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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Pakistan criticised for lack of action
Leading author and journalist, Ahmed Rashid
Ahmed Rashid: 'The regime is at the moment running scared.'
The authorities in Pakistan have been heavily criticised by a leading writer and journalist for their failure to crack down on militant groups in the region.

Ahmed Rashid accused the ruling military regime of not putting "its money where its mouth is" over its failure to dismantle the al-Qaeda network.

He said: "The regime is at the moment is running scared of the fundamentalists, you know although this is a military regime I think they are unwilling to do anything seriously to crack down."

"There's huge international pressure to have a decisive policy towards the extremist groups which the government has announced but does not seem to be willing to carry out."

Tough speaking

In January under pressure from India and the West, the president of Pakistan, General Musharraf banned five militant groups.


I think they are unwilling to do anything seriously to crack down

Ahmed Rashid
In a televised address to the nation he also announced that Pakistan would no longer be used as a base for religious extremists and groups that supported terrorism.

But in an interview with HARDtalk Pakistan, Mr Rashid said that tough words had failed to be converted into decisive action.

He said: "Musharraf banned these five groups in January but they're still wandering around and they're holding press conferences and rallies."

"We still see them all the time and they are acting very threateningly. So the regime is not prepared to actually put its money where its mouth is."

Safe houses

Mr Rashid also claimed that after 11 September members of the Taleban and Al Qaeda have crossed into Pakistan.

He claimed that they are not only living openly in the country, but that they also have the support of the people.

The President of Pakistan, General Musharraf
Musharraf banned militant groups in January
He said: "Clearly there is a whole network, a whole grid of safe houses, of cars, of logistics, of support for these militants inside Pakistan and the regime has done absolutely nothing about tackling this issue."

He added: "Most of the Taleban cabinet is living in Peshawar, untouched. They go shopping, they meet people, they have dinner parties, they invite people into their homes. Many of them are living in Quetta and many of the other Taleban and Al Qaeda are living in Punjab and in Karachi."

Warning

Ahmed Rashid is highly regarded as the author of 'Taliban-Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia.'

Originally published in 1998 the book at the time made little impact.

But in 'Taliban', Mr Rashid, warned about the threat of the Taleban and the plight of the Afghan people.


I think the Americans have lost a great deal in this process

Ahmed Rashid
Mr Rashid also claimed that US policy in Afghanistan will fail because they insist on still pursuing it as a war, which in the long term could cause problems.

He said: "US policy right now in Afghanistan is proving disastrous because the Pentagon is running the policy. They are pursuing it still as a war. Donald Rumsfeld constantly says there's a war on."

He added: "What most what most people are concerned about is how are you helping reconstruct the country, how are you helping the political process."

"I think the Americans have lost a great deal in this process and it doesn't seem that the Bush administration has got the message."

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See also:

27 Jun 02 | South Asia
12 Jun 02 | South Asia
13 Jan 02 | South Asia
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