Allama Iqbal Town blasts in Lahore were a message to Shahbaz Sharif

The following is a most interesting yet much ignored news item in Pakistani media. Here is how I interpret the series of six low-intensity ‘cracker attacks’ in Lahore.

The Taliban do not ‘waste’ their precious assets (human bombers and ammunition) on exploding crackers in empty streets and playgrounds. The Allama Iqbal Town blasts in Lahore were not carried out by the Taliban; instead they were carried out by certain ‘masters of the Taliban’ in order to convey a message to PML-N. The essence of the message was “janam janam sa saath hai hamara tumhara” (An Indian song meaning “we (i.e., PML-N and …..) are tied together by an eternal bond.” In other words, ‘you’ cannot leave ‘us’ out in the cold.

It may be noted that Pakistan’s security establishment (GHQ/ISI) seems to be keen on demonstrating its power in blatant terms: e.g., for the first time in Pakistan’s history, a meeting of federal secretaries was presided over by a military chief in a civilian set-up.

The message was well received by the PML-N leadership; an acknowledgement of its receipt was issued by Shahbaz Shairf, in the next 48 hours, through his reassurance that he distinguishes between good Taliban and bad Taliban, and that he won’t harm good Taliban in Punjab, who in return should spare Punjab from their terrorist activities.

For example, M.A. Niazi, in his piece in The Nation, notes that:

There have been two significant developments flowing from the blasts. First, there has been a reaction to the Punjab chief minister apparently seeking a truce with the militants. Second, there have been recoveries of explosives by the police.

Here is the original news item in Daily Times. Of course, we can ignore the typical xenophobic element in this piece.

Allama Iqbal Town blasts: ‘Taliban handbills’ were placed to mislead probe

* Investigators believe pamphlets, low-intensity blasts unlikely to be work of Taliban
* Suspect foreign network looking to panic citizens could be involved

By Muhammad Aayan

LAHORE: Investigators looking into low-intensity blasts in Allama Iqbal Town on the day of the RA Bazaar suicide attack found pamphlets of a banned religious outfit from the area – but the handbills could have been placed to “mislead” the security agencies, Daily Times has learnt.
Sources said the pamphlets – containing a warning and apparently compiled by the “Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab” – were found a few yards from the site of one of five minor blasts on March 12.

They said investigators were now trying to locate the printing source, and also considering if the pamphlets could have been a “diversion tactic by certain anti-state elements” – an indication that the handbills were unlikely to be a Taliban product.

The first explosion took place in Kashmir Block in a vacant plot just behind the Allama Iqbal Town Police Station. The explosion injured four passers-by. A few minutes later, another blast took place just few yards from the site of the first explosion: a car parked outside the residence of PAF Captain Inamul Haq exploded. A third explosion took place a few hundred yards away in Huma Block.

As police and rescuers got to Huma Block, a fourth explosion took place in the garage of DSP Khalid Javed’s residence a few yards away. After some time, another explosion took place at Moon Market – a few hundred yards away from the site of the first explosion.

The sources told Daily Times that while a link had been established between the recent attacks in Model Town and at RA Bazar, the Iqbal Town blasts were “the work of a different group” looking to panic citizens. “The pamphlets could have been printed by anyone … they were apparently put there to mislead investigators,” they quoted security officials as saying. “Security agencies have reliable information that a foreign spy network was active in creating unrest … the Iqbal Town blasts could be their work.” [Search in your own backyard, dude!]

SSP (Investigations) Zulfiqar Hameed confirmed that pamphlets had been found from Iqbal Town. He said an investigation was underway, and it had been determined that those behind the Iqbal Town blasts were “from another group”. He said it was “very much possible” that a group other than the Taliban carried out the Iqbal Town blasts “in a bid to associate itself with the RA Bazar attack”.

“This indicates that the attackers belong to a specialised terror network.” He said the TTP was usually involved in suicide attacks, and the low-intensity blasts of Iqbal Town were unlikely that group’s work.
However, he said the investigators were not ruling out the possibility of the TTP’s involvement.

Related article: Blast after blast after blast in Lahore, who is responsible?



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