Sunday, July 22, 2007

Lal Masjid: Musharraf's Bluestar

The tragic episode of Lal Masjid has injected a new ugliness into what seems to be emerging as a bitter conflict between Islamic militants and security forces. The army action was warranted but the timing and the handling of the affair simply showed the extent radical elements have gained in Pakistan. For India, the wave of violence sweeping its western neighbor is a grim reminder of how dangerous a place Pakistan has become.

Indeed, the ferocity and nature of the attacks on security forces carry echoes from Iraq. I am often aghast at the extremist views that have been pitchforked into these ventures. The Lal Masjid incident is a perilous indication that Talibanic viewpoints/ideology is spreading its venomous tentacles far and wide. Just as the Ghazi brothers declared independence from the state for their Lal Masjid complex six months ago, their spiritual brethren in Waziristan want to impose their own harsh laws dating back to 800 AD.
Pakistan is witnessing an unabated terrorism cycle—having experienced a suicide bombing or a bomb blast each day since the July 10 military operation against the mosque. To the outrage of many people, those who died in the Red Mosque operation are now being proclaimed as 'shaheed' or martyrs. Gen.Mush's government is responsible for this mess. Delay in effectively tackling the defiant stance of the Red Mosque not only complicated the crisis, but gave ample opportunity to Ghazi to entrench his forces militarily, start an effective media campaign and draw sympathy from segments of society by claiming that he and his comrades were merely asking for the enforcement of religious laws in the country. The 'bravery' of 'god's soldiers' stood exposed in the buff when one of the brothers was caught fleeing in a burqa :).

If developments in the last two weeks are any indicator, Pakistan is increasingly becoming an ungovernable state. Divisions within society about the direction of the state are becoming intense and if this confusion and cycle of violence continues, the very state of Pakistan might become unviable unleashing a potential (nuclear) nightmare in the sub-continent.