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The Pakistani Al Qaeda

Some observers argue that it may still be possible that there is no such thing as a Pakistani al-Qaeda, or a central organisation to coordinate terrorist attacks against government officials and religious minorities. If that is true, then who are the people involved in such acts? One senior official closely associated with the investigations believes that some elements from Islamic groups that had either been involved in sectarianism or had previously fought in Kashmir or Afghanistan may be behind most of the recent incidents of suicide attacks.

According to this official, organisations with new names are created on a regular basis and most of the ‘volunteers’ are pushed into action with minimal training. The people behind the creation of such groups are mostly those who have been associated with sectarian groups such as the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, or the Kashmiri militant groups such as the Harkatul Mujahideen, Harkat-e-Jihad e-Islami or Jaish-e-Mohammed, which continue to serve as nurseries for these new organisations. In most cases, members of the new groups are disowned by their parent parties. Hence the emergence of names such as Harkatul Mujahideen al-Aalami, Jundullah or the Islambouli Brigade of al-Qaeda.

The inexperience of this new breed of terrorists is evident from the mess some of them have made of their planned strikes. For instance, one suicide bomber set off the detonator attached to his body during an attack on a Shia mosque during Muharram and ended up killing himself without causing any harm to the mourners. Similarly, those who attacked the corps commander’s convoy in Karachi were traced and arrested because they left behind a cell phone. In the same vein, the person who tried to kill Shaukat Aziz was captured on a TV camera, perhaps along with an accomplice who is now on the run. Still, while they may be inexperienced, they are at the same time so motivated that no threat of jail or death can stop them.

Some observers argue that it may still be possible that there is no such thing as a Pakistani al-Qaeda, or a central organisation.

According to one official, it is nearly impossible to extract any information from these elements as they constantly accuse the interrogators of being pro-American while calling themselves the true soldiers of Allah.

Officials and analysts agree that it is a highly tricky situation, with no visible way out. According to a seasoned analyst, it is not easy for the establishment, which invested nearly 15 years in creating a jihadi culture, to convince these people to abandon their misplaced ideology. “They were unable to understand international diplomacy at the time of the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan and they cannot understand the current compulsions for Pakistan or President Musharraf to reverse the jihadi policy,” he says. A minister who is perceived to be quite close to the military establishment said at one point an attempt was made to persuade the Kashmiri and other militant groups to accept the changed geopolitical environment, but barring one or two groups, they all refused to oblige. In fact, it gave birth to a new form of radicalism within the militant Islamic movement.

As things stand today, the militants may react anytime to avenge some of the recent arrests and their ability to do so is causing serious frustration within government circles, as well as anxiety among the general public. Perhaps the only way out at this stage is for General Musharraf to embark on a long and protracted war to eliminate a jihadi culture that the establishment has itself created in the first place. It may require the president to come up with a new philosophy to deal with militancy– a philosophy that can generate an across the board cleansing operation, even if it hits at some of the sacred religious, military and government institutions. Otherwise, there is a serious risk of letting the situation slip out of hand. Already, judging from the way the Islamic militant groups have been gaining support and momentum in recent months, the nation should be bracing itself for a lot worse in the coming days.

courtesy : dawn news

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