Frontline Pakistan The struggle with Militant Islam By: Zahid Hussain
In fact, as this book explores, Musharraf’s decision to forge a partnership with America meant taking Pakistan to war with itself. The outcome of this struggle will affect not only the fate of Pakistan, but the ideological climate of the Middle East, and the security of the world.
It is a war which is rarely examined in any depth, as too many observers both in and outside Pakistan seem content to take the symbolic theatre of Pakistani politics at face value.
The narrative which both Musharraf and his American allies are so anxious to promulgate – that the Pakistani government is ‘cracking down’ on ‘jihadist elements’ – belies the disturbing reality that jihadists have as much if not more power over Pakistani society than Musharraf himself.
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan proceed ever more savagely, and as more and more western cities, including London, experience jihadist terror, Musharraf’s idiosyncratic ‘war on terror’ takes on momentous significance.
Covering the fast-unravelling events have been the most testing of times for me as a journalist.
Reporting is never easy in any conflict zone, but it was much harder in the politically complex climate of the region after 9/11, when strategic relationships were turned on their head, and the gap between official rhetoric and reality on the ground was so large. On 8 November 2001, just four weeks into the US-led coalition forces air strikes in Afghanistan, I sneaked inside the Afghan border as part of a humanitarian organization, disguised as a doctor.
The embattled Taliban regime had banned foreign journalists and even the slightest suspicion could have landed me in serious trouble. The risk was huge, but so was the scoop.
I remember receiving frantic calls on my way to the Torkhum border, from The Times deputy editor Preston and foreign editor Bronwen Maddox, who were worried about my safety. Though not fully convinced by my decision, they nevertheless assured me of complete support.
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