- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 13, 2002

Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf is a wanted man. Defending his pro-U.S. policies nearly cost an American-born Pakistani his life, and the Pakistani leader's own well-being has been threatened by the Islamic extremism that he has sought to defeat. The question is: How long the reformist leader will be able to survive in an environment where his policies against terrorism and partnership with the United States can be fatal?

On Tuesday, a paramilitary ranger assigned to protect the security of Gen. Musharraf was accused of trying to assassinate the general. He faces charges of attempted murder in connection with an April 26 attempted assassination attempt. He and accomplices used a remote-controlled bomb, which failed to detonate as Gen. Musharraf's car passed, the Associated Press reported. The two accomplices, who also have been charged with the failed assassination, have been charged with another bombing. That one, which occurred outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, killed at least 12 Pakistanis and injured 50 others. The two accomplices used the same car that they had used to try to kill Gen. Musharraf. They are part of the outlawed Islamic militant group, Harkat-ul-Mujah, which has ties to al Qaeda.

Such extremists have made it dangerous for those who are tired of the incendiary rhetoric against the United States and Gen. Musharraf. The other day, for example, a U.S.-born engineer named Faray Jawed was at prayers when a cleric made a speech that was critical of the United States and Gen. Musharraf's support of America's war on terrorism, the United Press International reported. Mr. Jawed asked that the cleric stick to Islamic teachings as the general had urged Muslims to do. Instead, the cleric called the worshippers to kill Mr. Jawed, who escaped the mosque with a relative. Later, four dozen men with iron rods and sticks stoned the house where he was staying after the cleric requested that Mr. Jawed be punished. The police managed to eventually disband the violent group, but only after giving assurances that Mr. Jawed would be prosecuted for blasphemy.

Gen. Musharraf has recognized that a change in Pakistan will have to come from within, through a policy of zero tolerance for militancy in mosques and in schools. His speeches against extremism and arrests of terrorists have focused the minds of militants even more intensely on being successful in their war against the United States and the freedom for which it stands. It is now left up to the "blasphemers" in Pakistan to keep this militancy in check, and to ensure that Gen. Musharraf's policies gain momentum. May the Jaweds multiply.


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