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Ashura bombings

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  • Ashura bombings

    Political analysts like to point out differences between the various terrorist groups that haunt the region, drawing distinctions between their aims and tactics. Occasionally, though, we get gruesome reminders that these groups share more in common than we like we’d like to admit. A virulent hatred for anyone, particularly Shias, who deviate a single inch from their rigid interpretation of Islam, is a trait shared by all militant groups. The twin Ashura bombings targeting Shia mourners in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif took at least 59 lives while a third bombing in Kandahar had no casualties. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami, a splinter group of the LeJ allied to al Qaeda, has claimed responsibility for the attacks, the first in Afghanistan for the militant outfit. In fact, the Afghan Taliban even led the chorus of condemnations that followed the attack. However, we should not be fooled by the Taliban’s insistence that it had nothing to do with the attacks and that it did not support it. Even if that is true, the tactics are classic Taliban. Indiscriminately targeting civilians in order to sow fear and score a symbolic victory, is not something that the Taliban are a stranger to. Indeed, the LeJ splinter’s involvement in the attack hints at an ominous alliance between the terror group and either the Taliban or al Qaeda. This is the first known instance of this group carrying out an attack in Afghanistan and may be a sign that terrorist organisations may be teaming up to ensure that the Nato forces and the Karzai government face an ignominious defeat in the country.
    Pakistan too will have to tread carefully. Previous attacks in Afghanistan have been linked to groups like the Haqqani network that are also believed to be close to the military. Pakistan has already upset the international community by boycotting the Bonn conference; having the blame for another attack pinned on it will only lead to further recriminations. Above all, now that its domestic militant outfits have decided to export terror, Pakistan has a greater responsibility to root them out at home.
    Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2011.