Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pakistan Attacks: Officials Feed Suspicion That India, US Are to Blame

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pakistan Attacks: Officials Feed Suspicion That India, US Are to Blame

Article excerpt

A fresh wave of terror attacks that has killed more than 100 people across Pakistan in the past few days is fueling conspiracy theories that the United States and India are behind the violence, and officials are stoking the popular perception.

On Tuesday, a truck bomb set off at a security checkpoint in the city of Multan in central Pakistan claimed 12 lives, including some civilians.

Analysts say government officials are blaming recent attacks on a "foreign hand" (usually a euphemism for regional rival India) in an effort to shift attention from their inability to provide adequate security.

Monday's attacks on the eastern city of Lahore and the northwestern city of Peshawar were blamed on "foreign elements" by Punjab Province's law minister, Rana Sanaullah, and the North West Frontier Province's senior minister, Bashir Ahmed Bilour, respectively.

While Pakistan and India have a long history of pointing fingers at each other in times of internal strife, the Pakistani accusations have multiplied along with the rising number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Recent targets have included mosques and markets, as opposed to exclusively hitting facilities associated with security forces.

Some Pakistanis say that while the Taliban have targeted Pakistan's security forces for their "collusion" with the US (killing civilians as collateral damage), the Islamic militants would not gratuitously kill civilians.

"Obviously this is the work of the Indians and Americans," says Viqar Khan, a rickshaw driver in Lahore when questioned about the recent strikes. "If the Taliban had done it they would say so, because they don't lie."

Analysts dismiss the theories

According to security analyst Hassan Askari-Rizvi, the idea that India may be behind the terror attacks is "a very widely shared perception, but there's hardly any evidence to substantiate that. …

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