Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics
Even before Saturday’s horrific attack in which at least 40 people were killed in Pakistan’s Bajaur region on the Afghan border, the current year is turning out to be the most successful for suicide bombers in the country since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
According to an analysis by Amir Mir in The News, 1224 people were killed and more than 2100 wounded in sucide bombings during the year, slightly up from the previous year which was itself a record since Pakistan signed up for the war on terrorism. The number of suicide attacks, by itself, fell by as much as 35 percent, which means the attacks that took place had a greater strike rate.
On an average, the “human bombs” killed just over a 100 people each month, which tells you just how much the country has been sucked into the fires of extremism. The latest attack was carried out, according to Pakistani media. by a burqa-clad woman bomber in a food distribution centre where people displaced by the fighting earlier between security forces and Taliban militants had gathered for aid.
Amir provides an interesting breakup of the suicide attacks by geography and by the targets of the attacks. There isn’t a part of Pakistan untouched by the suicide bomber, though Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa or North West Frontier Province as it was formerly called, was by far the most common staging ground for such attacks. followed by the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and then Punjab. Of the 52 suicide attacks, not counting the latest one, 37 took place in the Pashtun belt of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
What is going on in Kunar and Bajaur, two neighbouring regions on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border?
NPR has a view from the Afghan side in this piece written from the perspective of U.S. troops fighting in Kunar. (h/t The Captain's Journal) Key takeaways are the level of mistrust about the Pakistanis, driven by the suspicion its military is supporting the Taliban, and the presence of a massive but newly abandoned CIA post there.
Reuters’ journalist Myra Macdonald travelled to Pakistan’s northwest on the border with Afghanistan to find that some of the Kiplingesque images of xenophobic Pasthuns and ungovernable lands may be a bit off the mark especially now when the Pakistani army has taken the battle to the Islamist militants. Here’s her account :
By Myra MacDonald
KHAR, Pakistan – I had not expected Pakistan’s tribal areas to be so neat and so prosperous.
The shoe’s on the other foot. The Pakistani army is saying that it’s being let down by U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan just when it has made hard-fought gains against militants along its stretch of the border.
Some 700 militants have fled a successful military offensive in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal agency to the Afghan province of Kunar just over the border but no action had been taken against them, according to a Reuters report from the area.