Too late, too little

Several weeks after Musharraf announced his latest crackdown on jehadi outfits, their offices in Pakistani Kashmir have finally been shut. While the crackdown in Pakistan proper has been half-hearted, in relation to Pakistan occupied Kashmir it certainly is too little and too late.

We were asked by the (Pakistani) interior ministry on November 25 to take actions against these militant and sectarian outfits under laws applicable in Azad Jammu and Kashmir,” Additional Home Secretary Farhat Ali Mir told AFP. Mir said Islamabad had asked the government to seal the offices of these groups, freeze their bank accounts and seize their literature, posters, banners and other printed material.

Four offices of Khuddam-ul-Islam were seized in the southernmost district of Bhimber and one office of Jamaat-ul-Ansaar was sealed in Samahni town, a local official said. “The offices have been locked and the literature has been confiscated,” he said, but added that no arrests were made.

“The group had removed sign boards but its cadres were alleged to be operating from that office,” he said.

At best, Musharraf is hedging his bets and at worst he is playing another one of his clever tricks. The announcement of the crackdown scored points in Washington and helped create the current ‘thaw’. The jehadis have been asked to take it easy for a while. When the Himalayan snow melts or the diplomatic thaw freezes, Musharraf can let them loose again.