Sunday, December 2, 2012

'The venom': Pressure from Saudi Arabia to allow Sunni groups to kill Shias, 'means that Pakistan tolerates some extremist groups, while it is at war with others'

 [Economist] "...The new venom in 2012 is a result of both the growing ties between Sunni militants and also the reverberations from the broader Shia-Sunni confrontation in the Middle East. Chaudhry Aslam, a senior counter-terrorism police officer in Karachi, says that the Pakistani Taliban and sectarian extremists now share the same agenda. The link-up with sectarian groups has given the Taliban a national network. On November 25th the Pakistani Taliban, which is distinct from the Afghan Taliban to the north-west, claimed responsibility for bombings against Shias and said it “looks forward to more ahead”.
Pakistan’s armed forces have for 30 years supported jihadi groups that they want to be able to use as proxies to fight in Afghanistan and India. But when Pakistan formally sided with the United States, following the attacks of September 11th 2001, and after a bloody special-forces raid on a radical mosque in Islamabad in 2007, a faction of Sunni militants became so extreme that they turned against their former masters in the army and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency.
The armed forces, which control security policy, now differentiate between “good” jihadi groups, which follow its agenda, and “bad” jihadi groups, which attack the state. The desire to have proxies, as well as pressure from Saudi Arabia, a vital ally, to allow Sunni groups to operate in order to counter the perceived influence of Shia Iran, means that Pakistan tolerates some extremist groups, while it is at war with others. That produces monsters which spiral out of control, including sectarian groups that have now taken on the broader agenda of al-Qaeda. ..."

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