Pervez Hoodbhoy in Dawn:
If public support were absent, extremist violence could be relatively easy to deal with. But extremism does not lie merely at the fringes. As an example, let us recall that 5,000 people crammed the streets outside Lal Masjid to pray behind the battle-hardened pro-Taliban militant leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz, the day after he was released from prison on the orders of interior minister Rehman Malik.
In the political arena, the extremists have high-profile cheerleaders like Imran Khan, Qazi Hussain Ahmad and Hamid Gul who rush to justify every attack on Pakistan’s people and culture. To them it makes no difference that Baitullah Mehsud proudly admits to the murder of Allama Dr Sarfaraz Ahmad Naeemi, the recent Peshawar mosque bombing, the earlier Wah slaughter and scores of other hideous suicide attacks. Like broken gramophone records, they chant “Amrika, Amrika, Amrika” after every new Taliban atrocity.
Nevertheless, bad as things are, there is a respite. To the relief of those who wish to see Pakistan survive, the army finally moved against the Taliban menace. But, while the state has committed men to battle, it cannot provide them a convincing reason why they must fight.
For now some soldiers have bought into the amazing invention that the Baitullahs and Fazlullahs are India’s secret agents. Others have been told that they are actually fighting a nefarious American-Jewish plot to destabilise Pakistan. To inspire revenge, still others are being shown the revolting Taliban-produced videos of Pakistani soldiers being tortured and beheaded.