President Pervez Musharraf pledged to combat Muslim extremists across Pakistan yesterday as furious crowds demonstrated against the storming of the Red Mosque and two suicide bomb attacks left six dead.Read it here.
In a televised address to the nation, Gen Musharraf said that those inside the mosque and its adjacent madrassa, or Muslim college, were "terrorists" who directly threatened Pakistan's security. They had also tarnished Islam's reputation as a tolerant and peaceful religion.
"What do we as a nation want?" he asked. "What kind of Islam do these people represent? In the garb of Islamic teaching they have been training for terrorism. They prepared the madrassa as a fortress for war and housed other terrorists in there."....
Moderate Pakistanis generally support his decision to crush the fundamentalists who had taken control of the mosque in the centre of the capital, Islamabad.
There are all sorts of rumors to the effect that allied troops in Afghanistan will be able to pursue jihadis into the Pakistani tribal regions. If that is the case, a coordinated attack by NATO and Pakistani forces could make this area less safe for al Qaeda and reverse some of the consequences of the screw-up at Tora Bora that initially allowed Bin Laden to escape.
As in every major war this country has ever fought, we in the later stages have to correct for the mistakes made by the early military leadership. Usually this involves a change in commanders. What few commentators have noted is that Bush has been quick to relieve under-performing figures in the military high command and to replace them with more innovative and more competent commanders. That's one of the reasons that there are so many "retired" generals populating the cable channels and writing books critical of the administration.