Today in Lahore the Sri Lankan cricket team was ambushed by a dozen or so Jihadi terrorists. Pakistan TV showed footage of gunmen with rifles and back packs running in the streets of Lahore and firing indiscriminately. The Jihadis were armed with AK 47, hand grenades, rockets and rocket launchers.
The convoy was ambushed as it slowed down at a traffic circle near Lahore’s Qadafi Stadium. The Sri lankan sports minister stated that 5 players and their coach were injured in the attack. All of them remain out of danger. Spokesman for Punjab police acknowledged death of 5 police men in the attack.
It has also been reported that the Jihadis threw a grenade under the bus which fortunately failed to detonate otherwise the guest team would have been blown up. The Lahore attack in its operative mechanics looks remarkably similar to Mumbai attacks. The terrorists looked much trained. Those who have studied these attacks in detail can tell that it had the signature marks of LeT. The ISI controlled Wahabi group based in Muridkay Punjab.
The administrative head of the Punjab Governor Salman Taseer stated, “One thing I want to say, it’s the same pattern, the same terrorists who attacked Mumbai”. While the governor is saying what’s obvious but it’s not that simple. Who were the real attackers of Mumbai? , Governor Taseer knows better than what he has publicly stated. LeT is an ISI proxy; it was made, trained and funded by Pakistani agencies. When Pakistan joined United State’s War on Terror, LeT was protected from United States assaults by banning it and allowing it to operate with another name “Jammatuddawa”. When Mumbai attacks took place, it was clearly visible who was responsible for these attacks, the facts spoke for them but Pakistani establishment adopted a policy of denial.
We than wrote on this politics of denial and how it has resulted in the current crisis of Pakistan. We were abused and ridiculed not only by Islamists but also by the pseudo-secular self proclaimed vanguards of Pakistani patriotism. We had written than that the democratic regime of Pakistan is a virtual hostage of Pakistani establishment, which does these sorts of acts to increase pressure on it. A virulent anti-India line was taken under cloak of supporting the “democratic Pakistani regime”. In our article “Pakistan at cross-roads: Democracy, Terror and Politics of Denial”, we had written:
“With a country in democratic transition, we often forget that policies of post-colonial states especially those like Pakistan which had taken Neo-fascist turn some time in their history [Zia era], cannot be reversed in few months. It needs a structural reform within the state itself. With a few months of PPP-ANP coalition such a structural reform has not yet occurred. Attempts to do such reform have been severely criticized by dominant classes in Pakistan and hence have to be abandoned. Attempts by PPP to bring ISI under political control were converted into a scandal by corporate media and its allies. Similar campaign is going on with the Pakhtoonkhawa issue where Right wing has openly come up in arms against government. These two issues represent the core issues when it comes to challenge the oligarchy. ISI has been blamed by almost all political forces in Pakistan for its attempts to control democracy and for spreading Jihad———In all this patriotic discourse, what we are forgetting is that it’s Pakistan not India which has more at stake. The first victim of this sort of patriotism, which subscribes to values of Oligarchy and its State and not to the values of people, will be democracy in Pakistan and this time the state, may not recover from its consequences. When Mr Manmohan Singh talks about “certain elements within Pakistan” being responsible for the attacks we are fast to condemn it. But are we that naive or suffering from collective amnesia. Have we forgotten that our agencies along with CIA supported insurgency in a country against a government which we recognized as legal government and had diplomatic ties with? For all the period of Afghan Jihad, our government at all international forums shamelessly maintained that Pakistan is “not interfering” in Afghanistan and our support is strictly moral and humanitarian in nature. Then any one who tried to warn oligarchy against it was termed as a “soviet agent” or “RAW agent”. Did our denial do us any good?—— Most of these organizations were allowed to operate by different names in General Musharraf’s time but were they were destroyed? Have Mureedke and Mansoora been shut down? Hafiz Saeed and Molana Masood Azhar serving time in prisons?” The article can be reached here
When I wrote this article most self proclaimed secularists were busy lecturing India and mocking Ajmal Kasab’s story, such was their contempt and self righteousness that they couldn’t find “Faridkot” on map of Pakistan. Within the few days Faridkot was on world’s map and lies of Pakistani establishment and so called patriots became a joke in International politics. Now Steve Cole, the Pulitzer Prize winner and famous investigative journalist has written an article in the prestigious New Yorker magazine. The article basically is about the “back channel” diplomacy between India and Pakistan which resulted in a near settlement of Kashmir dispute during General Musharraf. This brilliant expose confirms the position which we have long been taking that Pakistani establishment and ISI is using terrorism for gaining certain political and strategic objectives. One such objective is to weaken Peoples Party-ANP government. Cole in his article confirms what we wrote about mistrust between PPP government and ISI and also about it involvement in Mumbai attacks
“The historical ties between Lashkar and the Pakistani security services are for the most part undisputed; one book that describes them, published in 2005 and entitled “Between Mosque and Military,” was written by Husain Haqqani, who is currently Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States.——— On July 7th, a suicide bomber rammed a car loaded with explosives into the gates of India’s Embassy in Kabul, killing fifty-four people, including the Indian defense attaché. The United States intercepted communications between active I.S.I. personnel and the Taliban-aligned network of Jalaluddin Haqqani, which is believed by U.S. military and intelligence officials to have carried out the Kabul Embassy attack. Haqqani has a long history of collaboration and contact with the I.S.I.; he was also a paid client of the Central Intelligence Agency during the late nineteen-eighties—-Pakistan’s new civilian President, Asif Zardari, had entered into his own struggle with those in the Pakistani security services who favor the jihadis and covert war against India. Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party has fought the Army for power since the late nineteen-seventies; neither institution fully trusts the other, although they have sometimes collaborated. (Some P.P.P. officials believe that the I.S.I. may have been involved in Benazir Bhutto’s murder.)Last May, Zardari tried to assert civilian control over the I.S.I. by placing it under the authority of the Interior Ministry; the Army rejected this order, and Zardari backed down. In November, speaking extemporaneously by video at a conference in New Delhi, Zardari declared that Pakistan might be willing to follow a policy of “no first use” of its nuclear weapons, a remarkable departure from past Pakistan Army doctrine. Privately, in discussions with Indian officials, Zardari affirmed his interest in picking up the back-channel negotiations . Some Indian officials and analysts interpreted Mumbai as a kind of warning from the I.S.I. to Zardari—“Zardari’s Kargil,” as some Indians put it, meaning that it was a deliberate effort by the Pakistan Army to disrupt Zardari’s peace overtures. Several Pakistani and American officials told me that Zardari is now deeply worried about his personal security”
Steve Cole, the Back Channel, New Yorker March 2009
What has to be understood that in the final year of General Musharraf , even the “cosmetic anti terror” acts became unacceptable for Islamist section of Pakistani establishment which started open revolt [series of suicide attacks on Army and certain agencies ] and started supporting anti Mush political agitation. The lawyer’s movement which started as a non political, secular protest against dictatorship was linked with Right Wing. Now this cooption is complete. The Islamist section of establishment wants PPP out and restores the glorious Islamic jihadi era of Zia and his political son Sharif. Now let’s come to Lahore attacks. I agree with Taseer that it was done by those who attacked Mumbai, though he just like Hussein Haqani cannot explain this “who”. Punjab was a safe heaven for Taliban during Shahbaz Sharif ministry who was slowly Islamizing the province; He had turned a blind eye to Talibanization in southern Punjab, Lahore and other areas. Punjab police acted 24 hours later to implementation of United Nation’s resolution of banning Jamat-ud-Dawa [front of LeT], the result was Jihadies evacuated their offices in comfort and took all the record with them. The Supreme Court’s decision ended SS’s control over Punjab. The right wing political alliance and its masters in Pakistani establishment were and are hoping to topple Zardari regime in this unrest. Unfortunately for them, PML-N failed miserably to get public support. Their agitation was limited to 3 cities in central Punjab and even there it took shape of mob violence. The call of general strike failed. Streets went silent on 2nd day and PPP was able to mobilize its workers all over the country to protest on desecration of Benazir Bhutto’s monument in Rawalpindi. Even in Lahore which is considered hub of Sharifs PPP was able to conduct a big rally. Millions were mobilized in Karachi by MQM against PML-N. Mr Shaif couldn’t bring 1/4th of this crowd in Lahore. In Saraiki Multan and Baluch Quetta , PML-N armed goons had to run away due to clashes with PPP.
With the failure of political agitation and expected failure of long march due to strong arm administrative tactics of Governor Taseer , it became critical for certain invisibles to create unrest and the good old Jihadis did the trick. Weather its LeT or some other new name, the hands behind them is same. There should be no doubt about the motives of Lahore attacks and on its responsibility after listening to Ansar Abbasai’s attacks on Salman Taseer’s administrative failure and SS’s warning about possible “RAW” attacks in Lahore. Now a rightwing and their secular patriotic counterparts will start a violent attack against India. This will further marginalize Peoples Party’s regime which will give in more to establishment’s demands. More chaos will be created and our beloved Qazi Hussein Ahmad and Nawaz Sharif both supporters of Sharia and Jihad will come to power. But I warn again that Pakistani state is so much over stretched due to organic decay and war between its different faction that it can no longer sustain this stress. Zardari may fall but Pakistan will not remain standing.
PS: With Lahore attacks every conscientious Pakistani should hold Jihadi sympathizer Imran Khan accountable for deliberately confusing the cricketing world and Pakistan by downplaying the issue of terrorism. Mr Khan declared that terrorists will not attack cricketers, Mr Khan I can just say “Shame on you”.