Dissent of the Day

A reader writes:

Pakistan is perhaps the worst covered country in the American media -- you need start reading about it before you make hysterical remarks about it being on the verge of an Islamic takeover. There are real dangers there but you clearly do not understand them.

Pakistan is not on the verge of an Islamist takeover. Islamist groups make up a small but very vocal part of Pakistani political life and they most definitely are a menace, globally and more often domestically. But there is no prospect of them taking over. Musharraf is their patron, not their opponent. At the last election, which was very heavily rigged by the military, the six Islamist parties (coerced together by the ISI even though they all loathe each other) won just 11.3 per cent of the vote. In Indonesia Islamist parties won 18 per cent and nobody is seriously suggesting an Islamist takeover there. Democracy will help reduce the Islamist influence -- a return to secular democratic rule will cut back the growth in jihadi activity.

Jihadi groups rely on the military for support and they serve the military by providing jihadis to fight in Kashmir and Afghanistan and in terrorist attacks against Indian and western targets. They also provide the military with a way to maintain their important links to the US - Musharraf stirs up these groups with one hand and then points to them as a great threat with the other so as to ensure a constant flow of US dollars.