Monday, October 30, 2006

Pakistani Rules of Engagement

Pakistan reported today it destroyed a madrassa that was training Islamic militants. Here's the NYTs nut graf:
The Pakistani military said today that it had destroyed a religious school used for training militants in the Bajur tribal area, which straddles the border with Afghanistan. The attack killed at least 80 people, the military said, describing them as militants.

The strike started at about 5 a.m. local time, when helicopter gunships fired missiles into the religious school, known as a madrassa, that was run by a local cleric, Maulvi Liaqut, according to military officials. Ground troops then stormed the compound.
Is this how Pakistan deals with its Islamic militants?

Gunships firing missiles into a madrassa is not a proportional response, it is a crime that will now only create more legitimate hostility to Musharraf as a pawn of the United States. Of course Pakistan should begin to deal with Islamic militants that threaten Pakistan's stability, but it should learn that repression will only bolster and radicalize Islamists into jihadists, such as in Algeria or Egypt. Also, this is bad for the U.S. as we have moved closer to Pakistan since 9/11 with Musharraf's insistence that he'd help in Afghanistan and more generally help destroy terrorist networks. Hopefully, this madrassa did indeed double as a terrorist training facility because reaction was immediate.
But opposition Islamist parties were quick to denounce the attack and blamed the United States. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, alleged that innocent children were killed and that the Pakistan Army was covering up for the alleged Americans strike.

“This area is not an area where there can be any training camp,” Mr. Ahmed said at a news briefing in Islamabad. “This is actually tantamount to the declaration of war on Pakistan,” he said.
In this situation, who do you believe: the corrupt military dictatorship or leaders of an Islamist opposition whose possible ascension to power will be paved with indiscriminate acts of state terrorism?

Pic from BBC