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Sunday, September 5, 2010
Who is behind the Shia killings in Pakistan?
By Gul Jammas Hussain
In a devastating series of sectarian attacks over the last three days, terrorists struck at two separate Shia rallies in two different cities in Pakistan, killing over 98 innocent people -- 33 in Lahore and 65 in Quetta.
Suicide bombers attacked Wednesday in Lahore as faithful Muslims commemorated the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (AS), and Friday in Quetta while holding a huge Al-Qods Day rally to express solidarity and support for the oppressed people of Palestine.
A spokesman from Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attacks, calling them “revenge for the slaughter of innocent Sunnis” and promising further attacks soon on targets in Europe and the United States.
However, the statement sounds more like braggadocio than a true acknowledgement of responsibility for terrorist attacks, since the Taliban has a habit of claiming responsibility for anything that boosts their bloated tribal egos without the slightest concern over repercussions.
So, if the Pakistani Taliban militants did not carry out these terrorist attacks, then who did? Alternatively, if they actually did, then whom did they use as assassins?
The Pakistani Taliban has been involved in perpetuating a mindless cycle of violence in the northwestern part of the country. They have also carried out countless attacks on Pakistani security forces and government officials, frequently killing common people rather than hitting their intended targets, but provoking sectarian violence has not been part of their modus operandi. These people are mostly from primitive Pashtun tribes who seek revenge against the U.S.-led NATO forces for killing their Pashtun cousins across the border in Afghanistan. It seems that the Pakistani Taliban’s primary objective is to exact revenge from the alien forces and their supposed local allies, since they also have attacked the Pakistani army and police whom they view as friends of the enemy.
However, for some years now, men from various outlawed sectarian groups in Punjab province, such as Sipah-e-Sabah and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, have joined the Tehrik-i-Taliban in order to actualize their sectarian fantasies.
Which brings us back to the question, who really attacked the Shia Muslims in Quetta and Lahore?
It appears to be the work of two different terrorist groups, probably unrelated to each other, each one acting independently based upon its own motives.
In August, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi allegedly assassinated an eminent Shia politician from the Mohajir Qaumi Movement, a Karachi-based political party of Urdu-speaking Muslims who migrated to Pakistan when the country emerged as an independent entity from British India in 1947. The event sparked sectarian and ethnic violence in the city, as the deceased politician’s supporters killed over hundred people for revenge in the business capital of the country. As authorities in Karachi got things back under some semblance of control and were maintaining a modicum of law and order in the Holy Month of Ramadan, terrorists struck at Shia rallies commemorating the martyrdom of Hazrat Ali (AS) in Lahore where security was almost non-existent since most of the security forces are deployed in the flood-stricken areas of the country. The Lahore attacks look more like the handiwork of those sectarian terrorists who failed to achieve their desired revenge in Karachi.
The Quetta attack is more complex and difficult to explain as chaos rules there. The city has become a hub for terrorists, criminal gangs, drug mafias, smugglers and a haven for the Pakistani Taliban, Afghan Taliban and Balouch insurgents fighting against the Pakistani state on behalf of foreign powers attempting to destabilize the country. The attack on innocent Muslims, who were merely expressing their solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine, looks like the work of a hardcore terrorist organization and not the blowhard Taliban militants. It could have been the work of the remaining Abdolmalek Rigi loyalists, who fled to Quetta and were hiding there after conducting the recent terrorist attacks in Zahedan. On the other hand, foreign agencies may have employed members of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi from Punjab province to carry out the attacks in Balouchestan.
So it appears that these operations were false flag attacks meant to stir up sectarian and ethnic animosity and produce endless cycles of violence in order to further destabilize Pakistan.