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July 13, 2007

Musharraf Declares War On 'Muslim Extremists' On National Television

wpak313b.jpgPakistan's President Pervez Musharraf may have finally realized that pacifying Islamists is a no-win situation for him and that his political survival is threatened should he fail to engage the radicals and reconnect with his moderate constituency.

... In a televised address to the nation, Gen Musharraf said that those inside the mosque and its adjacent madrassa, or Muslim college, were "terrorists" who directly threatened Pakistan's security. They had also tarnished Islam's reputation as a tolerant and peaceful religion.

"What do we as a nation want?" he asked. "What kind of Islam do these people represent? In the garb of Islamic teaching they have been training for terrorism. They prepared the madrassa as a fortress for war and housed other terrorists in there."

Gen Musharraf praised the army for wresting the mosque and its madrassa "from the hands of terrorists" and said: "I will not allow any madrassa to be used for extremism."

... Moderate Pakistanis also applauded his stand against radicals who had openly defied his authority.

By ordering the army to clear the mosque, Gen Musharraf succeeded in distracting attention away from his domestic troubles, notably his immensely unpopular attempt to sack the Chief Justice, Mohammed Iftikhar Chaudhry. ''He has reconnected with the moderate constituency," said Dr Vernon Hewitt, an expert in Pakistan at Bristol University.

"But that constituency is a great deal weaker than it was seven or eight years ago."

Continue reading Musharraf declares war on Muslim extremists ...

Musharraf's best chances of survival is to ally with secular political forces, such as the Pakistan People's Party led by the former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto. If he can draw moderate civilians into his government, he could weaken the appeal of the extremists, but so far, Musharraf hasn't shown a willingness to share power with his former foes. As The Telegraph points out, he just might not have a choice.

Cross posted from Hyscience

Posted by Richard at July 13, 2007 7:31 AM

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