Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More on Pakistanization of Al-Qaeda

Marisa Morrison reports on yesterday's event with Alexis Debat for National Interest Online. An excerpt:

Al-Qaeda's presence is well-established in Pakistan. The provinces of North and South Waziristan, in northwest Pakistan, are home to some of Al-Qaeda's training facilities. Powerful clerics in these rugged areas shelter Al-Qaeda's top leadership. Even before the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan provided some of Al-Qaeda's most capable recruits. More disturbingly, Al-Qaeda has links to Jamiat i Islami, a large, well-established Pakistani Islamist political party. ... To complicate matters, President Pervez Musharraf is also attempting to gain the support of Islamist political parties in order to shore up support for his deteriorating regime.

Frustrated by what it perceives as Pakistan’s lack of progress on counterterrorism issues, the Bush Administration has courted India at the expense of Pakistan, India's regional rival. However, uprooting Al-Qaeda means that the Pakistani government would exacerbate existing regional, sectarian and tribal conflicts, thereby "weakening Pakistan as an entity." Westerners often ignore this crucial piece of information when assessing Pakistan's efforts to control the Islamic extremism within its borders. By holding the Musharraf government to impossibly high standards, the Bush Administration risks further alienating both the Pakistani public and political elite. Indeed, the current administration has thus far crafted faulty policies towards Pakistan.

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