WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- Is Pakistan taking Afghanistan's place as the new fulcrum of transnational terrorism? Intelligence sources in Washington, London, Paris and Rome agree that al Qaida's underground network in Pakistan is functioning with the complicity of the clergy and intelligence services. President Pervez Musharraf's much-publicized crackdown on Islamist extremists is a dismal failure, according to Western intelligence appraisals. Pakistani national police sources in Islamabad estimate that some 10,000 Afghan Taliban cadres and followers and about 5,000 al Qaida fighters are now hiding in Pakistan "with the full support of intelligence authorities, as well as religious and tribal groups," according to one source.
The latest reports from Pakistan are ringing alarm bells throughout the Western intelligence community. Disinformation about U.S. intentions is being circulated by "midlevel" Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency operatives and some field grade army officers. Samples:
-- U.S. forces are not to be trusted "at all."
Pakistan's nuclear program is the key objective.
-- China, working closely with ISI, has saved the Pakistani nuclear program several times by informing Pakistani intelligence of American, Israeli and Indian plans to destroy it.
-- India and Israel will try again to attack Pakistan's nuclear facilities at Kahuta (near Islamabad), just as Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor in 1981.
-- The United States wants to neutralize Peshawar, capital of the Northwest Frontier Province, and Quetta, capital of Baluchistan, where religious groups are working with frontier tribes to neutralize U.S. actions.
-- The U.S. wants to divide Pakistan into seven separate states -- Punjab, Sind, Northwest Frontier Province, Baluchistan, Fata (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), Karachi and Kashmir. Kashmir, under the U.S. plan, is to become an independent state.
-- The Kashmir declaration of independence is ready, and the United States will demand that Pakistan and India sign it. The U.S. Army will control the region.
-- The CIA is fanning ethnic tensions and planning civil unrest, riots, and killings between the Muslims of Pakistan and Indian Kashmir to prepare all parties for Kashmir independence.
-- The United States and India want Pakistan to become a small Nepal-type state under Indian influence.
-- India will be rewarded with a U.N. Security Council seat for agreeing to Kashmir independence.
-- Out of 4,000-plus workers for NGOs, or non-governmental Organizations, currently working in Pakistan, approximately 1,000 have been identified by ISI as U.S. intelligence agents implementing the U.S. agenda. These American agents are trying "at all levels" to destroy the unity of Pakistani armed forces.
-- Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (executed by Islamist extremists) was a spy for both the United States and Israel. The American media is controlled by Jews, and most U.S. journalists work for secret intelligence services that are fighting Islam.
-- The United States is "planning and scheming" against Pakistan because it is Islam's only nuclear power, which is not acceptable to the G8, the group containing the leading industrialized countries plus Russia.
-- The United States and Israel concocted the 9/11 plot in order to produce conditions favorable for "a new world order controlled by America."
-- The only way to defeat America's global domination strategy is to create a world Muslim order with China's support.
Senior Pakistani officials concede privately they are "deeply concerned" about Punjab province where Kashmiri "freedom fighters" are undergoing training with full government support.
The government plan to clean up the madrassa (religious school) network has been largely ignored. Interior Ministry figures show that there are some 6,000 plus "important" madrassas that "educate" youngsters to believe that to be a jihadi (holy warrior) is Islam's highest calling.
The government has tried to get the mullahs to explain that jihad means "an internal struggle to better oneself" but the clergy continues to teach that it is the sacred duty to resist the American, Israeli and Indian infidels that want Islam's destruction. The demise of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan is repeatedly cited as "proof" of what the mullahs claim.
Punjab province alone has 2,500 madrassas, 80 percent of them in the city of Lahore. Some 600,000 students are still being taught to hate America and Americans. The U.S. has allocated $34 million for madrassa reform during the current fiscal year. Poor families --40 percent of 145 million live below the poverty line -- favor the schools because they provide free meals and lodgings. Mullahs talk proudly about their common heritage, culture and religion and say that the financial strength of the entire "Muslim Ummah" is behind them. The madrassa system is almost entirely dependent on subsidies from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Libya.
Despite Musharraf's denials and assurances of total control of Pakistani intelligence agencies, ISI, including many "retired" cadres, is stirring a "witch's brew" designed to force a postponement of next October's elections and the country's return to democratic government. Anti-American forces are "slowly but surely coalescing against American aggression and is using the Palestine issue to join hands with al Qaida as a new Taliban movement," said one former prime minister.
Some 30 Muslim extremist organizations that were blacklisted by the United States are still in business and are proselytizing Muslim countries to join forces with al Qaida.
In Pakistan, al Qaida's Pakistan network is expanding rapidly with full intelligence and private financial support, according to a prominent tribal leader in NWFP who claims that Osama bin Laden has been living in Peshawar since the second week in December, "where he is among friends and admirers and protected by several thousand Pakistani sympathizers." More than 80 percent of Pakistanis, according to a public opinion poll last fall, believe that bin Laden is a "freedom fighter," and not a "terrorist."
ISI operatives are spreading the word, according to this tribal chieftain, that "America is a glass house that is breakable" and predict, "U.S. injustices all over the world, especially in the Middle East, will lead to far worse incidents than Sept. 11."
For Pakistani extremists, the loss of Afghanistan was no more than the destruction of an outpost in a global battlefield. Pakistan has now taken Afghanistan's place. Al Qaida's underground in Pakistan emerged unscathed from Operation Enduring Freedom across the 1,300-mile border. The extent of bin Laden's network in Pakistan can be gauged from the movements of U.S.-born Jose Padilla, who converted to Islam and adopted the name Abdullah al Muhajir. The suspected "dirty" bomber took a bomb-making course at an al Qaida safe house in Lahore last January, then met with senior al Qaida agents in March in Karachi and moved around Pakistan with impunity.
Prior to 9/11, Musharraf estimated that Pakistan harbored about 1.4 million extremists -- or one percent of the population -- who were holding the rest of the population hostage. Since 9/11, Musharraf conceded that 10 percent to 15 percent of the population was opposed to his pro-American foreign policy. That would be 10 million to 14 million people whose sympathies are with America's enemies.