Counter-Terrorism: July 15, 2005


No one wants to talk about it openly, but Pakistan has backed off on dealing with on its own Islamic radicals. In 2002, and into 2003, the Pakistani government tried to crack down on Islamic radicals. Leaders were put under house arrest, a few were actually sent to prison. Training camps for terrorists were shut down, and religious schools were told to clean up their acts, and stop preaching hate and, in effect, training terrorists. The Islamic radicals struck back, with the help of opposition politicians, and Islamic conservative (but not radical) religious leaders. Politics in Pakistan, while not as democratic as it is in neighboring India, is heavily influenced by various alliances and power blocks, plus whatever is hot in the local media. Since Pakistan is currently run by yet another military dictatorship (as it has for most of the time since the nation was created in 1947), public opinion must be catered to, lest another strongman gather enough political clout to depose the current government. So, in order to garner popular support, the government has backed off on its attempts to suppress the Islamic radicals. This is mainly because the main operation of the Islamic radicals is terror attacks against India, mainly in the disputed province of Kashmir (largely occupied by India, but with a population that is mostly Moslem). As much as Pakistan would like all the Islamic terrorists to go away (especially the ones trying to kill the current Pakistani leadership), the liberate Kashmir for Pakistan thing is just too popular with too many Pakistanis. This was a campaign that an earlier (the 1980s) military dictator started, not realizing that India would successfully resist the terror campaign, and that the Islamic terrorists would grow to become a serious problem inside Pakistan. But thats exactly what happened. And now, with Pakistans American ally demanding help in fighting Islamic terrorism, Pakistan finds itself unable to do so. 

While the Islamic terrorists have assumed a lower profile, and cut back on the number of people they are sending into Kashmir, they are still in business. They are still openly advertising for new recruits, and have reopened training camps that were closed two years ago. Islamic terrorist leaders are largely out from under house arrest, or confinement of any sort. While the Islamic conservatives are divided into many different groups, some of whom are fighting each other, they all unite to oppose any government efforts to crack down on Islamic radical or terrorist activities. But the government will have to deal with the religious fanatics eventually. These groups are too violent and unpredictable to just leave alone. For the moment, however, the Pakistani government is backing off, and hoping that, maybe, just maybe, the Islamic terrorists will sort of, like, go away. Its uncertain how long the United States, and other countries being hit by Islamic terrorists, will put up with that.


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