- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2002

The attackers started throwing grenades in the international Protestant church in Islamabad, Pakistan, shortly after worshippers had finished singing "This is Holy Ground" on Sunday. When the explosions and smoke had cleared, five lay dead and 45 injured. U.S. embassy employee Barbara Green and her teen-age daughter, Kristen Wormsley, were among the dead. Her husband and young son were among the injured. The victims at the church, which is located just 400 yards from the American embassy compound, were mostly foreigners. Both President Bush and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf have expressed outrage at the attacks. But outrage is not enough. Gen. Musharraf must prove he is serious about fighting terrorism.

Gen. Musharraf stated the act was an attempt to undermine his efforts to combat terrorism. This may well be. But while his delicate political position cannot be denied, it is time to take a look at exactly what the Pakistani president is doing.

On Jan. 12, Mr. Musharraf announced a crackdown on Islamic militants many of whom had previously been supported by the Pakistani government and named five terrorist groups operating within Pakistan that would be banned. This measure was taken in the wake of the attack in December on the Indian parliament by terrorists from Pakistani-controlled Kashmir. He then had some 2,000 militants and their associates arrested, but many have since been released. A Pakistani embassy official said they were released on the condition of good behavior, a type of parole system monitored by the local police. In this incident and in the kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, we may have the result of this leniency before us.

No one had claimed responsibility yesterday, but a Pakistan embassy official said the two militants may have been from one of the five banned terrorist groups. Well, who are these people? Doesn't the Pakistani government have an obligation to share that information? A Pakistani embassy official said that their identities are "common knowledge" and that some names have even been published in local papers in Pakistan. For the safety of the international community, the U.S. government must demand that this list be shared. And Gen. Musharraf must be held accountable. Reports that militants have changed their names and regrouped in Kashmir indicate that the crackdowns have been far from effective.

Wounded churchgoers spent yesterday praying from their hospital beds for the dead and injured members of their congregation. This attack will not weaken the spirit of the American people, nor should it dampen the courage of countries who stand with us. Instead, the attack must embolden Americans to hold accountable those who attack the security of the United States and its citizens.


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