Class conflict and religion are in equal measure fuelling the jehadi movement in Pakistan, and the sooner the government moves against this the better, editorials in three leading English dailies said on Saturday.
"The resentment the powerless feel may be cloaked in anti-Americanism or religiosity but in actual fact it boils down to a class conflict," Dawn said in an editorial headlined "The common enemy".
"Becoming part of a militant or terrorist organisation empowers poor, impressionable young men. And it's not just the weapons or the monthly stipend that give them comfort - finally they have an identity when previously they were faceless, they become part of a community in which they are respected," the newspaper added.
Noting that the "uniform" of militant Islam "confers instant respectability in some quarters", Dawn said that the sole terrorist captured in Mumbai, Ajmal Kasab of Faridkot, "apparently first sought refuge from poverty in crime and then gravitated towards jehadi outfits".
"As long as nothing is done to address the growing underemployment in this country, the militants will find no shortage of fresh recruits," the editorial maintained.
Terrorists who India says came from Pakistan sneaked into Mumbai Nov 26 night and attacked several targets in India's financial capital. The mayhem ended November 29, killing over 170 people including foreigners.
Holding that the Mumbai violence had diverted attention in Pakistan from the internal threat to an external "enemy", Dawn said: "This must not be allowed to happen.
"Soul-searching is in order, and an acceptance of the fact that Pakistan is indeed a hub of militancy and terrorism," the editorial added.
Dawn also urged President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to "inform the nation in unequivocal terms that what is past is past and that extremism, which has taken root in this country, will enjoy no sanction and will not be tolerated".
Lamenting that it was "sad, on one level", that it had taken external pressure "to stir the government into acting against those who are besmirching our name in the world", Dawn said: "We face isolation, and internal ruin, if the common enemy is not brought to book."
The Pakistani government Thursday sealed the offices of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), a front for the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group, after the UN declared it a terrorist organisation.
New Delhi has blamed the LeT for the Mumbai terror attacks and the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.
According to The News, JuD and the LeT were "known to have scouted Punjab for suitable people to join their ranks. Summer schools were also organised for children, with 'religious' education imparted to them reportedly incorporating fiery 'pro-jehad' messages".
In this context, it pointed to Kasab's father telling "a sad, but familiar tale, of an angry young man walking out of the house and falling straight into the hands of a religious organisation".
Thus, "if there is a true commitment to doing away with forces like the JuD, and if our desire to do so stems from within ourselves rather than from the US, the UN or India, much more needs to be done.
"We need to expose the true nature of these forces before people; to reveal how they have lured vulnerable young teenagers away from homes and families only to turn them into killers; how they have exploited religion to further their own interests," The News contended.
"It is only when its roots are pulled out that an organisation like the JuD can be stopped. Otherwise, like a weed, it will continue to spread rapidly," the editorial added.