Tariq Mahmood/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 28 — The Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, was warned this month that Islamic militants and Taliban fighters were rapidly spreading beyond the country’s lawless tribal areas and that without “swift and decisive action,” the growing militancy could engulf the rest of the country.
The warning came in a document from the Interior Ministry, which said Pakistan’s security forces in North-West Frontier Province abutting the tribal areas were outgunned and outnumbered and had forfeited authority to the Taliban and their allies.
“The ongoing spell of active Taliban resistance has brought about serious repercussions for Pakistan,” says the 15-page document, which was shown to The New YorkTimes. “There is a general policy of appeasement towards the Taliban, which has further emboldened them.”
The document was discussed by this country’s National Security Councilon June 4 while General Musharraf was present, the document notes. It appears to be the first such document to emerge from the Pakistani government formally recognizing the seriousness of the spreading threat here from Al Qaeda and the Taliban, according to a Western diplomat.
The diplomat, who was not authorized to speak for attribution, called the document “an accurate description of the dagger pointed at thecountry’s heart.”
“It’s tragic it’s taken so long to recognize it,” the diplomat added.
Indeed, the recognition of the scope of the extremists’ authority comes after heavy pressure on Pakistan from the United States to contain thelawlessness in the tribal areas. Washington has poured some $1 billion a year into Pakistan in the last five years for what are described as reimbursements for Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts along the borderith Afghanistan.
The prime purpose of the sizable financial support has been to stop the area from becoming a haven for the Taliban and Al Qaeda as they wage their insurgency in Afghanistan.
But now the Interior Ministry is telling General Musharraf that the influence of the extremists is swiftly bleeding east and deeper into his own country, threatening areas like Peshawar, Nowshera and Kohat, which were considered to be safeguarded by Pakistani government forces.
Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao, the prime mover behind the document, narrowly escaped a suicide bomb attack in April by extremists in his home area of Charsadda, 18 miles northeast of Peshawar, the capital of North-West Frontier Province.
Theattack on Mr. Sherpao shook his confidence in General Musharraf’s policy toward the militants, which has included a series of peace deals.
Do we have to remember that Pakistan already has the nuclear bomb?
Something I have been blogging about for some time.
- Muslims protesting for Rushdie’s kinghthood.
- Pakistan expanding nuclear program.
- Pakistan: 28-year-old Catholic tortured by mob.
- Jihad in Pakistan: now also women and children.
- Musharraf wants to forbid the insult to Islam in order to prevent terrorism.
- Talibans update: beheadings, killings and other Jihadi behaviour.
- Pakistan update: demonstrations against Musharraf and Al-Qaeda’s sanctuary.
A marvellous perspective. 😦