Pakistan: secular Pashtuns under attack

A car bomber killed ten people, including a candidate in upcoming [local] elections, in northwest Pakistan when he slammed his vehicle into the candidate’s convoy [Feb. 11]. Nisar Ali Khan was due to run as an independent, but was thought to have close links to the Awami National Party, a secular leftist Pashtun nationalist party. The attack was the third against the ANP and its allies in less than a week. The Frontier Post, a daily newspaper published in the Pashtun border regions, condemns the attack on an ANP election rally in Charsadda, which left 27 dead on Sunday. The paper sees the blast as part of a “deeper conspiracy to divide up the Pashtuns and set them at one another’s throats.”

Suppressed by the government, the ANP has also fallen under the cross-hairs of Islamists who feel threatened by the party’s attempts to build a non-religious politics bridging tribal and other sectarian divides in the Pashtun regions. Though Pakistan has always been wary of”ethnic” nationalists—Baluch and Pashtun—along its western borders, they pose far less of a threat to the state than the Islamist militants. Indeed, they even offer glimpses of solutions. It is unlikely that Islamabad will extend itself very far in ensuring their protection.

Brother Dadullah captured
Pakistani officials claim to have captured the Afghan Taliban commander Mansour Dadullah, brother of the late military leader known as Mullah Dadullah, after a gunfight in southwest Pakistan. Mansour was allegedly “sacked” by the Taliban late last year for disobedience.

From Open Democracy Security Briefings, Feb. 12

See our last post on Pakistan.