INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR-- PAPER NO 628
In an apparent message to Gen.Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff, and Lt.Gen.Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Director-General of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), two suicide bombers struck at military vehicles moving through the cantonment area of Lahore on March 12,2010, killing at least 39 persons, six of them army personnel, and injuring 95 others.
2. While no claim of responsibility has so far been made, the needle of suspicion points at the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as the Pakistani Taliban is known, and its Punjabi terror associate the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ). Police sources in Lahore suspect that the attacks were in reprisal for the stepped-up Drone (pilotless plane) strikes by the US, the arrests of some Afghan Taliban leaders by the Pakistani authorities and the reported deaths since the beginning of this year of three important terrorist leaders due to the Drone attacks---- Hakimullah Mehsud, the Amir of the TTP, whose death has so far been denied by the TTP,Qari Mohammad Zafar of the LEJ and Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, the Amir of the Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan (IMET). While the still unadmitted ( by the TTP) death of Hakinullah was reported to have taken place in January, the other two deaths were reported to have taken place in February.
3. The TTP and other organisations associated with it such as the LEJ have been threatening the Government and its military-intelligence establishment with reprisal attacks if the Drone strikes and the military operations in South Waziristan and the Bajaur Agency are not called off and the army reinforcements sent there withdrawn.
4 The twin suicide attacks against military vehicles in Lahore took place two days after Gen.Kayani was reported to have given an extension of service to Pasha, who is due to retire later this month, and a few days before the expected arrival of Kayani and Pasha in Washington DC for talks with their US counterparts. One could expect more reprisal attacks on military targets in the coming days to step up pressure on the Army and the ISI to reverse the present policy of co-operation with the US. ( 12-3-10)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )