Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pakistan Bombings by Taliban Hit Lower Classes Hardest

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Pakistan Bombings by Taliban Hit Lower Classes Hardest

Article excerpt

On Tuesday, the latest Taliban bomb went off in Peshawar, killing three. The Taliban targets upscale buildings and neighborhoods, but many of the injured - and those hit hardest economically by the bombings in Pakistan - are the poor.

In their bomb attacks against civilians, Pakistani militants have

sought to maximize shock value by hitting elite, high-profile targets

like five-star hotels and marketplaces in the country's upscale

neighborhoods.

But the repercussions from these bombings hits the less well- off,

too, the urban poor who have fewer means to protect themselves,

bounce back from economic loss, and even cope with the added anxiety.

"A lot of the elite targets is to show they can do these things,

but whenever they do, they strike other targets," says Haris

Gazdar, an expert on poverty at the Center for Social Science

Research in Karachi. "Even if they're in a rich area, a lot of

poor people walking in the street die," he says.

Though the assaults on symbols of power and wealth have grabbed the

most attention, more often militants settle for victims who are

easier to reach. Peshawar, the main town nearest the Taliban's base

in the northwestern tribal areas, has been struck more times this

year - and again Tuesday - than either of the wealthier, more

central cities of Lahore and Islamabad, says Abdul Basit, head of

security research at the Pakistani Institute for Peace Studies.

In October and November, the Institute counted 93 terrorist attacks

in the North West Frontier Province, compared with fewer than 10 in

Islamabad and Lahore. In Tuesday's suicide bombing of the press club

in Peshawar, three people died and 17 were injured. Many of the

injured were on a bus passing by when the bomb went off.

Top-notch security, for some The rich and powerful, meanwhile, can

secure first-rate protection. And Pakistanis with money and foreign

passports have the option of moving abroad - not an easy decision

to make, but a reassuring escape hatch.

The president, parliamentarians, and Supreme Court justices in

Islamabad work behind a fortified zone ringed with guards and

checkpoints, overlooking a broad avenue nearly emptied of traffic.

One third of the 90 permanent checkpoints set up in the capital

protect this road, says Kalim Alam, inspector general of the

Islamabad police force. Another 18 are moved around based on

intelligence about possible targets, usually also high-value ones.

Of the private security guards increasingly in demand, the truly

effective ones come with a steep price tag.

Security 2000, a leading firm which claims PepsiCo and CNN among its

clients, sends mostly ex-Special Forces with at least 15 years of

experience to protect its executives and pays them $200 to $300 a

month, says Maj. (R.) Junaid Iqbal, general manager of the firm's

executive protection program.

Average Pakistanis earn $67 a month. …

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