London, Aug. 13: Although Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has been thanked by US President George W. Bush as well British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his home secretary John Reid, not everyone in Britain is convinced of Pakistan’s good faith in fighting Islamic terrorism.
In today’s Sunday Times, an article, “Just whose side is Pakistan really on'”, and another in the Observer, “The Karachi Connection”, drew attention to a curious coincidence: every time there is a terrorist incident or scare, the road invariably leads to Pakistan.
It seems that bit by bit, some British commentators are working out that the terrorists who have been active in Kashmir and other parts of India — and could more or less be ignored by the West in the past — are the same people who are now posing a threat to the UK and the US.
The fact that Britain has a Muslim population of 1.6 million, half of them of Pakistani origin and with close links to Pakistan, makes the problem of curbing terrorism that much harder to solve.
Since the events of July 7 last year, when three of the four suicide bombers had gone to Pakistan before the concerted attacks on London’s transport system, at least four major terror plots had been thwarted, Reid revealed .
He said the plots would have led to major loss of life. “I can tell you that at least four major plots have been thwarted,” the home secretary claimed.
Several senior Muslims have written to the Prime Minister, arguing that it is his foreign policy in Iraq and now the Lebanon that has provoked British Muslim youth to turn to terrorism.
“I’m not going to question the motives of anyone who has signed this letter but I think it is a dreadful misjudgement if we believe that the foreign policy of this country should be shaped in part, or in whole, under the threat of terrorist activity if we do not have a foreign policy with which the terrorists happen to agree,” Reid said.
“No government worth its salt would stay in power in my view and no government worth its salt would be supported by the British people if our foreign policy, or any other aspect of policy, was being dictated by terrorists,” he added.
“That’s not the British way, it’s antithetical to our very central values. We make decisions in this country by democracy not under the threat of terrorism.”
Today’s Sunday Times leader, “The Enemy Within”, may make many Muslims wonder whether they have a long-term future in Britain'
It says: “MI5 believes up to 400,000 people in Britain are sympathetic to violent jihad around the world and that as many as 1,200 are involved in terrorist attacks.”
If these statistics are true, it means that every fourth Muslim is an enemy of the state.
Where MI5 got these startling statistics from isn’t disclosed, though.
It adds: “It is now self-evident that there is an enemy within Britain who wants to destroy our way of life.”
The paper does not demonise the entire Muslim population but it has come round to the view: “Muslims who visit Pakistan will have to be more closely scrutinised and it may seem that they are being systematically targeted. But Muslims will have to understand that it is their co-religionists who are bent on bombing trains and planes and that requires extraordinary measures.”
The Sunday Telegraph, meanwhile, reported today that Muslim terrorists are being recruited at British universities.
“The recruitment of Muslim students at British universities to take part in terrorist attacks is at the heart of the alleged plot to blow up passenger jets, it is feared,” it said.
“A dossier of extremist Islamic literature has been uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph on the campus of a north London university, one of whose students has suspected links to the alleged terrorist attack,” it went on.
And the paper pointed out: "Waheed Zaman, 22, a bio-chemistry student and the president of the Islamic Society at London Metropolitan University, was one of 24 people arrested last week. Material found at two portable buildings used by the society includes documents advocating jihad and a pamphlet on how to deal with approaches from the security services."
Meanwhile, police believe a fire which destroyed the roof of a mosque may have been in revenge for the alleged terrorist plot to blow up planes.
Police and fire crews were called to the Al-Birr Masjid Mosque in Sarum Hill, Basingstoke, Hampshire, after the roof had caught fire on Saturday.
The blaze took 16 firefighters almost two hours to put out, according to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. No one was injured.