Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani president, decided to seriously start the fight with the radical Islamic groups that are based in his country. In any case, Musharraf’s recent speech on television did not leave any doubts on the issue. The Pakistani president said that “the best Jihad is the Jihad against poverty, illiteracy, intolerance, and extremism.” Musharraf thinks that the source of intolerance is madrasah (the Muslim supreme spiritual school), where there is the propaganda of the militant and hostile views instead of a religious upbringing.
The Pakistani president announced that five extremist groups, including Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, were banned. These were the groups that were accused of the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament on December 13, 2001. RosBusinessConsulting news agency reported that there had been 1500 activists of different extremist organizations arrested in Pakistan. Moreover, about 300 offices of those organizations were closed in the northwest border province and in the province of Penjab.
The activities of the Pakistani government were surely approved of by the US authorities and their allies. UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, expressed his support for the undertaking of the Pakistani president. The Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, and foreign policy commissioner, Javier Solana, also welcomed Musharraf’s statement.
In the meantime, India’s reaction is still restrained. ITAR-TASS news agency reported that India’s internal affairs minister claimed in an interview to a private Indian TV channel in New York that India was going to judge not words but actions.
The actions have already started, by the way. The arrests of the extremists and the closing of the offices of the terrorist organizations have a goal to convince India of Pakistan’s sincere intentions. However, this is not the priority goal. There is a feeling that the actions of the Pakistani government are not only aimed at setting up good relations with India but there is also a hidden motive here: to make a good impression on the American administration. President Musharraf perfectly realizes that he can never achieve anything without America's help. The Pakistani government is hardly able to cope with its poverty alone. In addition, Pakistan can now count on America's support in its opposition with India: the struggle with terrorists and extremists has been started, and this is the main thing.
Taking account of the fact that the position of the radicals is rather strong in Pakistan, the government of the country has to face a rather difficult problem. Of course, the president is now supported by the army, and he does not have to be afraid of anything. However, there is an issue: how far will this support go? The arrests of the leaders of the extremist organizations may serve as an answer to this question. Repression alone will not help to solve the problem, and Pakistan is not an exception to this rule. The latest statement released from Musharraf proves that the Pakistani administration does not want to wage war with India, which is encouraging.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
AP photo: Police officers seal the office of Jaish-e-Mohammad