“My life has no significance compared to the solidarity and survival of Pakistan” — Benazir Bhutto..
At a time when Pakistan should be unified against terror and the Islamist extremists who have declared war on the country the leaders instead are busy pointing fingers at each other for political gain.
Immediately following the bombing, Benazir’s husband, Zardari, accused the ISI and other government agencies of complicity over old rivalries, and Benazir continued that theme in her press conference. Sherpao challenged her to name names, and she has given three to the government, and she is now pointing at General Zia adherents, a group her family has a long running feud with. This brings back the death of several of her relatives at the hands of assassins, including her father and her brother Murtaza.
Regardless of whether there were accomplices within government agencies or not, this is foolish as it takes the focus from the real threat. It’s a threat that all parties in the government have been all too willing to dismiss, diminish, and flat out ignore. The bombers were not ISI personell, they were most likely from Baitullah Mehsud, and / or Saddiq Noor who are at war with the Pakistan Army in South and North Waziristan respectively.
The thing cited most often in the reports alluding to an ISI involvement is that the street lighting was out on the road section the motorcade was attacked in. However that could have been the attackers themselves who cut the power to the lights, or it could be part of normal conservation efforts as Pakistan is load-shedding and conserving energy where possible due to high fuel prices.
There might be elements within ISI who are sympathetic to the Islamists, but those are easy to both identify and watch and they could become a good leads for intelligence gathering. To publicly out these connections merely splits the country and adds to the political drama, when all leaders should seek to unify the country in the face of determined opposition.
Between 1-4 heads have been found, and some bodies have not yet been claimed — which is highly unusual in situations like this as it’s very important in Islamic countries to bury the dead within three days. The heads are undergoing identification procedures and DNA matching as the police trace leads.
There are various reports with some claiming a third explosion, but it could be a lone suicide bomber as well. More will come to light as identifications are made. The lone suicide bomber would have hurled the grenade to clear a path, then run in and detonated the vest. More below:
Meanwhile, Sindh Home Secretary Brigadier (retired) Ghulam Mohammed Mohatarem termed the attack on the reception rally of Bhutto as a suicide bombing, and added that the bomber first threw a hand grenade at the rally to disrupt the security cordon and then blew himself up.
There is no doubt that the second explosion was a suicide attack, as the suicide bomber carried 15 kilograms of explosive material, Mohatarem told reporters.
He said that a hand grenade thrown inside the security cordon of Bhutto by the suicide bomber or any of his accomplices to divert the attention of the security personnel caused the first explosion.
The device was made of steel bits, screws and nuts and bolts to make it more lethal. He said the grenade was identified as Russian-made ‘Archer’ and it weighed one kilogram.
Mohatarem said that he could not be sure whether the head found from near the incident place was that of the suicide bomber and the identity would be established once the interrogation is completed
Other reports have the explosives matching the high-grade explosives that were used in the Nishtar Park bombing and the attack on MMA member and Shea leader Maulana Hassan Turabi. Other sources suspect that Abid Mehsood, the right-hand man of Baitulllah Mehsood, was the mastermind behind the attacks and that the attacks were carried out with the help of Mufti Ilyas of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
LeJ is Al Qaeda allied, a terror group known for attacks on Christian churches, Hazara, Iranians, and Shia. They are a splinter group from Sipa-e-Sahaba, also allied to Al Qaeda.
This tit for tat back and forth between the political parties has already caused some rioting and burning in Karachi, which displaces where the ire should be focused.
Meanwhile Baitullah Mehsud, who has Reuters on the speed-dial in his satellite phone, denied involvment, and Fazlullah of TNSM warned the government about attacking in Swat or shutting down his renegade FM station.
Three more bombings have taken place – in Balochistan 7 were killed in a remote controlled explosion, two more blasts occurred in Dera Ishmael Khan and Peshawar. The DI Khan blast might have been either a targetted assassination or a terrorist “work accident” as that explosion occurred as a man was backing his car out of his garage.
The political disunity and carrying forward of old emnities is a hallmark of Pakistani politics – but it’s extremely disheartening in the face of the the evil that is confronting them now. While Benazir is polling at 50%, the same number comes forward for PML-Q exile, Nawaz Sharif. Waiting in the wings are the old charges of corruption. While not proven in court there are masses of evidence – however the same masses of evidence could probably be compiled on pretty much anyone in Pakistani government at present, it’s just the way it is.
[Editor: This report was compiled from stories at the Pakistan Daily Times, The Malaysia Sun, and The Nation.]