even higher. The alliance had expected to inherit the government from the People’s Party, and the Jama‘at had anticipated ruling the coalition government that was to succeed Bhutto. Encouraged by the Islamic facade of Zia’s regime, the party therefore tried to salvage its fortunes by lobbying with Zia for early elections. Elections and Islamization thereby became the bait which Zia used to co-opt the Jama‘at. Between 1977 and 1979 the Jama‘at was increasingly drawn into his regime. Zia announced the first of a series of promised election dates for October 1, 1977. He referred to the house arrest of the anti-Bhutto politicians as “an enforced rest…[to] rejuvenate themselves for the coming General Elections.”[5] He promised the Jama‘at that after the elections a civilian government would be allowed to take over.[6] Eager to maintain stability, the Jama‘at went to great lengths to promote cooperation between Zia and the PNA, eventually acting as the broker between the two. Zia’s avowed commitment to the Jama‘at’s ideological position and the fact that he and Mian Tufayl both belonged to the Ara‘in clan (biradri) and were from Jullundar in East Punjab helped strengthen the entente.

Mawdudi enthusiastically endorsed Zia’s initiatives in implementing the Nizam-i Mustafa movement, hailing his efforts as the “renewal of the covenant” between the government and Islam.[7] As a result, the harmony between the Jama‘at’s ideological position and its political aims was lost. By appealing to the ideological sensibilities of the Jama‘at, Zia was able to turn the party’s attention from its political interests. Between 1977 and 1979, Zia adroitly manipulated the fate of Bhutto and his party—to whom government propaganda had given apocalyptic significance—to postpone the elections while still keeping the Islamic parties in check. He thought that once Bhutto was executed the anti-Bhutto alliance would fall apart, giving more breathing room to his regime.[8] He argued that elections were in the interests of neither the alliance nor of the country, if they were to serve as the means for resuscitating the People’s Party. Bhutto, he added, could be prevented from returning only if he was made accountable for the abuses which were committed while he was in office.

The prospect of Bhutto’s return was disconcerting to the opposition especially after it had been convinced that the gallows had awaited them all in July 1977 had Zia not intervened.[9] When Bhutto, temporarily released from prison, was received in Lahore on August 8, 1977, by a large and cheering crowd, the Jama‘at quickly fell in line with the government and raised the banner of “retribution first, elections next!”[10] The enthusiasm shown for Bhutto by Lahoris made the impending elections seem less promising than they had seemed earlier.[11] There was no point in pushing for elections unless the Jama‘at and the PNA would win them. With the memory of the anti-Bhutto agitations of the summer of 1977 waning, the Jama‘at and its allies now looked to the government and the judicial system to thwart any attempt at a comeback by the People’s Party by trying Bhutto for abuse of power. With the Jama‘at’s and the PNA’s support, Bhutto was implicated in an assassination attempt on one of his opponents; the intended victim survived but his father died, and Bhutto was charged with murder.

The quest for justice soon shifted to thinly disguised vindictiveness. Once the courts had convicted Bhutto on the charge of murder, the Jama‘at’s demand for his execution was loud. “Mr. Bhutto has not been punished as a political convict. The Court has sentenced him for involvement in a murder case. Being a moral criminal and murderer, any demand for commutation of his sentence would be tantamount to interference in judicial verdicts,” was how Mawdudi rationalized their stand.[12] So central was the Jama‘at’s support for Bhutto’s execution that Zia deemed it politic to meet with Mian Tufayl for an hour and a half the night before the former prime minister’s hanging.[13] The Jama‘at also provided Zia with support in suppressing the remaining pockets of People’s Party resistance. Mawdudi argued that if the People’s Party were allowed to run in the elections the debacle of East Pakistan would be repeated in Baluchistan or Sind;[14] this provided Zia with a convenient pretext for institutionalizing the martial-law regime and repeatedly postponing elections.

The Jama‘at’s effort to bring the elections about became the focus of the party’s relations with the government. Zia now argued that elections could not be held by a martial-law regime—a civilian government was required to oversee an orderly electoral process and, if necessary, the transfer of power. After months of negotiations between the PNA and the Zia regime, on August 21, 1978, an agreement was reached whereby the PNA would form a government which would oversee the national elections. The two sides agreed that the PNA would appoint two-thirds of the cabinet ministers and the general one-third. The Jama‘at joined the new government as part of both the PNA’s quota and General Zia’s team. As part of the PNA’s quota of ministers the Jama‘at received the portfolios of production and industry; petroleum, minerals, water, and power; and information and broadcasting.[15] Khurshid Ahmad was appointed to be minister of planning as part of Zia’s quota of ministers. After thirty years of political activity in Pakistan, for the first time in its history the Jama‘at had become part of the ruling establishment.[16]

The PNA’s arrangement with Zia, however, did not last for long. On April 21, 1979, to prepare for national elections, the PNA dissolved the government. Zia appealed to the Jama‘at to stay in the cabinet, but the party, hoping to control the postelection civilian government, turned down the general’s offer and decided to stay with the PNA.[17] To create some distance with the martial-law regime in preparation for elections, the Jama‘at also began to criticize Zia, especially his economic policy. Soon after Khurshid Ahmad left the cabinet, he criticized the government’s proposed budget as un-Islamic and as harmful to the interests of Pakistan as Bhutto’s policies.[18] The maneuver paid off. On October 7, Zia reached an agreement with the PNA, which committed the regime to elections on November 17, 1979.[19]

They took Zia at his word. Mawdudi declared that elections would soon bring the Jama‘at to power and that no additional extraconstitutional activities were therefore needed to hasten the advent of the Islamic state.[20] The party’s enthusiasm for an electoral victory soared even more when the Jama‘at participated in municipal elections in September 1979[21] and won 57 of the 160 seats contested in the elections to the Karachi municipal corporation (city council).[22] The 35 percent margin of victory was sufficient to assure the Jama‘at’s domination over the corporation and, by implication, the politics of the Muhajir community, at least for the time being. The elections had been boycotted by some PNA parties and had been held on a nonparty basis. The Jama‘at nonetheless saw any election better than none and, viewing the vote as a positive sign, formed the Ukhuwwat (Brotherhood) group, a surrogate for the Jama‘at in the election campaign. The Jama‘at’s tally of seats in the corporation was sufficient to secure the mayoralty of Karachi for the party; the office was held by ‘Abdu’ssattar Afghani until 1986.[23]

The results from elsewhere in Sind were not as promising. Of the province’s thirteen district councils, eleven were won by pro–People’s Party candidates, two by those close to the Muslim League and one by the Jama‘at.[24] In Punjab the Jama‘at did not do well either. In the Punjab district council elections, of the 500 seats contested, pro–People’s Party candidates received 212, independents 135, and the Jama‘at 35 seats. The Jama‘at may have come in a distant third, but it did better than the Muslim League with 28, the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam with 13, and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan with 6 seats each. In corporation and municipal elections in Punjab, pro–People’s Party candidates got 527, independents 390, and the Jama‘at’s candidates 93 seats. Overall, in Punjab the Jama‘at got one district council vice-chairman, five municipal committee chairmen, six municipal committee vice-chairmen, five town committee chairmen, and four town committee vice-chairmen.

In North-West Frontier Province of the 360 district council seats, the Jama‘at got 32, but came in second behind pro–People’s Party candidates, who won 52 seats. The Jama‘at again defeated the Muslim League and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam. The Jama‘at did better in the elections than the other participating PNA parties and was defeated only by the cluster of pro–People’s Party candidates. Zia, however, would not have allowed Bhutto’s party to run in the national elections, which led the Jama‘at’s leaders to believe that they would sweep the polls in November 1979. This, however, also meant that the Jama‘at would render more support to Zia just to make sure that the People’s Party would be kept out of the elections. The Jama‘at became even more sanguine about its electoral prospects when, after Mawdudi died in September 1979, his funeral procession in Lahore later that month, less than a month before the promised November 17 national elections, drew a large crowd.

The municipal councils were the first openly elected bodies to be put in place since the advent of martial law, which, given the Jama‘at’s full participation in them, intensified the party’s rivalry with the Zia regime for the control of Pakistan. Zia found the Jama‘at’s good showing useful in that for the time being the party could be relied upon to control Karachi and contain the pockets of pro-People’s Party sentiments in Pakistan’s largest city, which was critical to the stability of the military regime. The Jama‘at’s ability to manipulate a nonparty election, however, did not go unnoticed by Zia.

The Ruling Islamic Alliance

Although throughout the 1977–1979 period the Jama‘at’s activities were directed toward national elections and capitalizing on its popularity during the anti-Bhutto agitations, Zia’s use of Islamization to silence the party continued to dampen its resolve. Zia’s manipulation of the Jama‘at’s ideological platform had a certain appeal for the party’s leaders and rank-and-file members.[25]

The rapport between the Jama‘at and the martial-law regime had been established by Mawdudi two years before he died. By 1977 he was at odds with the more pragmatic leadership that had succeeded him. He no longer had any official standing, but he nonetheless publicly endorsed the Islamization initiatives of Zia. In March and April 1978 in talks on Radio Pakistan, he hailed Zia’s efforts as welcome first steps in applying Islamic principles to Pakistan’s judicial and political system.[26] While Mawdudi’s objective was to claim that this greater visibility of Islam in the political process was all his party’s doing, he ipso facto made Islam a major issue in the alliance between the new regime and the PNA—a prerogative which the Jama‘at had denied Bhutto in 1977—at a time when the two sides were locked in debate over the formation of the PNA government.

The Jama‘at’s leaders, taking their cue from Mawdudi, wholeheartedly assisted Zia in preparing a comprehensive Islamization program. It was introduced to the public on February 10, 1979, with the promulgation of Islamic edicts concerning taxation and hudud punishments (punishments for practices proscribed in religious texts). The Jama‘at claimed the new measures to be the fruits of its decades-long struggle to introduce Islamic law to Pakistan. Islamization, however, proved to be a problem: while it created concord between the Jama‘at and the Zia regime in principle, in practice it promoted conflict between the two over what the content of the Islamization program should be.

The Jama‘at had endorsed Zia’s Islamization measures, assuming it would then dominate the process. Zia, having received the party’s blessings, decided that it was not politic to restrict its patronage to one Islamic party and began cultivating stronger ties with the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan, the ulama and Sufi leaders (mashayakh), and a host of other Islamic organizations, a policy which the Jama‘at ridiculed as religiously suspect and politically motivated. As one Jama‘at leader put it, “We were interested in the siratu’l-nabi [path of the Prophet], while Zia was content with the miladu’l-nabi [the popular celebration of the birthday of the Prophet, a custom of Sunni folk religion in Pakistan].”[27] The Jama‘at surmised from Zia’s “divide and rule” that he was not sincere about Islamization and would not be easily manipulated by the Jama‘at.

Zia’s motives in diversifying the religious basis of his regime were not entirely Machiavellian. The general had been an admirer of Mawdudi and the Jama‘at for a long time, and he had looked to the Jama‘at as an intellectual force which could serve the same function in his regime as the left had done in the People’s Party. The fact that the Jama‘at had been the main ideological adversary of the left since the 1960s and had always claimed to have a blueprint for the Islamization of the state led Zia to draw parallels between the Jama‘at and Pakistan’s leftist intelligentsia. That is why the Jama‘at leaders were given cabinet portfolios and invited to serve on such prominent state-sponsored bodies as the Council of Islamic Ideology. A number of pro-Jama‘at thinkers, writers, and journalists were also inducted into the inner circle of Zia’s advisers, to help him lay the foundations for the Islamic state.

Zia’s expectations, however, came to naught. The Jama‘at proved unable to deliver on the claims it had made. Aside from abstract notions about the shape and working of the ideal Islamic state, the party had little to offer in the way of suggestions for managing its machinery. Its notions about the working of Islamic dicta in economic and political operations provided Zia with no coherent plan of action. Just as the Jama‘at became disappointed with the politics of Zia’s regime, so the general became disillusioned with the practical relevance of the Jama‘at’s ideas.

After the execution of Bhutto on October 17, Zia suspended the November 1979 elections. The Jama‘at had taken his promise of elections seriously and had mobilized its resources in anticipation of them. It also sensed that after two years the memory of the excesses of the Bhutto government had begun to fade, and the paramount political issue before the country would now be martial law, opposition to which had by 1979 become the rallying point for the prodemocracy forces to which the Jama‘at claimed to belong. The solid showing of pro–People’s Party candidates in the national municipal elections was sufficient proof that opposition was mounting. The tightening of martial law following the cancellation of the November elections was only likely to damage Zia’s political standing further. The Jama‘at saw its popularity dwindle in tandem with the waning hopes for elections. The party’s association with the ruling order, which had been designed to bring about elections and secure a political victory for the party, was rapidly becoming a liability.

Zia’s postponement of the November elections led Mian Tufayl, the general’s most ardent supporter among the Jama‘at’s leaders, to warn Zia about the consequences of his policy.[28] In October 1980 the Jama‘at issued a statement critical of martial law and encouraging Zia to restore civilian order and the rule of law, end censorship, and hold elections.[29] This was the first sign of an open breach, but it brought no reaction from the general. The Jama‘at’s shura’ sessions reassessed the party’s policy and issued strong denunciations of martial law, tampering with the constitution, and strong-arm tactics in dealing with the opposition.[30] The pace and breadth of the attacks against the government increased between 1980 and 1985 as it became apparent that the martial-law regime had in good measure dissipated Islam’s political appeal and diminished the ability of religion to legitimate political action and authority. Zia’s triumph had proved to be a Pyrrhic victory for Islam.

The Jama‘at to its own detriment did not distance itself from the martial-law regime swiftly enough to put an end to its political hemorrhaging. Mian Tufayl, who was close to Zia and particularly bitter toward the Bhutto regime, dampened the party’s zeal for resuming agitational politics by pointing out that the last time the Jama‘at had opted for such a course, in Ayub Khan’s time, the ultimate beneficiary was not the Jama‘at but the left.[31] As evil as martial law might turn out to be, he argued, the People’s Party remained Pakistan’s greatest scourge. Under Mian Tufayl’s leadership, the Jama‘at was reduced to inaction, though it was compensated for its political losses with gains of another kind. The party’s status was bolstered by the regime. It dealt with Mawdudi as a senior statesman and a religious sage. He was invited to give talks on Radio Pakistan, his advice was solicited by Zia, and his words began to adorn the front page of national newspapers. This new prestige opened government to the Jama‘at’s influence to an unprecedented extent. The Jama‘at now began to infiltrate into the armed forces, the bureaucracy, and important national research and educational institutions.

Nowhere are the nature and extent of recompense for cooperation with the Zia regime clearer than in the Jama‘at’s role in the Afghan war. The Jama‘at had been privy to the government’s Afghan policy since 1977, when, following Nur Muhammad Taraki’s coup in Afghanistan, generals Zia and Fazl-i Haq had met with Mawdudi, Mian Tufayl and Qazi Husain Ahmad to explore a role for the Jama‘at in Pakistan’s Afghan policy.[32] The party had played a major role in marshaling Pakistani public opinion in favor of an Islamic crusade against the Soviet Union. Soon after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Zia brought the Jama‘at into his Afghan policy, using its religious stature to legitimate his depiction of the war as a jihad. This arrangement was mutually beneficial, especially to the Jama‘at. The Afghan war encouraged close ties between the Jama‘at and the Pakistani army and security forces, opened the inner sanctum of government to the party, involved it in the flow of funds and arms to the Mujahidin, and provided Jama‘at and IJT members with valuable military training.

Contact with the Afghan Mujahidin and refugees opened them to the Jama‘at’s political and religious influence. The party’s intellectual sway over segments of the Afghan refugee community, in turn, boosted its image in Islamic revivalist circles across the Muslim world and gave it a pan-Islamic image.[33] The jihad had served Zia as a useful means of harnessing the Jama‘at’s energies and diverting them away from domestic politics and was no doubt instrumental in the Jama‘at’s decision to retain its close ties to the Zia regime despite the opposition of many of its members. The Jama‘at construed these gains as beneficial because they increased the party’s power, but they were no substitute for winning elections. It eventually became clear that the party had exhausted the utility of these compensations and would have to reevaluate its role.

By 1984, after seven years of “Islamic autocracy,” the Jama‘at began to distance itself from the regime; the IJT forced the party’s hand. A formidable political force in its own right, it too had supported Zia until he banned student activity. Then relations deteriorated. This allowed the multiparty coalition, the Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD), organized by the People’s Party in 1981, to make overtures to the IJT, beginning in March 1984.[34] Mian Tufayl intervened with IJT leaders,[35] but rather than responding to the demands of its student wing, he tried to get them under his control, which was what the martial-law regime wanted. In defiance the students continued to agitate.

14. Votes Cast for Jama‘at-i Islami Candidates in the 1985 Elections
  Votes Received Total Votes Cast % of Total
Source: Report on the General Elections, 1985 (Islamabad, n.d.).
Lahore (1) 26,258 81,814 32
Lahore (2) 17,896 56,071 32
Lahore (3) 18,895 44,796 42
Mardan 14,063 50,031 28
Swat 20,568 54,090 38
Malakand 29,950 57,615 52
Dir 31,166 59,871 52
Karachi (1) 23,961 66,910 36
Karachi (2) 20,647 49,264 42
Turbat 16,169 32,845 49

Mian Tufayl then appealed to Zia to defuse the situation by lifting the ban on student activities, using the Jama‘at’s endorsement of the referendum Zia was pushing to legitimate his policies in the name of Islam as his reward for lifting the ban and promising that the future National Assembly would be sovereign.[36] Zia accepted both conditions, only to renege on the first after the referendum was conducted and the second when he dismissed the Muslim League government and dissolved the assemblies in May 1988. These breaches of faith greatly undermined Mian Tufayl’s position. He had promised to deliver on the IJT’s demands through his personal ties with the regime; now members decided that nothing further could be gained from cooperation with Zia.

The Elections of 1985

After the referendum the Jama‘at’s political fortunes plummeted, and the national elections, when they were finally held in 1985, proved that the popularity of the 1977–1979 period had vanished. Debate over the Jama‘at’s relations to Zia and the possibility of cooperation with the MRD only prolonged the party’s inability to act. In the elections of 1985 the Jama‘at won 10 of the 68 seats it contested for the National Assembly (compared with 9 out of 31 in 1977, and 4 out of 151 in 1970),[37] and 13 of the total of 102 contested for various provincial assemblies (compared with 4 out of 331 in 1970) (see tables 1415). These results showed Zia that the Jama‘at had lost its power, and he turned to the Muslim League and an array of ethnic parties for support. The elections, as all Pakistanis knew, had been boycotted by the left and centrist parties and were an easy prey for the Islamic and right-of-center parties. Consequently, the Jama‘at did better in these elections than it had in its previous electoral showings. It won three of Dir’s five provincial assembly seats, and for the first time won a seat in the Baluchistan provincial assembly. But these modest gains paled before those of the other right-of-center parties, especially in Punjab and Sind. The political damage caused by associating with Zia was reflected in the fact that Jama‘at candidates who were PNA ministers were not elected.

15. Votes Received and Seats Won by the Jama‘at-i Islami in the 1985 Elections
  Punjab NWFP Sind Baluchistan Total
Source: Election Bureau of the Jama‘at-i Islami.
National Assembly
Seats contested 37 13 15 3 68
Seats won 3 4 2 1 10
Total votes received 625,848 196,585 238,228 30,527 1,091,188
Average votes per candidate 16,914 15,121 15,881 10,175 16,046
Provincial Assembly          
Seats contested 53 22 24 3 102
Seats won 2 5 5 1 13
Total votes received 377,790 114,131 160,056 13,916 665,893
Average votes per candidate 7,128 5,187 6,669 4,638 6,528

The gradual dissipation of the PNA’s base of political support; the relative success of the MRD after 1981; the ban on labor unions, political parties, and, finally, student unions; and the results of the elections of 1985 had all acted to create doubts in the minds of many Jama‘at members regarding the wisdom of their close ties to Zia. If the public’s apathy over the referendum of 1984 was any indication, after seven years of martial rule Islamization had lost much of its appeal. To the extent to which Islamization measures still held sway over the masses, it was Zia and not the Jama‘at who benefited. Ghafur Ahmad, the head of the Jama‘at’s parliamentary contingent in the 1970s and the secretary-general of the PNA, was the first in the Jama‘at to show his opposition to Mian Tufayl’s alliance with Zia by not running in the elections of 1985 at all. Dissent soon spread to the Jama‘at’s rank and file.

Mian Tufayl continued to argue that Zia’s Islamization scheme was in accordance with the Jama‘at’s agenda and at odds with the spirit of the MRD, which the amir had dubbed the “movement for the restoration of the People’s Party.”[38] He pointed to the dangers that the Soviet presence in Afghanistan and the activities of the pro–People’s Party clandestine organization, Al-Zulfiqar, posed to the interests of Pakistan. This argument collapsed when, soon after the elections, civilian rule returned to Pakistan, not under the aegis of the Jama‘at, but in the form of a Muslim League government.

A contingent began to form in the Jama‘at which sought to restore pragmatic politics to its rightful place in the party. The anti-Zia faction was centered in Karachi and led by Ghafur Ahmad. The Karachi Group, as they were called, argued that if the Jama‘at was to survive it would have to cultivate support, and that meant moving away from the purely ideological concerns which Mian Tufayl was using to keep the Jama‘at in Zia’s camp. The party had to find a recipe for success, one which was rooted less in ideology and more in pragmatic considerations. The Jama‘at, argued the Karachi Group, had no choice but to adopt a populist platform demanding democracy and socioeconomic justice.[39] They recognized the limits to Islam’s appeal in the face of socioeconomic, ethnic, and democratic demands. Islam could no longer undergird a successful political campaign. Religious politics had begun to ebb.

The size of the religious vote had increased in Zia’s time, but so had the number of parties which depended on it. While the Islamic vote was divided many-fold, the MRD, and later the Muhajir Qaumi Mahaz, were left to monopolize the relatively neglected secular constituency. The political fortunes of the Jama‘at, argued the Karachi Group, could be salvaged only if the party broke completely with the Zia regime, joined the MRD, and established contact with the People’s Party, the undisputed party of populism. The Jama‘at had always thrived on dissent, and therefore such a strategy had a certain appeal for a party which had for most of its existence been in the opposition. For some, democracy was as much a basis of the Jama‘at’s message as Islamization, and neither could satisfactorily exist without the other.[40]

The new approach provided a way of shifting ground without openly denouncing the ideological basis of the Jama‘at. It began now to preach that martial law was a worse evil than socialism, modernism, or the People’s Party.[41] The abrupt shift was not entirely convincing and opened the Jama‘at to the charge of inconsistency, but the reorientation was real.

Karachi was particularly receptive to these new ideas. The city has the largest concentration of Jama‘at members. In 1990 there were 1,100 members and 7,000 workers in Karachi.[42] They are ideologically the least rigid, the most clearly driven by the desire for success, and therefore the most willing to experiment with a pragmatic approach to politics, with which they have had considerable practice since they controlled the municipal government at the time. As opposition to Zia gained momentum, the Jama‘at’s leaders became more receptive to the views of the party’s Karachi members, especially as they were echoed by IJT students and workers across Pakistan. As a result, Mian Tufayl finally agreed to split with Zia and demand the restoration of the 1973 constitution—which the Jama‘at now accepted in the interests of denying Zia the opportunity to bog down the political process in lengthy constitutional debates—and the holding of party-based elections.[43]

The Karachi Group demanded more radical action. Contacts between the Jama‘at and the MRD had gone on since 1981, when one of the alliance’s founders, Sardar ‘Abdu’l-Qayyum, had invited the party to join its ranks and had been rebuffed by Mian Tufayl.[44] Three more meetings had taken place; they had had no tangible results, in large measure because of Mian Tufayl’s intransigence.[45]

The debate grew more intense when, after the elections, Zia turned over the government to the Muslim League, to replace the Jama‘at as the main pillar of his regime. The Jama‘at became an opposition party and was once again locked in rivalry with the League.

The Muslim League government was secular and wary of criticism from the religious quarter; it was also aware of the mischief that the Jama‘at and the IJT were capable of. The Jama‘at, the League believed, was Zia’s last line of defense against any challenges to his authority—the “B-team of the martial law” as the Pir Pagaro, the president of the Muslim League at the time, put it. The League hoped eventually to inherit power from Zia and to that end embarked upon a policy that involved putting civilian rule into place and asserting its autonomy from Zia. This was a bold strategy, which Zia would not take lightly, but before launching any campaign against Zia, the Muslim League had to neutralize the Jama‘at. It began by putting up its own student union, the Muslim Student Federation, against the IJT and undermining Jama‘at’s power base in Karachi, a city crucial to any successful antigovernment campaign.[46] In February 1987 the Sind ministry dissolved the Karachi municipal corporation, arresting Afghani and 101 other Jama‘at councilmen, and called for new municipal elections, which brought the MQM into power in that city. The MQM won the mayoralty of Karachi in January 1988.[47] But most damaging were the League’s propaganda attacks on the party. The Jama‘at was identified with the martial-law regime and as Zia’s most important ally just when it had decided to abandon both. The Pir Pagaro’s “B-team” showed the isolation that proximity to the Zia regime could produce and that the Karachi Group had warned against.

The Loss of Muhajir Support

The Muslim League’s anti-Jama‘at campaign was compounded by a more devastating development—the loss of the Karachi, Hyderabad, and the Muhajir vote to the MQM. The MQM had been founded by former members and affiliates of the IJT, and it initially drew support from the Jama‘at’s constituency among the Muhajirs. The Jama‘at’s leaders believed its meteoric rise to power could not have occurred without the approval of the armed forces,[48] and realized that Zia had engineered it to destroy their base in Sind.

Since the beginning of his rule, Zia had remained wary of rural Sind, where Bhutto still enjoyed a considerable following and which had shown little enthusiasm for Zia’s coup. He had sought to placate Sindhi landlords and ethnic parties by catering to their interests, which were often at odds with the demands of the Muhajirs. For instance, the controversial quota system in Sind put in place by Bhutto, which reserved prized bureaucratic positions for Sindhis to the detriment of the Muhajirs, was kept intact by Zia. Nor did the general do anything about the worsening social conditions in Karachi, which by 1986 had reduced many Muhajir neighborhoods to squalor. The Zia regime encouraged the rise in power of the Punjabi and Pathan communities of Karachi, in the form of the Punjabi-Pakhtun Ittihad (Punjabi-Pathan Alliance) party, which the Muhajirs also resented. Zia had turned a blind eye to the Pathans’ trade in contraband and narcotics, brought to Karachi from Afghanistan for export.[49] The Muhajirs’ frustrations erupted in the form of the anti-Pathan riots of 1986, which culminated in a protracted conflict between the MQM and the Punjabi-Pakhtun Ittihad, waged in Karachi well into 1990. Between 1979 and 1986, Zia had relied on Islamization and anti–People’s Party propaganda to keep the Muhajir community in check and had deputized the Jama‘at—with the help of the Punjabi-Pakhtun Ittihad in Punjabi and Pathan areas—to maintain order in Karachi. Not surprisingly, the Muhajirs grew resentful of the “Islamic” regime and its allies. The rise of Muhajir ethnic consciousness ended the Jama‘at’s control of Karachi politics and for the first time brought to light the grievances of the Muhajirs against the Zia regime.

Zia concluded that he needed a new political order in Karachi and other cities in Sind to supplant the Jama‘at and harness the political energies of the Muhajirs to his benefit. The organization of the MRD in 1981 had generated concern among Pakistan’s military leaders. While Sindhi landowners and the ethnic parties could be relied upon to keep the MRD out of rural Sind, the situation in Karachi was more complex. Wali Khan, the Pathan leader of the Awami National Party and a MRD stalwart who was opposed to the Afghan war and the Zia regime, was popular among Karachi’s sizable Pathan community. The inroads he made had led the People’s Party, which could also benefit from the restlessness of the Muhajir community, to action. When the 1985 elections proved that the Jama‘at no longer had the political power to keep the MRD out of Karachi and had developed doubts of its own about the Zia regime, the general decided that the Karachi-based MQM was a better choice for his support. Jama‘at leaders in fact claim that the army and the Sind ministry not only encouraged the MQM but also armed it.[50] Although it too had been organized by people with grievances against the Zia regime, it was still more hostile to the People’s Party and preoccupied as well with defeating its rivals—the Jama‘at, the Punjabi-Pakhtun Ittihad, and the MRD. The Muhajir-Pathan clashes in 1986 greatly benefited Zia as they pitted the Pathan supporters of Wali Khan and the MRD against the Muhajirs. What Zia did not realize was that the advent of the MQM gave the Jama‘at and the People’s Party a common cause. As the IJT was squeezed out of the campuses in Sind and the Jama‘at lost its base of support in Karachi, both found a natural ally in the People’s Party, which was also trying to make inroads into the MQM’s territory.[51]

The Reorientation of the Jama‘at

Mian Tufayl decided not to seek another term as amir of the Jama‘at-i Islami, and in October 1987 the party elected Qazi Husain in his stead. Qazi Husain was a populist who appealed to the pro-Zia faction, although he belonged to the Karachi Group. He had maintained close contacts with the Zia regime as the Jama‘at’s liaison with the army in the Afghan war, but more important, he had advocated joining the MRD as early as 1983. His election therefore indicated that the majority of Jama‘at members favored populism, democracy, and the break with Zia.

Following his election mandate, Qazi Husain lost no time in attacking feudalism and capitalism, demanding rights for the impoverished many, and pointing to the obligations of the wealthy few. The party’s activities were extended into the rural areas and among the urban underclass.[52] Qazi Husain’s populist agenda kept pace with the demands of the Karachi Group, which was greatly encouraged by the words and actions of their new leader, and it also provided a basis on which to approach the People’s Party.

Qazi Husain was openly against Zia, arguing that neither Islamization nor the Afghan war justified the abrogation of democracy in Pakistan.[53] He asserted that Zia’s Islamization measures paid lip service to Islam but Islamized none of the country’s judicial, bureaucratic, or political structures. Pakistan’s political predicament could be solved only by ending martial rule, not by promulgating the shari‘at bill,[54] which had taken effect on June 15, 1988, replacing most of the existing legal code with injunctions from the shari‘ah. Zia’s persistence in using Islam to justify martial rule had hurt the cause of Islam in Pakistan.[55] The Jama‘at therefore had refused even to participate in the discussions on either the shari‘at bill before it was passed, or the eighth amendment to the constitution, which would vest greater powers in the president. On June 16, 1988, a day after the bill took effect, the Jama‘at’s secretariat issued a statement in Lahore signed by nine of the Jama‘at’s senior leaders, which criticized the bill for paying superficial lip service to Islam and deplored Zia’s use of Islam for political ends.[56] Although the final draft of the shari‘at bill was similar to Jama‘at’s own earlier proposals and the party had originally favored it, it rejected the bill outright on the grounds that it did not address popular concerns and was meaningless so long as the anglicized legal system remained the same.[57] Nor was criticism of the shari‘at bill limited to Qazi Husain and the leaders of the Karachi Group; it was also voiced by many Jama‘at leaders in Punjab, including Mian Tufayl.

Qazi Husain then attacked the military regime at its foundations. Fear of Soviet encroachment in South Asia and the jihad that was mounted to counter it had been critical to Zia’s survival. Aware of all this, Qazi Husain claimed that Pakistan’s Afghan policy had originally been conceived by Bhutto.[58] He also claimed that the Jama‘at was open to cooperation with all political forces and particularly wished to end its “cold war” with the People’s Party.[59] He had himself laid the foundations for discussions with the People’s Party in two meetings with the MRD emissary, Faruq Laghari. During those meetings the MRD had invited the Jama‘at to join its ranks, and Qazi Husain had favored accepting that invitation. Despite pressures exerted by the Karachi Group, whose views were aired through the editorials of the Jama‘at daily Jasarat, Mian Tufayl had barred the party from contemplating such a move. After 1987, with Mian Tufayl out of the way and the greater possibility of elections in 1988, the Karachi Group and the new amir made another bid for joining the MRD. The new initiative was prompted by the dismissal of Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo and the dissolution of the assemblies on May 29, 1988, which the Karachi Group interpreted as the recrudescence of martial rule.

The People’s Party was eager to secure the Jama‘at’s support. Elections were expected, and it was deemed important for the MRD to represent as wide a spectrum of parties as possible. Moreover, the Jama‘at had been the People’s Party’s staunchest opponent throughout the 1970s and was closely associated with Zia. Winning over the Jama‘at, therefore, had symbolic significance for the MRD. The People’s Party was also aware of the Jama‘at’s street power and wished to neutralize the party’s potential opposition to the MRD’s own campaign and possibly to solicit the Jama‘at’s help in mounting a more effective one.[60]

In June 1988, Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the MRD, met with Ghafur Ahmad of the Jama‘at in Karachi. This meeting resulted in an understanding between the MRD and the Jama‘at and was followed by a second more formal meeting. The purpose of this second meeting was to agree that the next elections would be party-based, held within ninety days, and governed by the People’s Party–PNA agreement of July 1977,[61] which incorporated a plan to conduct elections without the Registrations Law and provided for an autonomous election commission to oversee them. The three-point agreement was to serve as the basis for a common electoral platform which would induct the Jama‘at into the MRD. Some say that the negotiations also involved a discussion of the distribution of candidates, with the Jama‘at asking for 30 percent of the MRD’s slate.

The Benazir-Ghafur meetings were followed by two meetings between Qazi Husain and Laghari in Lahore, the second of which occurred in September 1988. Meanwhile, Ghafur Ahmad asked the shura’ for a ruling which would convert the agreements reached by him into political directives. The shura’, whose members were mainly from Punjab and North-West Frontier Province, was not eager to cooperate with the MRD, especially since it was led by a woman. Nor had they been as antagonistic toward Zia. Despite the intercession of the amir, the members deadlocked. The Jama‘at put forth a new condition for continuing association with the MRD: its political platform had to include a demand for the “creation of an Islamic order.”

Senior Jama‘at leaders led by Mian Tufayl now began to lobby against joining the MRD, assisted by a host of right-of-center writers, statesmen, and intellectuals, none of whom were Jama‘at members and many of whom were affiliates of the Muslim League, who though they had always denounced the Jama‘at’s ideological convictions, suddenly began to complain that it had forsaken them. An array of publications began to pressure the Jama‘at to revert to its ideological fervor and forego the agreement with the MRD. Although they were foes of the People’s Party, Zia was not altogether uninvolved in encouraging this sudden concern for the Jama‘at’s ideological fidelity. Leading those criticizing the Jama‘at was the pro-Jama‘at journalist and close adviser to Zia, Muhammad Salahu’ddin, through whom Zia managed to encourage a split in the party.[62] Salahu’ddin, an opponent of the People’s Party, was particularly vociferous in his criticism of Ghafur Ahmad and the Jama‘at’s new policy. Possibly prompted by Zia, he reminded the party’s leaders of the excesses of the Bhutto government, of the People’s Party’s secular approach to politics, and of the suffering the Jama‘at and the IJT had endured under that party’s rule.[63] Citing Mawdudi’s often-quoted statement that the “Jama‘at-i Islami is not only a political party, but also an ideological one,”[64] Salahu’ddin also told Jama‘at leaders that their political instincts were drowning out their religious sensibilities and that the party was turning its back on its ideological heritage. An alliance with the MRD, warned Salahu’ddin, would turn the Jama‘at into a party with no principles and no ideological mainstay; it would be the end of the Jama‘at.

Takbir, Salahu’ddin’s magazine, has always been popular and influential with Jama‘at members and supporters across Pakistan as the party’s semiofficial but independent organ and a forum for the Jama‘at and other right-of-center groups. It is an important part of the Jama‘at’s propaganda machine and, until the People’s Party alliance, had never been openly at odds with the party’s leaders. Salahu’ddin’s editorials were therefore particularly effective in casting doubts among rank-and-file members regarding the propriety of the Jama‘at’s new strategy, and they undermined its leaders both in Karachi, which was initially in favor of Ghafur Ahmad’s position, and in Punjab, where Zia enjoyed a good following among Jama‘at members. Takbir’s campaign was particularly influential because the shura’ had postponed any decision on what action to take until a poll of the rank-and-file members had been tallied. In Karachi, pro–Ghafur Jama‘at workers responded to Salahu’ddin’s criticism by demonstrating outside the offices of Takbir, where they burned copies of the magazine. In Lahore the party’s publications bureau reprimanded Salahu’ddin, to show the Jama‘at’s annoyance at his interference with party authority.

Although the Lahore Group agreed with Salahu’ddin, it was compelled to close ranks with the Karachi Group lest the Jama‘at’s internal disputes become public. The Jama‘at’s secretariat defended Ghafur Ahmad, arguing that he had met Benazir Bhutto as an emissary of the amir and as part of the Jama‘at’s routine contacts with the leaders of various political parties. The Jama‘at was, however, clearly on the defensive, not only because the general public had been alerted to its rapprochement with the erstwhile enemy but also because Salahu’ddin had cast the new changes in an unsavory light. The implications of the charge of inconsistency and the propaganda war that surrounded it were serious, especially in North-West Frontier Province and Punjab, where followers of the Jama‘at are from small towns and rural areas and are more ideologically oriented. Radical change, especially in light of Takbir’s successful propaganda campaign, was no longer possible. The turn of events, moreover, had proved to the Jama‘at that it could not switch gears too radically without jeopardizing its traditional base of support. It had to chart its course more judiciously.

The attempts of the Jama‘at, and the Karachi Group in particular, to provide a more balanced mix of ideology and pragmatism and to replace commitment to Islamization with greater populism had been effectively checked. While some continued to press for joining the MRD, the Lahore Group resisted it. The Jama‘at began to renege on its agreements with the MRD. Discipline within the Jama‘at had grown lax, opening up the internal debates of the party to public scrutiny. Qazi Husain sought to restore party unity by denouncing Zia for undermining the People’s Party–PNA talks, for his excessive reliance on the United States, for promoting corruption in Pakistan, for creating ethnic dissension in Sind, and for sowing discord among Pakistani political parties.[65]Jasarat elaborated further on these themes and, taking its cue from Qazi Husain, stepped up its anti-Zia rhetoric throughout the summer of 1988. Zia was criticized for killing demonstrators in Karachi in 1986, for his anti-Shi‘ism, and for his sleight of hand in using the shari‘at bill to oust Junejo from office. He had used the excuse that Junejo had been reluctant to promulgate a shari‘at bill to dismiss the government, and then proceeded to promulgate a shari‘at bill of his own to obfuscate his constitutionally suspect ouster of the prime minister. “Nothing good came of the rule of the anglicized army officer, whose Islamic convictions were skin deep,” Qazi Husain remarked.[66]

This escalation of attacks against Zia went hand in hand with distancing the Jama‘at from the MRD. After three tumultuous meetings, the Jama‘at’s shura’ finally rejected the MRD option.[67] Faced with this decision, the party reaffirmed its ideological priorities and established limits to how much it could compromise on issues of principle. It would adopt a more cautious approach to pragmatic politics. Discord, however, continued to reign in the party.

Zia died in a plane crash on August 17, 1988, and this event abruptly altered the political scene. The subsequent democratization of Pakistani politics opened new vistas to the party and posed new questions to its leaders. Martial rule ceased to exist, but its departure only highlighted the fundamental problems of the Jama‘at’s religiopolitical agenda. Once Pakistani politics found new life in the post-Zia period, the same considerations that had compelled the party’s move to populism reappeared. Political expedience forced the party to search once more for an acceptable and politically meaningful equilibrium between commitment to Islamization and pursuit of political interests, which would at the same time retain the support of the religiously conscious electorate and permit the party to expand its base.


1. Chatan (November 15, 1989): 19. [BACK]

2. For a discussion of inclusionary corporatism, see Alfred Stephan, The State and Society: Peru in Comparative Perspective (Princeton, 1978), and Shahrough Akhavi, “Shi‘ism, Corporatism, and Rentierism in the Iranian Revolution,” in Juan R. I. Cole, ed., Comparing Muslim Societies: Knowledge and the State in a World Civilization (Ann Arbor, 1992), 261–93. [BACK]

3. ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad, Pher Martial Law A-Giya (Lahore, 1988). General Chishti argues that as the government became desperate it turned to the military and that the coup was planned with Bhutto’s knowledge. See Lt. General Faiz Ali Chishti, Betrayals of Another Kind: Islam, Democracy, and the Army in Pakistan (Cincinnati, 1990), 66–69. Kawthar Niyazi of the People’s Party also says that by March Bhutto had begun to turn to the military for advice and support and a military crackdown had been discussed on numerous occasions; Kausar Niazi, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan: The Last Days (New Delhi, 1992), 79–88, and 163–70. This view was also supported by Ghulam Mustafa Khar in interview. [BACK]

4. Interviews with Malik Ghulam ‘Ali, ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad, and Mahmud A‘zam Faruqi. [BACK]

5. Chishti, Betrayals, 16. [BACK]

6. Interview with Khurshid Ahmad. [BACK]

7. Cited in Sarwat Saulat, Maulana Maududi (Karachi, 1979), 101. [BACK]

8. U. S. Embassy, Islamabad, disp. #7789, 7/11/1979, DFTUSED, no. 45, 99–100. [BACK]

9. Interview with ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad and Sardar Shairbaz Khan Mazari. [BACK]

10. See Mian Tufayl Muhammad, “General Zia ul-Haq Shaheed,” in Shaheed ul-Islam: Muhammad Zia ul-Haq (London, 1990), 46–47. [BACK]

11. The possibility of a strong showing by the People’s Party in the elections was taken seriously. Mufti Mahmud of the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam, for instance, went to great pains to attack the People’s Party’s record in office and to underline Islam’s prohibition against rule by women in order to dampen enthusiasm for the People’s Party, which was at this time led by Benazir Bhutto and Begum Nusrat Bhutto; U. S. Embassy, Islamabad, disp. #7502, 7/3/1979, DFTUSED, no. 45, 83–84. [BACK]

12. Saulat, Maulana Maududi, 101. [BACK]

13. Interview with Mian Tufayl Muhammad in Takbir (November 16, 1989): 55–56. [BACK]

14. Interview with Mawdudi in Asia (September 4, 1977): 4–5. [BACK]

15. These posts were filled by Ghafur Ahmad, Chaudhri Rahmat Ilahi, and Mahmud A‘zam Faruqi, respectively. The first two were deputy amirs and the third was amir of Karachi at the time. [BACK]

16. Mawdudi was, putatively, opposed to the Jama‘at’s joining the government, believing that the party would compromise its individuality; interview with Khwajah Amanu’llah. [BACK]

17. Interview with Mian Tufayl in Takbir (November 16, 1989): 55. [BACK]

18. U. S. Embassy, Islamabad, disp. #8356, 7/25/1979, DFTUSED, no. 46, 15–19. [BACK]

19. The contents of this deal were discussed by Mufti Mahmud with U. S. Embassy officials; U. S. Embassy, Islamabad, disp. #1449, 10/14/1979, DFTUSED, no. 46, 80–82. [BACK]

20. Cited in Nawa’-i Waqt (October 25, 1978): 1. [BACK]

21. Zia had favored holding municipal elections before national elections, hoping to satiate the appetite for elections without paving the way for handing over power to civilians. The PNA had objected, arguing that the results could be used to postpone national elections; U. S. Embassy, Islamabad, disp. #5223/01–02, 5/7/1979, DFTUSED, no. 45, 56–59. [BACK]

22. ISIT(2), 41. [BACK]

23. In 1986 the Jama‘at won in the Karachi municipal elections again. This time it won 36 percent (85 out of 232) of the seats, thus retaining hold over the mayoralty of the city. [BACK]

24. ISIT(2), 41. [BACK]

25. Interviews with Mian Tufayl, Chaudhri Rahmat Ilahi, Mahmud A‘zam Faruqi, and ‘Abdu’l-Ghafur Ahmad. Also see Siraj Munir, “Azadi ka Ik Nia Mur,” Urdu Digest (August 1988): 211–17. [BACK]

26. These talks were given on March 8 and 10, and April 7 and 8, 1978. They were subsequently published as Sayyid Abu’l-A‘la Mawdudi, System of Government under the Holy Prophet (Lahore, 1978). [BACK]

27. Interview with Khurshid Ahmad. [BACK]

28. ISIT(2), 43–44. [BACK]

29. Ibid, 47. [BACK]

30. Ibid, 76–77. [BACK]

31. Interviews with Mahmud A‘zam Faruqi and Sayyid Munawwar Hasan. [BACK]

32. Khurram Badr, Qazi Husain Ahmad (Karachi, 1988), 70–71. [BACK]

33. The benefits from involvement in the Afghan jihad led the party to become directly involved in other Islamic causes. The Jama‘at has actively aided separatist forces in Kashmir since 1989 and provided support to Muslim forces opposing the restoration of the Communist government in Tajikistan in 1993; see Herald (February 1993): 29. [BACK]

34. Amiru’l-‘Azim, “Talabah Huquq Bihali ki Jadd’u Jahd,” TT, vol. 2, 357–63. [BACK]

35. Interview with Mian Tufayl. [BACK]

36. Ibid. [BACK]

37. The breakdown of these thirteen seats was as follows: two from Punjab (Sargodha and Liyah); five from North-West Frontier Province (Dir three, Mardan and Swat one); five from Sind (all in Karachi); and one from Baluchistan (Turbat); Report on General Elections, 1985 (Islamabad, n.d.), vol. 3. [BACK]

38. Interview with Mian Tufayl. [BACK]

39. Interview with Khurram Murad in Awaz-i Jahan (November 1989): 10. [BACK]

40. Interview with Malik Ghulam ‘Ali. [BACK]

41. See, for instance, Jasarat (March 10, 1990): 6. [BACK]

42. Information provided by the Jama‘at-i Islami of Karachi. [BACK]

43. Sayyid As‘ad Gilani, a senior Jama‘at leader, has gone so far as to refer to Zia as “one who sows discord among Muslims” (munafiq)—a title reserved for the enemies of the Prophet during the early years of Islam—and to chastise Mian Tufayl for his tendency to side with authoritarian regimes. See interview with Gilani in Nida (April 17, 1990): 14–15. [BACK]

44. Mujibu’l-Rahman Shami, “Jama‘at-i Islami Awr Peoples Party: Fasilah Awr Rabitah, Ik Musalsal Kahani,” Qaumi Digest 11, 2 (July, 1988): 22. [BACK]

45. These meetings occurred in 1982 and again in 1984 between Qazi Husain Ahmad (the secretary-general of the Jama‘at at the time) and Faruq Laghari (the secretary-general of the Pakistan People’s Party) in Lahore, and between Ghafur Ahmad and Piar ‘Ali Alana of the People’s Party in Karachi, also in 1984; Takbir (July 14, 1988): 5. [BACK]

46. It was in this context, allege the Jama‘at’s leaders, that the chief minister of Sind, Ghaws ‘Ali Shah, actively supported the MQM—if not actually creating it—to undermine the Jama‘at; Takbir (July 7, 1988): 12–13. [BACK]

47. The Jama‘at won 20 out of the 232 seats on the Karachi Municipal Corporation, down to 8.6 percent from 36.6 percent in 1983. Figures provided by the Jama‘at-i Islami of Karachi. [BACK]

48. Badr, Qazi, 85–86; and Shami, “Jama‘at-i Islami,” 21. [BACK]

49. Farida Shaheed, “The Pathan-Muhajir Conflict, 1985–1986: A National Perspective,” in Veena Das, ed., Mirrors of Violence: Communities, Riots, and Survivors in South Asia (Delhi, 1990), 194–214. [BACK]

50. Interviews with Ghafur Ahmad and Mahmud A‘zam Faruqi. [BACK]

51. Interview with Faruqi. [BACK]

52. Chatan (November 15, 1989): 19. [BACK]

53. Interview with Ghafur Ahmad in Takbir (July 7, 1988): 15–19. [BACK]

54. Ibid, 16. The bill was designed to enforce the shari‘at ordinance which had been promulgated earlier. For a discussion of debates surrounding the bill and the Jama‘at’s position in them, see Charles H. Kennedy, “Judicial Activism and Islamization after Zia: Toward the Prohibition of Riba,” in Charles H. Kennedy, ed., Pakistan 1992 (Boulder, 1993), 60–64. [BACK]

55. Badr, Qazi, 81–84, and Takbir (July 7, 1988): 15–19. [BACK]

56. Takbir (June 30, 1988): 12. [BACK]

57. Badr, Qazi, 97; Munir, “Azadi,” 211–17. The Jama‘at was, moreover, quick to point out that it would not look favorably upon the postponement of future elections on account of the shari‘at bill; interview with Qazi Husain in Takbir (June 30, 1988): 11–14. [BACK]

58. Badr, Qazi, 83. [BACK]

59. Ibid., 84–96. [BACK]

60. Interview with Sardar Shairbaz. The interviewee was present at the first Ghafur-Benazir meetings. [BACK]

61. Cited in Takbir (June 23, 1988): 24. [BACK]

62. Both Mian Tufayl and Na‘im Siddiqi hinted that Muhammad Salahu’ddin was prompted to criticize Ghafur Ahmad by General Zia; see Takbir (June 23, 1988): 24. Also see Akhlaqi Jang (March 29, 1990): 23. [BACK]

63. Takbir (June 23, 1988; July 14, 1988; July 21, 1988). [BACK]

64. Takbir (July 14, 1988): 7. [BACK]

65. Qazi Husain charged that Zia had encouraged Asghar Khan, the leader of Tahrik-i Istiqlal, to travel to Iran in 1977, where the Shah had persuaded the retired air marshal to part ways with the PNA; Akhlaqi Jang (March 29, 1990): 20–23, and Jasarat (June 18, 1988 and June 19, 1988). [BACK]

66. Jasarat (June 3, 1988): 2 and (June 18, 1988; June 19, 1988): 4. [BACK]

67. Interview with Khurshid Ahmad. [BACK]

10. The Rebirth of Democracy, 1988–1993

With Zia, and a number of army leaders who were also killed in the crash, out of the picture, the armed forces were thrown into confusion. The balance of power shifted to the People’s Party, which counted on the elections, scheduled for November 1988, to allow it to take over the government. It therefore saw no further need for the MRD and dissolved the alliance. It would contest the elections alone. This made any debate about joining the MRD moot: “The final decision to keep the Jama‘at out of MRD was taken not by the shura’, but by the People’s Party.”[1]

The dissolution of the MRD did not, however, end the Jama‘at’s trouble because the party was clearly unprepared to contest any elections on its own. Since 1970 the Jama‘at had participated in national elections only as part of a larger coalition, which had allowed it to project its power more effectively than would otherwise have been possible. It had lost its Muhajir support, and its popularity had plummeted as a result of its association with Zia. It was ill-equipped to stand on its own, all the more so as it soon became apparent that the elections of 1988 would pit the People’s Party against a cluster of pro-Zia candidates.

The solution was found in the Islami Jumhuri Ittihad (IJI, Islamic Democratic Alliance), a coalition put together soon after Zia’s death at the behest of the armed forces and the Inter-Services Intelligence, which had managed the Afghan war since the early years of the Zia regime. The IJI consisted of right-of-center and Islamic parties, the most important of which was the Muslim League. They had in common a hostility to the People’s Party and a vested interest in the policies of the Zia regime. The military and intelligence establishments had their own reasons for wishing to keep the People’s Party out of power, including protecting the power they had gained under Zia, a vested interest in the continuation of the Afghan war, and apprehension over Benazir Bhutto’s vengeance for the execution of her father. Only a strong national coalition rooted in Islam and support for Zia could challenge the People’s Party. The Jama‘at had strong Islamic credentials and was an obvious addition to such an alliance. Considerable pressure was brought to bear on it to join up. Qazi Husain opposed joining the IJI until he was approached by the Inter-Services Intelligence; then with no counteroffers forthcoming from the People’s Party he capitulated. The matter was put before the shura’.

There were several issues at stake in the decision. Many among the Karachi Group were not willing to join an alliance with the Muslim League, a party of landowners and the propertied elite, the very groups Qazi Husain had vowed to topple. The memory of repression by the People’s Party in the 1970s was by then far less compelling than more recent battles with the League governments in Karachi and Islamabad. It was unlikely that the League had grown more friendly; it was likely to continue harassing the Jama‘at despite any alliance. Qazi Husain and his circle argued that joining the IJI would in the end prove to be a setback for their long-run political objectives. As convincing as their argument may have been, they could not produce a viable alternative other than not contesting the elections at all, which the Jama‘at was not willing to countenance—or contesting them alone, which meant humiliating defeat.[2] Meanwhile, the intelligence service’s anti–People’s Party propaganda campaign, stirring up memories of Bhutto’s “reign of terror” in the 1970s and exhorting Islamic groups to defend the gains made under Zia and the Afghan war, had struck a receptive chord, especially as the People’s Party failed to bury the hatchet with the Islamic parties.

Zia had become a far more popular figure dead than he had been alive. The sympathy and admiration that emerged for him among the right-wing voters in the country was politically compelling. Even the Karachi Group, which was eager to distance the Jama‘at from Zia, saw that joining an alliance to continue Zia’s legacy was not an impolitic option. The rank and file had also begun to pressure their leaders to join the alliance. As a result, the position of Qazi Husain and the Karachi Group was undermined, and they agreed to join the IJI.

The Jama‘at now had to figure out how to enter into an alliance supporting Zia’s legacy after having spent the preceding three months denouncing it and him. They solved the problem by talking about the Afghan war instead, and about the common goals which the Jama‘at and the armed forces shared regarding its conduct. By justifying its entry into the IJI solely in terms of defending the war in Afghanistan, the Jama‘at hoped it would avoid the embarrassment of openly going back on its words,[3] though it gradually referred more frequently to Zia’s Islamization measures as the basis for its continued participation in the IJI. Anti–People’s Party propaganda was also increased, so it could argue that it was choosing the lesser of two evils.

Mian Nawaz Sharif played a major role in the decision to join the IJI. He had been a prominent Muslim Leaguer and chief minister of Punjab during the Zia period, a position he held until he became prime minister in 1990. He had been a close ally of Zia and defended him even when the general dismissed the Muslim League government in 1988. The Inter-Services Intelligence had managed to broker a truce between Sharif and his fellow Muslim Leaguers, who had broken with him over his support of Zia, but his position in the League remained shaky. Challenged by Junejo and his allies in Punjab, Sharif turned to the Jama‘at for support. The same pro-Jama‘at writers, political analysts, and journalists who had served as Zia’s advisers—Muhammad Salahu’ddin, Altaf Hasan Quraishi, and Mujibu’l-Rahman Shami—were now inducted into Sharif’s inner circle, as were a number of erstwhile IJT votaries, the most notable of whom was Husain Haqqani. Jama‘at members viewed Sharif as a breed apart from other Muslim Leaguers because he had been personally close to Zia and reached an understanding with him, and he was known to be devout.[4]

16. Results of the 1988 National Assembly Elections for the Jama‘at-i Islami
  Punjab NWFP Sind Baluchistan Total
Source: Election Bureau of the Jama‘at-i Islami.
Seats contested 14 4 8 0 26
Seats won 5 2 0 0 7
Special women’s seats 1 0 0 0 1
Total seats 6 2 0 0 8
Total votes received 620,952 88,840 100,520 0 810,312
Average votes per candidate 44,354 22,210 12,565 0 31,165
17. Votes Received by the Jama‘at-i Islami in the 1988 National Assembly Elections
  Votes Received Total Votes Cast Votes Received by Closest Rival Party of Closest Rival
Source: Tariq Isma‘il, Election ’88 (Lahore, 1989).
Swat 16,639 67,669 16,149 Not stated
Dir 35,288 74,643 28,974 Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)
Rawalpindi 61,188 139,142 39,294 Independent
Sargodha 65,210 125,581 57,351 PPP
Gujrat 32,827 86,465 31,125 PPP
Lahore 51,764 108,382 47,908 PPP
Darah Ghazi Khan 60,297 120,234 45,590 PPP

As a result of the negotiations which organized the IJI, Ghafur Ahmad became the alliance’s secretary-general, and the Jama‘at was given twenty-six national tickets and forty-four provincial ones. The Jama‘at won eight National Assembly seats, one of which was reserved for women only; and thirteen provincial assembly seats, two of which were reserved for women (see tables 16–19). These seats, fixed in number, are distributed after the elections based on the vote of the assemblies. The Jama‘at had won only 26.9 percent of the National Assembly seats and 25 percent of provincial seats it contested, the weakest showing of the IJI parties.

18. Results of the 1988 Provincial Assembly Elections for the Jama‘at-i Islami
  Punjab NWFP Sind Baluchistan Total
Source: Election Bureau of Jama‘at-i Islami.
Seats contested 20 14 9 1 44
Seats won 5 6 0 0 11
Special women’s seats 1 1 0 0 2
Total seats 6 7 0 0 13
Total votes received 327,617 93,826 36,537 1,185 459,165
Average votes per candidate 16,380 6,700 4,059 1,185 10,435
19. Votes Received by the Jama‘at-i Islami in the 1988 Provincial Assembly Elections
  Votes Received Total Votes Cast Votes Received by Closest Rival Party of Closest Rival
Source: Tariq Isma‘il, Election ’88 (Lahore, 1989).
Swat 7,649 24,592 5,284 Independent
Swat 5,542 18,448 2,856 Awami National Party (ANP)
Dir 7,098 14,334 5,852 Independent
Dir 11,324 24,049 11,067 Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)
Dir 6,767 16,317 5,930 ANP
Dir 9,363 23,034 4,156 Independent
Rawalpindi 27,452 67,149 23,559 PPP
Khushab 32,452 64,632 24,580 PPP
Faisalabad 22,836 48,069 22,549 PPP
Lahore 26,729 59,424 25,864 PPP
Liyah 26,438 67,832 14,940 Independent

The elections tilted the advantage within the party in favor of the pro-IJI Lahore Group. With the MQM’s total victory in Karachi, all of the party’s national and provincial seats came from the pro-Zia and pro-IJI North-West Frontier Province and Punjab. Meanwhile, with the blessing of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Sharif, who was able to retain control of Punjab despite the People’s Party’s solid electoral showings, became the leader of the IJI.

The People’s Party Government

After the elections, the People’s Party took over the central government and the ministries of the North-West Frontier Province and Sind, and the IJI took over the ministry of Punjab. Since neither the People’s Party nor the IJI had stable majorities, parliamentary intrigues directed at toppling both the central government and the various provincial ministries soon followed. The resulting intrigues replaced the time-honored agitational style of dissent in Pakistan and took politics off the streets—where the Jama‘at was most effective—and into the national and provincial assemblies, where it was weakest. The party therefore found itself increasingly marginalized and irrelevant. Consequently, there was concern over the party’s future once again as the Jama‘at began to ponder ways to break out of this impasse.

In the long run, the Jama‘at had to become better represented in parliament to improve its political standing; in the short run it had to find a way to project its power sufficiently to remain influential. Obviously the IJI would not be useful for this, and in any case not all the members were reconciled to their membership in the IJI because the Muslim League dominated the alliance.[5] Their connection with it was restricted to Nawaz Sharif, whose own position in Punjab in 1988–89 was by no means certain. He was under attack from the People’s Party, which was trying to engineer a vote of no confidence against him in the Punjab assembly, and from Muslim League leaders, who were controlled by Junejo and favored a break with the Jama‘at. Meanwhile, attacks by the Muslim Student Federation on the IJT escalated, and the unchecked rivalry between the two became a source of grave concern for IJI leaders.[6]

As eager as it may have been to find a viable alternative, the Jama‘at could not easily break with the IJI. The posthumous popularity of Zia which was manifest at the commemoration of the first anniversary of his death on August 17, 1989, in Islamabad restricted its maneuverability, especially since the Jama‘at’s own members displayed the same sentiments. During the speeches of the Jama‘at’s leaders at their open convention in Lahore in November 1989, for example, the crowd continually interrupted the speakers, to their annoyance, by chants of “mard-i haq, Zia ul-Haq (man of truth, Zia ul-Haq).” The party therefore began to equivocate, criticizing the IJI but at the same time supporting Nawaz Sharif.[7]

The relations between the Jama‘at and the IJI worsened in October 1989 when the MQM, which had formed an alliance with the People’s Party after the elections, decided to go its own way. Eager to add the fourteen MQM National Assembly votes to the opposition, and in the process, to secure a base in Karachi, the IJI began to woo the MQM. After securing considerable concessions from Nawaz Sharif, in November 1989 the MQM threw in its lot with the opposition, anticipating that it could topple the People’s Party government through a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly. Cooperation with the MQM, which now played the role of the IJI’s representative in Sind, brought relations between the IJI and the Jama‘at to the brink of collapse. The Jama‘at-i Islami of Karachi was offended because the IJI-MQM negotiations had been conducted without consulting them and without securing from the MQM any concessions that would benefit the Jama‘at.[8]

The IJI-MQM alliance signaled to the Jama‘at that Nawaz Sharif was following in Zia’s footsteps and building a power base detrimental to the Jama‘at’s interests. Nawaz Sharif, they decided, had merely been paying lip service to Islam; he was really looking for a coalition between the Muslim League’s landed elite and the provincial and ethnic parties, to sustain his power. The Jama‘at would then be sidelined by the MQM and the other parties. The more the IJI consolidated its relations with its ethnic and provincial partners, the more the Jama‘at would become estranged from the alliance.

The Jama‘at’s disaffection with the IJI first manifested itself in November 1989, when Benazir Bhutto’s government set out to secure the Jama‘at’s cooperation and thereby deny Nawaz Sharif his street power and political workers, especially in Punjab. To that end, she was considering calling for elections; and for a government preoccupied with averting a vote of no confidence, the Jama‘at’s eight votes in the National Assembly could be useful. The Jama‘at could also provide the government with much-needed Islamic legitimacy, which would in turn weaken the seemingly unified pro-Zia political camp.

Early in November the Jama‘at’s old foe, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, along with a veteran of the IJT-People’s Student Federation clashes of the late 1960s, Jahangir Badr—both People’s Party stalwarts—met separately with Qazi Husain and Liaqat Baluch in Lahore. They said that Benazir Bhutto was making headway in winning over key leaders of the Muslim League of Punjab, and if she succeeded, Nawaz Sharif would fall. It would be to the Jama‘at’s benefit to reach an agreement with the People’s Party while the party still had a good bargaining position; otherwise, “it would be buried along with Nawaz Sharif.”[9] The Jama‘at considered the People’s Party’s offer seriously, especially after the government survived a vote of no confidence and appeared to be gaining strength; and it asked for concrete proposals from the People’s Party.

On February 1, 1990, Qazi Husain met with N. D. Khan, the deputy secretary-general of the People’s Party. On February 18 Khan met with Ghafur Ahmad, who gave him messages of advice for Benazir Bhutto and the People’s Party chief minister of Sind, Qa’im ‘Ali Shah, regarding the deteriorating law and order in Sind.[10] Khan and Ahmad reached no agreement. The Jama‘at did acknowledge that in principle it might cooperate with the People’s Party, but it then stipulated conditions for cooperation which the People’s Party could not possibly agree to. It also made the conditions public: the People’s Party had to change its policy in Sind, alter its foreign policy, agree to calling Pakistan an Islamic state, establish an Islamic order, and change its leadership by eliminating Benazir Bhutto, Begum Nusrat Bhutto, Ghulam Mustafa Khar, and Mukhtar A‘wan, the first two because they were women—although the Jama‘at had supported the candidacy of Fatimah Jinnah in her bid for the presidency—and the second two “for their atrocities against the Jama‘at and the Jami‘at.”[11] Their candidates to replace Benazir Bhutto were Mi‘raj Khalid, Faruq Laghari, or Amin Fahim.[12] Khalid was the speaker of the National Assembly and the other two were cabinet members. Not surprisingly, these conditions ended any possibility of serious negotiations for the moment.

The possibility reappeared in March 1990 when the IJI, having failed to unseat Benazir Bhutto, encouraged the army to overthrow the government. A shura’ meeting in the first week of March passed a resolution criticizing the move and advising the amir to pull the party out of the IJI.[13] On March 6, Qazi Husain announced that the Jama‘at was in full agreement with Benazir Bhutto’s policy of defending the independence movement in Kashmir. If the Afghan war permitted the Jama‘at to join the IJI without losing face, the Kashmir crisis allowed it to back out again with its dignity intact.

The warming between the Jama‘at and the People’s Party, however, came to naught. The government was being accused of corruption and mismanagement by the IJI and began to lose popular support. Little could be gained from siding with it. The Jama‘at, therefore, found it prudent to wait. The government was ousted on August 6 when the president, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, citing rampant corruption and mismanagement in government circles, instability in Sind, and the deleterious effects of horse-trading—whereby parliament representatives would switch party allegiances for financial compensation—dissolved the national and provincial assemblies, dismissed the People’s Party government, and called for fresh elections in October 1990.

The Elections of 1990 and the IJI Government

When it became obvious that Benazir Bhutto would not be returned to office, the Jama‘at decided to remain with the IJI, which was expected to form the next government. Overnight it once more became a dedicated member of the IJI and enthusiastically rejoined the alliance. Between August and October the Jama‘at provided the IJI with workers and political support and whipped up popular passions against the People’s Party and its main source of foreign support, the United States. The Jama‘at was not welcomed back to the IJI’s fold with much enthusiasm. It was given eighteen National Assembly tickets, eight fewer than in 1988, and thirty-seven provincial tickets, seven fewer than in 1988. Islam did not play a central role in determining the outcome of the elections, another mark of the Jama‘at’s diminishing value for the IJI. The Jama‘at had insisted on challenging the MQM in Sind. The IJI was reluctant to oblige, for theoretically such a move would pit pro-IJI candidates against one another to the advantage of the People’s Party, but the Jama‘at persisted and finally received six of its national tickets and eleven of its provincial ones in Sind,[14] all of which were lost to the MQM. The rout of the Jama‘at in Sind, which showed the power of ethnic over Islamic sentiments, justified the IJI’s turn to ethnic and provincial parties to bolster its power base.

20. Seats Contested and Won by the Jama‘at-i Islami in the 1990 Elections
  Punjab NWFP Sind Baluchistan Total
Source: Election Bureau of the Jama‘at-i Islami.
National Assembly seats contested 7 4 6 1 18
National Assembly seats won 7[a] 1[b] 0 0 8
Provincial Assembly seats contested 14 12 11 0 37
Provincial Assembly seats won 12[c] 8[d] 0 0 20

The Jama‘at won only 3 percent of the popular vote (640,000) in the elections to the National Assembly, and 4 percent, 3 percent, and 0.8 percent of the vote in the provincial assembly elections in the North-West Frontier Province, Punjab, and Sind, respectively.[15] Although running for fewer seats, the Jama‘at did better in these elections than in 1988 (see table 20). It won eight out of eighteen contested national seats (as opposed to seven out of twenty-six in 1988), and twenty out of thirty-seven contested provincial seats (as opposed to eleven out of forty-four in 1988). The Jama‘at’s ratio of elected members to tickets contested was improved to 44 percent and 54 percent for the National and Provincial Assembly races respectively. The Jama‘at did especially well in Punjab, where it won all of the seven National Assembly seats it contested, and twelve of the fourteen provincial tickets it was assigned. Although the improvement was a result of the IJI’s soaring popularity, it nonetheless boosted Jama‘at’s morale.

Despite its wholehearted support for the alliance with the IJI during the elections, the Jama‘at declined to participate in Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet.[16] Nawaz Sharif’s government was Islamic, but increasingly relied upon ethnic and provincial bases of power. It now openly turned to the MQM in Sind and the Awami National Party in the North-West Frontier Province to control those provinces and to keep the People’s Party at bay. The Jama‘at was particularly disturbed by the IJI’s close affinity with the MQM, which continued to dominate Karachi to the exclusion of the Jama‘at.[17] It perpetuated that party’s control over the politics of the Muhajir community and desacralized the political discourse in that province as well as in Pakistan as a whole, all to the detriment of the Jama‘at. The MQM’s onslaught against the remaining pockets of Jama‘at power in Karachi did not help the situation, and it set the Jama‘at at odds with the IJI. The Jama‘at began openly to criticize the government for its lackluster performance on religious issues, joining the swelling chorus demanding greater Islamization. The Jama‘at hoped both to expose the government’s spurious allegiance to Islamic causes, thereby compelling Nawaz Sharif to reorient his politics, and to salvage Islam’s political fortunes before the rise in importance of ethnic and provincial parties.

The Jama‘at’s posture against the government soon found a suitable issue in the Persian Gulf war. The Jama‘at, against the official policy of the IJI government, supported Iraq and opposed the Persian Gulf monarchies and emirates, which were the party’s financial patrons and political allies. This stand had several explanations. To begin with, the Jama‘at was reacting to the United States’ cut-off of aid in October 1990 in response to Pakistan’s refusal to abandon its nuclear arms program. The IJI’s electoral success has in part been attributed to its adroit manipulation of anti-Americanism, and no doubt this was not lost on the Jama‘at. It also objected to the United States’ de-escalating the war in Afghanistan in 1989 and the lack of American support for the Muslim cause in Kashmir, not to mention the Palestinians.[18] It claimed that the United States’ argument that it had to liberate Kuwait was part of a “Zionist plot” by the United States to weaken the Muslim world and the Middle East and guarantee the security of Israel.[19] Khurshid Ahmad called American policy a “trap,” designed to “entangle Iraq in war so that it could provide the United States with a chance to interfere and advance its sinister designs—to give an edge to Israel in the region and to control the Muslim oil.”[20] The war thereby became a battle between Islam and its “enemies.” There could be no observers, and it was clear where the Jama‘at’s loyalties lay.

The Jama‘at concluded from what had come to pass that the days of Persian Gulf monarchies were numbered. If they did not fall before the onslaught of their northern neighbor, they would be pulled down by their own people. Saddam Hussein’s rhetoric about the rich Persian Gulf states and the poor Arab and Muslim brethren elsewhere, along with the belief that the United States’ presence in the region would deliver the kiss of death to the monarchies, had convinced the Jama‘at that it was time to side with the future power brokers in the region.

There was a surprising amount of support for Iraq in Pakistan in November 1990; the party, which had since 1988 been trying to find a popular cause, now decided to take up “this cause of the masses” and ride the tide of resurgent Islamic feelings which it believed would once again sweep across Pakistan. Initially, the Jama‘at had been critical of Saddam Hussein and had viewed the plight of Pakistani refugees from Kuwait with alarm. It wanted a viable settlement that called on Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, above all else to prevent the United States from gaining a foothold in the Muslim “holy land.” Qazi Husain even led a prominent delegation to several Middle East capitals to convince them of this. As war became imminent and soldiers from Western countries dug in their heels in Saudi Arabia, attitudes toward the crisis began to change in Pakistan, and Saddam Hussein found a base of support there.

Conscious of the changing tide of public opinion and somehow convinced of the ultimate victory of Saddam Hussein, after January 17 the Jama‘at abandoned any pretense of following a via media and openly supported Iraq throughout the remainder of the conflict, denouncing the methodical destruction of that country under massive air bombardment. Again it found itself allied with some strange bedfellows, all of whom had also come to believe that the United States was headed for defeat and that Saddam Hussein was the horse to bet on. The armed forces, led by General Mirza Aslam Beig, who regarded to the war as a repeat of Karbala, the People’s Party activists, and the left joined in denouncing American imperialism and quickly became allies of the Jama‘at. Pictures of Qazi Husain sharing intimate moments with leftist poets and politicians began to adorn the pages of newspapers and magazines. On the international level, the Jama‘at joined the ranks of the Tahrik-i Islami (Islamic Movement), a multinational Islamic umbrella organization which coordinates the activities of a number of revivalist groups across the Muslim world, including support for Iraq during the war. In Pakistan, the Jama‘at organized fifty-seven “jihad rallies” and two dozen “coffin-clad” rallies to emphasize that its workers were ready for martyrdom in the jihad against the anti-Islamic forces of the West;[21] the IJT reinforced the Jama‘at’s protest by organizing 338 public rallies and demonstrations during the same period.[22]

As popular as the Jama‘at’s new policy was, not all members agreed with it. Many were critical of supporting Iraq and were ill at ease with Qazi Husain’s blasts against the Persian Gulf monarchies. Mian Tufayl argued that, as unwelcome as the American assault on Iraq may have been, the only culprit in the entire ordeal was Saddam Hussein;[23] the Jama‘at could not by any stretch of imagination justify defending such a ruthless enemy of Islam. Salahu’ddin, who had long enjoyed the patronage of Saudi Arabia, pointed out that “populism and demagogy did not befit an Islamic movement.”[24] He derided the Jama‘at’s anti-Saudi rhetoric and suggested that inveighing against its long-time patrons and endorsing the actions of a secular dictator were perilously close to chicanery. If the Jama‘at believed that the kingdom was an “undemocratic lackey of imperialism,” it should return the money it had received over the years from the Saudi government.[25]

Salahu’ddin’s charges of “irresponsible,” “irrational,” and “opportunistic” behavior on the Jama‘at’s part were quickly reiterated by other pro-Jama‘at periodicals and dailies, which also chided the party for sacrificing its principles to the demands of the mob. Many of the Jama‘at’s members and sympathizers had close ties in the Persian Gulf monarchies and were, as a result, greatly disturbed by the suggestion that they, their friends, or their families had earned their livelihood in the service of the enemies of Islam. The Jama‘at could hardly reconcile its long-standing financial and political alliance with Saudi Arabia with its new rhetoric against it, and was thus placed on the defensive. Discontent in the party was widespread enough to prompt Qazi Husain to tour Pakistan in March 1991 to try to explain the logic of the party’s policy on the Persian Gulf crisis to its workers and supporters.[26]

At the cost of losing its Saudi financial support and compromising its ethical and ideological principles, the Jama‘at had taken up Saddam Hussein’s cause because it was popular. It had hoped that its support for Iraq against “American imperialism and its stooges” would separate the Jama‘at’s position from that of the government and breathe new life into the party. Instead it opened itself up to charges of duplicity which continued to exact a price. The pro-Iraq campaign had popularized Islamic issues, which no doubt benefited the Jama‘at. With the Islamic forces on the move and the very basis of the IJI shaken over its support of Iraq, Sharif was compelled to mend fences with his religious right. When Qazi Husain publicly censured the foreign minister Sahibzadah Ya‘qub Khan for “pursuing American interests,” Sharif dismissed him,[27] and hastily pushed a modified version of the shari‘at bill through the parliament.[28] The Jama‘at then attacked the bill as mere window-dressing, an attack it renewed periodically. Mian Tufayl, who had initially supported the IJI, even declared the bill “heretical.”[29] The Jama‘at also criticized the government for succumbing to American pressure to reach a compromise over Afghanistan, and for its “soft” stand on Kashmir.

The IJI was unable to accommodate the Jama‘at’s new populist ideas. Far from an Islamic coalition government, which the Jama‘at believed would serve as a vehicle for the realization of its aims, the IJI proved to be a collection of the Jama‘at’s staunchest enemies—the Muslim League, the Awami National Party, and especially the MQM. Although the enmity between the Jama‘at and the Muslim League and the Awami National Party was longstanding, the MQM presented the greater challenge. It had already defeated the Jama‘at in Sind and was still busily eliminating the party from that province; it was also making inroads into the party’s base of support elsewhere in Pakistan. In 1990, the MQM considered changing its name from Muhajir Qaumi Mahaz (Muhajir National Front) to Mutahhidah Qaumi Movement (United National Front), turning it into a national and not just a Muhajir party, to eliminate the handicap of its narrow group focus.[30] The Jama‘at concluded that the MQM was positioning itself to compete with its national standing. In the spring of 1991, MQM activists killed two IJT workers and set the offices of Takbir ablaze; Qazi Husain openly threatened to leave the IJI,[31] especially as the coalition was losing ground. The IJI was being charged with corruption and mismanagement just as its predecessor had been, and it had become apparent that it was unlikely to remain popular for long, so the Jama‘at found it easy to criticize. In November, it gave support to the opposition, led by the People’s Party, to demand the removal of the prime minister pending an investigation of corruption charges.[32]

The prime minister could not afford a break in the IJI’s putatively united ranks, particularly a break with its principal Islamic party. He hoped that the promise of yet another shari‘at bill would assuage the Jama‘at. In July Ghafur Ahmad resigned from his position as secretary-general of the IJI, and in August Qazi Husain gave the government a two-month ultimatum to accommodate the Jama‘at’s demands or the party would leave the IJI.[33] Personal lobbying by Nawaz Sharif kept the Jama‘at within the IJI’s fold for a while longer. The relations between the two, however, remained strained, and closer cooperation did not appear likely. The Jama‘at set the price for its greater cooperation with the government as the control of the ministries of education, information and broadcasting, finance, and foreign affairs,[34] knowing full well that, given its modest parliamentary representation, the IJI would not oblige. The Jama‘at in effect stipulated demands which ensured its exclusion from the cabinet.

The tensions between the government and the Jama‘at rose further when the Najibu’llah government in Kabul fell. The government decided to accept a settlement to the Afghan war at the expense of the Mujahidin, whom the Jama‘at favored. The Jama‘at objected to the change of policy on Afghanistan. This and what the Jama‘at depicted as the IJI’s lackluster interest in Islamization provided the party with the pretext for breaking with the IJI on May 5, 1992. Qazi Husain announced that the government was infested with the “American virus,” and no longer worthy of the Jama‘at’s loyalty. The mounting anti-Americanism that had swept the country during the Gulf War gave reason to believe that defection would cost the party no support. It expanded its criticism of the government’s Islamization and Afghan policies to include a host of other policy issues and the government’s record in office.[35] The government responded by excoriating Qazi Husain for taking the Jama‘at out of the IJI,[36] hoping to undermine his position in the party on the eve of his bid for re-election as amir. In September 1992, Mian Tufayl, leader of the Lahore Group during the Zia regime, resigned from the Jama‘at’s shura’ in protest at the direction the party had taken;[37] but Qazi Husain was re-elected amir of Jama‘at-i Islami. The debate over the Jama‘at’s choice of alliance, which had led to the stand-off between the Lahore and Karachi groups, appeared for now to have been resolved.

In the same month the army was sent to Sind to restore law and order, which had collapsed following the resumption of Muhajir-Sindhi clashes. The MQM offices were raided, and the party’s leaders went underground. The MQM withdrew from the government. By July, it was clear that sending the army to Sind had greatly weakened Nawaz Sharif, who borrowed a move from General Zia and turned to Islamization to bolster the IJI’s position. The government thus began openly to woo the Jama‘at. The party, however, showed no inclination to rejoin the IJI after its enemy’s departure. The leader of the Jama‘at’s parliamentary delegation, Liaqat Baluch, instead announced that the Jama‘at and the People’s Party ought to form an alliance.[38]

The extent of the estrangement between the Jama‘at and the IJI became evident during the constitutional crisis which followed the stand-off between the president and the prime minister in the first half of 1993. Throughout the sordid affair, which culminated in the dismissal of the National Assembly and the government on April 18, their subsequent restoration by the Supreme Court on May 26, and finally the simultaneous resignations of the president and prime minister on July 18, the Jama‘at remained cool toward the IJI. The party strongly condemned Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s actions, accusing him of serving America’s interests,[39] but it preferred to stay away from Nawaz Sharif and to work toward an alliance with other Islamic parties.

The return of democracy to Pakistan has pushed the Jama‘at to search more rigorously for a proper mix of ideological commitment and pragmatic considerations, so as to develop a popular base. This has led the party to appeal more directly to popular sentiments and to put them above purely ideological considerations in formulating its policies. As a result, despite internal tensions, since 1988 the Jama‘at has steadily moved away from the constellation of Islamic and right-of-center forces which supported Zia and formed the IJI, to find a more popular platform. The Jama‘at continues to be an advocate of Islamization, but its political agenda is moving toward a vision of state and society that is inspired by Islam but is not limited to Islamization.


1. Interviews with Sayyid Munawwar Hasan and Mahmud A‘zam Faruqi. [BACK]

2. See Qazi Husain’s interview in the Herald (June 1992): 50. [BACK]

3. Interview with Siraj Munir. [BACK]

4. Qazi Husain Ahmad told me in an interview that he did not view the IJI as a positive force, but merely as a means to end the hegemony of the People’s Party. However, there were benefits for the Jama‘at in staying with Nawaz Sharif; for, as Qazi Husain put it, “he is the shadow prime minister”; the inability of the People’s Party government to project power effectively went a long way to explain the solidarity of the IJI. Interview with Qazi Husain Ahmad. [BACK]

5. Sayyid As‘ad Gilani, for instance, accused the People’s Party and the Muslim League of being secular and feudal. Interview with Sayyid As‘ad Gilani in Nida (April 17, 1990): 14. Unhappiness with the League became more noted as antagonisms with Pir Pagaro and Junejo continued, as did clashes with Sharif’s rivals in the Muslim League of Punjab, Mian Manzur Watu, Chaudhri Shuja‘at, and Chaudhri Parwez Ilahi. [BACK]

6. Takbir (September 28, 1989): 28–29. [BACK]

7. See the Friday Times (March 15–21, 1990): 1–2. [BACK]

8. Interview with Mahmud A‘zam Faruqi. [BACK]

9. Interview with Ghulam Mustafa Khar. [BACK]

10. Nation (February 2, 1990): 1; and (February 19, 1990): 8. [BACK]

11. Interview with Chaudhri Aslam Salimi. [BACK]

12. Interview with Qazi Husain in Dawn (February 9, 1990): 3. [BACK]

13. Interview with Ghafur Ahmad in the Friday Times (March-8–14, 1990): 1. [BACK]

14. Herald (October 1990): 62. [BACK]

15. Election Bureau of Jama‘at-i Islami, circular #19-A/5, October 21, 1991. [BACK]

16. Interview with Qazi Husain in Takbir (January 31, 1991): 26. Although here Qazi Husain asserts that no concrete offers were forthcoming from the new government either. [BACK]

17. See interview with Qazi Husain in Takbir (December 27, 1990): 26–27; (January 3, 1991): 35; and (January 31, 1991): 26–27. [BACK]

18. For a thorough discussion of the Jama‘at’s response to the war and these two considerations, see Mumtaz Ahmad, “The Politics of War: Islamic Fundamentalisms in Pakistan,” in James Piscatori, ed., Islamic Fundamentalisms and the Gulf Crisis (Chicago, 1991), 155–85. [BACK]

19. See interview with Qazi Husain in Herald (February 1991): 24. Between September 12 and 15, 1990, the Jama‘at participated in a pro-Iraq Islamic conference convened in Jordan, following which it demanded that the government recall its eleven thousand troops from Saudi Arabia. For greater details see the debate between the editor of Takbir and the Jama‘at’s leaders over this issue in Takbir (January 31, 1991): 5–57, and (February 14, 1991): 15–18. [BACK]

20. Cited in Ahmad, “The Politics of War,” 165. [BACK]

21. Ahmad, “The Politics of War,” 167. [BACK]

22. Ibid. [BACK]

23. Takbir (March 7, 1991): 7–8 and (June 6, 1991): 29–30. [BACK]

24. Takbir (March 7, 1991): 7–8. [BACK]

25. Takbir (January 31, 1991): 7; Jang (March 19, 1991): 4. [BACK]

26. Friday Times (February 7–13, 1991): 7. [BACK]

27. Ahmad, “The Politics of War,” 176. [BACK]

28. For a discussion of Sharif’s version of the shari‘at bill, see Ann Elizabeth Mayer, “The Fundamentalist Impact on Law, Politics, and Constitutions in Iran, Pakistan, and the Sudan,” in Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, eds., Fundamentalisms and the State: Remaking Polities, Economies, and Militance (Chicago, 1993), 131–32. [BACK]

29. Cited in Herald (September 1991): 50. [BACK]

30. Takbir (October 3, 1991): 9–10. [BACK]

31. The Jama‘at presented a formal complaint about the MQM’s treatment of its workers in Karachi to the meeting of IJI parties on September 1991. Unable to secure any assurances from the government, Qazi Husain severely criticized the government soon after the meeting; Newsline (October 1991): 36. [BACK]

32. FBIS-NES -91–217, November 8, 1991, 52. [BACK]

33. FBIS-NES -91–147, and Takbir (August 8, 1991): 37–38 and (August 15, 1991): 11–13. [BACK]

34. Interviews; also see Newsline (September 1991): 43. [BACK]

35. Herald (June 1992): 48. [BACK]

36. Takbir (October 1, 1992): 9–10. [BACK]

37. Takbir (September 17, 1992): 26–31. [BACK]

38. Takbir (July 30, 1992): 6–8. [BACK]

39. Examples of these allegations may be found in the Jang (May 16 and 19, 1993), Nawa’-i Waqt (May 10 and 14, 1993), and Sharq (May 9, 10 and 12, 1993). [BACK]

11. Islamic Revivalism in the Political Process

Throughout its history in Pakistan, the Jama‘at-i Islami added to the national political discourse concerns for Islamic ideals, but the party’s success in the intellectual and ideological domains found no reflection in politics. It has influenced politics but has failed to control them. The Jama‘at proved capable of forming sociopolitical alliances predicated upon an Islamic political program but not of entering into the fundamental political debates in the country, and hence it found no means to secure power for the party.

In the short run at least, success in Islamic revivalism can be directly correlated with the way the state reacts to it. The Iranian revolution owed its success to the inability or unwillingness of the Shah to respond effectively to Ayatollah Khumayni’s challenge. Alternatively, the Syrian and Algerian examples prove that decisive state action can check revivalism’s bid to control power. In Pakistan on some occasions the government sought to contend with Islamic revivalism by eliminating the Jama‘at, as was the case during Liaqat ‘Ali Khan’s and the early period of Ayub Khan’s rule, and then by challenging its religious position, a tactic that failed and emboldened Islamic revivalism. In 1958 and 1977 the party’s drive for power was checked by decisive state action, and after 1977 the state sought to control Islamic revivalism by involving it in the political process more directly. As the Jama‘at’s politics since the advent of the Zia regime indicate, there are limitations to this strategy for keeping Islamic revivalism in check.

Wherever Islamic revivalism has been successful, it has taken the political process unawares, capitalizing on a moment of enthusiasm to translate general sociopolitical discontent into a mass movement. As the Jama‘at’s case proves, protracted involvement in the political process, while it elicits certain concessions in the form of new laws and restrictions from the society, also creates barriers to the growth of revivalism and immunizes the political process to its challenge. It requires replacing a purely ideological orientation with an accommodation of pragmatic politics. This leads to compromise, and that transforms revivalist movements into political institutions tied to the system. Ultimately, democracy serves as the best check to the growth of revivalism. For democracy diversifies the scope of political debate and provides for exactly the kind of protracted involvement in the political process which is likely to constrict Islamic activism. Since 1989, for instance, the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam and the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan, the two dominant ulama parties of Pakistan, have both split into factions over policy.

Democracy involves education to which revivalism cannot remain immune. In this regard revivalism’s approach to and problems with democracy are not so very different from those which led to the evolution of Eurocommunism. New imperatives require fundamental changes, which lead to the adoption of new values. Since 1947, for instance, the Jama‘at has become increasingly committed to democracy and the constitutional process—manifesting the party’s modernization of Islamic thought. Although the party has not been thoroughly acculturated into a democratic mind-set, its commitment to democracy should not be dismissed. It emerged in the Jama‘at’s thinking, first as a political ploy, but increasingly as the mark of a new orientation. In a country which has spent twenty-five of its forty-six years of independence under military rule, and another five under the heavy hand of an autocratic civilian ruler, the fate of an oppositional expression of Islam, which had already passed on the option of revolution, would inevitably be intertwined with that of democracy. It was this process which made Islam the bulwark of two national democratic movements, in the 1960s and again in the 1970s. Political exigency therefore plays an important role in determining Islam’s attitude toward democracy, a fact which is of great importance to understanding the process of democratization in societies where religion remains a dominant force.[1] In the process, democracy transforms revivalist ideology and its plan of action. The often-asked question “What are the dangers of revivalism to democracy?” should be turned on its head: we should ask, “What are the dangers of democracy to revivalism?”

The Jama‘at politicized Islam in Pakistan, but failed to reap any benefits from it. The size of the religious vote has increased markedly since 1947, but not the Jama‘at’s share of it. The Jama‘at proved the efficacy of Islam as a political force, but it had no means to prevent others from exploiting religion for political gain. This is the second danger of democracy to revivalism. Democracy engenders a diversification of Muslim political expression, lures the spectrum of Islamic groups into the political arena, and strips revivalism of the means to manipulate the religious vote and to exercise effective political control over the Islamic vote bank. Instructive in this regard is the Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Islam and Jami‘at-i Ulama-i Pakistan’s rivalry with the Jama‘at in the elections of 1970. In those elections the Jama‘at had launched an extensive electoral campaign to challenge the People’s Party in West Pakistan and the Awami League in East Pakistan. The Jama‘at had expected that its campaign would glorify Islam to undermine the left and the ethnic forces. It had not anticipated that its efforts would mobilize other religious forces and invite them into the elections, all at the Jama‘at’s expense.

The Jama‘at was initially conceived of as a “holy community,” in which high standards and ideological commitment limited membership; it was a vanguard party, an “organizational weapon.” This allowed the party to project power far beyond its numbers and kept it alive through adversity. While it was by no means unique in propagating a revivalist agenda in South Asia, no other revivalist movement has matched its staying power or political influence. Other self-styled Islamic parties, which either like the Jama‘at emerged during the interwar period in India, the Khaksar or the Ahrar being the most notable, or those that made their debut later in Pakistan, such as the Nizam-i Islam or Tulu‘-i Islam (Dawn Of Islam), although they also addressed the same concerns as the Jama‘at and appealed to the same political constituency, were eventually overwhelmed by the vicissitudes of Pakistani politics and merged into larger parties. In fact, the Jama‘at is perhaps the only Islamic religiopolitical organization in South Asia which has continued effectively beyond the life span of its founder.

On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the Jama‘at’s organization is not designed to run the political program to which the party has committed itself. The notion of a “holy community” is ill suited for operating as a party. Similarly, the party’s ideology is at odds with its political program. It continues to harp on the theme of Islamic revolution, although it operates within the bounds of the political process. In addition, it views revolution as a top-down process, whereby Islamization and its concomitant sociopolitical change will follow the education of the political elite in the teachings of Islam. Revolution is not a means of articulating popular demands but of defining a political struggle against the secular state. Islamic revolution in the Jama‘at’s rhetoric is not the battle cry of the masses but an elitist crusade aimed at appropriating the state. As a result, the Jama‘at has adopted a pedantic and literary style and ignored populist themes. The party even continues to respect the right to private property and has avoided challenging the existing economic structure of Pakistan.

Its revolutionary rhetoric is also at odds with its support of the federal unit. Having joined the political process, it has in practice abandoned even a semblance of opposition to the current makeup of the state. Its rhetoric, however, continues to imply a revolutionary stand. Support for the state, the avowed homeland of Indian Muslims, has meant opposition to ethnic politics. The party, for instance, is rooted in Urdu, which has little following among the masses, who speak in local vernaculars such as Pakhtun, Punjabi, or Sindhi. The chasm between the Jama‘at and the poor brought about by its obliviousness to socioeconomic concerns has reinforced its antiethnic attitudes.

In short, the Jama‘at has failed to convert revivalism as ideology into revivalism as a social movement. It has failed to mobilize the masses for collective action for any sustained period of time under an Islamic banner. The two successful mass movements in Pakistan’s history, those of Bhutto and the People’s Party in the late 1960s and of the MQM in the 1980s, owed their success to a political platform which effectively combined populism with a radical antiestablishment platform and appeal to ethnic sentiments. Bhutto adopted a populist rhetoric, opposed the established order, and successfully manipulated tensions between Sindhis, Muhajirs, and Punjabis on the one hand and Punjabis and Bengalis on the other. The MQM similarly combined opposition to the established order with socioeconomic demands, while manipulating tensions between Muhajirs and Sindhis, Punjabis and Pathans. The Jama‘at’s political platform has lacked all three ingredients. The political fortunes of revivalism, as the case of Iran also shows, hinge on mobilizing more than just Islamic sentiments. To succeed, an Islamic revolution must effectively appeal to political sensibilities and satisfy socioeconomic demands.

The shortcomings of the Jama‘at’s program have been evident and to no one more than the party itself. Since the mid-1980s its leaders have been debating organizational reform and opening up its ranks. To date, however, no significant changes have been evident. With the election of Qazi Husain Ahmad to the office of amir the party did adopt a more populist rhetoric, but it was then forced to mute it when it joined up with the landowner-dominated Muslim League and the industrial magnate Nawaz Sharif to form the IJI. On the question of playing a role as the radical opposition and adopting a more ethnic outlook, it has been unyielding. Not unexpectedly, therefore, its political fortunes are little changed.

The party has sought to court the masses by making concessions to their religious sensibilities, which has brought the Jama‘at somewhat closer to traditional Islam in South Asia and its practice of veneration of saints—which closely resembles North African maraboutism. Qazi Husain began his nationwide mass contact tour, the “caravan of invitation and benevolence” (karavan-i da‘wat’u muhabbat), with a controversial visit to the shrine of Sayyid ‘Ali Hujwiri (Data Ganjbakhsh) in Lahore, thus engaging in a religious activity that revivalism has always characterized as obscurantist and has strongly opposed—visiting a saint’s shrine. Similarly since the mid-1980s the IJT has held annual conferences on Hujwiri to appeal to Brailwi students, especially from rural areas and small towns. This ideological compromise was necessitated by the Jama‘at and IJT’s efforts to expand their base of support, especially since the advent of democracy, and further underlines the danger of democracy to revivalism.

Compromises of this sort are a poor substitute for meaningful organizational and ideological reform and, by stirring up controversy, can even adversely affect the process of change. Some have been sufficiently contentious to cause defection in the ranks, but have not been drastic enough to cultivate new sources of support for the party. The result has dampened the Jama‘at’s enthusiasm for undertaking major changes, for fear of losing the support the party already has. Change has as a result become a contentious issue that has inspired more controversy than action.

All this, however, is a continuing saga. Pakistan is changing, and so is the Jama‘at. The political fortunes of the party may yet improve; only time will tell. It is obvious now, however, that operating in the political process, especially in a democracy, will require the party associated with the rise of contemporary Islamic revivalism and which has viewed itself as the “vanguard of the Islamic revolution” to embark upon changes that will inevitably diminish its commitment to its original ideology if it is to succeed.


1. For instance, in his seminal study of factors which bear on the democratization process, Huntington has alluded to the importance of changes in the Catholic church in promoting democratization in Spain, Portugal, Latin America, and the Philippines; see Samuel P. Huntington, The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century (Norman, OK, 1991), 75–85. The case of the Jama‘at suggests that for Islamic movements to support democratization such prerequisite changes are not necessary. Whether they will act democratically once in power is a different matter, one open to question as much as the commitment of many secular leaders of democratization movements. [BACK]

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