Skip to comments.The Deceptive Cloak of Musharraf's Enlightened Moderation
Posted on 06/14/2005 5:25:29 PM PDT by Saberwielder
The Deceptive Cloak of Musharraf's Enlightened Moderation
By Husain Haqqani
WASHINGTON, June 15: The arrest in California of a Pakistani father and son allegedly linked to terrorism highlights, once again, the superficiality of the Pakistani regimes rhetoric about changing the countrys direction.
So far no evidence has been presented by US officials of the California detainees being linked to Al-Qaeda, except an affidavit by one of the accused admitting to attending a militant training camp near Rawalpindi. It is possible that the Pakistanis arrested in California turn out to be innocent of Al-Qaeda links, joining the ranks of hundreds of Muslims caught in Americas currently over-zealous law enforcement. It is equally possible, however, that they were associated with a Pakistani Jihadi group, which in turn might be linked to the global network loosely described as Al-Qaeda.
The Pakistani Foreign Office was, as usual, quick in denying that any Al-Qaeda facility exists in Pakistan. Of course, it is the same Foreign Office that, through its permanent representative to the United Nations has been periodically debating the definition of terrorism at the UN even though Pakistan has ostensibly been a crucial ally in the US-led global war against terrorism. One could ask Pakistani officials how they can be Americas partners in fighting terrorism if they do not agree with the US definition of terrorism but that argument is not the subject of our immediate concern.
The same week that the California arrests served as a reminder of the Jihadi presence in Pakistan, the famed victim of a gang rape whose rapists had earlier been set free was detained and forbidden from traveling abroad. The enlightened moderate State in Pakistan chose to extend its protection to the perpetrators of the gang rape rather than Mukhtaran Mai, the victim.
With the passage of time, differences between the Islamist dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq and the modernizing regime of General Musharraf are clearly a lot less pronounced than Musharrafs supporters make them out to be. The military regimes priority appears to be to suppress or deny bad news rather than to change the circumstances that give rise to it.
In case of the California arrests the Pakistani authorities should have obtained full information and checked the facts on ground before setting their spin machine in motion. One of the California accused reportedly told his interrogators that he attended a Jihadi facility run by Maulana Fazlur Rehman at Tamal in Rawalpindi. Given that the FBI officer writing the Pakistani detainees statement was unfamiliar with both Rawalpindis geography and the whos who of Pakistani Jihadism, it is perfectly possible that he simply failed to figure out the information he was given.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman Khalil, originally of Harkat-ul-Ansar has maintained a Jihadi facility at Dhamial in Rawalpindi for many years. Had the Pakistan Government been serious in its claims of uprooting militancy and terrorism, it would have paid some attention to this possible link between last weeks arrests in California and a shadowy group that participated in the officially sanctioned Afghan and Kashmir jihads.
Maulana Khalil was one of the signatories of Osama bin Ladens 1998 fatwa against the United States and was reportedly in the camp struck by US cruise missiles in Afghanistan in 1998. In January 2004, the Los Angeles Times reported that Maulana Khalil remained openly active despite government-imposed bans on him and his organizations. Khalil had survived the ban in 1995 on Harkat-ul-Ansar and renamed it Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. When Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was banned after September 11, 2001, he emerged as the leader of Jamiat-ul-Ansar.
Instead of doing anything about Maulana Khalil or his followers after the publication of the LA Times report, Pakistani security services threatened the newspapers Pakistani reporter. The reporters reporting, rather than Maulana Khalils activities appeared to irk Pakistani officials more. Maulana Khalil was finally arrested with considerable publicity in March 2004 only to be released quietly seven months later.
He has reportedly gone underground after the recent arrests of his followers in California. Unlike Mukhtaran Mai, the rape victim, Pakistani authorities are unable to find and detain him. Ironically, the same Pakistani officials who had no qualms about keeping Asif Ali Zardari (husband of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto) in prison without a conviction for almost eight years have never found sufficient reason to detain Maulana Khalil or several other militant Jihadi leaders for that matter.
It should be obvious to all but the most naïve that General Pervez Musharrafs U-Turn in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 has been selective and aimed more at pleasing the United States than at ridding Pakistan of domestic militant groups. General Musharraf made his views clear in an interview with the Washington Post in 2002, in which he made a distinction between various elements of Pakistans militant problem and stressed that the militants fighting in Kashmir were freedom fighters.
There are three elements of terrorism that the world is concerned about, Musharraf said in that interview and went on to list these three elements. Number one, the Al-Qaeda factor. Number two is what [the Indians] are calling cross-border terrorism and we are calling the freedom struggle in Kashmir. Number three is the sectarian [Sunni vs. Shia] extremism and sectarian terrorism in Pakistan...The third one is more our concern, and unfortunately, the world is not bothered about that. We are very much bothered about that because that is destabilizing us internally.
Thus, in the Generals world view sectarian terrorists were the real source of trouble while Al-Qaedas Arab members had to be apprehended to ensure the flow of US support. Homegrown militants trained for operating in the region were the least of Musharrafs concern at the time of that interview. But Pakistani authorities cannot eliminate the international terrorist network or the sectarian militias without decapitating the domestic Jihadi networks. All Islamist militant groups sympathize with one another and in some cases, such as Kashmiri Jihadi groups and sectarian militias, have overlapping memberships.
From the point of view of Pakistans Islamist militants and their backers in the establishment, Jihad is only on hold but not yet over. The major Kashmiri Jihadi groups retain their infrastructure that could be pressed into service at a future date. Afghanistans Taliban also continue to find safe haven in parts of Pakistan as recently as the spring of 2005. Afghan and American officials complain periodically of the Taliban still training and organizing in Pakistans border areas but their protests are rejected summarily with rhetoric similar to the one about domestic militant groups.
The Musharraf regime has been careful to take all steps necessary to retain the goodwill of the United States and its rhetoric of enlightened moderation has won it Americas support. President Bush described Musharraf as a courageous leader who had risked his life to crack down on the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, declared during a March 2005 visit to Pakistan that Pakistan has come an enormously long way...This is not the Pakistan of September 11. It is not even the Pakistan of 2002.
American officials regularly express the belief that Pakistan had turned the corner and could now be trusted as an American ally. The United States sees Pakistans glass as half full rather than half empty. For Pakistanis faced with on-ground realities, such as militants living in their midst and the treatment of gang rape victims like Mukhtaran Mai, there is little in the glass that gives them satisfaction.
The writer is Associate Professor of International Relations at Boston University and author of the forthcoming book 'Pakistan Between Mosque and Military' (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2005, Title Top Left)
It is pathetic that Musharraf can imprison a rape victim while known terrorist leaders go free despite having a hand in the deaths of Americans, Afghans and others.
It's especially good that this happened to be written by a well educated Pakistani.
So invade and occupy Pakistan. Problem solved. (And by implication, restore the state of India to its former self).
Pakistan was headed straight off the cliff to oblivion. Now they are not. The direction has apparently changed.
"Apparently" is the operative word. Musharraf is trying to split hairs by arresting an Arab here and an Uzbek there while leaving his local jihadists free to kill. And we just caught a couple of them over here - thankfully before they could do anything.
By comparison with America every government on earth is defective. Musharraf has done very well indeed, considering what he has to work with.
So I guess you are okay with terrorists training outside Musharraf's backyard and coming back to the US? Can the standards been any lower? Why not apply the same standard to Iran? Afterall, the rulers there face threats from the Ayatollahs and have very little to work with.
We are at war with Iran, but not with Pakistan. It is a subtle difference.
So countries we are not at war with can train terrorists and send them over here, while protecting the trainers? And that too while claiming to be anti-terror "allies" and raking in billions in aid and weaponry.
Of course, it is very simple after all, international politics.
Your statement assumes that Pak became nuclear under Mush. The fact is the Pak has been nuclear for a while now... long before there was a Mush and it was NEVER ruled by fanatics. It has always been either the military or a civilian govt (ostensibly). The military ALWAYS controls everything and it consists of bureaucratic people like Mush who have vested interests.
That he has a pliant US administration who needs to show "victories" against terrorism helps him in his attempt to brainwash the world with his propoganda about how he is the only person who can save pakistan.
If he were to be assassintated another general will take over. I am sure the succession has been planned in exchange for loyalty.
US has no choice but to praise mush or else it will become obvious that US has too big a problem in Pak and no plan to tackle it. Much the way things are seen in India. But hey at least the Indians are not living in a dream world.
No its not international politics. Its screw-my-countries-security-to-save-my-political-ass politics. The administration has a failed policy in Pak and they know it... but dont want anyone to know how dicey the situation is coz then it makes them look stupid. Its the American people who are being taken for a ride here.
Excellent and comforting point. Thank you.
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