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 Monday, 27 May, 2002, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
How secure is Musharraf?
Attack against an Indian army camp on 14 May
Attacks by Muslim militants in Kashmir could spark a war

Ever since January this year General Musharraf has been insisting that he wants to limit the activities of Pakistan's Islamic militants.

There are few indications that he is managing to do so.

Inside Pakistan, deadly sectarian attacks are continuing unabated.

While (Pakistan) helped create many of the groups which take part in the anti-Indian insurgency, it is far from clear that the Pakistani state can disband them at will.

In Indian-held Kashmir, the militant groups are still claiming responsibility for a whole series of violent incidents.

Senior Pakistani officers argue that controlling the extremists is not easy.

India, by contrast, believes that General Musharraf is not serious about reining in the militants and that he is continuing covertly to support them.

The fact that the sectarian violence has not stopped is an indication that Musharraf may have less control than some outsiders think.

Militant threat

No one doubts that the General is vehemently opposed to sectarian killings and ever since he assumed power in 1999 he has been trying to reduce the number of these attacks within Pakistan.

Muslim kashmiri protestor throws stone at Indian police
Muslim feelings over Kashmir run high
For the most part he has failed.

The militant groups active in Kashmir may prove equally resilient.

While the Pakistani army and intelligence agencies helped create many of the groups which take part in the anti-Indian insurgency, it is far from clear that the Pakistani state can disband them at will.

Indeed, there are indications that General Musharraf is increasingly concerned about the threat posed by Islamic extremists.

He travels far less than he used to and the amount of security around him has markedly increased.

Rogue agents?

Many believe that Pakistan's main intelligence agency, the ISI, also poses a threat to Musharraf.

Just a few months ago the ISI was helping train and equip the militants in Kashmir.

Now the organization has been told to suspend the training programmes.

But even if many ISI operatives have strong misgivings about Mr Musharraf's policies, they will probably obey his orders.

The ISI is a very powerful institution but it is not necessarily the rogue outfit so often described by western writers.

In the past, when the ISI worked closely with militants in Afghanistan and Kashmir, it was implementing the state-approved policy of Pakistan.

Now the policy has changed, it is quite possible that the ISI will adapt - however reluctantly - to the new dispensation.

Military unease

General Musharraf also faces some discontent within the army.

Pakistani troops the border with India
The army has little desire for compromise
It is not easy to gauge the opinion of those in the Pakistani military, but there can be little doubt that some officers and men will be concerned that General Musharraf is preparing to make a significant compromise on Kashmir.

The army fought for Kashmir in 1948, in 1965, and most recently during the Kargil campaign of 1999.

Many soldiers would refuse to accept a settlement in Kashmir that did not include a significant climb-down by India.

The alternative would be to accept that their comrades who died in those conflicts, lost their lives in vain.

Well aware of sentiment in the armed forces, General Musharraf may be hesitant to make a significant concession over Kashmir.

But he will be reassured by the fact that throughout the history of Pakistan every attempt to mount an internal army coup has come to nothing.

Whenever Pakistani army chiefs have tried to remove civilian governments, they have succeeded.

Whenever discontented junior officers have tried to take over the army, they have failed.

Political rivals

In the longer term, the most serious challenge to Musharraf may well be that posed by the politicians.

Following his recent referendum Mr Musharraf will be president for the next five years.

But the civilian politicians are increasingly frustrated at being excluded from power.

After the National Assembly elections, which are due to be held this October, the politicians will have greater legitimacy and are likely to become increasingly assertive in opposing military rule.

Musharraf's Pakistan

Democracy challenge

Militant threat

Background

TALKING POINT

FROM THE ARCHIVES

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

05 Apr 02 | South Asia
16 May 02 | South Asia
15 May 02 | South Asia
15 May 02 | South Asia
15 May 02 | South Asia
06 Apr 02 | South Asia
14 May 02 | South Asia
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