Some critics of the coming war with Iraq claim that it is a distraction from the battle against terrorists. There are even critics who claim that the war against Iraq will so inflame Muslim opinion against the United States that the US will get less intelligence cooperation from Muslim governments in tracking down terrorists. These arguments are thrown into some serious doubt by a recent speech that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf gave warning Pakistanis that after Iraq Pakistan could become the next target of American wrath.
Addressing a meeting of businessmen and industrialists in Lahore at the weekend, Musharraf said that there was speculation that Pakistan would become the target of "Western forces" after the Iraq crisis and that there were chances of such an eventuality. "We will have to work on our own to stave off the danger. Nobody will come to our rescue, not even the Islamic world. We will have to depend on our muscle," the general said.
Why is Musharraf saying this? He's trying to convince his fellow countrymen that fundamentalist fervor and terrorism are dead-ends that will only lead to ruin for Pakistan.
Musharraf's unexpected comments could, therefore, be interpreted as a warning to jihadis in the country that their actions are making it very difficult for the government. As Musharraf said, "We can talk to the US ... but how can we convince them on our points when the whole country echoes with the slogans of jihad [against the US]."
Musharraf is arguing that foreign terrorists in Pakistan are not serving Pakistan's best interests.
On the Taliban and al-Qaeda regrouping, he said "some foreigners in Pakistan are harming US interests here though we take them as brothers."
Musharraf also appealed to Pakistanis to shun extremism. "Muslims are suffering everywhere but in the hour of the need no one would help us because everyone has his own interests. We will have to be a very moderate county, not with a confrontationist approach but with liberal mind."
Musharraf is using the example of what the United States is about to do to Iraq to argue that Pakistan must turn away from a confrontational radical fundamentalist path. He's trying to win support for a crackdown on Al Qaeda and Taliban in Pakistan and he's using the threat of an American attack to convince various segments of Pakistani society that the crackdown is necessary. Musharraf's argument is made credible by the spreadng belief that the US is willing to do regime change in Muslim countries. Actions that the US takes that increase the credibility of US threats to use military force help to further the war against the Muslim terrorists.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 January 27 12:13 AM Civilizations Clash Of|