Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maybe Hillary Shouldn't Have Come (Updated Below)

Ninety five people dead, in what must surely be the deadliest attack in Pakistan since the one in October 2007, aimed at Benazir's motorcade when she first returned (the one she survived but 150-odd people around her did not).



I don't know if the attack is a signal or response to Secretary Clinton's visit -- there is, after all, a lot else going on that would earn the ire of these militants -- but I'm positive it didn't help.

Some people remain trapped in buildings. The death toll will surely rise. And I don't have much else to say.

Photo credit: AFP

UPDATE: Read this. I stand behind every word.

UPDATE II: The NYT has a heart-breaking slideshow of images taken in the aftermath of the attack.

UPDATE III: Making the reference to the attack in October 2007 got me curious, and so I went back into our archives to see what I wrote at the time in response to the attack. It's interesting to see what has changed and what has not. You can almost literally hear the anguish in my writing at the time, begging for people to identify the real enemy to Pakistan and its citizens, and to stop placing the center of blame on violence on the U.S., India or other "foreign actors". The first leg -- that of identifying the Taliban has a force to deal with -- has shifted in public opinion (see pages 14, 15 and 16 of this report from the IRI, which has been surveying the Pakistani public regularly for over three years now).

The second leg has not shifted, and in fact, has probably gotten worse.

37 comments:

AKS said...

I am angry and profoundly sad, but above all I'm scared. I'm afraid that something will happen in the market when my mom goes to buy groceries, or something will happen when my sister is at the theater or that gunmen will start shooting up Zamzama as SM is leaving work.

We need to hunt these animals down, period. There's nothing more to it. And once we've done that we need to put an end to 'tribal autonomy' and actually look after Pakistanis in Waziristan and Buner, Turbat and Kalat. There's nothing else to be said.

Why the hell is our political leadership deafeningly silent. They have a chance to be on the right side, there is no moral ambiguity. Why is the JI spending its time holding 'referendums' on the Kerry Lugar bill (if you don't want aid then don't take it, its as simple as that!) or putting up pro-Kashmir banners around Karachi? Why is the PML(N) still bitching out the Americans? And why are decent, intelligent and educated Pakistanis treating Zeitgeist as their gospel and blaming everything on the Rockerfellers and the Rothschilds and their supposed great game?

Maybe Hillary Clinton shouldn't have come, her coming here in the midst of such turmoil only adds to the belief that we are fighting America's war. But then Pakistanis and Pakistani leaders would probably still blame America. Meanwhile, our schools and our markets would continue to be bombed, Jumaa Bazaars and Itwar Bazars would still remain closed, parents would still be scared to send their kids to school and the authorities would still be finding explosive materials at the Government Commerce College, Karachi. It is our bloody war, India's not behind the attacks, and all of this is not part of grand scheme. We have to fight and we need to win.

Anonymous said...

I've just seen the Hillary Clinton Meet the Press on TV. Frankly, it made me sick. Going by her responses, this is very much our war and we can bank on absolutely no one for assistance.

Some very tough times ahead.

foolsparadise said...

Why blame Clinton & her visit, were they not there? did they made the bomb over night? what a Hippocratic society where Col Imams are glorified and considered as a great defense analyst???
Dude some body said the biggest cause of violence in the world is """IGNORANCE""" when would you learn this lesson?? why an aam Pakistani fails to acknowledge themselves as the biggest Ignorant s walked ever? sorry.

foolsparadise said...

I also watched that, with all the gems of Pakistani news channels, she simply said, if you don't want Aid go to hell. are you ready to? and then the great politicians were also called to comment upon her thoughts and (fucking sick) they still think Pakistan is a geo-strategic state for all the directions in the world and "THEY need us more than WE need them" laugh laugh & laugh you all...

Ahsan said...

AKS:

I just don't think much can be done to guard against attacks by the time they are in the implementation stage. I really don't know how bad the intelligence is on these things.

Foolsparadise:

That was one of the dumbest comments I have ever seen on this blog. And trust me, I've seen plenty.

foolsparadise said...

well thanks then!

dudelove said...

utterly unfortunate, utterly sad.

Naqiya said...

Thanks for the link to Murtaza Razvi's post Ahsan. Really moving and well written.

AKS- i feel your anger, and wish there was something i could say, but there really isnt. everytime i call my mom, she pretends things are fine so that her two daughters here wont worry. there are days when she wont leave the house, or wont go anywhere unless with friends/other family. it makes me so angry, but mostly make me feel completely helpless.

foolsparadise: i dont think you are worth the wasted breath but here goes: only a truly despicable person can take such pleasure in other people's pain. you really arent much better than the terrorist you claim to hate.

Indophile said...

Ahsan, in your old post you were supporting more provincial authority, but as AKS mentioned in his comment, don't you feel that a more centralized approach will always be better in near as well as long future.

foolsparadise said...

Naqiya: Either you are new to English language or I am completely illiterate. try to read it again and then decide "whether I was enjoying anybody's pain or truly emphasizing my view" also just to clarify again: I am as angry and helpless (or more)as you are but the difference is you (in general Pakistanis as I don't know you personally) are the people who can make difference but you don't( and never did ever) even listen to any body's view out side and live me yours own truly truly "FOOLSPARADISE".

I think this is my last comment on five rupees, sadly.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to point out Mian Iftikhar Hussein's (Info Minister NWFP) comments on different TV channel about the Peshawar bombings today. He essentialy answered the question as to if we give in, what will happen? He says that it will be the same situation as in Swat, just all over Pakistan....

takhalus said...

the attack was in the heart of old peshawar. apparently there was an intelligence tip off the previous night but that obviously wasn't enough ..

A family friends brother owns a shop near the bomb site and he described flesh flying about all over like in a butchers shop.

karachi khatmal said...

AKS:

perfectly said.

Anonymous said...

It seems like the government does not even give any kind of compensation to the victims families anymore.

Jadev,India said...

@Rs.5
I am not getting how a full fledged invasion of Waziristan with a skewed military-militant ratio may be of any help.Frm many articles I get that Pak army is invading a force of 11K with 10K combat soldiers(30K in total).Could you please elaborate on benefits of Waziristan invasion apart from teaching them a lesson. I guess 30K is not enough for holding..so they gotta get out of there at some point. All militant groups are networking and sharing resources..so how come it will help..to leave some guys out and take some guys head-on..and worse with less than required troops....

Ribosome said...

It is the ones who believe in God, who preach peace and talk of love, who have created the human jungle. Compared to man's jungle, nature's jungle is simple and sensible! In nature animals don't kill their own kind. That is part of the beauty of nature. In this regard man is worse than the other animals. The so-called "civilized" man kills for ideals and beliefs, while the animals kill only for survival.

-- u.g. krishnamurti

AKS said...

We're working with a lawyer on a customs matter, he's a young chap originally from Peshawar, part of the old westernized elite of Peshawar most of whom have left the city. His wife's sister along with her two kids was in the market at the time the explosion happened. One of her kids died on the spot, she and the other kid are in critical condition. They had left the house to buys some sweaters and random groceries.

Ahsan,

I understand that we can't be guarded against these attacks but it would be nice for our leaders to be giving due importance to this issue rather and actually tackling the causes rather than delude themselves into believing that they a) have no control over it; and / or b) their actions have no impact.

Naqiya,

I don't really know how to explain how people are feeling here. Paranoia would be a good place to start. Its not that everyone's too afraid to step out, people are going about their lives like they normally do but this veneer of normalcy is skin deep and it doesn't take much for people to panic. If ever anyone wanted to assess the psychological impact of random acts of terrorism this is their opportunity.

Ribosome,

You do know that animals of the same species kill each other ALL the time. In the animal world you don't take a girl out for dinner / drinks and impress by cracking jokes and lying about the coolness of your job, you beat all the other guys down! Oh and man mostly kills so that he can get laid, everything boils down to that, its a fact, you could even say its part of human nature.

Ray Lightning said...

Fuck the terrorists !! Don't they have even a tiny pang of remorse in their rotten hearts ? 100 people dead just like that.. Many more families shattered and livelihoods destroyed. What do these bastards have against them ? They are not the army.. they are not the foreign airplanes dropping bombs.. They are just common citizens just going about their lives without making a fuss, praying everything will get back to normal one day in this sad sad land.

Ribosome said...

@AKS

Dumb Animals > (People who kill for ideas)

People are supposed to be self conscious.

Murdabad said...

my heart feels like it sinking ..!

dudelove said...

there are masterminds behind these attacks that act as puppeteers to the foot soldiers - stoking into them the perversion that all this is for a holy cause. that's what probably makes these guys escape any feelings of remorse. all is simply a grand sacrifice in the name of god. hmmpf... this is why i've always thought that playing with the idea of god and religion is a dangerous thing. even if largely innocuous, it does lend itself to being used for such vehement violence. society will be better off when rid of religion and god. but it's an extremely long shot that that would ever happen. we're not singing "we don't want no education" to the maulvis, priests or popes anytime soon.

Butterscotch said...

http://blog.dawn.com:91/dblog/2009/10/29/somersaults-on-air/
Another eye opener by Nadeem F Paracha
a must read

AKS said...

Butterscotch, thanks for the link. Wonderful article, and its heartening to see people agree with him in the comments section.

Faiza said...

Guys I can't seem to access either of the dawn blog articles from here or by clicking on dawnblog from the dawn.com page. Is it just me or does this happen to you as well? Any suggestions?

Butterscotch said...

Faiza check out today's dawn. the article is there. Actually its been there since yesterday however i couldnt open the link myself. There was definitely some problem with the link. I only managed to read it last night. Dawn link is working absolutely fine

Butterscotch said...

Ahsan wonderful indeed. A pleasent surprise to have not witnessed any negative comment.They have all wholeheartedly accepted it. You should also check out NFP vs Zaid Hamid interviews on dawn tv. Just go to youtube and type Nadeem F Paracha. NFP along with Irfan Hussain and Cyril Almeida are probably the only sane voices left in our print media. Although its heartening to see people like Nazir Naji and some other urdu columnists too who have finally started questioning army’s nexus with militant along with their past deeds.

Anonymous said...

fact: if pakistan, under musharraf, had not taken america's side and aided and abetted the wholescale murder of afghani (and pakistani) civilians in the invasion of afghanistan then we would not be here today.

pakistan chose its path in 2001 and it is now reaping the consequences of what it has sowed. it was more than willing to assist in the carpet bombing of kunduz, well now it will be the bombing of lahore, peshawar, etc.

being america's international slave has EVERYTHING to do with this.

if most of the people on this blog are oblivious to this fact, then so be it. no need to be self-righteously 'profoundly sad' AKS if you're not willing to seek out the root of the problem.

you, in your beliefs, culture and actions are more american than pakistani anyways - so your stance is no surprise.

Ali Q said...

@anonymous

your fact is highly debatable.

an inherently evil force existed pre 9/11. The events of 9/11 were merely a catalyst - and there is no guarantee our children or our children's children wouldn't be victims of terrorism.

Pakistan, with some measure of success, had domesticated a wild animal. (It can be argued that it is was best Pakistan could do given our resources). While it gave Pakistanis their peace of mind, it was always going to be a temporary solution.

so, my belief is, when someone suggests that our support of america is what brought this hell upon us..they are really just enlightening us on a timeline (and not a cause-effect relationship).

Ali Q said...

To further clarify:

It's like stating "I started my economics degree when I was 19."

While that is partially true, but being 19 is not the reason i did economics at university.

Anonymous said...

clear as mud Ali Q, clear as mud.

what i know is no serious militant organisation prior to pakistan's tryst with america was intent on widescale attacks on or within pakistan.

after pakistan's decision to support the US in the killing of, after all, its own people - it is no bloody surprise that some of pakistan's own now want to kill within pakistan.

this whole situation should be of no suprise really given pakistan's willingness in the past to kill its own (bengalis anyone? baluchis?) - this time however (at america's request) it chose the wrong people to mess with.

Ali Q said...

@Anonymous

I agree that we are far more willing to kill our own, than other nations.


However I, personally, don't like one-track thinking with respect to this war. Inciting/taking sides by suggesting that this is a: Liberals vs. Rest of Pakistan issue or labelling the relationship as that of a master-slave...are all noise in this debate.

This is a far more complex matter than Pakistanis, at times, make of it. Tribe, religion, international relations, NATO, regional players, past conflicts, money, power (some of which pre-date the american invasion) etc. cannot be summed up in a statement like "we are fighting america's war and hence we suffer."

This is especially true if we want to ever find a solution to all this death and destruction (because, it will be very naive to believe, that everything will be rosy if America graciously exits)

As a caveat, America is no holy cow. They continue to make strategic mistakes in this war (which is why they find themselves in control of less than a third of Afghanistan, 9 years in).

karachi khatmal said...

Anon 3:29

You know it is quite a pleasure to see that the blinkered fools have some amongst them, like yourself, who are articulate. your sentences are quite crisp and 'clear as mud' was quite the retort.

however, there was the questionable content issue.

"what i know is no serious militant organisation prior to pakistan's tryst with america was intent on widescale attacks on or within pakistan."

the lashkar-e-toiba and more importantly lashkar-e-jhangvi had been carrying out sectarian killings and assassinating minority leaders through out the 90s. the sipah-e-sahaba was involved in targeting doctors from the Shia community. several punjab based militant groups were also involved in formenting a bloody sectarian conflict in kurram agency. these are just three examples of militants gone wild, and they all happened well before 9/11, and they all had nothing to do with america.

i know hating on america is what che did and what chavez does and what michael moore does and its what all the cool kids are doing, but really, give it a break man.

Ahsan said...

KK:

Come on man. You know damn well Shias don't count.

karachi khatmal said...

as an aside, might i also mention that for the sake of the argument i limited my examples to religious militant groups.

the rival mqm's were a source of fear and paranoia for karachiites in a very similar manner to the threat posed by terrorists/militants etc in lahore, islamabad, peshawar etc these days. armed student organizations in all the major universities, notably karachi university and punjab university, were and are notorious for occasional killings and routine intimidation. feudal lords as a rule in every province have small militias which are used to harass and kill.

armed groups wreaking havoc is very much a fabric of our society. again, america is to blame for none of these other than of course the rambo wannabe types.

karachi khatmal said...

hahahaaha! oh ahsan you hegemony loving bastard...

somethingrichandstrange said...

more heartbreaking photos:
http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/10/conflict_in_pakistan.html

Rabia said...

"The second leg has not shifted, and in fact, has probably gotten worse."
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/world/asia/04pstan.html?emc=eta1

Denial brings its own problems, namely the risk of prolonging the insurgency, because people do not know who their enemy is. That seemed to be the case for Muhammed Afzal, an oil trader whose building was damaged in the blast. “I know my tribal people,” he said, sitting on a couch in a room with blown-out windows. “They aren’t strong enough to do something like this.”

Mr. Afzal, who has relatives in Texas and Florida, offered a view of who was responsible, similar to many others interviewed here. “I’m telling you categorically — the people behind this bomb are the Indians and Mossad,” he said, referring to Israel’s intelligence agency. India and Pakistan are archenemies, and India figures into many Pakistani conspiracy theories.