A suicide bomber has struck in Pakistani Kashmir killing two soldiers in what is said to be the first such attack in the Himalayan region. The attacker targeted military barracks, which raises the question whether Pakistan’s Islamist militants are opening a new front just as they come under pressure in the northwest.
A suicide attack in Muzaffarabad, eerily identical to the scores that have taken place on the Indian side of the scenic region in the past, will trigger interest in New Delhi for likely clues to which way the war in Pakistan is headed.
Nobody yet has claimed responsibility, but if it is the Pakistan Taliban what signal is it sending? Is it going to fight the Pakistani army everywhere including Kashmir, which really has been at the core of Pakistan’s policy towards India.
Or is it the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has long operated on the Indian side of Kashmir as also other parts of India ? Are they sending a warning against any crackdown on the group, which New Delhi has been demanding even more stridently since the Mumbai attacks.
For the Lashkar, seen to have long-running ties to Pakistan’s security establishment, to be turning against its benefactors in such manner and such an emotive location would indeed be a watershed.