- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 26, 2001

The State Department's newly released report on "Patterns of Global Terrorism" does not mention Pakistan among its short list of terrorist states. Washington must still be hoping that Islamabad's nominal chief executive, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, will seek to block the military adventurism of his fellow generals and Pakistan's intelligence directorate, the ISI, which has characterized the junta's actions during its first two years in power. Several recent developments, however, cast doubts on Mr. Musharraf's ability to assert any measure of democratic, peaceable rule. Moreover, there is today greater reason to question if he is at all willing to foreswear the militancy (here called Jihadism) of the Islamists who dominate the country's armed forces.

In the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, a Pakistan-supported insurgency continues unabated. New Delhi has provided documentary proof that hundreds of the guerrilla fighters are Pakistani nationals and Afghans. India's political leadership has enacted and repeatedly extended a unilateral cease-fire in the region despite provocations by the Islamist militants. New Delhi's conciliatory calls for political reconciliation in the province have rarely been heard since the beginning of the conflict in 1948.

While India is winning the propaganda war, Pakistan is stepping up anti-Indian militancy throughout the region. In Bangladesh, which used to be East Pakistan until 1971, pro-Pakistani elements within the military are causing Prime Minister Hasina Wajed embarrassment by attacking Indian border posts. In one such incident, the worst since the independence of Bangladesh, 19 Indian soldiers were massacred. While the secularist Hasina Wajed is seeking to hunt down the Islamist assassins of her father, the ISI pursues a cloak-and-dagger policy to have her removed by the pro-Pakistani opposition among which Islamists dominate.

North of Bangladesh in the Indian state of Assam, a local, tribal-based insurgency enjoys the backing of Pakistan's ISI, while in the nearby Himalayan state of Nepal, the intelligence services of India and Pakistan are locked in a fierce competition for influence. For the ISI, Nepal has proven to be a favorite gateway to India, allowing for a steady infiltration of terrorists, weapons and money. The hijacking of an Indian passenger plane two years ago had its starting point in Nepal's capital, Katmandu. And in April of this year, a Pakistani diplomat was expelled from Nepal after he was found in possession of large quantities of weapons and more than 20 pounds of plastic explosives.

In the last few years the Muslim minority in Nepal has more than doubled, mainly due to immigration from war-torn Kashmir. The ISI has sought to recruit militants from among these Muslims, while also lending support to anti-Indian, Sikh militants and even some fringe Maoist insurgents. In short, every available means is being employed to sow dissent on India's borders.

Particularly nasty results of this subversion are the frequent bomb blasts in India and Pakistan that kill hundreds of civilians every year. This tit-for-tat policy was first used in the early 1970s, but slowly abated as it became clear that no side could bring down the other with terror. Today a new generation of ISI officers seems prepared for total war, a result of their ideological schooling in Jihadism, a tenet of fundamentalist Islam.

Mr. Musharraf has impressed visitors by assuring them that he is taking steps against the proliferation of madrasas, schools designed to impart an Islamic education, theoretically akin to the Jewish yeshiva. In Pakistan, however, many madrasas have become means of Jihadist indoctrination and even military training. Their aim is to produce militants like Afghanistan's Taliban. And while such Islamist groups have scarcely ever garnered more than a million votes in Pakistani elections, with today more than 1 million students enrolled in such madrasas, future graduates are promising to make up an increasingly important part of Pakistan's political and social life. The dissolution of these schools will not go unopposed and the recent appointment of a fervent Islamist as minister of religious affairs seems to almost belie Mr. Musharraf's assurances that he intends to nip terrorism in the bud.

Ironically, there is more state-sponsored terrorism to report from Pakistan than from some of the other countries that figure on the State Department's list. Pakistan's Islamist political party, the Jama`at-e Islami, notorious for carrying out the murders of foreign tourists, is known to have spawned other groups which figure on the list of foreign terrorist organizations. Exempting Pakistan from this list and trusting that Mr. Musharraf would be able to put his house in order may have seemed a wise policy a year ago. By now this approach looks dubious and brings into question the credibility of U.S. efforts in combating terrorism. With the rising strength of Pakistan's Islamist groups, the United States should no longer hesitate to name Pakistan as one of those states that support terrorism.


Khalid Duran is editor of Trans-Islam Magazine, a quarterly journal of Islamic studies, and author of the recently published "The Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam for Jews," published by the American Jewish Committee Press.

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