Byline: Arnaud de Borchgrave
KHATTAK, Pakistan - Pakistan's most powerful tribal leader, Ajmal Khattak, yesterday pleaded with the country's leading fundamentalist agitator, Sami ul-Haq, "to keep Pakistan calm during the present crisis."
But Mr. Khattak's entreaties were unsuccessful. Mr. ul-Haq, who serves as the co-president of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islami, president of the University for the Education of Truth and chairman of the Afghan Defense Council, was not listening. His cell phone rang each time Mr. Khattak tried to make a point.
At the end of a narrow, dusty, dirt alley choked with donkey carts weaving between fruit and vegetable stalls, the two leaders sat on stained white plastic chairs outside Mr. Khattak's rundown, mud-brick abode. Mr. ul-Haq kept telling his callers "not to worry because our Islamic forces are ready." Mr. Khattak would then start his pitch again, urging Mr. ul-Haq to give President Pervez Musharraf "the benefit of the doubt."
But Mr. ul-Haq did not seem to be interested in what Mr. Khattak had to say. "The Israeli Mossad intelligence service organized the acts of terrorism against America to give America a pretext to launch a general offensive against the Muslim world," he said. "So we must reply."
"If you believe that," replied Mr. Khattak, president of the National Alliance Party, "all the more reason not to fall into the trap and to keep your powder dry." Mr. ul-Haq once again brought his cell phone to his ear. "No, don't worry," he told the caller. "Everything is under control. You will be pleased."
After Mr. ul-Haq drove off in his 4x4 Subaru, honking donkey carts off the narrow path, Mr. Khattak shook his head sadly and said, "They seem to be preparing something big."
Fazlur Rehman, the other …