Read those last two sentences again, and savor the cognitive dissonance ul-Haq is marinating in. Yes, why would anyone accuse people of "extremism" and "terrorism", when they use their governmental capacity to express that the appropriate response to a perceived insult -- and a ceremonial one at that -- is to fucking explode oneself in a crowd of innocents? Where do these strange ideas come from?
Musharraf's government understandably utilizes some of this moronic extremist sentiment to help ventilate the grievances of the medievalist hardliners in their midst. But in this context, Islam is merely a proxy tool to leverage tribal and political differences with the government. A responsible government would not put up with this bullshit from one of its own ministers; ul-Haq needs to be slapped down and reminded of the idiotic nature of his comments.
This word "aggression" -- I don't think it means what Hosseini thinks it means. Even if Rushdie's knighting is needlessly, deliberately provocative (a dubious contention at best), so what? How does that legitimize senseless brutality, indiscriminate murder? And does it occur to them that Rushdie has written more than one book, that if they had just let the perceived insult of Satanic Verses go in the first place, it would have long ago been written off as just another book from an established author with a long and varied career? Of course it doesn't. I have no more patience with these fucktards than I do with the Fred Phelpses of the world, but at least no one from Phelps' flock has any position of official responsibility.
Responsible, legitimate governments truly interested in peace and cooperation would perhaps view this as an opportunity to identify and repudiate the genuine radicalizing elements, rather than allowing them to attempt to ventriloquize the sentiments of over a billion Muslims. I hate agreeing with the neoclowns on this subject, though I certainly don't regard it as necessitating harsh actions, as they do. But really, the fact that the supposedly serious governments of Pakistan and Iran continue to utilize this very dangerous political theater -- over a book, mind you -- bespeaks the fundamental problems underlying their societies, and their relations with other societies. Christians may get upset over Piss Christ or what have you, but they're not rioting over cartoons, or advocating violence over heretical novels.
I understand that religion, like war, is simply politics by other means, but I do not understand how these countries expect us to grant them the legitimacy and respect they seek, when they continue to indulge in this self-destructive nonsense. These violent temper tantrums over piddling religious/cultural bullshit, while perhaps orchestrated pushback at the government level, appear a bit more serious and potentially volatile at the street level. And for a government official to actively encourage violent retribution is simply unacceptable.
The thing to fear is that we are also governed by people who allow symbolic provocations to be used as pretext for justification, but perhaps with a bit more discretion (though there are instances of "my god can beat up your god" yahooism emanating from American pieholes as well). And while cartoons and books are nothing to riot about, it seems like this should be -- both there and here.
Maybe it's time the people at the street level start getting pissed about the important stuff, instead of allowing their governments to distract them with meaningless piffle. The effigy-burning goons in Islamabad are getting played, just as surely as any other mindless jingo anywhere else.
[Update: The Pakistani minister, ul-Haq, is now claiming to have been mistranslated, saying that he had actually said that people would use Rushdie's knighthood as justification for violence, not that they should. Perhaps he could prevent future misunderstandings by appending such statements with even a pro-forma repudiation of such tactics, as would befit his standing in a government that wishes to be a major player in world affairs.]