Pakistan, South Asia
Al Qaida’s continued calls for the overthrow of President Musharraf remained a threat to Pakistan, despite the government's efforts to eliminate Al Qaeda elements. Pakistan continued to pursue Al Qaeda and its allies aggressively through nationwide police action and military operations in the FATA. Despite having approximately 80,000 troops in the FATA, including Army and Frontier Corps (FC) units, the government of Pakistan has been unable to exert control over the area.
Pakistan Army and FC units have targeted and raided Al Qaeda and other militant safe havens in the FATA. In November 2006, a suicide bomber killed 43 Army recruits and injured more than 40 others at a Pakistani military training facility in Dargai, NWFP, in retaliation for raids on Al Qaeda installations. Operations throughout 2006 against both Al Qaeda and Taliban command and control capabilities helped disrupt support for the anti-coalition insurgency in Afghanistan and anti-militant activity in Pakistan.
Pakistani security services cooperated with the United States and other nations to attack terrorism both within Pakistan and abroad. Hundreds of suspected Al Qaeda operatives have been killed or captured by Pakistani authorities since September 2001. Close cooperation between Pakistani, British and American law enforcement agencies exposed the August London-Heathrow bomb plot, leading to the arrest in Pakistan of Rashid Rauf and other alleged conspirators connected to the case. Pakistani authorities arrested two suspects in the March 2006 bombing of the U.S. Consulate in Karachi, which killed American diplomat David Foy and two others and injured more than 50 bystanders.
Adoption of anti-money laundering legislation consistent with international standards would significantly broaden Pakistan’s ability to cooperate internationally on counterterrorism finance issues.
Challenges for Christians:
In September 2007, A Pakistani official in a northern district warned female Christian teachers and students to don Islamic garb, citing threats from Taliban extremists active in the area. Christians in the Afghan-border region 120 miles north of Peshawar say that extremists from the Taliban movement, which ruled most of Afghanistan from 1995 to 2001, have targeted them in recent months. Extremists in Swat have conducted a campaign of Islamization in the district against all things deemed un-Islamic since early July, when a government crackdown on militants at the Lal Masjidmosque in Islamabad triggered violent reactions nationwide. The order to cover up under the full-body robe that leaves only the hands and eyes visible may affect Christians at the Catholic-run Public High School in Sangota. The all-girls school had already closed down for a week in September 2007 after being threatened with suicide attacks for supposedly converting students to Christianity.
The all-girls school re-opened its doors on September 17 after a threat letter from Muslim extremists forced it to shut down for a week. Only half of the students returned when the high school reopened its doors on September 17 with assurances of increased security from local officials.
Elsewhere, Christians living in Swat, numbering about 1,000, say they have come under increasing pressure for their faith in recent months. Police increased security around churches and Christian neighborhoods, but the threats were never carried out.
More than 50 Christians fled the town of Charsadda in May after a local Christian politician received a letter telling the Christian community to convert to Islam within 10 days. The threat was repeated, chalked on the wall of a building opposite the church, 10 days later.
Two young men from a local Islamic school eventually confessed to having written the threats as a joke. In an unrelated incident, a Catholic elementary school in Bannu, west of Peshawar, was bombed on September 15. The blast destroyed the chapel windows and furniture, leaving a hole in the side of a classroom wall.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors, Compass Direct News, The World Factbook
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