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Pakistan faces suicide attacks in the midst of high-security areas

Ever since the war in Afghanistan showed that the strategy of inculcating fighters with religious fervor produced fighters who were extremely dedicated, passionate and ruthless, Pakistan has been employing that strategy to fight on both flanks. It has always looked to Afghanistan to provide a region where it has a strong influence and had used the Taleban to great effect. The Taliban, religious and ruthless fighters took over Aghanistan from the disordered Government of the day and it took the 2001 WTC attacks to get the US to push them out. On the other flank, in its long runnings feuds with Pakistan, both disgruntled youth from India and native Pakistanis were given arms and religious training and sent to fight in India on 2 separate fronts – one was to fight the long-running fight in Jammu and Kashmir with Indian troops, and the other was to bring about an era of instability by bomb attacks in different parts of the country, especially in religious areas (for greater instability).
In all these, the primary responsibility was that of the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence), the intelligence wing of Pakistan, or more commonly claimed as the state within a state. The ISI has always remained under the control of the military and even civilian Prime Ministers were unable to bring about much control on this rogue institution. If there is one institution that has been responsible for a fair amount of the chaos in wide sections of the world, it is the ISI. It is the ISI that setup the camps, the training grounds and provided the overall environment under which religious indoctrination happens. This was also the state policy of Pakistan (an undeclared policy, but apparent to everyone).

With the advent of the 2001 attacks on the the WTC (carried out by a terrorist group that was sheltered by the Taliban which in turn was a creation of the ISI), Pakistan was forced to change track under pressure from the US and to give up support for the Taleban. This has not gone down well with the full range of terrorists and hardliners previously trained by the ISI; these groups see opposition to the US as a holy goal and any pullback from that as a betrayal. They have mounted attacks on President Musharraf in the past, but the range of attacks have only gone harder since the President ordered a bloody crackdown on the Lal Masjid (a local bastion of hardliners in Islamabad). And now the ultimate pushback by the militants who have attacked the ISI itself:

Two suicide attacks on the doorstep of Pakistan’s army killed 25 people and injured more than 70 yesterday including intelligence agency officials. The government blamed Islamist militants.
A spokesman said the injured worked at the defence ministry but some reports said the bus they were travelling on belonged to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the military’s spy agency. One witness said one of the injured told him he worked for the ISI, which in the past has collaborated with extremists. Gen Musharraf insists that policy has now ended.
A wave of suicide bombings in the wake of last month’s Red Mosque siege has killed several hundred civilians, police and soldiers. But attackers have rarely targeted the ISI or any intelligence personnel.

This is also seen as a warning to President Musharraf that his policy of sending in the army and police against the militants will have consequences. However, if he backs down, he is likely to face unprecedented pressure from the US which is already heating up in terms of debating whether President Musharraf is really serious about the crackdown on terror. One major problem for the President will be the attitude for the army as well as the support from within the army for the crackdown. From the time of General Zia, the army has got more indoctrinated with religion to the extent that younger officers are seen as much more religious. If they start opposing the crackdown, the base on which President Musharraf sits could rapidly crumble.

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