The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Posts Tagged ‘Rawalpindi

Morbid Monday: Rawalpindi & Lahore Motorway attacked

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Today is the first of the month – a day where people get salaries, plan for the month ahead, pay bills, pay their children’s school fees.

Today on the Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, a couple of suicide bombers detonated their jackets near the police checkpost on the Babu Sabu interchange. The attack happened after the two were stopped. The attack saw both suicide bombers killed. 15 people are reportedly injured, which includes several police officers. The attackers are reported to have been less than 20 years old.

The Motorway also saw an attack on October 24, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car near the Lillah interchange, killing one police officer.

Today in Rawalpindi, Pakistan – a planted bomb exploded suicide bomber detonated a bomb laden motorcycle, killing 30 people and injuring 40.  25 people (this is an unconfirmed number as the death toll keeps rising) and injuring 30. Eyewitness reports gathered by Pakistani news channels say that there were several military officers who were at the National Bank of Pakistan collecting their salaries, and that the blast took place in the parking lot. The area is one of those ‘highly sensitive’ ones – the Pearl Continental hotel was next door and the Army’s General Head Quarters a few kilometers away. Schools have been closed in the city.

Today in Pakistan, the Government is obsessed not with the security situation in the country, not with the military operation in Waziristan, but with aid conditions in the Kerry-Lugar/Berman bill and the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance.

Today in Rawalpindi and Lahore, as families try and get news and innocent people die and are injured, as news channels scramble for visuals, as the empty condemnations from political leaders pour in, as the country’s ever-increasing sense of fear grows, everything is in short supply: leadership, effective governance, security and stability.


Written by Saba Imtiaz

November 2, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Pakistan Army GHQ under attack – III

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Pakistani police commandos take positions in front of Pakistan?s army headquarters during an operation in Rawalpindi early on October 11, 2009.  (Photo AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani police commandos take positions in front of Pakistan's army headquarters during an operation in Rawalpindi early on October 11, 2009. (Photo AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Almost 20 hours later – with 3 dead army commandos, 3 dead terrorists, 4 dead hostages and the rescue of 30 hostages – the newest security saga in Pakistan has come to an end.

“The Taliban shut down Pakistan’s Army headquarters for 18 hours with this attack,” a senior US military intelligence official who closely tracks Pakistan told The Long War Journal.

“They have delivered a message to Pakistan’s military: we can hit you in the heart too,” the official continued, referring to the Pakistani military’s threats to take the fight to the Taliban in the heart of South Waziristan.

Written by Saba Imtiaz

October 11, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Pakistan Army GHQ under attack – II

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A Pakistani army official (background) examines a white van which was used by attackers following a heavily armed militant attack in Rawalpindi on October 10, 2009. (Photo: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

A Pakistani army official (background) examines a white van which was used by attackers following a heavily armed militant attack in Rawalpindi on October 10, 2009. (Photo: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)

As I type, the day-long siege of the GHQ continues. Reports emerged later in the day that two of the a number of escaped militants have kept 10-15 army personnel as hostage in the security office they fled to after the gunbattle broke out. This attack will probably go down as one of the milestones of this war Pakistan has been fighting. How the Tehrik-e-Taliban (which has claimed responsibility for the attack) managed to attack the very bastion of Pakistan’s military is a security and intelligence failure on so many levels its incomprehensible. Also, how secure are any of us if the GHQ can get attacked? I know, living in Pakistan you tend to take fear and insecurity for granted, but I’m going to run for my life the next time I see an uniformed official nearby.

The GHQ attack reads like a film script and follows a pattern that has been seen as of late. Six terrorists dressed in military uniforms attempted to cross the GHQ checkpost and at being stopped, they began firing on the army personnel in the area. Four terrorists died, six army personnel were killed, and the other two terrorists are currently holding army personnel hostage.

Security officials have apparently raided the house that the militants were residing in that was 5-6 kilometers away from the GHQ. The house had  “security uniforms, shoes, badges, documents, diaries and detonators.”

Lest we forget, this is the supposed high-security, high-alert zone.

But how could we? Everyone’s been falling over themselves to claim they were the first to predict it, including the Punjab police. Alright then.

Meanwhile, for some bizarre reason, four television channels have been reprogrammed so they no longer appear on their regular slots. They haven’t been blocked as yet, though the panic has set in. Channels are back on their regular slots now.

What I find more worrying is the list of demands by the TTP group that has claimed responsibility for the attack.

  • Halt of operation in northern areas
  • Accountability of former President Pervez Musharraf
  • Return of Blackwater
  • Closure of Western NGOs

Now while these are fairly common demands, characteristic of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, what I find odd is the demand about Blackwater. Is it possible that because of the blitz of articles in the press, the intense television debates, the paranoia, the rumours, the statements by politicians;  the Taliban have actually begun to believe that Blackwater (if it even does have a presence in Pakistan) is part of their problem? More importantly, if the Taliban believe this, how many citizens do? Can we just not accept that the Taliban, associated militia groups, insurgents, et al are the main problem? The search for a scapegoat to blame all our problems on continues…as Pakistan burns, is bombed and pretty much self-destructs.

Written by Saba Imtiaz

October 11, 2009 at 1:12 am

Pakistani Army GHQ under attack

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Really, the point I made in my previous post has been proved right. Spend all this time arguing over the Kerry-Lugar/Berman bill and militants sneak in (quite like the wooden horse in Troy) to attack the Pakistani army General Headquarters. As the battle goes on in Rawalpindi, which has left 3 dead,  its time to rethink priorities. Focus people: We’re a country at war with severe economic problems.

Written by Saba Imtiaz

October 10, 2009 at 4:33 pm