CIA behind Pakistan sectarian strife?

Note the highlighted section and sound off, readers. From the New York Times, July 15:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, July 14 — A suicide bomber struck in the southern port city of Karachi on Friday, killing a prominent Shiite leader, his 10-year-old nephew and a security guard, officials and the local news media said.

The attack came about 4:30 p.m. near the house of the Shiite leader and scholar, Allama Hassan Turabi. He was seriously wounded and died in a hospital an hour later, said Allama Furqan Haider Abidi, a colleague of Mr. Turabi’s. Two police guards were also wounded, officials said.

Mr. Turabi had led a protest rally against Israel and United States after Friday Prayer earlier in the day. The rally was organized by Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, a coalition of militant Islamic parties that won a record number of votes in the last parliamentary elections.

Mr. Turabi had strongly criticized Israel and expressed support for Hamas and Hezbollah, according to local news reports.

Friday’s attack was not the first one on Mr. Turabi. He had survived an assassination attempt in April when a bomb that was hidden under a fruit cart exploded near his car outside his residence. Two bodyguards and a pedestrian were wounded in that attack.

Karachi, the country’s largest city and commercial hub, has been plagued by sectarian violence in recent years. A powerful blast ripped through Sunni worshipers at Nishtar Park in Karachi in April, killing more than 45 people and wounding dozens. Local television news channels showed grim images of the aftermath of the suicide attack on Friday. The severed head and body parts of the bomber lay in the street where Mr. Turabi lived. The suicide bomber appeared to have been in his 20’s.

Religious leaders appealed for calm and restraint as protesters took to the streets after the news of the suicide attack. News reports said that protesters had set tires on fire and pelted vehicles and traffic signals with stones in various parts of the city. The police used gunfire to disperse protesters in downtown Karachi, news reports said.

Some Shiite and Sunni leaders contended that the attack was a conspiracy to create a wedge between Muslims or that American agents were responsible. Allam Hasan Zafar Naqvi, a Shiite leader, said in an emotional interview with ARY One World, a local news channel: “Everyone knows who is responsible. There is no Shiite-Sunni strife. These are American agents.”

Others blamed the government and security agencies for providing insufficient security to Mr. Turabi. “It is the failure of the government,” said Prof. Ghafoor Ahmed, a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s most organized Islamic party. Mr. Ahmed, who was with Mr. Turabi at the protest rally on Friday, noted that Mr. Turabi had on several occasions in the past said that his life was in danger but had not specified who might be after him.

Government officials said that evidence was being collected by investigators and that an inquiry committee had been established. Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, the country’s interior minister, suggested that it was difficult to curb suicide attacks.

Sunnis and Shiites generally live in harmony in the country, but tit-for-tat attacks by militants from both sides have claimed thousands of lives in the last two decades.

Shiites make up about 20 percent of Pakistan’s population, with Sunnis constituting 77 percent. Although they are in the minority, Shiites in Pakistan are concentrated in urban areas and have a disproportionately large presence in the government.

See our last post on Pakistan.