Police and security forces survey UN World Food Programme (WFP) offices in Islamabad after a suicide bomb attack, October 5, 2009. — Reuters
PESHAWAR: Pakistani Taliban militants on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack on a UN office in which five people were killed saying the United Nations was a US slave.
A suicide bomber dressed as a paramilitary soldier blew himself up in an office of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in the capital, Islamabad, on Monday killing five members of staff including an Iraqi.
‘We accept responsibility for the attack in Islamabad,’ Azam Tariq, a spokesman for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or Taliban Movement in Pakistan, said in a telephone call to a Reuters journalist in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
‘All these organisations are slaves of the United States,’ Tariq said when asked why the aid agency, which is helping millions of impoverished Pakistanis, was targeted.
Pakistan security forces have made gains this year against al-Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban militants who have set off numerous bombs in towns and cities aimed at security forces and government and foreign targets.
But Monday’s attack on the tightly guarded UN office was a setback for hopes that the militants were in disarray and on the back foot following the killing of their leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in a US missile attack in August.
The United Nations temporarily closed its office in Pakistan after the blast for security reasons, a UN spokeswoman said, adding security would be reviewed on Wednesday.
Tariq accused the United Nations of turning a blind eye to atrocities in ethnic Pashtun tribal regions on the Afghan border, militant strongholds which the army has been attacking and where US drone aircraft have launched deadly missiles.
‘Why can’t the United Nations see the atrocities being committed in Waziristan and other tribal areas?’ he said referring to a region known as a hub of Taliban and al-Qaeda activity.
The government ordered the army to launch an offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in their South Waziristan bastion in June.
The security forces have been launching air and artillery strikes, while moving in troops, blockading the region and trying to split off factions.
Speculation is rising that a ground offensive is imminent but the army has declined to say when that might begin.
Tariq said the Pakistani Taliban reserved the right to carry out more attacks in the face of the threats of an offensive. The Taliban were fully prepared to confront and defeat ‘Obama and his associates’, he said.
Speculation about an assault on South Waziristan comes as the United States has been stepping up pressure on Pakistan to go after Afghan Taliban factions based in northwestern enclaves.
With Afghan violence reaching new heights, the United States is weighing options on how to deal with the insurgency eight years after driving the Taliban from power.
The Pakistani Taliban swear allegiance to Mullah Mohammad Omar, chief of the Afghan Taliban, who are fighting to expel western forces.
The Pakistani Taliban support that aim and also want their version of religious rule in Pakistan.
Imran Khan asks Pak govt. to halt Swat military operation
Lahore, Oct.4 (ANI): Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan has once again asked the Pakistan government to stop the military operation in Swat and Malakand Divisions, and said the issue could be resolved through dialogue.
Addressing a meeting of the party workers, Khan said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) supports the country’s armed forces, but the military operation in the valley should be discontinued immediately in order to restore peace in the region.
Referring to a recent video footage, which showed an elderly man being brutally beaten by the some Pakistan Army soldiers, Khan asked Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani to take stern action against those involved in the incident.
“We stood by our Army and completely supported it but we opposed the use of force. Cruelty can never be justified whether it was done by the Taliban or the government,” The News quoted Khan, as saying.
Expressing unity with the Baloch people, Khan said the PTI would observe October 9 as Balochistan Day and he would himself visit the insurgency hit province on that day. (ANI)
WHETHER the bravado is contrived or based on genuine strength is perhaps immaterial at this stage. The hard, cold fact is that the new TTP leadership based in South Waziristan appears to be intact and, on the face of it at least, unified in its resolve to battle the state. The re-emergence on Monday of Tehrik-i-Taliban chief Hakeemullah Mehsud came as a major embarrassment for the interior ministry which was claiming that he had been killed in intra-Taliban fighting. What’s more, he was flanked by none other than Waliur Rehman Mehsud, the man ostensibly responsible for his death. On Monday, Hakeemullah vowed to exact revenge for the killing of his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud. He moreover pledged allegiance to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar and was accompanied by a sectarian hate-monger who is also wanted in connection with an attack on the US consulate in Karachi. This triumvirate of sorts should send a clear signal to the security establishment: there can be no differentiating between good and bad Taliban. They are one and the same, on both sides of the Durand Line. Militant sectarian outfits in Pakistan are also part of the Taliban–Al Qaeda nexus now and must not be spared in the ongoing crackdown.
An army of suicide bombers was waiting for orders, Hakeemullah warned, adding that the TTP had become stronger, not weaker, in the post-Baitullah period. This may not be true but such claims cannot be dismissed either given the intelligence black hole that is South Waziristan. A truer picture can emerge only when the military moves towards Mehsud strongholds and takes on the enemy in its own backyard. A ground offensive is said to be imminent and battle lines have been drawn on both sides. The Mehsud Taliban, backed by their Uzbek allies, are expected to fight to the last man and they also enjoy the advantage of home turf in a terrain that can be baffling for outsiders. Yet they can be no let-up on the part of the security forces. Hakeemullah Mehsud may talk big but it is clear that the Taliban are on the back foot. This is the time for a decisive assault.
That said, the country must brace itself for more violence in the streets even if the state enjoys the upper hand in the theatre of war. Responsibility for Monday’s suicide bombing in Islamabad has been claimed by the TTP, and more attacks can be expected if the Mehsud militants are taken head-on. But no setback, however big, should deter the state and the citizenry in their fight against the enemy within. (Dawn Editorial)