- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2006

LAHORE, Pakistan — Five years after Septem- ber 11, Pakistan’s mili-tary regime has yet to fully clamp down on extremist Islamic groups that carry out terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Kashmir and beyond.

The madrassas that housed foreign militants five years ago, who went on to form the Taliban and other extremists groups, have not been tamed.

But as Pakistan’s role this week in stopping the plot to blow up more than 10 jetliners en route from Britain to the United States demonstrated, the nation’s action against terrorists is mixed.

Pakistan helps to resupply and support 4,300 British troops in Helmand, Afghanistan.

Supplies of food, water, fuel and ammunition are shipped to Karachi’s port and then trucked to Quetta, from where they are put on Afghan trucks for the journey to Helmand.

Pakistan has not lost a single container belonging to the British army.

To stop the airline bombing plot, Pakistan’s Interservices Intelligence (ISI) cooperated for months with Britain’s MI5, monitoring the British-born Muslims reportedly involved.

ISI arrested at least seven suspects — five Pakistanis and two Britons — a week ago in Karachi and Lahore, which could well have alerted others in Britain to advance the timing of the plot.

Yet President Pervez Musharraf’s promise after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States to battle Muslim extremism has been only partially fulfilled.

Pakistan has not clamped down on the Taliban leadership that is operating from Balochistan province, from where they recruit hundreds of fighters to kill British troops in Helmand.

In Balochistan, the Taliban arrange to receive weapons and supplies paid for by the drug trade.

On Pakistan’s eastern border, groups of Kashmiri extremists banned after the al Qaeda attacks on the United States have lately turned themselves into relief charities and continue their operations despite Pakistan’s attempts to broker peace with India.

Pakistan’s stop-start policy is a result of the military’s long-standing alliance with militant Islam.

In the 1990s, with ISI working closely with the Taliban and Kashmiri extremists, elected governments floundered and al Qaeda established itself in Afghanistan.

Today, the army is allied to Islamic parties that have spawned these militant groups. Gen. Musharraf most likely will ally with them again before elections slated for 2007.

The problem for agencies such as MI5 and the CIA is that Pakistan’s cooperation on single cases such as the suspected bomb plot is hugely welcome and productive.

As a result, Western governments are reluctant to push Gen. Musharraf to carry out wider reforms that would slow down the spread of extremism in Pakistan.

After September 11, Gen. Musharraf promised to dismantle the infrastructure that supports extremism in Pakistan and terrorism abroad, but only a few steps were taken.

That infrastructure — run by groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed — provides safe houses, cash, travel documents and other facilities to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Pakistani terrorists also set up meetings with potential recruits, such as young Britons of Pakistani ancestry who visit from Britain.

That was the case last year when at least two of the London subway bombers appeared to have contacted al Qaeda through Pakistani surrogates.

Pakistan is awash in far more dangerous forms of Islamic extremism than ever existed before September 11.

The leadership of al Qaeda, Taliban, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and groups from Chechnya to Indonesia live along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

These groups have declared a large chunk of tribal territory a Shariah state — that is a state practicing Islamic law outside Pakistan’s jurisdiction.

Anything goes here from stoning women accused of adultery to smashing TV sets. The Taliban-style justice is spreading.

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