Foreign Policy Blogs

Pakistan Suicide Blast Kills 60, Civilian Government Under Strain

At least 60 people were killed north of Islamabad when two suicide bombers detonated explosives at Pakistan's largest weapons manufacturing facility. The attackers were on foot and struck during the work shift change to inflict maximum casualties.

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. “Our bombers carried out today's attack. It is in reaction to military operations in Swat and Bajaur,” Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for the group, was reported as saying. The weapons plant, located in the town of Wah, was a symbolic target aimed against the Pakistani military. The attackers struck against an important, and seemingly impenetrable, industry said retired General Masood, a former manager of the factories.

The suicide attack further highlights the instability of the new Pakistani civilian authority, with the ruling coalition already beginning to fragment over the reinstatement of judges fired under Musharraf. Prime Minister Giliani has "directed the authorities to make efforts to expose the hidden hands behind the incident,' according to the Associated Press of Pakistan.

These developments are troubling for counter-terrorism officials, and illustrate the resurging strength of the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. While American politicians have had initial hopes in the government's dedication towards confronting violent extremism, the blasts are a recurring theme in Pakistani politics. Post-Musharraf, the old dilemma still applies. Act too strongly against Taliban elements in the north and you are seen as a puppet of Washington and can suffocate your claims of legitimacy. Do nothing and say goodbye to lucrative and much needed US aid and support. The difficulty in achieving a meaningful counter-terrorism strategy is not in leadership or will, but within Pakistani civilian society. The newly elected government must act strongly and decisively against these fundamentalist movements in the north, but must be perceived as acting in their own interest and not that of the West. They must engage these elements within Pakistan, not alienate them. Striking the correct balance is the key towards achieving security.



Josh Hammer

Josh Hammer is an International Relations theorist, with expertise in terrorist ideology, American foreign policy, and war / conflict resolution. He currently holds a Master's of Science degree in International Politics from the University of Edinburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the George Washington University. Josh's most recent work, his M.Sc. thesis, is a comparative analysis between Marxist / Leninist ideology and Osama bin Laden's global jihadi movement. He currently resides in New York.

Areas of Focus:
Terrorist Idealogy; American Foreign Policy; Conflict Resolution;


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