Pakistani Extremist Coalition Leaves Government Impotent

Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images

Pakistani Extremist Coalition Leaves Government Impotent

A new coalition of Pakistani extremist groups is bad news for Islamabad and the United States.

Thousands of jihadists poured onto Islamabad’s streets on February 20 chanting “death to America,” demanding holy war against the West, and heaping scorn on Pakistan’s government. The gathering concerns the U.S. State Department because it represents a coalescing of some 40 anti-American parties—previously at odds with each other—but now unified under a new banner: the Defense of Pakistan Council (dpc).

Among the world-class Islamists who spoke at the dpc rally were Chairman Maulana Sami ul Haq, nicknamed “the Taliban’s spiritual father”; Muhammad Ijaz-Ul-Haq, son of Zia-Ul-Haq, who ruled Pakistan until his death in 1988; Fazlur Rehman Khalil, signatory to Osama bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa declaring war against the West, and former head of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, an outlawed Islamist group connected to al Qaeda; Hafiz Abdur Makki, the deputy head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a UN-banned outfit thought to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks; and Abdullah Gul, son of a former leader of Pakistan’s isi intelligence agency.

These are not petty terrorist thugs. They are tier-one players who have been central to the success of the Taliban, al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups. In the past they’ve often clashed with each other over how best to wage anti-Western jihad. Today, however, their shared hatred for U.S. involvement in Pakistan, and frustration with Islamabad’s Western cooperation, has persuaded them to set aside their grievances with each other and to unite against the United States and Pakistan’s leaders who don’t hate the U.S. enough.

“Today, we have gathered here to raise a voice of protest against U.S. intervention in Pakistan,” said Sami ul-Haq.

“America wants to break Pakistan into pieces,” Gul told the crowd. “For 10 years our rulers as an ally of the United States spilled the blood of this nation. We insisted in the past and say it again now—this is not our war,” he said.

Makki roused the angry mob to chants of “Death to America,” and said, “Both the U.S. and our spy agencies know how many jihadis have been trained during the past decade and who will defend the country in case the military fails in its job.”

The crowd then chanted: “America deserves one treatment: jihad, jihad!”

Not a Fringe Movement

The Telegraph’s Pakistan correspondent Rob Crilly was present at the rally. He said it was “the kind of gathering that, had it been held in Pakistan’s tribal heartlands, might well have invited an American drone or missile strike.”

But this assembly was not in Waziristan’s badlands or the Islamist cities of Peshawar or Quetta. It was in the heart of the capital city of Islamabad, only 2 miles from Pakistan’s parliament and the American embassy at whose ambassadors most of the hatred was aimed.

During his time behind the megaphone, Gul said, “We will fight to the last drop of our blood.” He stirred the crowd into a frenzy, reminding the people of how close they were to the U.S. Embassy.

Crilly pointed out that the crowd wasn’t just a handful of tribal hotheads, but “about 5,000 people, young and old, all united in hatred of the West.”

The rally was the most important meeting yet of the quickly growing dpc, a group largely unnoticed outside Pakistan. This organization threatens the nation’s delicate democracy and hopes to terminate all cooperation with the West. It has been staging rallies around Pakistan since it was established three months ago, prompting fears among the country’s moderates and Westerners that Islamists will take over Pakistan—nukes and all.

Islamabad’s Impotence

The coalition could not have emerged at a worse time for the Western-leaning government of President Asif Ali Zardari, which has teetered on the brink of collapse several times in the past year.

Zardari and Pakistan’s other civilian leaders appear impotent against the dpc for three reasons. First, the country’s army—which really holds Pakistan’s reins of rule—is protecting and even encouraging the growing anti-U.S. movement. Second, the government is limited by Pakistan’s law since most of the banned outfits have renamed themselves to bypass restrictions. Third, Islamabad fears the inevitable political backlash that would result from its intervening.

The existence of the dpc is terrible news for the United States. Pakistan, Washington’s supposed ally in the war on terror, has accepted more than $20.7 billion of military and economic aid from the U.S. since 9/11. Now, the Pakistani government that has accepted all of those billions in exchange for loyalty to America is becoming powerless against the rising, America-loathing force that is the dpc. The dpc is now planning to field its own candidates in Pakistan’s general election expected later this year. Some analysts think it could be the death knell for Pakistan’s moderate and Western-leaning government.

The Trumpet has often warned of the danger of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal falling under the control of radical Islamism and Iran. For example, in January 2008, editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote that “Pakistan also has the nuclear bomb and could be taken over by radical Islam, with plenty of help from Iran.” This nation, the world’s seventh-most powerful military power, could soon become a “proxy of the Iranian mullahs,” he warned. “[T]his would be the worst possible disaster!”

The dpc and other Islamists already hold great sway over Pakistan’s shaky government, and Islamabad’s growing ire toward Washington will bolster their power. With much of the Muslim world still reeling from populist uprisings, the time may be ripe for a coup or an election that could ally nuclear Pakistan with Iran.

Jesus Christ specifically forewarned of the age of nuclear proliferation we are living in and showed that this time of peril points to the imminence of His return. To understand how events unfolding in Pakistan tie in to that hope-filled event, read “Pakistan and the Shah of Iran.”