Pakistan: still more sectarian terror

Just four days after the last one, another mosque was hit by a suicide bomber in Pakistan last night. This time the blast, at a Shi’ite mosque in Karachi, killed five and wounded 18. It also sparked a night of violence in which Shi’ites set fire to a KFC outlet, killing six workers trapped inside. A hospital was also ransacked, and a gas station and several vehicles torched, leaving another five dead. Police said intelligence agents suspect the blast was the work of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Sunni militant group with ties to al-Qaeda. More than 100 Pakistanis have been killed in a cycle of attacks between Sunnis and Shi’ites in the past year alone. (Reuters, May 31)

The Shi’ite rioters chanted “Death to America!”, apparently correctly perceiving that the US War on Terrorism and its ally Pervez Musharraf are to blame for stiring up Sunni extremism in Pakistan–even if burning hapless KFC employees to death is a singularly ill-conceived response.

What’s really depressing is that this sort of thing has become so common that the bombing only rated a small blurb in the “World Briefing” section on page 6 of today’s New York Times.

The forces that are seeking to provoke a Sunni-Shi’ite civil war in Iraq seems to be relefected by similar forces and strategies in Pakistan. Indeed, Abu Farraj al-Libbi, the accused al-Qaeda leader captured by Pakistani forces earlier this month and recently turned over to the US (Arab News, June 1) is said to be linked to both Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Iraqi resistance leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (AP, May 4). Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is one of a network of Islamic groups in Pakistan thought to be recruiting volunteers for the Iraqi resistance. (South Asia Analysis Group, December 2004)

We recently quoted the claims of paranoid blogger Kurt Nimmo that al-Zarqawi either doesn’t exist or is secretly working for the CIA (he can’t seem to decide which). Does Kurt think the CIA is behind these deadly bombings in Pakistan too? Or are they simply invisible to him, as they very nearly are to the world media at this point? Unfortunately, the marginal Nimmo is far from alone in this kind of denial; a few months back we had to call out the LA Times’ Robert Scheer for spouting similar al-Qaeda-does-not-exist malarky.

The anti-war forces, if we are going to have even a modicum of legitimacy, have got to wake up and face facts: “al-Qaeda” may be a convenient and sloppy shorthand, and it almost certainly intersects quite considerably with sinister CIA intrigues. But it is not a mere phantom of media propaganda and disinformation. It represents a genuine movement, and it is as militantly opposed to political pluralism, basic rights for women and even to “heretical” Islam (Shia) as to US imperialism.