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International | Government & Elections

Pakistan government under attack
by Al Jazeera (reposted)
Monday Dec 24th, 2007 11:38 AM
Monday, December 24, 2007 : Bhutto deplores some madrasas' role but sees state failure behind rise in extremism.
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Bhutto said Musharraf had spoken of the need to reform religious schools but done nothing [AFP]

Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People's Party, has said that some of her country's religious schools are turning children into killers. Speaking to a 25,000-strong crowd near her ancestral home in the southern town of Larkana on Sunday, she also renewed accusations the government had done nothing to stop extremist violence.

"They always try to stop democratic forces but don't make any effort to check extremists, terrorists and fanatics," Bhutto said. A suicide bomber killed four soldiers and five civilians on Sunday in an attack on a military convoy in the Swat valley in the northwest, police said.

Two days earlier, a suicide bomber killed nearly 50 worshippers in a mosque during Eid al-Adha prayers in the northwestern town of Charsadda.

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§Musharraf, a 'safe pair of hands' without legitimacy
by via Daily Star, Lebanon Monday Dec 24th, 2007 11:42 AM
Monday, December 24, 2007 : With President Pervez Musharraf having lifted the state of emergency in Pakistan, there must be sighs of relief in the United States and Israel. The state of emergency was imposed when Musharraf pre-empted an expected verdict against his re-election on November 3, against a backdrop of mounting concern over the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

Over the last eight years he has been in power, Musharraf has come to be viewed as a reliable figure in Western capitals, a "safe pair of hands." Despite the resurgence of the Taliban and the increasing potency of the threat that movement's Pakistani supporters pose in the northwest of Pakistan, the international community was more or less comfortable with Musharraf in charge. As long as he was around, went the received wisdom, Pakistan's nuclear assets were safe.

Musharraf's problems - most of them self-inflicted - began piling up after March 9, when he tried to remove the stubbornly independent chief justice, Iftikhar Chaudhry. This generated serious concern in Washington and other world capitals. Although instability in Pakistan would strengthen the extremists, the more pressing worry was the possibility of nuclear warheads and related material falling into Al-Qaeda's hands.

When the Pakistani Army was constructing facilities to store and conceal components of its nuclear arsenal, it located these sites away from the Indian border, in the northwest of the country. These are the very areas where the extremists are now gaining in strength. And although the arsenal's location remains a closely guarded secret, there is a worry that Al-Qaeda might have supporters in the ranks of the Pakistani military. It is common knowledge that both the defense establishment and the intelligence community in Pakistan have been infiltrated by Taliban sympathizers. These fears have been compounded by the country's history of proliferation and the covert help A.Q. Khan, the disgraced nuclear scientist, must have received from the military.

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