Saturday, October 20, 2007

Carnage in Karachi

PAKISTAN'S military establishment and state security has been implicated in the huge suicide bombing which killed 138 people on the streets of Karachi, and wounded 300.

The bombing was ostensibly aimed at returning former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her motorcade. But whoever organised and carried out this atrocity clearly did not care how many innocent people they killed or maimed.

The attack had echoes of the attempt on Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi many years ago by a Muslim terror group enlisted for the purpose by British Intelligence. Then too the target escaped unhurt while the victims were ordinary people on the street. But this Karachi killing was so much bigger.

In this it resembled some of the bombings in India which the authorities there blamed on Pakistani intelligence.

Benazir Bhutto said she had received information about assassination plots - including names of ringleaders and telephone numbers - days before she flew to Karachi. The information came from a "friendly government". She had included the details in a letter sent to President Musharraf on Tuesday. "I told him that if something should happen to me the government should know certain things," she said at a high-security press conference at her Karachi home.

"This was a dastardly and cowardly attack," she said. "We believe democracy alone can save Pakistan from disintegration and a militant takeover."

"We are prepared to risk our lives and we are prepared to risk our liberty, but we are not prepared to surrender our great nation to the militants."

"With much detail in their hands the government would have been able to apprehend them. But I understand their difficulties," she said.
As Bhutto's motorcade maded its way through the Karachi streets before the bombing street lights suddenly went off, without explanation.

She described a scheme in which undercover army commandos would contrive a gunfight outside one of her homes in Karachi or Larkana, before killing her. "I'm not accusing the government. I'm accusing certain people who abuse their powers. I trust nothing will happen," she said.
Ms Bhutto has previously accused the head of Pakistan's Military Intelligence agency and retired army officers of sympathising with the extremists who tried to kill her. After the blasts, her husband, Asif Zardari, directly accused the intelligence agencies of involvement.
But Ms Bhutto was careful not to direct accusations against President Musharraf, with whom she was negotiating a power-sharing deal. Meanwhile one of the Taliban leaders denied responsibility.,,2195618,00.html

Some British media reports expressed surprise that Bhutto had not bowed to threats, but had gone ahead and returned to Pakistan as planned - almost implying the bombing and carnage was her fault. Others suggested that notwithstanding the death and suffering, the atrocity might have its benefits in forcing Bhutto and her Pakistan People's Party closer into co-operation with the military.

Britain and the United States are hoping that Bhutto's return can restore a semblance of democracy to strengthen the pro-US regime, and perhaps reduce the cost of corruption, as well as well as restarting progress on relations with India over Kashmir. But many ordinary PPP supporters and Pakistani workers hope a more democratic government might do something for the poor and restore union rights.

That would not please the military chiefs who have done well for themselves, nor is it part of the agenda for religious terror warlords. British and US interests might also consider it too much of an overhead. Whoever organised this atrocity most likely deliberately chose to kill and terrorise ordinary working people.

A reputable organisation of Muslims in Britain, the Muslim Institute, has strongly comndemned the Karachi bombing.

Muslim Institute

Immediate release: 19th October 2007

UK Muslim organisation condemns the bombing of Ms Bhutto’s convoy and condoles with the families who lost loved ones.

Muslim Institute has expressed its revulsion and horror at the dreadful terror attack yesterday on Ms Benazir Bhutto’s peaceful convoy and condemned it as senseless and despicable act that resulted in loss of lives and mass carnage in celebratory procession through the streets of Karachi.

Amjad Hussain has said, ‘I impress upon the government of Pakistan to make a genuine and thorough police effort to get to the bottom of this and apprehend those who masterminded this appalling atrocity. I want religious scholars and civil society alike to unite and re-claim the heart and soul of Islam and isolate the extremist fringe who misuse Islam for indiscriminate killings.

'I am sure the government of Pakistan will show resolve in the face of this travesty and re-double its efforts to remain engaged with all the stakeholders and political parties in Pakistan. The path towards democracy is the only alterative to extremism and the creation of pluralistic and forward looking Pakistan.'

Amjad Hussain is Research Fellow and spokesman on South Asia & Human Rights.

Note to the editor:

Muslim Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation. Its aim is to inform, encourage rational and objective debate with a view to making difference towards the development of democracy & human rights in Muslim World.



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