Newspaper Articles Original Articles

Suicide attack on SIU Centre, Lahore. Wake up, Punjab, against the PML-N, Sipah-e-Sahaba, Taliban alliance – by Nadeem Paracha

لاہور خود کش حملہ

Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N’s political alliance with a terrorist organisation Sipahe-e-Sahaba (an affiliate of Taliban and Al Qaeda) seems to be paying off. Only recently, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered release of two most dangerous terrorists belonging to Sipah-e-Sahaba; the gang seems to be back at work sooner than any one expected.

Today, a suicide car bomb attack on a police intelligence unit in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore killed at least 13 people and wounded about 65 during Monday’s morning rush hour, officials said.

The attack outside a federal police office bore all the hallmarks of an operation by al Qaeda-backed Pakistani Taliban militants seeking to topple the government. The city’s top administrator, Sajjad Bhutta, said between 580-600 kgs of explosives were used in the attack. A doctor at a hospital treating victims said the dead included a woman and a child. The blast left a huge crater in the road outside the office of the main police investigation agency, the Federal Investigation Agency, and destroyed the front of the building. The agency in Lahore has been attacked at least twice before.

Television showed pictures of a man covered in blood trapped in a car and passersby trying to help him out while rescuers searched through the rubble. Some angry residents shouted at police as they arrived at the scene in Lahore’s Model Town residential neighborhood.

Nadeem F. Paracha has written an excellent article on this incident and also on PML-N’s complicity in increasing jihadi and sectarian terrorism in the Punjab province. The article is provided below.

Wake up, Punjab

Another bomb attack in Lahore. What to expect from the PMLN government in the Punjab? Lip service condemning terrorism, of course. But, as usual, keeping in mind the Punjab government’s past record, the condemnation will be general and vague.

Even as the PPP-led coalition government in Islamabad will not hesitate to take names – they’ll point to the Taliban or the many sectarian organisations working as Al Qaeda’s foot soldiers – it is expected that the Punjab government under the PMLN will not.

Determining which forces are hell-bent on mutilating the country is not rocket science. But brace yourself (yet again) to be bombarded by the PMLN leadership and the usual intransigent suspects on TV channels talking generalised nonsense about terrorism and the ubiquitous ‘foreign hand,’ consequently drowning out the obvious involvement of any of the many extremist organisations running amok in Pakistan’s largest province.

But why the Punjab? Although it has been ravaged and broken by extremist terrorism for over two years now, political parties strong in the Punjab (such as the PMLN), the Punjabi-dominant electronic media, and fringe Punjab-based politicos such as Imran Khan have simply refused to acknowledge reality.

Still operating from the fanciful high pedestal of a superiority complex, a bulk of urban Punjab and its leadership continues to live in a stunning, air-tight state of denial.

Whereas in Karachi one can find a majority of common men and women unafraid to air their distaste for the extremists, and walls can be seen adorned with slogans such as ‘Taliban raj namanzoor’ (Taliban regime not acceptable), ‘Taliban sey hoshiar’ (beware of the Taliban), and, my favourite, a slogan found scribbled in a thick coat of black on a wall in a rundown lower-middle-class area of the city, ‘Mulla Omar dajjal’ (Mulla Omar the devil), one just cannot expect such voices and scenes in the Punjab, at least not in Lahore.

Why not? How can a province and a city (Lahore), devastated over and again and plunged into the depths of chaos and fear perpetrated by monsters such as the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and the province’s many clandestine sectarian organisations, simply refuse to face its most ubiquitous tormenters and demons? Why the fearful silence by its people, and why the spin, the vagueness, and ultimate derailing of the issue by the electronic media?

Punjab is suffering. And it is not only from extremist terrorism. It is as if every time its leadership and people attempt to awkwardly repress the obvious lashings of fear and confusion that cut viciously across the province whenever there is a terrorist attack, they become more vocal in their condemnation of the present government at the centre, incredibly investing more emotional and intellectual energy on abstract issues such as corruption, judiciary, and ‘good governance’ through passionate displays of TV studio and drawing-room nobility, rather than directly tackling their greatest enemy.

Funny thing is, they would readily accuse the president of corruption and the US and India for having nefarious designs on Pakistan without offering an iota of evidence, but would get into a long navel-gazing exercise asking for proof of militant involvement in a terrorist attack.

Again, why? Why in the Punjab? Are the Sindhis and Karachiites more enlightened, liberal, moderate or whatever? Some of my most intelligent friends are from the Punjab, as was my father. And so I keep asking these friends, why isn’t the Punjab fighting back this menace of extremism? Why have most of this province’s brightest minds allowed themselves to be pushed in the background by this new breed of neoconservative ‘intellectuals’ in the shape of TV talk show hosts, ‘journalists,’ ‘analysts,’ et al?

I will continue by relating two small but relevant incidents that may help clarify what I am rambling about.

In a province that has been witnessing nauseating bloodshed perpetrated by those who have a painfully narrow view of Islam and are least hesitant to slaughter innocent men, women and children in their pursuit of both heaven and the shariah, one of the Punjab’s leading politicians and ministers did not find anything wrong in accompanying the leader of a banned sectarian organisation during a recent election campaign.

The minister was PMLN’s Rana Saifullah, who proudly stood beside a notorious leader of a banned sectarian organisation during a by-election rally in Jhang. This organisation openly sympathises with the Taliban.

Only in the Punjab can such an episode take place. Only in the Punjab can a minister can get away with holding hands with a myopic violent fanatic and, in the process, openly mocking and insulting the feelings of hundreds of Punjabis whose loved ones were brutally slaughtered by the extremists that the fanatic sympathises with. Only in the Punjab can his party then go around and ask for votes from the same people. Yes, only in the Punjab.

One can also mention a recent incident that involves Zaid Hamid to hit home the point I am trying to make.

Mr. Hamid, a hyperbolic TV personality who is an animated cross between a foaming televangelist and an impassionate right-wing drawing room revolutionary, has been on a ‘speaking tour’ of various colleges and universities of the country.

Known for openly holding (and advocating) gun-loving militarist hogwash, Hamid has turned distorting history and dishing out the most twisted conspiracy theories not only into an attractive art form, but a lucrative undertaking as well.

Hailed as a modern Saladin (of the armchair variety, I’m afraid) by his mostly urban, middle-class fans, and flogged as a hate-monger with links to the most rabidly anti-India and reactionary sections of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies by his many detractors, it has been very easy for Hamid to speak at Lahore’s private universities and colleges.

This included a visit to the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) that only two years ago was the scene of a lively students’ movement against the dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf.

If the student body of the prestigious university found Musharraf’s action of dismissing a chief justice unbearable, I wonder what was so bearable about a man who is not only a self-claimed supporter of the ex-dictator, but also a proud war monger whose fans are famous of uttering insightful gems such as “if the Pakistan Army was really guilty of raping Bengali women in former East Pakistan, then they had every right to because Bengalis were traitors!”

Nonetheless, after smoothly completing his ‘Wake up, Pakistan’ speaking tour of Punjab’s campuses, Hamid and his entourage of trendy, designer reactionaries, made their way towards the country’s most ravaged province, the Pakhtunkhwa.

Faced by an insane spate of suicide and bomb attacks by extremists and the military’s war against the Taliban, the youth of the Pakhtunkwa province have shown great resolve to fight back. Student organisations in various state-run universities and colleges of the province have gone on to organise cultural functions that the extremists would term ‘haraam’ and ‘unIslamic.’

Just like the Baloch Students Organisation (BSO) in Balochistan, the Peoples Students Federation (PSF), and the All Pakistan Muttahidda Students Organisation (APMSO) in Sindh, students’ organizations of the Pakhtunkhwa have continued to fight a cultural war against extremism, even when a recent cultural function organised at a university by the BSO in Balochistan’s Khuzdar area was bombed by extremists.

So when Hamid and his army of patriots reached Peshawar University, he was confronted by loud groups of protesting students who wanted him banished from the campus.

The protest, perhaps the first of its kind faced by the likes of Hamid, was organised by the Peoples Students Federation (the student-wing of the Pakistan Peoples Party), the Pakhtun Students Federation (the student-wing of the Awami National Party), and the independent collection of liberal students under the Aman Tehreek umbrella. What’s more, also joining in the protest was the Islami Jamiat Taliba, a student organisation whose mother party, the Jamaat-i-Islami, ironically sympathises with the Taliban.

As the students threw stones at Hamid’s entourage and tried to chase him off the campus, the Aman Tehreek explained exactly why democratic student organisations had joined hands to throw him out.

“We have already suffered a lot due to the suicide bombers and militants and do not want people (in our city and campuses) who promote the extremists,” said an Aman Tehreek activist talking to Dawn.

In light of this example, it seems Punjab’s political leadership is out of sync with the prevailing psyche in Sindh, Balochistan, and the Pakhtunkhwa regarding Pakistan’s war against extremism.

The people and politicians of Punjab need to contemplate difficult questions before they can rid their province of the violence that it has had to face. More so, the confused mindset that is causing violence to be bred and sustained in the Punjab must be eliminated.

Source: Dawn

About the author

Abdul Nishapuri

9 Comments

Click here to post a comment
  • Shame on PML-N.

    A spokesman of Taliban, named Azam Tariq (alias adopted after Sipah-e-Sahaba’s slain chief Azam Tariq), has claimed responsibility for the Lahore attack.

    LAHORE: A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban’s main umbrella faction, Tehreek-e-Taliban, claimed the group was responsible Monday for a suicide blast that killed 12 people in Lahore.

    “We claim responsibility for the Lahore blast. We will continue such attacks in future,” Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Azam Tariq told two AFP reporters in telephone calls from an undisclosed location.

    “The attack was to avenge (US) drone attacks and (Pakistani) military operations in the tribal areas. We will carry on such attacks as long as drone strikes and operations continue.”
    A car bomb explosion killed 12 people and injured 81 others near the FIA and the Special Investigative Agency buildings in Model Town, Lahore on Monday.

    “Eleven people have been killed and several others injured in a suicide car bombing, which took place near the FIA and the Special Investigative Agency buildings in Lahore,” the commissioner of Lahore said.

    Latest reports state that the Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said that the target was the Special Investigative Agency and not the FIA building.

    Earlier Division Commissioner Khusro Pervaiz said 61 people had been injured, 11 of the injured are said to be in critical condition, DawnNews reported.

    Eight of the dead were women.

    The DCO of Lahore and the Inspector General of Punjab, Tariq Azeem have both confirmed that an explosive laden rammed into the Investigation Agency’s building.

    Witnesses said that the FIA has completely collapsed and a number of people are still buried under the rubble.
    The DCO added that around 70 people were present at the FIA building at the time of the explosion.

    He also confirmed that around 600 kilograms of explosives were used in this attack. The police said that the massive explosion has managed to create an 8 foot deep crater.

    Meanwhile, medical officials have urged residents of Lahore to come fourth and donate blood to help treat the injured.

    Security has been placed on high alert across the entire city.

    The blast rocked Lahore early this morning and witnesses say that smoke billowing from the explosion could be seen for miles.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/metropolitan/14-blast-in-model-town-area-of-lahore-zj-04

  • Taliban claims responsibility for suicide blast
    March 8, 2010 9:21 a.m. EST

    The Taliban said Monday it was behind a suicide bombing in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore that killed 11 people and wounded more than 60.
    Azam Tariq, spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said the attack was in response to U.S. aggression against Muslims around the world.
    “I am proud to accept the responsibility of the Lahore suicide blast,” Tariq wrote in a text message to CNN.
    “We will follow U.S. and its allies all over the world, even if they are in Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, Afghanistan or in U.S.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/03/08/pakistan.bombing/

  • Punjabi Taliban avenge Qari Zafar’s death Tuesday, March 09, 2010 By Amir Mir
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27686

    LAHORE: The March 8 suicide bombing in Lahore’s Model Town is believed to have been carried out by the Punjab chapter of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to avenge the killing of Commander Qari Zafar, the acting Amir of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on February 24, 2010.

    While confirming Qari Zafar’s death in a statement faxed to local journalists on February 25, a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi spokesman had described him as a martyr and pledged to avenge his death. “The Mujahideen will soon take revenge from the Pakistani government for his killing by resorting to suicide bombings anywhere in the country,” the LeJ spokesman added. Qari Zafar was killed, along with nine other Punjabi Taliban in the Peerano Killay area of Miramshah, when a drone struck his hideout.

    He was wanted by the US as well as Pakistani authorities for his alleged involvement in the March 2, 2006 car bombing outside the US consulate in Karachi which killed three people, including US diplomat David Foy, thus making the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to announce a $5 million bounty on his head.

    Originally coming from Karachi, Qari Zafar had joined hands with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and was appointed Amir of the Punjab chapter of the TTP, which is blamed for carrying out a series of bloody Fidayeen attacks in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad in 2009, including the October 10, 2009 assault on the General headquarters of the Pakistan Army in the garrison town of Rawalpindi.

    The lonely Fidayeen attacker captured alive after the GHQ assault, which also killed a serving Brigadier, was a Punjabi Taliban, Mohammad Aqil alias Dr Usman, who was a key member of the LeJ and a close associate of Qari Zafar. The GHQ attack was reportedly carried out by the Punjabi Taliban to avenge the August 2009 killing of Commander Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack in South Waziristan. The Punjabi Taliban is a blanket term used for members of several sectarian and Jihadi groups mainly based in South Punjab.

    Those investigating the Model Town bombing say the target of the human bomb, riding a single cabin van, was the K-Block, Model Town office of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) which had actually been created under the umbrella of Punjab Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Primarily an intelligence collection agency, the CID collects, collates and disseminates information to relevant provincial government departments and law-enforcement agencies in a bid to minimise terrorist activities in the Punjab.

    However, the SIU was soon separated from the CID as an autonomous police wing working directly under the Punjab Home Department and primarily responsible for interrogation of hardened Jihadi and sectarian terrorists being arrested in the Punjab. While the SIU headquarters is located in the E-Block area of Model Town, its interrogation centre is situated in the K-Block.

    The SIU investigators, led by Assistant-Director Malik Rashid, had been interrogating at its K-Block centre some important members of the Punjabi Taliban network, who had been arrested from parts of South Punjab, on the basis of information provided by Aqil alias Usman.

    The interrogation of the Punjabi Taliban belonging to the LeJ was carried out jointly by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), headed by Major (retd) Mushtaq and the Special Investigation Group (SIG) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for almost a week after which they were shifted to Rawalpindi a few days ago. The SIG functions as a counterterrorism unit of the FIA and investigates, along with the provincial police department, offences that are punishable under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

    Those investigating the Model Town bombing say the attack might have been a coordinated operation to avenge the killing of Qari Zafar, who was working in tandem with a key leader of the TTP, Qari Hussain Mehsud, better known as Ustad-e-Fidayeen. Zafar and Mehsud had last appeared before newsmen on October 5, 2009 in South Waziristan when the TTP chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, thought to have been killed, had addressed a press conference to refute media reports of his death in a US drone attack.

    Those investigating the Model Town suicide attack further reminded that hardly a few days before the February 24 death of Qari Zafar, an anti-terrorism court in Karachi had indicted Mohammad Ajmal alias Akram Lahori, the acting chief of the LeJ, in a 2002 murder case. They reminded these two developments and the Model Town bombing incidentally took place exactly a year after the March 2009 serial suicide attacks in Lahore.

    On March 4 last year, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Navy War College building on the Mall Road in Lahore, killing eight Navy employees. Six days later, on March 11, terrorists once again struck Lahore by using suicide bombers – the first batch targeted the FIA headquarters on the busy Temple road (killing 33 people), and a few minutes later a second batch targeted the SIU headquarters in the E-Block area of Model Town. However, the suicide bomber riding a van ripped through an advertising agency’s office by mistake, confusing it with the undercover office of the SIU, killing two children and their father – a gardener on the premises.

    Subsequent investigations had shown the attackers were the Punjabi Taliban belonging to at least three sectarian-cum-Jihadi groups, which are working in tandem with the Pushtun-dominated South Waziristan-based Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan to carry out joint terrorist attacks. The investigators had reported that some banned militant-cum-sectarian groups in the Punjab are gaining strength after having joined hands with the TTP.

    According to them, several members of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (largely belonging to the southern Punjab) who fought in the Afghan war, have tied up with the TTP to carry out attacks against important government, military and police installations.


  • A woman sits in the rubble of her destroyed house, which was hit after a suicide car bomb exploded outside the Federal Investigation Agency in Lahore, hours after a suicide bomb blast destroyed the building, March 8, 2010. — Reuters

  • The vision of Jinnah’s Pakistan was liberal progressive state and thus can be disputed. The question remains where did we lose this vision? That happened over a period of years and started off by censoring the speech of Jinnah, next step was the ban on ahmedis thus creating a minority within. The civil society needs to be vocal about de-radicalizing the society coupled by steps taken by the state.

  • Here comes an evidence of Sipah-e-Sahaba’s involvement (also known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi) in the Lahore Model Town attack:

    Punjabi Taliban avenge Qari Zafar’s death

    Tuesday, March 09, 2010

    By Amir Mir

    LAHORE: The March 8 suicide bombing in Lahore’s Model Town is believed to have been carried out by the Punjab chapter of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to avenge the killing of Commander Qari Zafar, the acting Amir of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) in a US drone strike in North Waziristan on February 24, 2010.

    While confirming Qari Zafar’s death in a statement faxed to local journalists on February 25, a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi spokesman had described him as a martyr and pledged to avenge his death. “The Mujahideen will soon take revenge from the Pakistani government for his killing by resorting to suicide bombings anywhere in the country,” the LeJ spokesman added. Qari Zafar was killed, along with nine other Punjabi Taliban in the Peerano Killay area of Miramshah, when a drone struck his hideout.

    He was wanted by the US as well as Pakistani authorities for his alleged involvement in the March 2, 2006 car bombing outside the US consulate in Karachi which killed three people, including US diplomat David Foy, thus making the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to announce a $5 million bounty on his head.

    Originally coming from Karachi, Qari Zafar had joined hands with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and was appointed Amir of the Punjab chapter of the TTP, which is blamed for carrying out a series of bloody Fidayeen attacks in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad in 2009, including the October 10, 2009 assault on the General headquarters of the Pakistan Army in the garrison town of Rawalpindi.

    The lonely Fidayeen attacker captured alive after the GHQ assault, which also killed a serving Brigadier, was a Punjabi Taliban, Mohammad Aqil alias Dr Usman, who was a key member of the LeJ and a close associate of Qari Zafar. The GHQ attack was reportedly carried out by the Punjabi Taliban to avenge the August 2009 killing of Commander Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack in South Waziristan. The Punjabi Taliban is a blanket term used for members of several sectarian and Jihadi groups mainly based in South Punjab.

    Those investigating the Model Town bombing say the target of the human bomb, riding a single cabin van, was the K-Block, Model Town office of the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) which had actually been created under the umbrella of Punjab Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Primarily an intelligence collection agency, the CID collects, collates and disseminates information to relevant provincial government departments and law-enforcement agencies in a bid to minimise terrorist activities in the Punjab.

    However, the SIU was soon separated from the CID as an autonomous police wing working directly under the Punjab Home Department and primarily responsible for interrogation of hardened Jihadi and sectarian terrorists being arrested in the Punjab. While the SIU headquarters is located in the E-Block area of Model Town, its interrogation centre is situated in the K-Block.

    The SIU investigators, led by Assistant-Director Malik Rashid, had been interrogating at its K-Block centre some important members of the Punjabi Taliban network, who had been arrested from parts of South Punjab, on the basis of information provided by Aqil alias Usman.

    The interrogation of the Punjabi Taliban belonging to the LeJ was carried out jointly by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), headed by Major (retd) Mushtaq and the Special Investigation Group (SIG) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for almost a week after which they were shifted to Rawalpindi a few days ago. The SIG functions as a counterterrorism unit of the FIA and investigates, along with the provincial police department, offences that are punishable under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

    Those investigating the Model Town bombing say the attack might have been a coordinated operation to avenge the killing of Qari Zafar, who was working in tandem with a key leader of the TTP, Qari Hussain Mehsud, better known as Ustad-e-Fidayeen. Zafar and Mehsud had last appeared before newsmen on October 5, 2009 in South Waziristan when the TTP chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, thought to have been killed, had addressed a press conference to refute media reports of his death in a US drone attack.

    Those investigating the Model Town suicide attack further reminded that hardly a few days before the February 24 death of Qari Zafar, an anti-terrorism court in Karachi had indicted Mohammad Ajmal alias Akram Lahori, the acting chief of the LeJ, in a 2002 murder case. They reminded these two developments and the Model Town bombing incidentally took place exactly a year after the March 2009 serial suicide attacks in Lahore.

    On March 4 last year, two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the Navy War College building on the Mall Road in Lahore, killing eight Navy employees. Six days later, on March 11, terrorists once again struck Lahore by using suicide bombers – the first batch targeted the FIA headquarters on the busy Temple road (killing 33 people), and a few minutes later a second batch targeted the SIU headquarters in the E-Block area of Model Town. However, the suicide bomber riding a van ripped through an advertising agency’s office by mistake, confusing it with the undercover office of the SIU, killing two children and their father – a gardener on the premises.

    Subsequent investigations had shown the attackers were the Punjabi Taliban belonging to at least three sectarian-cum-Jihadi groups, which are working in tandem with the Pushtun-dominated South Waziristan-based Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan to carry out joint terrorist attacks. The investigators had reported that some banned militant-cum-sectarian groups in the Punjab are gaining strength after having joined hands with the TTP.

    According to them, several members of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami (largely belonging to the southern Punjab) who fought in the Afghan war, have tied up with the TTP to carry out attacks against important government, military and police installations.

    http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27686