The Daily Mail has a warning for us all in Jihadists and this disaster for us all by Michael Burleigh.
[..] But in the maelstrom that follows Bhutto’s assassination the Islamists will be free to flourish in vast tracts of the country.
Huge areas will become a giant training camp for the sort of Anglo-Pakistani jihadists who struck in London in July 2005. Entire regions in the north west are already violent badlands occupied by extremists, which the government can only enter with thousands of soldiers – and these badlands are now likely to expand massively.
It was entirely in the interests of extremists to kill Bhutto. Even if Al Qaeda itself did not murder her, one of its spokesman has called the Asia Times newspaper claiming that the killers were from the fundamentalist Lashkar-i- Jhangvi group, acting under Al Qaeda’s orders.
Founded in 1996, this group has, in the past, bombed churches in Pakistan and killed Westerners. It was also responsible for the kidnap and murder of the U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl. [..]
But it was not only Al Qaeda who wanted to see her off. She made a further promise to the U.S. which infuriated power brokers within Pakistan’s military and intelligence networks and which may have accelerated her assassination.
She vowed to allow American intelligence agents access to AQ Khan, the scientific father of the world’s first Islamic nuclear bomb. Following a Western outcry about his role in selling atomic secrets to Iran and other countries, AQ Khan allegedly lives under house arrest in Islamabad.
The prospect of Khan’s nefarious links to Pakistan’s powerful armed forces and Inter-Service Intelligence agency being revealed might have been enough for the latter to allow the Islamist bomber-assassin to penetrate Bhutto’s security cordon.
Incredibly, despite the first attack on her in October, which killed 140 people but left Bhutto unharmed, security was never tightened. President Musharraf determinedly rejected her demands to import foreign bodyguards.
The truth is that the assassination is a disaster, and not simply because of the symbolic significance she had as the most high profile female politician in the Muslim world.
It completely uproots Western strategy on Pakistan, the world’s second most populous Islamic country, which was based on a smooth transition from the eight-year dictatorship of Musharraf to a democracy in which he would be eclipsed or marginalised by Bhutto as a more charismatic prime minister.
Since 9/11, the West’s main problems in Afghanistan and Pakistan have stemmed from supporting Musharraf, a duplicitous military dictator who claimed to be an ally in the “war on terror.”
This was only ever partly true since, for decades, elements in the Pakistani intelligence apparatus under his command have been covertly sponsoring terrorists in neighbouring Afghanistan and Kashmir. Musharraf’s usefulness to the West finally expired earlier this year when he unilaterally struck deals with the Waziri tribal leaders who are protecting bin Laden.
These bargains, ostensibly designed to keep a lid on terrorist extremists, in fact enabled Al Qaeda to flourish and expand its operations into hitherto peaceful parts of the tribal areas such as the Swat valley.
Recent reports suggest that the Pakistani military has embezzled millions from the vast sums the U.S. has showered on the war on terror.
Equally, Musharraf has done nothing to counteract the Saudi-financed madrassas in Pakistan which train so many of the insurgents fighting NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Musharraf’s gut instinct now will be to exploit the rioting engulfing Pakistan by cracking down and postponing next month’s elections. He believes that only his own military caste can effectively govern his nation and will do all he can to hold on to power. [..]
Burleigh goes on to recommend what the West should do as though there is anything that they can do but more of the same. There is no doubt that Musharraf wants stability. He sought to make a deal with the Islamists to assure it. Not working too well. The US must give him far more support to fight them. Enough that he takes them on seriously.
The US must increase its armed forces by many hundreds of thousands. Its gonna need them.
Michael Burleigh’s Blood and Rage: A Cultural History of Terrorism will be published by Harper Collins in February.