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Pak media does some 'soul-searching'

Source: PTI
December 13, 2008 23:48 IST
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As the Pakistani government cracks down on terrorists linked to the Mumbai carnage, the media in the country has embarked on a 'soul-searching' exercise, with questions being raised as to why the Islamic nation has become the 'hub of militancy and terrorism'.

'Soul-searching is in order, and an acceptance of the fact that Pakistan is indeed a hub of militancy and terrorism,' the influential Dawn newspaper said on Saturday.

Images: Inside Pakistan's terror schools

The Pakistani government has crackdown on the banned militant group Lashker-e-Tayiba and its affiliate group Jamat-ud-Dawah, which has been declared a terrorist organisation by the UN.

The newspaper lamented that even though an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis do not support militancy 'a small fanatical fringe has come to dictate the agenda' of the country.

In an editorial headlined 'The common enemy', it said 'we have a collective responsibility to look inwards'.

Pakistani daily The News said the JuD and the LeT were known to have scouted Punjab for suitable people to join their ranks.

'It is only when its roots are pulled out that an organisation like the JuD can be stopped. Otherwise, like a weed, it will continue to spread rapidly,' it said in an editorial on Saturday.

The media has highlighted the pull of money and identity for the self-styled 'jihadis'.

'The resentment the powerless feel may be cloaked in anti-Americanism or religiosity but in actual fact it boils down to a class conflict,' Dawn argued.

It warned that as long as nothing is done to address the growing underemployment in this country, 'the militants will find no shortage of fresh recruits'. 'At least that is the case in Pakistan,' it added.

The Dawn said becoming part of a militant or terrorist organisation 'empowers poor, impressionable young men'. It cited the case of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the sole terrorist caught alive in the Mumbai carnage.

Kasab, who hails from Faridkot, apparently first sought refuge from poverty in crime and then gravitated towards jihadi outfits.

The paper demanded the country's leadership to inform the nation in unequivocal terms' that extremism will enjoy no sanction and will not be tolerated.

The News daily highlighted the fact that many of the leaders of the militant organisations were backed by the country's top spy agency to fulfil its diplomatic agenda set by its leaders.

It said that in the mid-1980s, the LeT and Hafiz Muhammad Saeed enjoyed the backing of the CIA and the ISI to battle Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

'This patronage helped it to evolve into an organization believed to be one of South Asia's largest militant forces. The links with elements within the ISI are thought to have been retained as the guns turned away from Afghanistan and towards Kashmir,' The News underlined.

'This background means that the current action against the JuD may not be enough,' it stressed, for 'its tentacles run deep and enwrap many minds'.

In effect, the media argued that Pakistan as a nation 'faces isolation, and internal ruin' if the militants are not 'brought to book'.

India has blamed Pakistan-based LeT and its front organisation JuD for planning and carrying out the Mumbai attacks on November 26 that killed nearly 200 people.

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