Friday, May 27, 2005

Pakistan - Muslim Shrine Blast America's Fault

The Scotsman reports that a man wearing a policman's uniform walked into the shrine and detonated a bomb that killed 20 so far and wounded 200.

What do the Muslims do? Blame America.

Hundreds of Shiite worshippers staged angry protests at the shrine and clashed with police after officers baton-charged the crowd to clear the way for ambulances.

Many of the Shiites also chanted, “Down with America!”

Could this be more hijacking a demonstration as noted in this New York Times article?

For me, after three years in southern Afghanistan, something felt not quite right about the more virulent demonstrations across the country. The instant tip-off was that they were initially led by university students. Afghans and Westerners living in Kandahar have often wondered at the number of Pakistani students in what passes for a university here. The place is pathetically dilapidated, the library a locked storeroom, the medical faculty bereft of the most elementary skeleton or model of the human body. Why would anyone come here to study from Pakistan? Our unshakable conclusion has been that the adroit Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, is planting operatives in the student body. These students can also provoke agitation at Pakistani officials' behest, while affording the government in Islamabad plausible deniability.

So what's Pakistans beef?

In other words, it's a mistake to focus on the Newsweek article as the cause of the recent demonstrations in Afghanistan. Instead, the reason was President Hamid Karzai's May 8 announcement that Afghanistan would enter a long-term strategic partnership with the United States.

Such an alliance discomfits Afghanistan's neighbors. Pakistan, for one, is used to treating Afghanistan as an all but subject territory. The events of Sept. 11 and the sudden arrival of the United States changed all that, to the muted chagrin of Islamabad. Although Pakistani officials have mastered their role as allies in the "war on terrorism" and play it convincingly, they would like nothing better than to see the United States pull out of Afghanistan. What better, then, than to project Afghanistan as a volatile place, hostile to Americans?

Tricky business, this war on terror.

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