A female suicide bomber has killed at least 41 Pakistanis at an aid distribution center near the Afghanistan border in North West Pakistan. This is the first time that a woman has been employed to detonate an explosive vest in a crowded area and marks an uptick in strategy in what has always a brutal game of one-upmanship.
The female bomber clad in a burqa lobbed grenades into an World Food Program aid distribution center, where a crowd of local tribesmen was queueing to receive food aid. She then blew herself up. At least 41 people died and at least 60 more were wounded, most of them critically.
The consequences of this move, however, far outstrip the large number of casualties. What will the strategic result of this move in an increasingly “dirty” war? Will Pakistani’s reject the move as morally corrupt: how can terrorist tactics that claim the moral cover of nationalism survive when seemingly neutral agents, nurturers, women and perhaps children are recruited to become tactical instruments in war? Then again, is it folly to suppose that Pakistanis think women are somehow morally neutral and therefore should not be viewed as fair game? After all CIA drones kill women, accidentally or not. So why should not women fight back?
Hence, we have two arguments: In the first instance, women are out of bounds as tactical weapons. And this move might trigger a wave of “silent social protest” geared against the insurgency. In some time, these contra-Taliban opinions might seed out the insurgents in their own hotbeds of activity. Alternatively this move might be regarded as a natural move in kind–tit for tat. Both these options are viable within the broader population of opinion that already despises the on-going “civil war” between the government in Islamabad and the Taliban (aided by Al Qaeda tactics?) insurgency. At this moment no one knows how public opinion will turn.
However it cuts, there is no doubt that the Tehrik-e-Taliban, who have rung out responsibility for the day’s militant action views any cooperation with the international bodies delivering aid and sustenance as soldiers in some global war, in which their cause is righteous. How else can one explain the vicious move to kill people waiting to receive food that they would have then used to feed their families. How else to explain a murderous move against an aid delivery institution that readily tries to face the near impossible task of delivering food to tens of millions who would have gone hungry for months in the aftermath of the devastating summer floods?