Indian experts fear more violence in Pakistan


New Delhi : Unless Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf shows resolve, the storming of the Lal Masjid would be only a small manifestation of the bigger game that will play out in the coming weeks, resulting in the disintegration of social structures, say Indian strategic experts.

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"For the last two months, there have been attacks on the security establishment and the police and all this is directly connected with the Lal Masjid," said Ajay Sahni, director of the Institute for Conflict Management in New Delhi.

"The Islamist radicals are trying violently to renegotiate the distribution of power and in turn challenge the status quo. This uprising may be put down, but more violence is bound to accompany this action.

"We will have to see how far Musharraf goes to crack down on these elements," Sahni told IANS.

Troops stormed the Lal Masjid in the heart of the Pakistani capital after talks with Islamist radicals there broke down early Tuesday. Reports say that eight Pakistani Rangers and at least 50 militants were killed in the assault.

Strategic analyst Lt Gen Shankar Prasad believes that the army action in Islamabad would have no significant fallout on India and there would be no increased levels of violence in Kashmir.

"I don't think violence is going to be stepped up. On the other hand, the Pakistan establishment is getting a taste of its own medicine like the way we suffered through various terrorist acts," added Prasad.

However, Prasad was quick to point out that Pakistan could not afford so many burning fires as too many internal problems would result in a spillover of violence.

"We do not want a volatile Pakistan. Then there could be a real possibility of violence spilling out here," he said.

Commodore Uday Bhaskar, formerly of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, pointed out that rightwing Islamist extremists had become emboldened in recent months commanding influence, network and money.

"There are elements within the Pakistan establishment and the Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) which support these groups. We have to see if Musharraf shows resolve and goes the whole hog to contain these groups in the coming days," said Bhaskar.

"Sure, violence in Kashmir has been engineered by these groups in the past. But if the establishment is firm and focused on putting down these elements, then I don't think they are going turn on the Kashmir tap."

The events unfolding over the last few days have given intelligence agencies here a better idea about the identity of the various militant organisations inside the sprawling complex.

It is now believed that some members are affiliated with the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, formerly known as Lashkar-i-Taiba. Few of the militants also belong to the now defunct Harkat-i-Jihad-i-Islami of the controversial Jihadi leader, Qari Saifullah.

The biggest grouping of militants belongs to the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed as the complex always has always had close links with the group headed by Maulana Masood Azhar.