Pakistan could jeopardise peace in South Asia by clinging to a ‘jihadi option’ despite a high-profile crackdown on Islamic militants by President Pervez Musharraf, analysts say. Military ruler Musharraf, a major US ally in the ‘war on terror’, has also failed to tackle the so-called holy warriors because he needs Pakistan’s hardline Muslim parties on-side, they say. The result is worsening ties with India — which says Tuesday’s Mumbai bombings were carried out with ‘cross-border’ help — while Afghanistan is urging him to purge Taliban rebels allegedly based on Pakistani soil. ‘Musharraf and his government have not totally abandoned the jihadi option,’ Samina Ahmed, South Asia project director for the International Crisis Group, told AFP. Pakistan’s plethora of extremist outfits were once a principal foreign policy tool, being used to fight the 1979-1989 US-backed war against the Soviets in Afghanistan and later in the divided state of Kashmir. When Musharraf sided with Washington after the September 11, 2001 attacks, however, he began a widespread campaign against militancy in his own country. He banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the names in the frame for the Mumbai attacks, and another top jihadi outfit after militants attacked the […]

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