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September 1998 
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"This is not Taliban. This is not a throwback to fundamentalist extremism. This is a long-standing demand of the people... We are trying to establish a new ethos, a new political culture..."

Mushahid Hussein
Pakistan's Information Minister


President Clinton's trip to Pakistan and India isn't likely now. As the following articles suggests, among other reasons it's too dangerous. On the periphery of the Middle East, even further East than Iran, what happens in and to Muslim Pakistan remains very important to the entire region.

It is for that reasons that the Saudi Regime has always paid special attention to Pakistan, courted its leaders, worked closely especially with its military and intelligence service. When Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah gets to Washington shortly, what's going on in Pakistan and Iran are sure to be on the agenda.

And it is for that reason that the Israelis too have always been specially interested in Muslim Pakistan, even while developing especially close relations with the Indians. Indeed, during the days of Benazir's reign, the Israelis used their friends in the Jewish lobby in the States to cozy up to the Pakistanis. Benazir even hired, for a while, her old school friend Mark Siegel, a long-time Democratic Party and Israeli lobby operative, to actually represent Muslim Pakistan as a Washington lobbyist! Then the scandal over all this broke through a column published by today's MER Publisher.

And it is for this reason as well that the Americans and Israelis are always so traumatized by the notion of the "Islamic Bomb" and are following so closely the new declaration by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that Pakistan should officially become a Muslim State governmed by the supreme law of Islam, the "sharia".

"This is not Taliban. This is not a throwback to fundamentalist extremism. This is a long-standing demand of the people. The average Pakistani feels he has no access to justice, that crime and corrupton are rampant," says Information Minister Mushahid Hussein. "We are trying to establish a new ethos, a new political culture, and we are doing it by democratic and parlaimentary means."

There's a great deal wrong in Pakistan. And the Sharif government is hardly without some fault and blame, though on a comparative scale it may be the best Pakistan has ever had.

Whatever the details, Mushahid Hussein is certainly right in the macro sense. And this important understanding is needed not only in 100+ million Muslim Pakistan, but in nearly all of the fragmented and manipulated Arab Muslim countries of the 200+ million Middle East.

Note: For disclosure reasons, MER Publisher Mark Bruzonsky is a long-time friend of Mushahid Hussein and his visited the country a number of times at Hussein's invitation before his becoming Information Minister.

Pakistan Groups Threaten Kidnapping

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP - 9/6/98)

A radical Islamic group threatened Sunday to attack U.S. property and kidnap Americans in Pakistan unless Washington apologizes to the Muslim world for a missile strike in Afghanistan.

An estimated 15,000 members of the militant Movement for the Enforcement of Islam in English marched in Peshawar, a frontier town on the Afghan border, shouting ``Death to America.''

It was the largest anti-American demonstration to date in Peshawar, 75 miles east of the capital, Islamabad. The United States launched a cruise missile strike against suspected terrorist sites in Sudan and Afghanistan on Aug. 20 in retaliation for the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 258 people.

Washington believes terrorist camps in Afghanistan were run by Osama bin Laden, a Saudi millionaire whom the United States blames for funding the embassy bombings.

During the rally in Peshawar, militant leader Maulana Sufi Mohammed threatened to attack American property in Pakistan and kidnap Americans unless Washington apologizes for the missile strike. He did not set a deadline.

The group was founded in 1992 to push for the strict enforcement of Islamic law. The fast-growing group's violent actions include attacks on an airport and Pakistani government installations in 1994.

The United States has already evacuated more than half its diplomatic staff and all dependents of government employees from Pakistan because of rising anti-American sentiment.



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