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Blast after blast after blast in Lahore, who is responsible?

 ہلاک ہونے والوں کی تعد پینتالیس

Terror drama unfolds in Lahore
Two suicide bombers targeting Army vehicles detonated explosives within seconds of each other on Friday, killing at least 45 people and wounding 100, police said. It was the fourth major attack in Pakistan this week, indicating Islamist militants are stepping up violence after a period of relative calm.

Hours later, a series of five small explosions terrified residents in another Lahore neighbourhood and injured at least three. Police officials said the four low-intensity blasts apparently resulted from loose explosives — not packed bombs —scattered through the residential area. While the explosions sent police and rescue workers racing through the area, there were no immediate reports of deaths or major damage.

About 10 of those killed in the twin blasts were soldiers, said Lahore police chief Parvaiz Rathore.

The bombers struck R A Bazaar, a residential and commercial neighbourhood where several security agencies have facilities.

Video being shot with a mobile phone just after the first explosion showed a large burst of orange flame suddenly erupting in the street, according to GEO TV, which broadcast a short clip of the footage shot by Tabraiz Bukhari.

“Oh my God! Oh my God! Who are these beasts? Oh my God!” Bukhari can be heard shouting after the blast.

Senior police official Chaudhry Mohammad Shafiq said 43 people were killed and about 100 were injured. Some of the wounded were missing limbs, lying in pools of blood after the explosions, eyewitness Afzal Awan said. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but suspicion quickly fell on the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda.

On Monday, a suicide bomber struck a building in Lahore where police interrogated high-value suspects — including militants — killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

Source

Who is responsible?

Source: Long War Journal

While no group has claimed credit for the attack, the Taliban is the prime suspect. The Punjabi branch of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan said it carried out the March 8 suicide attack in Lahore that targeted the headquarters of the Federal Investigation Agency, a law enforcement agency that targets terror groups. The Punjabi Taliban said the March 8 attack strike was carried out to avenge the death of Qari Mohammed Zafar, the leader of the al Qaeda- and Taliban-linked Fedayeen-i-Islam, who was killed in a US airstrike in North Waziristan on Feb. 24.

In the recent past the Taliban have targeted military personnel and family members in cantonment in Pakistan’s cities. One of the most high-profile attacks took place in a mosque in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi on December 4, 2009. More than 40 officers, soldiers, and family members were killed in the blast.

Today’s suicide attack is the third this week. Yesterday a suicide bomber detonated his vest prematurely in Peshawar, killing five people. The bomber was targeting a Frontier Corps convoy as it passed through a checkpoint, but he tripped and accidentally detonated his vest.

The military has claimed that the Taliban’s leadership has been dismantled and that the movement is disjointed and unable to conduct operations after the military’s offensives in Swat, Bajaur, and South Waziristan. But the Taliban have regrouped in North Waziristan, Arakzai, Khyber, Kurram, and regions in South Waziristan still under Taliban control, and its top leaders remain free.

Background on jihadist groups in South Punjab

Source: Long War Journal

South Punjab is a hotbed of Pakistani terror groups. Banned terror groups Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, and its radical offshoot Lashkar-e-Jhangvi are all active in South Punjab. These groups have taken up common cause with the Taliban and al Qaeda, and are often referred to as the Punjabi Taliban. The terror groups have been supported by Pakistan’s military and the ISI.

South Punjab teems with radical mosques and madrassas, which are used to indoctrinate Pakistani youths to join the jihad. Tens of thousands of members of these terror groups who have gone through training camps are said to be active in South Punjab.

The Pakistani government has denied that terror groups are based in South Punjab. In December 2009, the Punjabi provincial government barred foreign reporters from South Punjab, insisting that all reporters must obtain permits before reporting from the area.

“All foreign journalists are required to get permission from foreign affairs as well as from interior ministries for visiting any specific place especially in South Punjab,” a senior officer of the Punjab government told the Press Trust of India. The official claimed that journalists published “twisted and unfounded” facts about terror groups operating there.

What does PML-N’s government in Punjab say?

Source

Pakistan’s main opposition PML-N (currently in government in Punjab province) asked the federal government to review its policy on the war against terrorism, saying it is resulting in the killing of innocent people.

“It would be better for us to withdraw our support to the US’s war on terror policy as hundreds of innocent Pakistanis are losing their lives,” said PML-N parliamentarian Saad Rafiq, a close aide of party chief Nawaz Sharif.

Rafiq said Pakistan has suffered irreparable losses, in both human and financial terms, due to its support for the war on terror.

“We need to find a political solution to this problem. Our government and the army need to frame a consensus policy after taking all stakeholders on board,” he said.

The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), which is considered close to right-wing religious parties, has never openly backed the ruling Pakistan People’s Party-led government’s war on terror.

“The PPP government’s policy for the war on terror is a continuation of the policy of (former military ruler Pervez) Musharraf and needs to be immediate reviewed,” Rafiq said.

What does PPP say?

Political parties recently criticised the PML-N after senior party leader and Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah met and travelled with leaders of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan group while campaigning for by-polls in Jhang district.

“The PML-N should stop patronising banned outfits as it will harm the federal government’s policy for the war on terror,” Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer said.

Source

What do Pakistani bloggers think?

Source: pkpolitics

SAZA said:
My dear Countrymen it is the outcome of the rule of the Generals. Unless we control them there will be no peace. Unfortunately this country is ruled by USA through Generals. Please mark my words, this country was broken by the Generals and God forbid it will again be broken by Generals. The civilian Govt is just a symbolic , every thing is being dictated by Generals. Please get rid of there rule.

runaway said:
Innah Lillah e Wa Inna Ilehe Rajioon

Arrest Rana Sanaullah..He is friends with the terrorists

All security for Shareefs , rest are on their own.

pakwatan12 said:
No one will blame banned outfits. bcoz now their affiliation with banned outfits is exposed.

Sweettruth said:
Punjab Govt should resign over this yet another failure of security. When terrorists attacked Sri Lnakan cricket team, everyone demanded Salman Taseer resignation. So stop your double standards and we should all demand resignation of Shabaz Sharif.

Mulla Nafs e Zakkiya said:
i strongly believe this is retaliation of some ISI elements against Military Intelligence, Military Intelligence handed over a hand full of afgan taliban’s yesterday to Karzai, and this is the ISI’s retaliation…..

in the heart of Pakistan…plus this puts pressure of Zardari too for making such decisions…

ex isi official has filed a report in courts a few days ago to stop the handing over of these talib leaders did you guys know that ?

Mulla!

time said:
If our security agencies want to fight their proxy wars through these miltants in Afghanistan and India they have to pay the price at home. Indians and Afghanis will use their resources to beef up attacks inside Pakistan. As Wali Khan if you send bullet accross the border don’t expect flowers in return.

norozkhan said:
A warning for people of Pakistan who still trust and listen to Gen Hameed Gul, Imran Khan, Rana Sannaulah and others like him. Where are these friends and helpers of Talibans , Sipah- Sahaba and other extremists parties now hiding, what are they going to say to the loved ones of dead and injured who are the innocent victom of this brutal acts of terrorism.
Are they going to blame India and US again instead of speaking the truth.

I hope we catch the real criminals involved in the bombings and hang them on every intersection of Lahore.

time said:
What can Zardari and Nawaz Sharif do here? After Nawaz Sharif showed door to COAS in the wake of Kargil he was almost hanged. Zardari is still under threat after his civilian supermacy dreams through KLB. Let’s call spade a spade. Its Gen. Kiyani and co. vision that we are paying heavy price for.

time said:
Talat Hussein today alid all the blame on civilian leadership. He blamed tussle between Shahbaz Sharif and Salman Taseer, political issues in center and Punjab for urban terrorism. He also said Army can not be blammed for this.

Yesterday someone asked why I hate Talat. That’s the reason my friend. He does not see GHQ policies as source of all this. He only sees Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Shareef’s political tension as the core issue.

All these GHQ sponsored pundits are part of problem.

feemason said:
Isn’t it sad that instead of using some brains and facts to find out the culprits of this barbaric act we have engaged in petty talk.

To all Army/ISI bashers hundreds of army personnel have laid down their lives in this brutal massacre by maniacs and those personnel also include high ranking officers and even their children in mosques. Stop this senseless tirade of blaming this party or that party. It is a national problem and we have to deal with it with unity.

It is time that we also condemn and stop supporting, watching/reading supporters of terrorism like Imran Khan, Shahid Masood, Hamid Mir, Ansar Abbasi, Munawwar Hassan, Maulivi Fazlur Rehman, Nawai Waqt group etc. Damn them and I hope that these people will come to the right path before some terrorist blows one of them away too.

time said:
@freemason

Welcome back. Its good to see your comment after ages.

I appreciate your progressive vision and your strong sentiments. I have read your hundreds of comments but I don’t recall any single comment where you had criticised GHQ. You criticise all political forces from extreme right to extreme left and everyone in-between very much like Tallat Hussein. It’s not just Hamid Gul and co. many in our active Army leadership still treat Taliban, specifically Afghan Taliban, as an assett to extend their influence to Kabul and still sponsor Lashker e Tayiba to conquer Srinagar. The present turmoil is bcaz of these inner struggles among military ranks – crush Taliban or protect them as strategic asset. You are praying for unnity in nation we don’t have unity among our men in uniform but like Talat you seem to be bound, you don’t say a word about Army’s role. Like you I also appreciate Army’s sacrifice but there is other side of Army that you completely overlook.

time said:
So Talibans are blowing Army buildings bcaz Shahbaz Sharif doesn’t like Salman Taseer OR Zardari and Nawaz Sharif are not on same page???
What about GHQ’s ddouble cross – for and against America, for and against Taliban/alqaeda?

God bless both you and Talat and give you guys courrage to speak up against the root cause of problem – GHQ’s confused world view.

deh aur dil unn ko jo na deh mujh ko zuban aur

——-

Related article: Allama Iqbal Town blasts in Lahore were a message to Shahbaz Sharif by the ‘masters of good Taliban’ – by Abdul Nishapuri

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6 Comments

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  • From The News Editorial:

    In what appears to be a knee-jerk response the commissioner of Lahore has blamed India for the bomb blasts. He must offer up whatever evidence he has. Logic dictates though that, like the spate of terrorism we have suffered for months, the latest attack too was carried out by pro-Taliban forces targeting the military. The enemy is here and has struck again and again – and our only hope of survival lies in driving the monster out before it is too late to do so. Somehow we have to stop this horror. The stains of blood that have coloured countless streets must fade away forever. Until this happens we, as a nation, will know no peace.

    http://thenews.jang.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=228738

  • Indeed, the army has to be blamed for every innocent Pakistani, including innocent military troops killed in these attacks. It is only logical to blame the army. They have ruled the country for most of its existence; either directly or indirectly. How can you blame an elected government when its leader, the PM, has never been beyond a truckload of army troops? Just to prolong and perpetuate their own grip on power, these ruthless Generals encouraged the radicalism to create a Mullah-Military alliance. What we are seeing today is the result of more than two decades of blunderous, suicidal policy. If the country and its people have to rid themselves of this cancer, then the policy must address both the cause and effect at the same time; i.e. the power-hungry, radicalizing men in uniform as well as the radicalized, brainwashed, armed militants that have spread all across the country today killing none other than Pakistanis. Where is God now ?

  • Approximately 57 killed, scores injured and a public cowering under the faceless shadow of an enemy they know only as terrorism; this was Lahore on 12/3, 2010, a city caught in the eye of a storm that has been raging for years now.

    Twin suicide blasts ravaged the RA Bazaar in the Cantonment area of the city, spreading fear, pandemonium and death in this relatively untouched area. Targeting an army convoy patrolling the bazaar’s mosque perimeter during Friday prayers with one bomb, and then further confusing an already distraught public with gunfire and a second bomb immediately after, this attack has bloodied our government’s claim of having everything under control as far as terrorism is concerned. An area ‘heavily secured’ by the military, this assault on the security forces and the citizens has demonstrated the Taliban’s devotion to upping the ante as retribution for their recent losses in FATA. Also, this attack comes as an ‘in your face’ warning that no place is safe, especially those that have, in the past, been deemed impregnable by the security forces.

    The glaring inconsistencies of our establishment’s vows to protect its citizens became laughably clear when miscreants detonated a series of cracker bombs in the Allama Iqbal Town and Samanabad areas of Lahore later the same evening, spreading panic and trepidation, but mercifully without adding to the earlier victims’ toll. With the media and police being led on a wild goose chase with one bomb after the other let loose upon residential blocks — behind a police station and the homes of police officers — the resulting chaos and disarray was the terrorists’ cheeky attempt at playing with the psyche of the citizenry. While the Cantonment blast was a raw exhibition of Taliban vengeance, the follow-up attacks preyed upon disabling our psychological well-being. The result? Eroding public confidence in the security agencies and the government.

    The public has every right to foam at the mouth; with such lapses in our security arrangements, it is a wonder such a blatant assault has not come sooner. And the powers that be still do not learn. Security check posts are the establishment’s favourite measure in attempts to curb such incidents. In such a climate of unrest, where civilians and the security forces are both fair game, holding up traffic for at times hours on end provides potential suicide bombers a tempting opportunity. It is not possible to check the documents and vehicles of every single citizen; different measures of security enhancement will have to be introduced.

    Lahore was a ghost town on Friday night and many late night travellers report no increased screening processes, something disturbing and welcome at the same time. Bringing life to a grinding halt is an aim of the aggressors; not giving in should be our deafening answer.

    This is a murky war where suspicions are on higher alert than our security agencies, and civilians are being considered fair collateral. Therefore, it is the public that needs to fight back. Instead of gathering its forces for a ‘beef up’ in security and causing an imminent threat at check posts, the government ought to fully champion a mass media campaign aimed at educating and training the public on counter-terrorism strategies. Pakistan is in a state of war; the community needs to be well rehearsed in how to identify potential threats and suspicious behaviour. The citizens need to be the country’s watchdog because the assigned authorities are proving unequal to the task.

    The Punjab government’s recent show of brotherly love with a banned organisation, so as to secure by-election votes, has also indirectly legitimised the violent theology of such outfits. Now with Punjab caught in the crosshairs of a struggle on fundamental grounds, should the provincial government be held responsible for fanning these ideological flames? Until and unless the Punjab government discards its selfish race to increase its vote bank, and unites with the federal government to cast out this scourge of aligned terrorist networks — Afghan/Pakistani Taliban and other outlawed outfits — such episodes could be witnessed time and again.

    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010\03\14\story_14-3-2010_pg3_1

  • Pakistanis have shown immense resolve and courage to sustain the society-state-media-political consensus against militancy in the face of an orgy of violence in the last year. For this the public deserves unmitigated praise.

    The people, however, deserve more from their state, which is gallantly fighting the war against militancy but is still lacking in many areas. One of the biggest failures appears to be an inability, or perhaps unwillingness, on the part of the Pakistan Army and the government to clearly define the gamut of threats to state security and the public’s safety.

    By now every Pakistani knows about the TTP, or at least something about its key leaders, its agenda and its range of operations. The state has done well to take on this pre-eminent threat in Fata and Swat/ Malakand.

    But there is a veritable alphabet soup of militant groups about which little is known. Here are just a few names: the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, Jaish-i-Mohammad, Fidayeen-i-Islam, Harkatul Jihad al-Islami, Ghazi Force, Abdullah Azam Brigade, the ‘al Almi’ suffix attached to several groups, Sipah-i-Sahaba. What has the Pakistan Army or the government told the public about these threats? Who are the leaders of these groups? How large are their cadres, in the dozens, the hundreds, the thousands? Where do they operate? What is their agenda? The public knows next to nothing about the answers to each of these questions — and that information black hole is a serious worry. Here’s why. Pakistanis have not been drawn to the militants’ ideology generally, and even where they have, arguably such as in Malakand division, they have been repulsed by violent means. But what the public cannot do is turn against what it does not know about. The failure of the state to come clean about the hydra-headed militancy threat means that many groups have been able to live, perhaps even thrive, alongside the population. It is striking that the average Pakistani with access to the news media or the Internet knows, or thinks he knows, more about Blackwater and RAW’s activities inside Pakistan than, for example, who leads Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and what its foot soldiers are up to.

    Then there are the opaque inter- and intra-sect enmities. The week saw the murder in Karachi of, among others, the leader of Aalmi Majlis Tahaffuz Khatm-i-Nabuwwat — a group many Pakistanis know little about, but the murder of its leader was enough to spark panic in several Karachi localities. ‘Sectarian’ militants have been blamed for the murder but Karachiites are none the wiser. Pakistanis have conclusively demonstrated that they reject terror; it is time the state came clean about the full spectrum of the threat.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/19-awash-with-terror-430-hh-07

  • As far as I can see, the terrorism of the sort being perpetrated at this time within Pakistan will only end when one of the two possible outcomes is achieved. The first of course is the complete ‘neutralisation’ of the Taliban. This will only happen if they are isolated and militarily defeated. Before that can be done it is necessary that the Taliban ‘fellow travellers’ within the country and outside who support them are convinced to stop their support for them.

    The other outcome is that the Taliban actually achieve their aims and objectives. This will of course entail an end to what we know of as Pakistan today, and this was well demonstrated by the brief interlude when the Taliban were allowed to hold sway over Swat and before that during the time they ruled Afghanistan.

    Obviously there is no such thing as the ‘good’ Taliban, at least from a Pakistani perspective. The reason being that the Taliban are ‘maximalists’ and will accept nothing less than a complete acquiescence to their way of thinking. And their primary aim is to establish an extreme theocratic Muslim state in Pakistan similar to the one they had in Afghanistan.

    Things are bad but might not be quite as bad as they seem. After all, the young republic went through a spasm of religious extremism a little less than 60 years ago that led to the complete collapse of law and order in the Punjab, forcing the army to step in. The extremists at that time were much less well organised or well armed but they had much wider support than the Taliban have today.

    The popularity of the Taliban in parts of Pakistan over the last few years was directly associated with their fight against the ‘occupying’ US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. However, their participation in domestic terrorism has made them much less popular than they have been in the past. If the US-led campaign against the Taliban achieves some of its goals in Afghanistan while the Pakistan Army action against them in the tribal areas is also successful, then the US will leave Afghanistan to its own devices in a couple of years.

    Once the US leaves this area, in Pakistan at least, the Taliban will become marginalised since the support for their religious objectives is restricted to a very narrow segment of Muslim society within Pakistan. This is not a fight between ‘moderate’ Muslims and extremists but rather between two competing visions of Islam, with a vast majority of Pakistani Muslims arrayed against the Taliban from a religious perspective.

    Therefore, it seems to me that the best way for Pakistan to contain internal terrorism is to facilitate the US and NATO departure from Afghanistan. And the US will only leave Afghanistan when two conditions have been met. First, that the Taliban do not pose a significant threat to the present Afghan government, at least in the short term. Second that Pakistan or Afghanistan no longer provide safe haven to those that plan terror attacks against the US and its interests.

    To help achieve these two goals, Pakistan needs to contain the Taliban so that they are no longer in control of any parts of the tribal areas where they can provide safe haven to al Qaeda remnants. The Pakistan Army is doing an admirable job from a military point of view, but the political leadership in Pakistan has to do its share. The Taliban are making this easier by indulging in widespread murder and mayhem, thereby alienating the ordinary people of Pakistan.

    Politics, but not now —Dr Syed Mansoor Hussain
    http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20103\15\story_15-3-2010_pg3_3