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Suicide Bombings During Prophet’s Birthday Celebrations In Pakistan


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This year, Rabi al-Awwal—the month in which the Prophet (pbuh) was born—straddled two months: September and October. While Muslims worldwide celebrated the Prophet’s birthday, this year some truly horrific incidents also occurred during such celebrations in Pakistan. This is a new low in the conduct of people calling themselves Muslims.

In one incident in Mustang, in the restive Balochistan province, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a procession for the Prophet’s birthday on September 29. At least 53 people were killed including a police officer. Dozens of others were injured. The death toll is likely to rise.

In another grisly attack in Doaba, about 20 kms from the district headquarter of Hangu, in Pakistan’s KPK province, two suicide bombers struck. One was intercepted by the police at the gate of the police station but a second one managed to enter the mosque where people were gathered for Jumuah salat. Ten people were killed and dozens injured when he blew himself up.

What kind of people would target Muslims participating in the celebrations of the Prophet’s birthday or gathered to offer prayers in a mosque? It is certain that the attackers claimed to be Muslims. Is this what Islam teaches its adherents? The question, however, is far removed from the teachings of Islam. Many other factors are responsible for the mayhem Pakistan faces today in which the victims are almost always totally innocent people.

While no group had taken responsibility so far, it is widely believed that the twin attacks were carried out by a group calling itself the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K). This is an extremist group, an off-shoot of Daesh that has taken root in Afghanistan. A third outfit, Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also operates out of Afghanistan.

Why are these groups so determined to kill innocent people, including those celebrating the Prophet’s birthday or offering Jumuah prayers in a mosque? The roots of this escalating mayhem can be traced to the Pakistan army’s subservient role in joining the US war of terror. For 20 years, the Americans bombed and murdered innocent Afghans but could not subdue them. At the end of August 2021, the Americans fled the country after suffering a humiliating defeat.

Before their ignominious escape from Afghanistan, the Americans had also, for years, carried out drone attacks in the former tribal areas of Pakistan. Tens of thousands of innocent people were killed. The Pakistan army, true to its slave mentality, had made Hangu the base of its operations to target Orakzai agency that lay just north of it.

Despite their barbarous conduct in Afghanistan, the Americans fled and left the Pakistanis with a huge mess. Instead of cleaning the mess and making up for their criminal conduct, the generals in Pakistan continued the bloody-minded policy of murder and destruction of their own people. Their operations are concentrated in the former tribal belt as well as in Balochistan. Thousands of people in both regions have disappeared without a trace. There is a long list of missing persons both in Balochistan and the KPK.

Such oppressive policies are hardly likely to endear the Pakistan army to the people. In fact, because of its gross interference in politics—overthrowing a legitimate government led by Imran Khan and replacing it with a bunch of criminals, rapists and murderers—the army earned the wrath of the people. It is the most hated institution in the country. Army officers do not venture out in public in uniform. The people will lynch them.

Deplorable as the suicide bombings are, there is a background to their actions. Invariably, they are people whose kith and kin were murdered by the Americans or the Pakistan army. They see their acts as revenge. That they are hitting soft targets is essentially a tit for tat for the army’s murderous campaign against their relatives. ‘You killed our innocents, we will kill your innocents,’ seem to be their logic, if it can be called logic at all.

Since the beginning of this year, there have been nearly 700 such attacks in the KPK and Balochistan. It is estimated that more than 3,500 people have been killed.

While the generals are busy manipulating the political process, they are failing to protect the country’s borders, which is their primary responsibility. In two years, they have destroyed their relations with the Taliban who returned to power after the American defeat and exit.

The escalating attacks against civilians as well as the army point to two fundamental issues: a colossal failure of intelligence, and the cowardly conduct of the army high command. Neither bodes well for Pakistan’s future. This, however, was inevitable because the army’s energies are consumed by preventing Imran Khan’s return to power. It is also trying to destroy his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI). It is a virtual repeat of the East Pakistan/Bangladesh tragedy with the same disastrous consequences.

Beyond the militants’ attacks, the army has lost the support of the people. It has become the most hated institution in the country. People view it as an occupation force whose officers are mired in massive corruption. Their conduct over the last two years has exposed them as crooks and criminals, not defenders of the state.

How can this disastrous situation be arrested and Pakistan set on a course to recovery? The first step is to end the army’s illegal interference in political and economic affairs. The men in khaki are simply not capable of solving political or economic issues. They should concentrate on their primary responsibility of defending the country’s borders.

Second, only a government enjoying the support of the people can bring an end to terrorist attacks by participating in sincere and meaningful discussion addressing their genuine grievances. Third, there needs to be across the board accountability of all those people who are responsible for bringing Pakistan to this sorry state. And finally, the current system that allows corruption, brutality and illegal acts to continue must be demolished and replaced by a system attuned to the wishes of the people based on Islamic principles.

Failing these steps, Pakistan appears to be heading toward disintegration. Little would be achieved by crying over it afterwards.

Article from

Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 8

Rabi' al-Awwal 16, 14452023-10-01

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