Oct 26, 2009 12:53 pm


Here is another reason to worry. Pakistani Talibanism moved from the periphery to the center, from the Pashtoons in North West Pakistan to the Punjab and thereby much closer to the nukes:

The arrest this week of two ranking members of the “Punjab Taliban” has raised fears the Taliban are spreading their operations beyond the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) and into the Pakistani heartland.

Officials say two Punjabi militants, Commander Iqbal and Gul Muhammad, helped plot the attack on Pakistan Army Headquarters as well as other recent suicide bombings in Lahore and Islamabad. Until recently, “Taliban” was a word associate with Pashtuns.

“Today the bulk of attacks in heartland Pakistan are carried out by Pakistanis from Punjab or Sindh, or by Pashtun fighters assisted by heartland Pakistanis,” says Rohan Gunaratne, author of Inside Al Qaeda. Punjabi militant groups, Notably the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT), were long encouraged by Islamabad.

“Punjab-based groups, especially the LeT, were initially the creatures of the Inter-Services Intelligence, and had a Kashmir focus,” says Teresita Schaffer of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The change began when President Pervez Musharraf outlawed two Punjabi militant groups —Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) — because of their attacks on Shias.

Many Jhangvi fighters then moved to the NWFP. “Jhangvi is now the eyes, ears and operational arm of Al Qaeda and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan [based in Waziristan],” says Gunaratne. “It is hard to distinguish between the three.”

Islamabad has struggled to keep the third Punjabi militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, from joining the Taliban. “The Jaish are ambivalent when it comes to fighting the Pakistani state,” says Ajai Sahni of the Institute of Conflict Management.

Keep reading for it is apparent that Islamism has yet to peak.

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