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January 29, 2007
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‘Frontline Pakistan’ launched in UK

January 29, 2007

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LONDON: The book, “Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam”, written by Pakistani journalist, Zahid Hussain, has been widely appreciated by the academic, political and diplomatic circles of Britons because it is for the first time that a Pakistani has written a book on the issues of terrorism, Jihad, role of the Pakistani military in politics and failure of the establishment in tackling the issue of radical Islam.

At a big gathering in London, the said so far foreign journalists and academicians have been writing books on Pakistan but for the first time a Pakistani journalist has written on these issues with a lot of research and effort, therefore, “it is more reliable account and first-hand”.

At the launching ceremony, Zahid Hussain, was challenged by Dushka Sayed, the wife of PML Secretary-General Mushahid Hussain Sayed, and an official from the Pakistan High Commission, on the issue of rise of militancy in Pakistan and role of armed forces and religious groups in fuelling Jihad around the globe. Sayed defended the role of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), saying: “We need to draw a clear line between terrorists groups and the religio-political parties, who are part of a democratic process.” she added that the MMA was a religious party but with political credentials.

Likewise, an official from the Pakistan High Commission was seriously annoyed over, what he termed, a one-sided and biased view against Pakistan and its institutions in the book. He wondered as to why the author had not covered the role of the Western countries in fuelling terrorism.

Speaking on the occasion, Sir Hilary Synnott paid rich tributes to Zahid Hussain and said that this was for the first time that a Pakistani journalist had written a book on this important issue. “So far, the Western world had been reading works of foreign journalists or writers. Zahid Hussain has gathered information after a lot of research.”

Earlier,

Zahid Hussain spoke about his book and how the Pakistani society was affected by radicalism the Army in the wake of Afghan Jihad. He explained that how the Western countries had used the slogan of Jihad to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan. “Gen Zia with the help of the Western countries invited Muslim fighters and used them inside Afghanistan ... in those years, the Western countries had no objection to the use of religion as weapon because it was being used against their enemy.”

But, Zahid added, once this Jihad was over, the Pakistani establishment used these Jihadi forces in Kashmir, as a new front was opened with India, and the religious organisations were encouraged and funded.

Zahid said before 9/11, the Pakistani military or the establishment never raised any objection to the collection of funds and recruitment of youngsters for the cause of Kashmir by these religious groups. “Musharraf even used the religious forces — in the shape of the MMA — for his own political benefits when they all voted for keeping him as the president and the Army chief in 2004.

Zahid said it was not a difficult decision for Musharraf to take a U turn after 9/11, when he received a message from Washington that “whether you are with us or against us”. He added since the 9/11 the Pakistani society is the direct victim of the war against terrorism. “The Americans needed the Pakistani Army and intelligence agencies to attack Taliban.

He also criticised the role of the Pakistan Army and the ISI in promoting those religious groups, who had now turned their guns against their own creators, as the Pakistan had become the centre of the al-Qaeda. He also accused Musharraf of doing politics of expediency to survive on the support of religious groups.

He also claimed that a proxy war between Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran was fought on the Pakistani streets between the Shia and Sunni factions and hundreds of people were killed in this bloody war between these two groups. “Only in 2004, over 800 people died in sectarian clashes. So, apart from terrorist threats, the sectarian violence is equally threatening the Pakistani State and its institutions.”

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