Lal Qalandar shrine attack: What are Pakistan’s goals?

Sunday, 19 February 2017 04:07 Written by  Heart of Asia Read 467 times

Pakistan has pinned the blame for the attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Sufi shrine in its southern Sindh province on Afghanistan, and promised a retaliation.


Killing or wounding about 470 people, the suicide bombing was claimed by Daesh also known as the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group; however, Islamabad blames Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a breakaway faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for the attack. In brazen violation of diplomatic norms, Pakistani military officials have summoned a senior Afghan diplomat, and also Pakistani forces have launched cross-Durand Line attacks into Afghanistan, forcing tens of families in eastern Kunar and Nangarhar province to flee their homes. According to Pakistani media citing military sources, Pakistani forces have also targeted camps operated by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar inside Afghan territory. 

There are usually two kinds of assumptions about terror attacks in Pakistan:  firstly, the country is paying the piper of its policies of state-sponsored terrorism; and secondly, Pakistani Army wants to play the victim card through such attacks. In both cases, the Pakistani military and intelligence service are to blame. 

Islamabad has a long history of using terror outfits as proxy forces. Terrorist activities around the world have been, in one way or another, traced back to Pakistan which is now known as a state sponsor of terrorism, but has not been squeezed enough by the international community, particularly the United States as its major military ally, despite its clear involvement in and support to terrorism. 

Following Donald Trump’s rise to power, the likelihood of pressuring Pakistan by the US has grown. To relieve itself of the imminent American pressure, there was a possibility of orchestrated attacks such as the one targeting the Lal Qalandar shrine in order to show to the world that Pakistan is also a victim of terrorism. Like Afghans, the people of Pakistan are also truly the victims of terrorism, but of one that is being supported and nurtured by Pakistani government and intelligence services, and that has taken its heavy toll on Afghans for the last decade and a half. 

Pakistan has long blamed such attacks on militant groups, which according to Islamabad, have sanctuaries in Afghanistan. Any claim of Afghanistan’s support to terrorists is squarely illogical and groundless because the country has not yet reached the point, where it is able to exploit terror groups. Even if Afghanistan has that capability, it will never venture to do so given what is now happening in Pakistan as a result of its own actions and policies, because there is always the fear of being bitten by a viper you nourish in your bosom.


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