New York, Jun.3 (ANI): Following Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik's candid admission that extremist groups have deepened their roots in the Punjab province, western officials have also raised concerns over the ever expanding terror threat in the most populated region of that country.
Last week's brazen attack on two mosques belonging to a minority sect in Lahore and the terror raid on a hospital, has highlighted the failure of both the federal and the provincial government to root out militants groups, who have now penetrated deeper into the country's soil.
"We're dealing with a problem that is so deeply burrowed into the bosom of the society," The New York Times quoted a senior western official, who avoided being named, as saying.
"And we're dealing with a government that is unhappy within itself," he added.
According to officials, the problem is not only the specific acts of terrorism by these extremist groups, but the far more pervasive 'jihadi' mentality that has been nurtured in the society by an extensive network of extremist madrasas and mosques, the newspaper said.
According to an estimate, the number of madrasas in Pakistan has increased to more than 17,000 in 2010 from 13,000 in 2007, and experts believe that a large number of these Islamic institutions churn out militant students.
Despite the terror menace going out of control, the federal government and the provincial government are not on the same page regarding taking action against extremist organisations operating from Punjab.
While Malik has made it clear that the local 'jihadi' groups have aligned with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and hinted of a military action to reign in this terror nexus, provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah has rebuffed Malik, saying there is no need of Swat like offensive in the region.
"They, Lashkar-e-Janghvi (LeJ), the Sipah-e-Sohaba Pakistan (SSP) and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) , are allies of the Taliban and Al Qaeda," Malik had said.
Though Malik did not name the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), an anti-India militant group, it also falls in the same category as that of the LeJ or the JeM.
Like the others listed by Malik, the LeTh as been banned by Pakistan , but it apparently continues to operate under a different name and \with the blessings of the all-powerful military. (ANI)