January 2001 News

Concern over Islamabadís failure to rein in jehadis

30 January 2001
The Hindustan Times
Udayan Namboodiri

New Delhi: PAKISTAN'S FAILURE to rein in jehadi groups is a matter of concern not just to New Delhi, but even Beijing, Moscow and capitals around the region affected by Islamic fundamentalism. The clamping of United Nations Security Council sanctions on the Taliban may have the undesired effect of squeezing liberal elements within the Pakistani establishment and charge the ultras operating between Kashmir and Chechnya with new vigour. Security experts watching developments in the region say the new year has thrown up a highly complex picture of the military establishment in Islamabad. Earlier it was easy to surmise that the Generals sponsored proxy war through the jihadis to build up a justification for thicker defence budgets in anticipation of an Indian or Russian military response. But once in power and controlling the purse strings, they realise they may have conceived a Frankenstein. Since the beginning of the new year, statements from different quarters in Pakistan has exposed the sticky wicket that General Pervez Musharraf stands on. When Jamaat-e-Islami chief Qazi Hussien Ahmed called on the seven corps commanders to throw out the Musharraf regime, the knee-jerk reaction of the dictator was to send two of his loyalists to pacify the fundamentalist chief. But the religious leader repeated his appeal, because he knew fully well that all the corps commanders were no longer in the Chief Executive's pocket. 'The fundamentalists have eaten into the Army's loyalty - it may not be the old monolith', a Chinese expert attending the three-day Asian Security Conference, organised by the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, said. China is incidentally one of the few countries which 'appreciates' the Pakistani predicament and despite evidence of links between 'sectors' in the Islamabad establishment and terrorist outfits active in Xinhuan province, stops short of hitting out at Pakistan. Countries like Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakstan have in recent months begun to read new messages in the signals emanating from Pakistan. Said one expert who cannot be named: 'The line that the regime is throwing its full weight behind the terrorists is no longer fully true. At one level General Musharraf has created a chasm between haves and have-nots in the military by selectively doling out lucrative civilian posts. Those benefiting from this are with him while the have-nots would like the fundamentalists to cause more and more embarrassment to his regime'. 'At another, the General is hard-pressed to present an acceptable face for Pakistan in world affairs. The fundamentalists couldn't care two hoots. They are tapping ambitious Army commanders and urging them to hit out at the liberals. This is dangerous because if the Army is Talibanised, worse is in store for our countries', a Central Asian expert said. The United Nations Security Council's sanctions which forced General Pervez Musharraf to close down the Taliban's offices in Pakistan may squeeze him to a corner. 'Therefore, our countries are keen that even half-liberals are given a chance because if it's a free for all for the ultras, the stability of the entire region will be affected', an expert from Russia said.


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