- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's assertion in an interview yesterday that he has the full support of his population is contradicted daily by a steady drum beat of anti-U.S. and anti-Israel editorials and op-ed articles in the Pakistani press.
"Those against the government's position are a small minority," Gen. Musharraf told CNN's Christiane Amanpour. "Generally, if not all, they are religious extremists. There is no mass opposition."
In fact, the silent majority in Pakistan supports Gen. Musharraf's backing of the U.S.-led campaign with the caveat that what they see as the root causes of terrorism will at long last be addressed the occupation of Jerusalem, Palestine and Kashmir; the still widening gap between rich and poor nations; unfair terms of trade; and Third World debt.
"Dubya," wrote columnist Humayun Gauhar yesterday in Pakistan's daily newspaper The Nation, "expects to construct a coalition comprising Muslim states to wage a war that he calls a 'crusade' on another Muslim state and he expects Muslims not to get all worked up.
"Sept. 11 was not mindless terrorism for the sake of creating terrorism. It was reaction and revenge, even retribution, for the systemic injustice against Muslims, often descending to genocide."
Gen. Musharraf's lack of maneuvering room was dramatized by a cartoon in Dawn, Pakistan's most influential newspaper, yesterday.
The paper, which has always opposed Pakistani support for the Taliban, shows an anxious Gen. Musharraf, arms and hands outstretched to the limit, touching with one finger the tip of Uncle Sam's index, and with the other a finger of a mullah.
Another cartoon in the Nation newspaper showed Uncle Sam peering through a telescope at the Muslim world while dwarfed by a gigantic genie of "World Terrorism" wafting out of a bottle labeled with the Star of David.
Not to be outdone, the Pakistan Observer depicted Uncle Sam as a skeleton in combat fatigues, a bottle of wine sticking out of his backpack and a triple-barreled automatic weapon pointed at the world community, as he carries a sign reading, "I condemn terrorism." Uncle Sam shouts, "You friend or foe?"
Even Interior Minister Gen. Moinuddin Haider was proud to say at a news conference that "no investigation relating to [the United States] is being carried out in Pakistan and neither [has] any person in connection with the attacks been arrested on U.S. say-so." The suggestion was that Pakistan does not have a terrorist problem.
For his part, Gen. Musharraf played down the influence and the numbers of the religious schools, or madrassas. There are now 15,000 such Quranic schools, nearly double the number he mentioned, with about a million students. They provide free education and board in a country that can't afford it because over half the budget is earmarked for defense and nuclear weapons.
Madrassas are heavily subsidized by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two countries that recently severed their diplomatic ties with the Taliban regime in Kabul. Children are taught to read and write and study the Quran by rote, interspersed with a regular stream of anti-American and anti-Israeli messages.
By the time madrassa-educated children have completed a few years of Quranic studies, for many of them the anti-U.S. propaganda has turned to hatred and a thirst for revenge. Osama bin Laden is their hero. The most gung-ho were selected for training as mujahideen.
The training takes place in Afghanistan in bin Laden's vast Taliban-supported network of training camps. There, the most promising elements are talent spotted by al Qaeda recruiters and indoctrinated into the hall of would-be martyrs.
Distributed by United Press International, for whom Arnaud de Borchgrave is an editor-at-large.

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