‘Pakistan is Al Qaeda’s global base’
Senior leaders of Al Qaeda are using sanctuaries in Pakistan’s lawless frontier regions to plan new terror attacks and funnel money, manpower and guidance to affiliates around the world, Gen. David Petraeus, US Central Command chief, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Pakistan has become the nerve centre of Al Qaeda’s global operations, allowing the terror group to re-establish its organizational structure and build stronger ties to Al Qaeda offshoots in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, North Africa and parts of Europe, he said.
The comments underscored the growing US belief that Pakistan has displaced Afghanistan as Al Qaeda ‘s main stronghold, the Journal noted. “It is the headquarters of the Al Qaeda senior leadership,” the general was quoted as saying.
In the interview, Petraeus also warned of difficult months ahead in Afghanistan, saying Taliban militants are moving weapons and forces into areas where the US is adding troops, planning a “surge” of their own to counter the US plan.
The US had intelligence showing that the Taliban were deploying new fighters to southern Afghanistan, appointing new local commanders, and prepositioning weapons and other supplies, he said.
“We have every expectation that the Taliban will fight to retain
US officials once believed that years of strikes had broken Al Qaeda ‘s leadership into smaller, less effective splinter groups.
But in the interview, Petraeus said US intelligence information suggested that Al Qaeda has re-emerged as a centrally directed organization capable of helping to plan attacks in other countries.
“There is a degree of hierarchy, there is a degree of interconnection, and there is certainly a flow of people, money, expertise, explosives and knowledge,” he was quoted as saying.
Petraeus painted a picture of a globalised Al Qaeda that maintains extensive logistical and communications links to terror groups in Morocco, Somalia and other countries.
Pakistan is basically a Taliban State.
Sat, May 9, 2009
By SALIM MANSUR www.edmontonsun.com
There is frantic concern in Washington and elsewhere that Pakistan has reached its tipping point and might succumb to the Taliban forces entrenched barely 80 km (50 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.
But the concern is misleading. A country of some 160 million Muslims is not about to be overrun by the Taliban. On the contrary, Pakistan is more or less a Taliban state shaped by its origin and history.
This is the unpalatable reality that cannot be publicly discussed in Washington, London or Ottawa due to diplomatic niceties. It is also complicated by the patron-client relationship the Pakistani elite pursued with the U.S. over the past six decades as a means to counter India’s dominant position in the region.
Pakistan was forcefully established by an elite on the basis of an exclusivist and bigoted idea that since India’s Muslims constitute a “nation” they deserve a state of their own.
The perversion of Islam into a nationalist ideology hugely aggravated communal politics in undivided India that would not end with the partitioning of the subcontinent in 1947. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, ruthlessly planned this division when he called for direct action — communal blood-letting — by his supporters which led to the massive Hindu-Muslim riots known as the Great Calcutta killings of August 1946.
This act of terror made certain that trust between Hindus and Muslims was irreparably broken, and Britain was compelled to depart by partitioning India.
To recall this history is to have an inkling of the sort of a country that emerged as a result of terrorism followed by ethnic cleansing of the non-Muslim population — most Hindus and Sikhs left or were forcefully driven out from present-day Pakistan.
Subsequently, the Pakistani elite declared the Ahmadiyyas — a small peace-loving sect of minority Muslims — to be non-Muslims, and persecuted them as the harbinger of further bigotry to be unleashed in the slide of Jinnah’s Pakistan into a Taliban state.
The economic exploitation of former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) by the ruling elite began with Mr. Jinnah imposing Urdu as the national language on Bengali Muslims with their own rich linguistic and cultural tradition. Eventually the two halves of Pakistan would tear apart in 1971 following civil war and systematic massacre of Bengalis by the Pakistani military.
Since 1971 the unremorseful and bloody-minded ruling elite of Pakistan — civil and military — pushed Pakistan deeper into a dependency alliance with Saudi Arabia.
It meant importing the Saudi version of Islam — Wahhabism — and its spread deep across the country through the rapid expansion of religious schools and mosques funded by money from the Gulf countries. The products of these schools and mosques are the Taliban “jihadis,” or holy-warriors, who set forth for Afghanistan in the war against the former Soviet Union.
The Pakistani elite is corrupt, opportunistic and ruthless. Behind the conniving smile of the civilian politician is the steel fist of the military with nuclear weapons.
The fear of Taliban acquiring Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is manufactured by the elite to garner diplomatic and financial support from the West.
This is extortion brazenly practised by the elite responsible for making Pakistan into a rogue state with its people crushed by poverty. It is this reality that makes for terror and war in the region, and threatens peace beyond.
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