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Jihadis in PAKISTAN have turned South Asia into a WAR ZONE - L.A. Times

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    Jihadis in PAKISTAN have turned South Asia into a WAR ZONE - L.A. Times

    In a special report on Pakistan's religious movements, the Los Angeles Times said the Jihadis have played a major role in transforming South Asia into the world's most volatile region - and Pakistan into the world's most explosive country. Today's militant faithful see the entire world as the battlefield for their holy war, it added.

    "Pakistan ,The impoverished South Asian nation is now home to at least 128 camps for 'militants' dedicated to retrieving Kashmir and widening the Islamic world. Once the 'militants' were proxies of the government. Now, even the new military regime is unable or unwilling to rein them in."

    The report, entitled the "Chilly Goals of Islam's New Warriors", pointed out that virtually all the private armies in Pakistan are offshoots of groups launched with the help of a Pakistani intelligence agency during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s. But they weren't disbanded after Moscow's withdrawal in 1989.

    The paper recalled that a US State Department survey, released earlier this year, found overwhelming support for Islamist solutions to Pakistan's problems. At least 60 per cent said religious leaders should play a larger role in politics, and 78 per cent said schools should teach more religion. Nearly half favoured limits on men and women working together. Of the five largest Muslim countries in regions outside the Middle East - Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan - Pakistanis are the most Islamic, the survey concluded.

    The Los Angeles Times indicated that the key reason for the Islamic trend was widespread discontent with the conventional parties that have dominated politics for more than half a century but left the country on the brink of failure as a state - with political instability, debilitating economic woes and a breakdown in law and order. Four military coups haven't helped.

    "In many societies, the military is the instrument and guarantor of a secular state. But Islam has always been a strong undercurrent in Pakistan's army, dating back to colonial Britain's encouragement of worship as a form of discipline. Pakistan's army also has gone through a transformation during the past two decades that gives it an Islamist veneer and increases the dangers of a wider regional conflict that could make the Afghan war look small by comparison.

    "The trend got a major boost in 1979 from the simultaneous onset of the violence in Afghanistan and the revolution in neighbouring Iran that ended 2500 years of monarchy. In both, Islam was the idiom of opposition. Many in the military, both young and old, also now believe that their mission is not merely defending Pakistan. Like the Jihadis, they're intent on defending Islam throughout the region and beyond.

    "Mahmoud Ahmad Ghazi reflects the growing Islamist identity of Pakistan's military. Mr Ghazi graduated from a madrasah that also produced several Taliban leaders, some of whom were his classmates. Last fall, he was appointed to the ruling National Security Council by the coup leaders."

    The Times believes that loss of ties with the West has also spurred Islamic sentiment in Pakistan. "Throughout the Afghan war, Pakistan's military had close ties with its Western counterparts. Many officers were trained in the United States or Britain.