Terrorist Bloodbath In Peshawar – by Stephen Brown


peshawar

The huge car bomb blast on Wednesday in a crowded market in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province, emphasized the extent of the terrorist threat facing Pakistanis as well as the success of Islamist media manipulation.

The Peshawar attack, the latest and most savage to rock Pakistan this month, left almost 200 people dead. Already in “bloody” October, about 190 persons perished in Pakistan’s terrorist carnage. But Wednesday’s bombing differed from the others in one important aspect: The deadly explosion was timed to coincide with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s first ever visit to Pakistan.

The attack’s coincidental timing, on one level, was meant to score a media success for Pakistan’s extremist forces. It served both to tarnish the Clinton visit and highlight the precariousness of the host country’s security situation. For the Islamists, it was a much needed victory.

The Pakistani Taliban and their radical Islamic allies are currently engaged in a desperate struggle with the Pakistani army in their South Waziristan stronghold and are not doing well. Government soldiers recently overran Kotkai, the hometown of Pakistani Taliban chief Hakeemullah Mehsud, and are pressing their advance into Taliban-held areas near the Afghanistan border. Since the offensive began last October 17, 160 Taliban fighters have been reported killed as opposed to 24 army fatalities.

But the Islamists are media savvy and have already demonstrated this ability to help their cause in the Afghanistan conflict. The Afghan Taliban, which cannot stand up to Western alliance soldiers in battle, lessened their enemy’s effectiveness by successfully manipulating the Western media into portraying NATO-related civilian casualties as scandalous.

As a result, NATO forces had to change their rules of engagement, restricting military action when Afghan civilians are present. In turn, this affected operations and is reported to have lowered the soldiers’ morale. Before killing one Taliban leader travelling in a car, for example, the British warplane tracking him had to let him go several times because of his proximity to civilians.

Taliban fighters not only hide now among civilians, knowing their presence protects them from NATO retaliation, they also take human shields, often unwilling ones, with them on operations. And even if NATO forces defeat the Taliban, inadvertently killing civilians in the process, the Western troops still lose since the enemy always turns the dead civilians into a propaganda victory.

This media success has emboldened the Taliban to progress beyond human shields and use children more often in operations. The Islamists know the rules of engagement make it difficult for NATO troops to shoot when children are present.

According to a story in a Canadian newspaper, since last March, the Canadian military has recorded 29 incidents involving children helping the Taliban. Their activities have ranged from acting as lookouts to planting roadside bombs. One 15 year-old was caught planting an IED while his four-year-old brother watched. A 12 year-old spotted by a helicopter doing the same thing ran into a nearby tent and emerged holding a baby as a human shield.

But Wednesday’s Peshawar market bombing was more than just an attempt to embarrass Clinton and the Pakistani government. By high-profile assassinations and attacks on important institutions like police headquarters, a university and army headquarters, the terrorists are endeavouring to create an image through the media that the government is powerless to control the civil unrest and cannot defend itself, let alone its citizens.

After terrorist attacks, Pakistanis are left questioning government security measures, especially the efficacy of the numerous inconvenient checkpoints and roadblocks they have to negotiate every day. One observer pointed out the vehicles backed up at such choke points actually make a tempting target for a terrorist attack. Some Pakistanis now say they fear to go outside, while others have introduced their own security measures, such as hiring snipers and sandbagging buildings and schools.

To counter the terrorists’ media manipulation and the “fear psychosis” it is creating in the country of 160 million people, Pakistan’s Information Minister asked the electronic media on Wednesday “to avoid live coverage of terrorist attacks and rescue activities.” These images, the minister said, caused “depression” among the people. The issue of media coverage is apparently of such importance, the minister has asked media organizations for their cooperation, since “the government does not want to force its decision.”

The selection of Wednesday’s bombing target, Peshawar’s Meena market, would also not be lost on Pakistanis. The Meena market is described as selling “mostly women’s merchandise.” Which explains why most of the victims were women and children.

Besides being a manifestation of the Islamists’ hatred for the Pakistani government and for America, the attack was also a sign of their well-known hatred for women. The Taliban do not believe women should venture out of the home unaccompanied by a male relative. The Meena market tragedy would inform them what might happen if they do.

Combined with the double suicide bombings at Islamabad’s International Islamic University last week, observers fear the terrorists have switched tactics and are now targeting women. In the university attack, the cafeteria for female students was blown up at lunch time, killing four people, including two women. Students angry with government security measures stoned a minister who showed up after the attack.

With their latest barbarous terrorist strike, Pakistan’s Islamists want to portray their country’s situation as apocalyptic and are doing this through a well-planned series of terrorist attacks and a sophisticated manipulation of the media. In reality, the terrorists are hard-pressed in their tribal strongholds, proving unable to stand up to the attacking Pakistani army. Terrorism has always been the weapon of the weak.

Since Pakistan is obviously in a state of war, some restriction on media coverage is called for, since it is affecting the conflict’s course to the country’s detriment. The attack on the women of the Meena market was an attack on Pakistan’s “way of life”, a way that could disappear if this war of words and images is lost.

  • rmark123

    We will keep assisting Pakistan against terror: Hillary

    The top US diplomat earlier visited a mosque in Lahore on the second day of a visit focused on public diplomacy and strengthening moves towards democracy.

    Television footage also showed her praying at the shrine of Muslim saint Bari Shah Latif in Islamabad, following a last-minute schedule swap with a similar monument in Lahore.

    Clinton's visit to the second largest city in Pakistan, which has been hit by a series of gun, suicide and grenade attacks this year, has been accompanied by draconian security measures a day after a car bomb killed 104 in Peshawar.

    Clinton said the ‘horrific bombing’ in the northwestern city left no doubt that ‘Pakistan is in the midst of a battle against extremists’.

    ‘This is not your fight alone… You're standing on the frontlines of this battle but we are standing with you,’ she said.

    Answering questions from the audience on US intentions and perceived failings, Clinton acknowledged past mistakes but called for a new era and was treated to applause when she voiced opposition to US president George W. Bush.

    Following previous announcements of cash for poverty, border security and energy development, she pledged a 45-million-dollar investment for higher education in Pakistan and was to meet business leaders later Thursday.

    ‘If there were peace between Pakistan and India, and the outstanding issues were resolved, Pakistan would take off like a rocket in terms of economic development,’ Clinton told the hand-picked audience from around the country.

    ‘Pakistan has such an opportunity to be a power house. You are so strategically located,’ she said — referring to the possibility of trade opening up to the north, east and west and with the Arabian Sea.

    Clinton, who says the United States wants to ‘turn the page’ on its relationship with Pakistan, is devoting significant energy to public diplomacy to counter rising Pakistani criticism of the alliance with Washington.

    President Barack Obama's administration wants to engage with Pakistan, which traditionally sees the United States as interested only in securing its military cooperation in the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

    Clinton has already committed 85 million dollars to countering poverty, 125 million dollars to improving Pakistan's woefully inadequate electricity supply and 104 million dollars to law enforcement and border security assistance.

  • moorthymuthuswamy

    In case anyone failed to notice, Pakistan is on its way to becoming the first Islamic state of the American union.

    Seriously, we can do a whole lot better if we understand, i.e., understand Pakistan better…

  • logdon

    Whilst I have sympathy for individual tragedy and loss this does not extend to Pakistan and Pakistanis per se.

    Here in Britain whole cities and towns are swamped by these people who refuse to assimilate, let alone integrate.

    They express virulent hatred yet do not balk at the welfare benefits they inevitably exploit.

    They are, in other words parasitic cuckoos and we are getting fed up.

    Get real. Pakistanis despise the West especially America. Sure they take the US aid money but that's jizya in their minds. Just like our welfare it's a supreme right.

    I have been driven at, verbally abused, threatened with assault and insulted by arrogant Pakistanis. No other group has done that.

    The Hindus and Sikhs are no problem, it's always Pakistanis. Not surprisingly the Hindu and Sikh immigrants loath them.

    Civil unrest not reported in the MSM is sprouting. We, devoid of any government support are fighting back.

    A party, the BNP has promised to deport all but the ones born here and are enjoying unprecedented popular support. In a poll last week, about one out of three sympathised with those views.

    They've brought this entirely upon themselves. They flirt and love the supremacist values of Islam. Now it's even biting them.

    Tough.

  • rayford

    And I thought Ohio was by imposing Sharia law on Rifqa deprived of her civil rights, unable to communicate with the outside world, no calls, no internet and unable to choose a lawyer to represent her!

  • Mach1Duck

    You fight a war to win.
    You cannot fight a civilized war.
    War is at the opposite end of the spectrum from civilization.
    If one must fight, fight to win.
    The only way to win in a gorilla war is to make them suffer to the point they give up.

  • ApolloSpeaks

    OBAMA'S AFGHANISTAN DEBACLE

    Unless a tribal leader arises in Afghanistan comparable to the fearless father and martyr of Iraq's Anbar Awakening, Shiek Abdul Rishawi, the Afghan War will remain unwinnable and will become Obama's Vietnam nightmare whatever he does.

    Google ApolloSpeaks (one word) and read my two latest pieces: “Obama's Worst Day in Afghanistan and its Meaning” and “Afghanistan and the Anbar Awakening.”

  • Proxywar

    All that money goes right back into funding their proxy-terrorists. It's like paying someone you want to really like you to kick you in the balls.

    I bought your book and agreed with your doctrine for confronting the Axis of jihad.