Home to several terror groups, Pak Punjab ambivalent towards Waziristan offensive

      While people across Pakistan strongly support the on-going military offensive against the Taliban in its stronghold South Waziristan, residents in Punjab province are apparently undecided on whether to stand in support of the ‘war on terror’ or not. The political scenario in Punjab, the home of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), is much different from other parts of Pakistan . While the whole of Pakistan is currently up in arms against the extremists following a series of audacious terror strikes in the recent past, people in Punjab tend to believe that the extremists are doing the country a favour by fighting against the foreigners ( US ). Punjab has served as a base for several Islamist militant groups, such as the Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT), which was raised and sponsored by the state to fight India and other enemies. As a result, officials here tend to shy away from harsh condemnations, The Washington Post reports. Provincial officials have their own explanations for the growing wave of terrorism in the region. They accuse the foreign forces, especially India and the United States , of conspiring against Pakistan to weaken the country by forcing it into armed conflict with local militants, the newspaper added. Some of the people are of the view that the whole crisis is created by the United States , when it supported local Islamist groups to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and later abandoned the region. “These are all militants that America left us.Islam is a peaceful and respectable religion. These Taliban have no religion, no education. They just brainwash young boys to fight. Maybe they fought jihad against the Russians, but what they are doing now is not jihad at all. It isn't even Islamic,” the report quoted Mohammed Ahmad, a travel agent, as saying. Analysts point out that despite President Asif Ali Zardari’s efforts to root out terrorism from Pakistan, a large population in the country is hesitant to criticize anything Islamic, and are always ready to blame outsiders for their problems. “At the top levels, I think everyone gets it now, but below that there is a whole range of attitudes towards the militants within Pakistani society,” said Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a political analyst. “Nobody likes the Taliban, but they don't much like the Americans or their government either, and they aren't convinced that using force is the right thing to do. What prevails is mass confusion,” Rizvi added.

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