Why the surprise?
Iraq insurgents are holding a Pakistani driver hostage, threatening to behead him if their demands are not met. Many are surprised why Islamic terrorists should target a Muslim citizen of a Muslim country. There is no need for surprise. Last weeks terrorist attack on a Kashmiri village killed 12 people, all Muslims, many of whom were small children. In Pakistan’s vicious sectarian violence, some Muslims die, some Muslims kill.
Also, given that the Iraqi insurgents are fighting ‘occupying forces’ and calling for the release of Iraqi political prisoners, will General Musharraf buy the line that they are ‘freedom fighters’?
The current war on terrorism has quite correctly been characterised as a war within Islam; where the moderate majority needs to confront the fanatical extremist minority. While Musharraf has received accolades for his performance in the distinct Bush war on terror, his record in the actual war against Islamic extremism in abysmal. Jihadi groups were openly recruiting brigades to fight in Iraq – Musharraf’s government did precious little to stop them. Will he move against them decisively now?
The Pakistan government’s tough public position that it would not negotiate with terrorists and kidnappers is just grandstanding, for it has always shown a remarkable enthusiasm to make deals.