Pakistan Teeters on the Edge
The head of a radical mosque in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, has threatened to use suicide bomb attacks against the government.Pakistani dictator Perez Musharraf's government is gradually losing its hold on power. The country's population has been long sympathetic to Islamic terrorists - openly supportive of Osama bin Laden and the Taleban - and increasingly anti-Western and anti-American. The Pakistant intelligence service created the Taleban, helped them sieze power, and continues to assist them to this day, though quietly. Musharraf's recent deal with the Islamists, to keep the Pakistani army out of the country's ungovernable provinces along the Afghan border (where the Taleban and al Qaeda are regrouping) was meant to buy Musharraf some relief from the pressure. But the deal has backfired, giving the Islamists a safehaven from which to rebuild and emboldening the Islamists throughout Pakistan, who realize that Musharraf probably doesn't have the support to launch a serious crackdown. The Musharraf government's alliance with the U.S. is deeply unpopular in Pakistan and the pressure rising against the government seems unstoppable. A violence outburst is inevitable, and it is increasingly likely that Musharraf will be topppled, or forced to accomodate Islamist wishes.
Maulana Abdul Aziz made his defiant call to thousands of followers during Friday prayers.
The government is facing calls to clamp down on the activites of students in two madrassas attached to the mosque.
If the government does take action, "our last resort will be suicide bombings", Mr Aziz declared.
He also demanded that the government close down Islamabad's video shops and brothels within one month.
The Taleban-style activity of Mr Aziz's followers in the capital has caused outrage among human rights activists.
Last week female students from a madrassa that is part of Mr Aziz's Lal Masjid (red mosque) complex abducted a woman they accused of running a brothel, holding her captive for two days.
Some of the students are also staging an armed occupation of a children's library in the capital.
The government says it hopes to resolve its differences by peaceful means.
Contrary to the bureacrats in Brussels who would like to remove any rhetorical link between Islam and terror (see post below), Pakistan's clerics understand perfectly what motivates young Muslims to violence:
"If the government says it will launch an operation against us as a last resort, our last resort will be suicide bombings," Mr Aziz told his supporters.Given that so many of the Muslims involved in terrorist activity in Britain and Europe are linked to Pakistan, having been trained, recruited, financed in or from Pakistan or having been born to Pakistani immigrants, it would behoove Western countries to immediately cease all immigration and tourism from and to Pakistan, sealing the country off as if under quarantine. If Musharraf does fall, that will become absolutely essential, since the Islamists will quickly control the country and its ample military and nuclear assets.
"What is our way?" he asked them, the Associated Press news agency reports.
The students called back, "Jihad, jihad (holy war)".
"I give a deadline of one month to the government to close brothels and video shops," Mr Aziz said.
"If the government fails we will take action."
Outside the mosque, a group of supporters set fire to a pile of videos and CDs.
Mr Aziz also said he had set up a Sharia law court at the mosque, made up of 10 clerics.
Of course, the situation in Pakistan should prompt someone to ask President George "I want to bring democracy to the Islamic world" Bush whether or not he'd like to see a free and fair election in Pakistan right now? If not, why not? Doesn't democracy cure all ills?