Counter-Terrorism: The Pakistani Islamic Paradox

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October 16, 2006: The sloppiness of an Islamic radical air force officer in Pakistan, led to the destruction of a terrorist cell there. The air force officer had rigged a rocket to fire, via remote control, at Pakistani president Musharraf's home. But the officer used a cell phone, to trigger the rocket launch, that had his phone number in it. The rocket launch failed, the cell phone was recovered, and soon forty air force officers and civilians were under arrest.

For the last thirty years, there has been a, usually quiet, civil war going on at the upper echelons of Pakistani society. In the 1970s, many Pakistani military officers got the idea that Islamic law was the solution to the country's problems. Starting in the late 1970s, laws were changed, to be more Islamic. For example, under the new, Islamically Correct, law, a woman could not prove she was raped unless she had four male witnesses testifying in her favor. Otherwise, she was guilty of fornication or adultery. The latter carried a death penalty.

These new laws did not eliminate the corruption and bad attitudes that had left Pakistan poor and crime ridden. But many officers still believe that Islamic "discipline" will solve everything. However, in the last decade, the vast majority of upper-class Pakistanis have given up on this approach. The minority of Islamic true believers, knowing that they are a minority, and not a trusted one at that, have gathered themselves into many (dozens?, hundreds?, no one really knows) of cells. Most have no real communication with other groups. The government has a large list of those believed to be in favor of Islamic rule. Those on the list are either under arrest, or surveillance. It's the many "possibles" that drive the security people nuts.

Most of the pro-Islamic officers are competent and diligent military people. They realize that their main job is to protect Pakistan from India, marauding Afghan tribesmen, and, in a distant third place, Iran. The Islamic officers believe that, if they could just get another one of their own into the top job, things would be better. They won't. They weren't in the past, and nothing has changed that would make living by 7th century rules, any more likely to save the world.

 


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