A suicide bomb blast in Swat has killed 18 Frontier Corps soldiers, an unknown number of civilians, and injured scores more. (Some stories report 30 total deaths, some 20.) This comes as 2,000 Pakistan army troops have taken the high ground on the hills surrounding Swat.
The radical FM radio murder-mullah from the region, Fazlullah, aka “Maulana Earthquake” is in hiding and on the run. His bands of followers from TNSM and the new “eagle force”, are still in the area however, and it’s highly likely that more attacks on the army will come. Maulana earthquake gets his nickname from the preaching he does — he promises his listeners that the region will have even more severe earthquakes than the disastrous ones of 2005 if they do not do as he dictates.
During Bin Laden’s escape from Tora Bora TNSM provided a shield of 10,000 “canon-fodder” madrassah students while UBL and his foreign contingent of troops ran away via a different route.
On the political front the Supreme Court is still reviewing the challenges to Musharraf’s presidency, and one statement made by a justice should raise eyebrows — he said in effect that Pakistan was still under the 1973 Constitution, and that oaths taken interim would count. Later that was ameliorated a bit by another justice stating that it would remain to be determined if one of Musharraf’s terms counted since it was not a full term.
Musharraf is reassuring his party, PML-Q, that he is still very much with them and that he won’t be making a jump over to Benazir Bhutto’s party, the PPP. He also stated that Nawaz would not be allowed to return to Pakistan until after the election.
Benazir Bhutto is compaigning — she visited the mausoleum of Jinnah, a national shrine to the founder of the nation. Jinnah wanted Pakistan to follow Islamic principles but under a secular, open government. She has also spoken out strongly against terror and terrorism, directly challenging the groups that attacked her. I hope she continues in that path, it is one thing Pakistan needs among many.
In the meantime there are lunatics attacking and accusing her for coming and campaigning, blaming her in effect for the suicide attack. That is absolute specious evil bullshit. All Politicians and all people must be able to assemble and speak freely. It is akin to the loons in the US who think that the US government planned 9/11 — even though that agit-prop attack was made up by Hamid Gul in Pakistan shortly after the event, and Osama Bin Laden openly claims doing it idiots in America still believe it. Notably many supporters of Ron Paul.
I don’t agree with Benazir’s political philosophy, for one thing she nationalized things and I’m a purist for capitalism. Regardless, she must be allowed freedom to speak — that’s fundamental.
In other news the Army recently received 50 reconditioned attack helicopters from the US, with modern weapons, which should add to their ability to take out the leadership of the terrorists warring on them from the frontiers.
The Northwest Frontier Province is currently running under a care-taker government until elections after the existing assembly was dissolved by a no-confidence vote. The caretaker government is proposing yet another peace jirga with the never-satisfied terrorists.
The Dawar tribe in North Waziristan is forming tribal units, and there is an ultimatum to the Uzbek and foreign forces in the area from the Dawar. A few days from now this could turn interesting, especially if they rise up like the tribes of Anbar and Diyallah in Iraq.
In Buna, two terror blasts occurred at the offices of NGOs resulting in a couple of injuries.
This update is compiled from various reports in the Daily Times, Pakistan, and Dawn.