Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bomb Blast In Lahore

There has been a massive suicide attack in Lahore, targeting a police building. Estimates of casualties are varied between 10 and 30 at this point, but that number will almost assuredly rise.

Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

Lahore has been increasingly targeted in the last three to four months now, as militant violence moves away from "traditional" targets like those in the Northwest and in Karachi toward "less established" targets.

To be quite honest, I'm a little bit surprised that it has taken this long for the Taliban -- presumably the perpetrators of the attack -- to launch a big attack in response to the Army offensive in Malakand/Swat/Dir/Buner. In the past, their response has been quicker and more devastating. There are four inferences we can draw from this delay:

1. It is purely coincidental, and we shouldn't read anything into it.

2. It reflects a decreased capability on the part of the Taliban, i.e. they are weaker than they were six months ago.

3. It reflects a weaker preference to launch attacks against Pakistani civilians, as the Taliban want to stem the tide of public opinion turning against them, i.e. they can still inflict massive violence whenever they want to, but they simply want to do so less.

4. The Pakistani state and security services have done a better job of interdicting and breaking up potential attacks than in months previously.

I honestly don't know which one of those four options is the most likely.

Anyway, please add more information in the comments section if and when you receive it.

11 comments:

AKS said...

Baitullah Mehsud has accepted responsibility for the attack.

The targeted building housed the Lahore police emergency response centre, which operates 24 hours with a staff of 50 in each of the three shifts. The two storey building has been completely pulverized and adjoining buildings and houses (belonging to mid-rank policemen) have also been damaged.

There was intense firing at the scene before the explosives, contained in a parked van, went off.

Nabil said...

This is sad. God knows how many other 'death squads' are ready and armed...

But why the sudden change in tactics? 6 people firing and then a car bomb instead of 6 people strapped with explosives..

Pagal_Aadmi_for_debauchery said...

Its of course interesting that the militants continue to mostly (always?) attack intelligence/police/establishment targets as they don't want to alienate the masses (except for attacks on Shia mosques etc.)
I fear that this strategy will probably give away to general attacks on civilians (Iraq style) eventually. I wonder if these attacks are going to alienate the masses (like the attacks on tourists by the Brotherhood in Egypt alienated the masses) or will the masses turn against the government action against the Taliban (similar to the reaction of the Spaniards to the Madrid bombing)

Ahsan said...

AKS:

Thanks for the update.

Nabil:

Interesting question, who knows? Maybe not enough recruits for suicide bombers anymore?

Pagal:

The Taliban *have* targeted civilians mercilessly for over two years now. It didn't really have a huge effect on public opinion until very recently because Taliban violence was laid at the doorstep of American action in the popular discourse. Things have changed slightly now, not because of the violence itself, but because the Taliban have done other things to show themselves to be complete dicks (breaking the peace agreement, girl flogging video, saying Islam and democracy are incompatible etc).

Anonymous said...

why do you Muslims always fight?
From the Middle East to Indonesia and in between, EVERY GLOBAL ISSUE is caused by Muslims...

Nabil said...

@Anon

That's a bit unfair. What about N.Korea/Latin America?

@Ahsan. I'd LIKE to think that it's a result of no leadership/communication with the bosses..

shazia khan said...

to be honest, i dont trust our law enforcement agencies particularly the ISI, which has great manipulative and unchecked powers and abilities. I am not saying ISI was definitely behind this, but sometimes agencies create scenarios to justify more funding and powers. i am not trying to be a conspirist theorist, but its hard to imagine how such a terrorist bomb squad went unchecked through such a high security area to reap death and destruction. To be honest, i dont believe much what government or military officials say on TV and i have a very bad feeling that the coming days and weeks are going to be full of dangers for the country. God knows best.

Philistine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philistine said...

Wanted to add some stuff so re-posting comment.

I wonder how closely the ISI is associated with the Taliban, and whether they had any role to play in this attack. If the ISI did orchestrate it, then we can view this attack as part of the conflict between the Taliban/ISI/military and the political parties/incumbent government. If this is the case, what is the end game of the military? Do they envision a post-takeover power sharing agreement where the Taliban runs the government / controls the ideas and the military runs the economy? This is kind of plausible, given that the military has a much greater ideological affinity with the Taliban than with any other political party in Pakistan, and also because the military helped to create and sustain the Taliban. And yet, although the military and the mainstream political parties have always been in conflict, it's difficult to think of an instance marked by this kind of violence (apart from civil wars in Balochistan and east Pakistan in which the military was openly involved). Maybe I’m being na├»ve, but this kind of take over of the country seems a bit extreme even for the military.

The other explanation is that there has been a shift in the alliance between the military and the Taliban… maybe the military helped to create the Taliban to fight an ideological war on foreign soil, and now that the Taliban want a piece of Pakistan it’s coming to bite them in the rear. This makes sense given that the army has recently begun to show greater commitment to the operation up north. Perhaps the military prefers sharing power with political parties rather than with the Taliban because the former don't threaten their monopoly over violence.

Right-wingers and some academics have argued that the anti-taliban operation is America's war, with little sympathy among the civilians or the jawans. The few Pathans from near Swat and Buner that I've met (namely a taxi-driver and the building chowkidar) believe that the military is hand in glove with the Taliban. For our sake though,
I hope that the military has severed all links with the Taliban. Otherwise we're done for.

Rehan said...

When the world of different religion sees the fact that Islam is neglecting our religion and giving the fact that Allah is one and He have no companion and Muhammad PBUH Was his last Prophet. So , they start fighting to destroy that religion but when that strategy become failed (as we see history many time Muslim defeat the opposers).then they make plan to show that religion as faked towards everybody . So, they show as Extremist , terrorist and lower value in the world . They just afraid of us.

Rehan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.