Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Pakistani Loyalty To Radical Islam Tests Crackdown|
|01/21/02 at 10:52:12|
|RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -- A sign nailed onto the peeling concrete wall of the religious school says, "No political discussions allowed." The government says the sign was ignored. |
Hours after Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, announced a crackdown on Islamic radicals a week ago, police swooped at night into the Madrassa Ashrafata Alum, this decrepit little school on an empty road outside Islamabad. They took the headmaster to jail and left 80 bewildered boys to fend for themselves.
"We don't have much to eat -- just one bread a day. But we will stay here," vowed Shofqat Hayat Abbasi, a 17-year-old who now is the boys' leader. The others crowded around him, solemn and quiet. "It may be a month. It may be a year."
Their loyalty hints at the challenges ahead for Musharraf's campaign to root militancy out of the entrenched religious school system, to curb the fiery exhortations of Muslim preachers and to rein in mullahs who sent thousands of Pakistanis to fight in Afghanistan and Kashmir.
The success or failure of Musharraf's plans will likely have a profound effect on Pakistan's relations with its neighbor and rival, India, which has demanded that the military leader move decisively aga
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