It is Pakistan that is the terror state with nuclear weapons, not Iran, that is the greatest threat to the region.
Leading up to the crisis of the Red Mosque of Islamabad, General Musharraf was facing an unprecedented uprising by the ordinary citizenry, led by the popular and recently dismissed chief justice of Pakistan. As the sweltering summer of discontent spread across the country, tens of thousands of lawyers poured onto the streets in what is known as the "black coat" protests. Finding no room to manoeuvre, Gen. Musharraf emulated Ayub Khan, and manufactured a crisis. Then, like a knight in shining armour, he stepped in to put down the rebellion by Islamists holed up inside the Red Mosque.
It's important to know that the Red Mosque was a creation of Pakistan's intelligence services, which used it for decades to recruit armed jihadis. It was another U.S.-backed Islamist dictator, General Mohammed Zia ul-Haq, who had allowed the Red Mosque jihadis a free hand in spreading their hateful doctrine of extremism under the name of Islam. The Americans simply went along.
The brothers who led the Red Mosque rebellion - the one who was arrested trying to escape in a burka, as well as the mullah who died in the fighting - worked for Pakistan's intelligence agencies. Their father, too, was an employee of the government and ran the fiefdom in the heart of Islamabad until he was assassinated.
The mullahs and radical jihadis in the Red Mosque were all actors in the game of Pakistani roulette. As long as the mosque remained a visible hotbed of Islamist activity, Gen. Musharraf could show the West that it needed him to fight terrorism. Just as Ayub Khan was able to convince successive U.S. administrations that, without him, Pakistan would slide into communism, Gen. Musharraf has convinced George Bush that, without him, Pakistan would become one large Red Mosque teeming with jihadis trying to whip the nation into an Islamist nuclear power.
What he fails to disclose, of course, is that the arming of the Red Mosque could not have happened without his government's full knowledge. There's no way that machine guns, rocket launchers and ammunition could be brought into the heart of Islamabad, next door to government ministries, without arousing the suspicion of the country's omnipresent security agencies.
Today, the Pakistani army will claim to have stamped out a hotbed of Islamic terrorism. Tomorrow will be another story. Abdul Rashid Ghazi will emerge as the martyr of the Islamist movement in Pakistan, and his death will become the rallying cry for the Islamofascists, not its end.
In the end, Gen. Musharraf was caught in his own trap. He could not put the jihadi genie back into the bottle, so he had to kill it. He may come out as a hero to the White House and to Pakistan's ruling upper-class elites, but history dictates that this will be a short-lived romance.
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