By Anas Abbas
Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid, a darling of Pakistani elite, a motivator for Pakistan army officers, an absurdity for Pakistani liberals and an idol for Pakistani conspiracy theorists, has been in the headlines of Pakistani media for almost three years now. During this time, he has been popular because of his motivational and turbulent rants against the Jews and Hindus and his extraordinary defence of Pakistan army and its oppressive policies. Even prominent journalist Seymour Hersh recently reported that Pakistani army officers were increasingly influenced by his philosophy.
He was launched by the ISI (Pakistani Intelligence Agency) in 2007 to defend army’s interest on television after the media became extremely critical of dictator, General Musharaf and his policies, especially the dismissal of Justice Iftikhar Chaudry and other judges and the Red Mosque counter terrorist operation in November 2007. General Musharraf was in uniform so any criticism against him by opposition political parties, civil society, lawyer’s movement or media was also an indirect criticism of Pakistan army/Establishment. In this extreme situation, as a response to the criticism by the increasingly powerful electronic media, the ISI and the Pakistani establishment launched three ideologues to defend their interests.
- Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid
- Ahmed Qureshi
- Dr. Shireen Mazari.
Over this time, Zaid Hamid did a fantastic job in promoting the interest of Pakistani Establishment/Army. He defended their policies and narrated inaccurate and biased accounts of Pakistan’s history (especially Partition 1947 and Army’s Operation Searchlight in 1971) on Pakistani television channels, universities, and on Facebook. He glorified the imperialist invaders like Mohmmad Bin Qasim, Mehmood Ghaznavi and Ahmed Shah Abdali and praised the so called gallantry of modern terrorists and misogynists such as Mullah Omer and Gulbuddin Hekmatyaar (Both supported by the ISI). He exploited the Islamic Hadith by promoting false conclusions, one of which was that criticism against the Pakistan army was HARAM (forbidden) in Islam.
In a nut shell, he has been a fruitful investment of the ISI who not only defended the interests of the army but also ideologically motivated the elite and upper middle class Pakistani youth who were increasingly becoming his fans and were chanting hateful cliches such as:
- “PAKISTAN ka matlab kia, LA ILAHA HA ILLAH, HINDUSTAN KA MATLAB KIA BHAAR ME JAA HUM KO KIA”.
- “INSHALLAH WE WILL INVADE INDIA” or “Ghazwe – Hind”
- “YEH RADIO PAKISTAN DEHLI hai”
- “PAKISTAN MEIN SHARIAT KA NEFAAZ KAREIN GEE AUR KHILAFAT LAA KAR CHOREIN GEE”
- “MULLAH OMER OR HEKMATYAAR ISLAM K MUJAHID HAIN”
- “AMERICA AUR WEST ISLAM DUSHMAN HAIN OR HUM ISS DUNIYA MEIN ISLAMIC REVOLUTION LE KAR AYEE GEE JAHAH HAR CHEEZ ISLAMIC HOGI”
What was ridiculous was that these groups of people motivated by Zaid Hamid would publicly criticize the West and yet dressed in western, skin tight, and revealing attires. This phenomenon then came to be known as “Sexy Islamism” which is, basically, an ideology that is ostensibly Islamic but one which accommodates all the luxuries that have been strictly forbidden by traditional Islamists such as music, dance, sex integration and Maria B. In other words, the foundation of Zaid Hamid’s ideology has been “insecurity” from the Jews and Hindus, thus keeping the Pakistanis in fear while giving them a hope that only the Army is capable of defeating these “hostile” communities. Therefore, unlike the sacrifice required to join groups of typical traditional islamists, to become a member of Zaid Hamid’s camp has been very easy since the only requirement is to believe in a hateful ideology against Jews and Hindus and to glorify Pakistan’s army. For more on Zaid Hamids recruitment process vs Islamists read here.
However, just like every intelligence agency operation has a risk of backfiring, and- voila!- this was no exception. Ever since Zaid Hamid started his campaign, he has been accused of following Yousuf Ali (a former Pakistani Army officer who is popularly known as Yousuf Kazzab). According to a Pakistani court, Ali claimed to be a Prophet and was subsequently sentenced to death. This controversy was initially underestimated by Zaid Hamid and the forces that were protecting him but recently it got an impetus when a video was released showing Zaid Hamid defending Yousuf Ali and criticizing the court ruling against him. This infuriated the fanatic religious mafia in Pakistan and eventually they became the biggest impediment in his campaign. The impact of this opposition was clearly manifested in the recent disastrous turnout in the much awaited “Tekmeele Pakistan” event which, according to Zaid Hamid, was expected to attract a 100,000 people at Minare Pakistan, Lahore. Due to this controversy, the elements which were initially allied with Zaid Hamid are now starting to alienate themselves, these include the religious scholar Dr Israr Ahmed, Journalist Ahmed Qureshi and the ever so “green colour” movement known as the Pakistan Youth Revolution.
There are now strong speculations that Zaid Hamid is a thing of the past and he will soon leave the country to escape the religious zealots who are after him because of his alleged association with a blasphemous person.
If this is really the beginning of the end of Zaid Hamid then this shows the monopoly of islamists on religious matters in Pakistan. Even though Hamid’s ideology is based on absurd theories, it struck a chord with the elite and the middle class youth. The power of traditional Islam in Pakistan remains unaffected. It is well known that cases of alleged blasphemy in Pakistan end in either the accused’s death or banishment.
To convey my opinion about the whole controversy and Zaid Hamid’s downfall I have created a fictionalized setting below:
During the conduction of a trial in the Pakistani court of Zaid Hamid’s charge of blasphemy, he fled the country having escaped from police custody. With the assistance of his ardent and wealthy supporter Maria B, Zaid Hamid has finally landed (through a tourist visa) in K-PAX which is a country situated about 2000 miles away from Pakistan (Also a favourite holiday destination of Maria B during summers due to its Exotic beaches). K-PAX is a democratic country whose constitution promotes freedom of religion ideology and speech. It is known to be a peaceful country where all citizens irrespective of race, religion, caste or sex are considered as equal and the military is confined to the barracks. In other words it’s an ideal pluralistic secular country where the religion is separate from the state.
In K-PAX, Zaid Hamid has finally decided to apply for asylum due to threats to his life in Pakistan. However, his asylum application is rejected after the immigration officer reviewed his case and found him to be capable of stirring up religious hatred amongst the citizens of K-PAX and due to the hate mongering speeches that he has given earlier against K-PAX and its predominantly secular Muslim population during his golden days in Pakistan. However, frustrated by this decision, Zaid Hamid has filed a case in the court requesting to review his application. Currently a well-known Human Rights NGO lawyer, Miss Asma Hoodboy, is representing Zaid Hamid in the city court. K-PAX Immigration Department has hired Anas Abbas to represent their case.
The court proceedings are scheduled to be held today and the decision is also to be announced subsequently in the same proceeding. Prominent analysts also believe that the court will try to wrap up the case and give its verdict today.
Renowned Judge Amar Akbar Anthony has been appointed to hear the case.
The case details are as mentioned here under:
Case no: 786BT
Zaid Hamid VS State.
The initial arguments are presented by the Plaintiffs
Your Honour, I am representing Zaid Hamid, who has applied for asylum in our country and I have reviewed his application. The issue in conflict here is that he has been unfairly refused a right to asylum by the Immigration Office. The fact of the matter is that there is nothing in our law that forbids him to reside in this territory: he has been accused of blasphemy in Pakistan, and some Islamic hardliners have issued a fatwa in favour of his execution. Mass campaigns are being mobilized against him on charges of blasphemy. These elements are drawing their inspirations from an early 20th century terrorist popularly known as “Ghazi Illamuddin Shaheed” who murdered a Hindu publisher on the basis of a blasphemous book. Mr Zaid Hamid therefore has a legitimate reason to apply and we should not hesitate to give him asylum. We therefore protest against this decision of the Immigration Office.
Your Honour, I fully support the Immigration Office’s decision in the case of Zaid Hamid. The truth of the matter is that there is a legitimate and compelling reason why my client (Immigration Office) rejected this application. The consideration of an asylum candidate is not limited to it’s fitting the set criteria, infact the immigration officer has to go through the tedious task of weighing the pros and cons of granting asylum. In doing so the safety and well being of the home country is of supreme importance. It’s not that Zaid Hamid is legally not qualified to apply for asylum in this country but it’s a violation of Article 24D which states that “any person who is found to be intentionally using threatening words or acts in such a way as to stir up hatred against people of other religions, caste or ideology is not allowed to be granted asylum for the purposes of this Act”. The article further clearly states that we oppose extremism in all its forms and are determined to stop those who wish to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from entering our country.
I agree with my learned friend to the extent of the correctness of the Article, however, i also realise and wish to point out to my learned friend that he fails to understand that there is a human life at stake here! If we do not give him asylum then in this extreme situation, he will be forced to go back to his own country where he is likely to get killed or that the court passes a verdict of committing Blasphemy, the sentence of which is capital punishment. Therefore on humanitarian grounds we must grant him asylum. As it is the fundamental Right of Life we are talking about here.
I humbly suggest that it is the concern of the Pakistani state on how they best protect their citizens. We are responsible for protecting our citizens and we should not compromise the security of our state by granting this man asylum. Although I respect Miss Asma’s humanitarian ground argument, I suggest this man should try other options such as that of seeking police protection of his own country with the help of Amnesty International or any other such NGO.
We cannot afford that as Pakistan is an intolerant society and blasphemy has been a very sensitive issue there from the very start. The decisions of the courts in Pakistan are much driven by, and are likely to submit to the media and public pressure and it’s very likely that he will be awarded a death sentence. A judge in Pakistan cannot acquit him even he finds no evidence of blasphemy because there is immense public pressure. In a similar case of Blasphemy where Arif Iqbal Hussain Bhatti J was assassinated on 19 October 1997 after acquitting two people who were accused of blasphemy.
Judge Amar Akbar Anthony:
Do u have the evidence of the danger to his life?
Yes Your Honour, here they are:
Fatwa from Jamia Binoria (A Famous Madrassa in Karachi)
Pictures and Videos of the protests and threats against Zaid Hamid including videos of his burnt effigy.
A Police report of a recent attack on Hamid’s Think-Tank by a mob of over a 100 people.
Judge Amar Akbar Anthony:
Mr Abbas would you like to say something here?
Your Honour!! Miss Asma is trying to portray an extremist as a good human being! We must not forget what Zaid Hamid’s views are regarding our country. When he was in Pakistan, he issued various statements calling for the destruction of our secular society. He has referred to our people as the agents of Zionists, and has regularly issued statements against the Hindus and Jewish communities. Secondly, he might have links with the Jihadists, as recently he is also been accused of assassinating a Muslim cleric in Karachi and an FIR was filed against him. He has repeatedly claimed in his lectures about some Jihadi organizations backing him. Therefore on these grounds we should not let him enter due to possible risks to our national security. We should ban him they way we did the terror preaching cleric Anwar Aulaki.
Judge Amar Akbar Anthony:
Miss Asma, what do you wish to say in reply to this?
Miss Asma Hoodboy:
Yes! Zaid Hamid is a hate preacher, but there are two important things that we should also consider. One is Zaid Hamid’s possible murder if he goes back to Pakistan and I have already mentioned the consequences of this before. Secondly, Zaid Hamid has now finally decided to repent his deeds and he has pledged to become a responsible and tolerant citizen. I can assure that Zaid Hamid would not abuse the communities residing in this country.
I can also present strong evidence to prove that Zaid Hamid is serious in his wish to reform and rehabilitate and for this, I would like to call a witness.
Judge Amar Akbar Anthony:
May I ask Dr Abdus Salam to please come to the witness box.
Dr Salam is the head of Muslim council of K-PAX.
Can you please tell the court why do you think Zaid Hamid’s application for asylum should not be rejected?
Well Your Honour!!
Mr. Zaid Hamid has recently approached the Muslim Council of K-PAX for help regarding his application for asylum. He was deeply regretful and apologetic for all the provocative statements he has issued against non Muslim communities in general. I had a meeting with him and after going through his file, I can confidently say that we should give him a chance to stay here because we are very much sure that things would become extremely difficult for him if he goes back. As evidence, I can present Zaid Hamid’s apology letter and his new statement regarding his current views that he gave to the Muslim council.
Your Honour I seek your permission to cross-examine Dr. Salam.
Judge Amar Akbar Anthony:
So you are confident Dr. Salam that Mr. Hamid will respect the Constitution of K-PAX?
Dr Salam, what about this false prophet controversy regarding Zaid Hamid? Don’t you think this would disturb the harmony among Muslim communities here?
Look I am not interested in any false prophet controversy, and I believe that Zaid Hamid has already made it clear that he believes Prophet Muhammad to be the final prophet. To be honest it’s Zaid Hamid’s right how he interprets Islam and who he calls a prophet and that right has been given to him by Islam.
Verse (2:256) of Holy Quran says that “there is the freedom to adopt or forsake whatever religion one likes”.
So if God has granted this freedom to Zaid Hamid, then who am I or you, Mr. Abbas, to question that?
Dr. Salam, I respect that, but how can you defend the same person who has previously declared you a Zionist agent and an apostate too, when he was in Pakistan?-
– May I interpret Your Honour- but that question is out of this case!
Judge Amar Akbar Anthony:
Yes Dr. Salam, Please answer my question, and tell us how the Muslim community in K-PAX is taking this blasphemous issue of Zaid Hamid? Don’t you think we might see demonstrations here in relation to this false prophet controversy?
I am not concerned with what Zaid Hamid or XYZ calls me. I don’t have to answer to them, and my God knows whose agent I am, and that’s what I care about. It’s the people who should decide about me by looking at my deeds and works. Secondly Zaid Hamid has already apologized to me on this, and I respect that. After all, why should I doubt his apology? I don’t have the power to know what’s going on inside Zaid Hamid’s heart, and only God knows what is inside men’s hearts- as it is stated in the Quran (4:94)
Regarding your second question, yes, there are few people here in K-PAX who are concerned about Zaid Hamid and links to Yousef but it’s their right and freedom to oppose him and one can hope that these people will realize one day that religion is a personal matter. But the good news is that majority of people here in Muslim community oppose him only because of his Jihadi fascist ideology and they do not hold any personal vendetta or grudge against him.
The Muslim community is very tolerant here and they will come to forgive him, once Zaid Hamid apologizes to them for the abuses he had committed earlier.
That’s all Your Honour.
Judge Amar Akbar Anthony:
Ms. Asma, do u have anything else to say?
No Your Honour.
Amar Akbar Anthony J:
The Court is adjourned till 6pm. The verdict will be announced once the court resumes.
6pm, City Court
Judge Amar Akbar Anthony:
After listening to the arguments of both parties, I have reached the decision that Zaid Hamid does not qualify for recognition as a refugee under the Asylum Act due to his extremely hateful speeches against K-PAX Muslim communities and glorification of violence against the Non-Muslim communities. Due to the significant risk of the danger to his life based on his religious beliefs and based on the evidence shown by Asma Hoodboy, we are letting Zaid Hamid to stay temporarily in K-PAX.
The Immigration department is ordered to monitor Mr Zaid Hamid’s rehabilitation closely and Dr Abdus Salam is expected to give updates to the Immigration Office regarding this issue. The final decision to allow or disallow the grant of Asylum rests with the Immigration Office which will decide this matter after a review of Zaid Hamid’s beliefs post rehabilitation.
“Thank you, Your Honour.”
The court case ended and Zaid Hamid looks relieved on his way out of the court.
I have tried to use this fictionalized case setting of Zaid Hamid to show the beauty of secularism and the importance of religious tolerance.
Referring to the K-PAX court case above, had there been religious tolerance and respect for different opinions in Pakistan, Zaid Hamid would not have lost much support in the aftermath of Yousef Ali’s controversy.
Throughout the past 3 years, Zaid Hamid has continued to promote hatred and extremism. From Asma Jehangir, Pervez Hoodboy and Hussain Haqqani to party leaders in Baluchistan, Pakhtunkuwa and Karachi, he has been like a broken record, labeling people as CIA, RAW, or MOSSAAD agents. His unsubstantiated credit to the army and establishment has been well documented and he has been known for portraying them as an infallible force. But now the same Zaid Hamid is the victim of the policies of the Pakistan Army.
The army and establishment have fueled religious extremism and anti Indian sentiment throughout their existence in order to justify their interference in the civilian government structure and their so called legitimacy to rule Pakistan.
The brutal era of Zaid Hamid’s favourite, Zia ul Haq, is the key period where religious intolerance was the state policy and the official school curriculum in public schools was transformed in order to cultivate dogmatic views in the upcoming generations of Pakistan. The goal was that they will justify the military rule and its support for the Mullah Alliance in the strategic Afghanistan at the cost of millions of Afghani/Pashtun lives. Because of these policies of the Pakistan army, who take their inspiration from terrorists like Mohammed Bin Qasim, today religion is the most sensitive issue in Pakistan and everything revolves around it. The power of religious Ulema is evident from the reaction to the fatwa against Zaid Hamid which has put a question mark on his legitimacy.
This story would have taken a very different turn in the fictional country K-Pax, a secular society. Any threat to Hamid’s life would have been judged based on his status as a citizen and without much regard to his religious inclinations, blasphemous or not. But in Pakistan there is a notion that secularism is a precursor of a society of loose morals and excessive alcohol consumption. The true definition is, however, that religion has no influence, whatsoever, on the matters of the state and that every citizen, regardless of their belief, is judged equally in front of the law.
I must add that now after the allegations, Zaid Hamid is pleading people to search for ‘proper’ evidence before labelling anyone a ‘Kafir.’ But his plea is falling on deaf ears and rightly so because in Pakistan the popular doctrine is that people ignore evidence and rely more on emotions. Moreover, Hamid’s blatant hypocrisy has been brought to light by journalist Fasi Zaka, who pointed out in his recent article that:
“Whenever Yousaf Kazzab is brought up before Zaid, he insists that the Quranic rules of evidence should be used and false allegations shall take accusers to hellfire. Funny, it never occurs to him to use the same Quranic principles when he randomly labels anyone who inconveniences him in his thirst for followers as a traitor and an agent”
He is now in danger of getting assassinated on allegations of blasphemy. Does he not know who promoted this dreadful blasphemy law in Pakistan which eventually became the source of conviction of his friend Yousef? Who is responsible for the murder of thousands of Christians who died in Pakistan due to this Blasphemy Law? Who sowed the seeds of these religious bigots who he is now calling “fasadees”?
Well, Mr Hamid should know that it is none other than his “Infallible Army”. The Army who, according to his account, is prophesied to take over India; the army who in reality is an American dog but for him it’s the solution of all problems in Pakistan.
There are valid reasons why we must continue to oppose Zaid Hamid and his Green Mommy Daddy elite, nationalist cult. These groups are responsible for promoting a Fascist ideology, for disturbing inter-faith harmony; they have distorted history to promote a false propaganda to undermine the struggle of the Balochis and the Pakhtuns. Many rebuttals have been written about Zaid Hamid’s false theories and they are far more reasonable than the Yousef Ali issue.
The absurdity of his theories has been shown in a number of articles and video such as :
In conclusion, I must say that I am not happy with the sudden downfall of Zaid Hamid despite my strong dislike for him. Although his downfall is a good thing, it happened for all the wrong reasons. Religion, not reason, was a source of his downfall. I would also add that even if the allegations against Hamid following Yousef Ali are true, it would still not make a difference. Our opposition of Hamid’s ideology should be based on reason, not on religion or any other personal belief of his.
K-PAX: was the name of the planet in the movie K-PAX released in 2001.