Before Pakistan's president General Musharraf visited the US in October, the Economist magazine commented that by doing a deal with the Taliban in northern Pakistan his military regime had used an old colonial technique - buy those you cannot defeat. In the past three decades the Pakistani military, along with a section of the ruling class, has continued a mutually beneficial policy of cohabitation with radical Islam.
General Zia, who ruled between 1977 and 1988, helped the US wage war against the Russian occupiers of Afghanistan by using religious parties and militias as proxies. The democratic administrations that followed Zia continued the policy, allowing the military to keep arming and training them. In return, Pakistan's religious political parties lent their support to both military and democratic regimes. The policy continued under General Musharraf, who came to power in a coup in 1999.