Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Afghanistan, Pakistan and … all the other countries involved

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Regular readers of this blog will know that I have questioned before the value of the "AfPak" label, which implies that an incredibly complicated situation involving many different countries can be reduced to a five-letter word.

Having spent the last couple of days trying to make sense of the suicide bomb attack in Iran which Tehran blamed on Jundollah, an ethnic Baluchi, Sunni insurgent group it says has bases in Pakistan,  I'm more inclined than ever to believe the "AfPak" label blinds us to the broader regional context. Analysts argue that Jundollah has been heavily influenced by hardline Sunni sectarian Islamist thinking within Pakistan which is itself the product of 30 years of proxy wars in the region dating back to the Iranian Islamic Revolution in 1979, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan towards the end of the same year.

This Sunni-Shi'ite faultline is showing up in suicide bombings in Iran, while at the same time Sunni Islamist groups continue to challenge the writ of state inside Pakistan even as the Pakistan Army presses ahead with its offensive in South Waziristan, stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.

Such is the power of the Sunni Islamist movement, that Pakistan has been forced to close schools for fear of more bombings in its heartland in response to its military offensive in South Waziristan.

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