Islamabad/New Delhi, July 12: Braced for a backlash, the general returned to his favourite pulpit tonight to vow to crush “terrorism” from “every nook and corner” of Pakistan.
On a day cries of Islamic revolution rent the air of the incendiary funeral of a cleric slain in the Lal Masjid, Pervez Musharraf appeared on television to talk tough.
“Terrorism and extremism has not ended in Pakistan. But it is our resolve that we will eliminate extremism and terrorism wherever it exists,” he said.
“Extremism and terrorism will be defeated in every nook and corner of the country,” he added, showing little aversion to the T-word that was once a subject of countless skirmishes between India and Pakistan on the talks table.
The speech capped a blur of events: a call to revenge by al Qaida, the funeral of Abdul Rashid Ghazi and a suicide bomber attack near the Afghan border.
In the evening, the President, who has a reputation for using television to good effect in adversity, stepped in, swapping battle fatigues with a suit but speaking very much the language of the general.
Musharraf asserted that in future no mosque and madarsa would be allowed to be “misused”.
He said that within six months, security forces along the Afghanistan border would be equipped with modern weaponry, including tanks, to bolster a counter-terror push.
Defending the mosque raid, he said the last straw was the murder of three Chinese citizens, a “shameful” act against “the closest strategic ally”.
The President appealed to the people to “rise” and help him but took care to caution against “rejoicing”. “It is a day to mourn, it is a day for introspection, grief and sorrow,” Musharraf said. “We acted against our own people.”
The script was stirring but it also had the familiar ring of several lost chances. At the height of the 9/11 crisis, too, Musharraf had used such strong words, only to look the other way after some time.