Suicide Bombing And Pakistan – Analysis


According to Robest A. Pape, “Suicide terrorism is the most aggressive form of terrorism, pursuing coercion even at the expense of losing support among terrorists own community. What distinguished a suicide terrorist is that the attacked does not expect to survive a mission and often employs a method of attack that requires the attacker’s death in order to succeed”.

Suicide bombing is not a new phenomenon and is not only practiced by Muslim extremist organizations, but also by other religious extremist organizations like (LTTE). Still, intellectuals argue that this aspect of terrorism is the worst, as these terrorist acts emphasis is on mass killings. Terrorist organizations in Muslim worlds express their grievances in terms of religion, and justify their actions in Quranic verses, and they believe that their struggle is divinely mandated. Matthew B. Capell and Emile Sahliyeh said that the “increase in the use of suicide attacks by Islamic religious groups to martyrdom, which is associated with high prestige and status within the society. Those who sacrifice themselves for a greater cause are also rewarded in heaven with forgiveness for their sins, proximity to God, eternal happiness, and virgins.”

Some writers argue that collective frustration in Muslim societies, political Islam and poverty are the main causes of suicide bombing. Writers maintain that Islam is not violent but pacific and economic inequality and rising unemployment among the semi-educated and young people provide a fertile ground for extremist groups to recruit followers. They maintain that religion is just one more element in the persuasion toward committing terrorist acts, but it is neither necessary nor sufficient.

On the other hand, some writers are of the view that during the last three decades suicide bombing is increasing especially after the 1990 because terrorists have learnt that it is the most effective way of pursuing their agendas.

Examples are cited, such as suicide terrorists seeking to force American and French military forces to leave Lebanon in 1983, Israeli forces to leave Lebanon in 1985, Israeli forces to quit Gaza strip and the West bank in 1994 and 1995, the Sri Lankan government to form an independent Tamil state from 1990, and the Turkish government to grant self-government to the Kurds in the late 1990s. In all these cases, the terrorists political cause made more gains after they resorted to suicide operations. It shows that main cause of suicide terrorism is the strategic logic.

When we consider the case of Pakistan especially after 9/11, it’s U-turn to Afghan policy and the status of a front-line state in the war against terrorism, from that time suicide bombings are on the rise. The first suicide attack occurred on 17 March 2002 by a foreigner in a Church in Islamabad in which a Sri Lankan high commissioner was killed. It was followed by a series of suicide bombings, as their pace gained momentum gradually.

In 2002, two suicide bombs exploded which were targeted against foreign nationals, killing at least 19 people. In 2003, two suicide bombs exploded, killing about 67 people, in which one was sectarian in nature and the other was targeted against President of Pakistan. In 2004, seven suicide bombs exploded killing about 86 people in which one was targeted against Prime Minister of Pakistan, one against security personnel whereas one of them was sectarian in nature.

In 2005, four suicide bombs exploded killing about 101 people and all of them are perceived as sectarian in nature. In 2006, seven suicide bombs exploded killing at least 155 people, in which only two were sectarian in nature whereas one was against US national while rest of them were against security personnel of Pakistan. In 2007, 56 suicide bombs exploded killing 729 people and nearly all of them were targeted against security forces. In 2008, 59 suicide bombs exploded killing 893 people. Likewise in 2009, 76 suicide bombs exploded killing 949 people; in 2010 the number of suicide attacks decreased on 49 which took almost 1167 lives.

In 2011, 41 suicide attacks were counted which killed 1183 lives, while in the first month of the 2012, 2 suicide attacks have been observed which as taken 9 lives of the innocent people.

It is very clear from the data that suicide bombing started by targeting foreign nationals, then they gained pace in a sectarian nature in 2003, 04, 05 and initial months of 2006. From mid-2006 till now, most attacks were against security personnel, and their supporters (jirga leader). The frequency of the attacks has increased.

The main purpose of the suicide bombing is to gain political objectives and the sudden increase, especially against security forces, can suggest that their main objective is to compel Pakistan to change its Afghanistan policy and withdraw its support from US led coalition in war against terrorism.

Another observation suggests that the attack on Lal Masjid where hundreds of people were killed is also one of the main causes of the increase in suicide bombings, especially against security forces because the operation was conducted by security forces of Pakistan. If we analyze the data from the when Lal Masjis operation was conducted on 11th of July 2007, before that period of about six months 13 suicide bombs exploded and after that military operation there were 43 suicide bombs exploding in the same period of 2007.

The other thing which supports this connection of the Lal Masjis operation and the increase in suicide bombings is that the Lal Masjid Madrassa belonged to Deobandi school of thought. The Deobandi Madrassa network is well organized and it has its branches more than any other Madrassa network in Pakistan.

During the first two years of war against terrorism, the tendency of suicide bombings was either against foreign people who were living in Pakistan or it was against the President and Prime Minister – or it was sectarian. But we have observed that the tendency of suicide bombing started against security forces from mid 2006 and it was at its peak after the incident of Lal Masjid operation, this operation also led to break down of the “Miranshah peace agreement.”

North and South Waziristan is dominated by the Deobandi school of thought, and they were affiliated with the Madrassa in Islamabad. According to Dr. Tariq Rehman, “it should be remembered that the Deobandi Madrassas are concentrated in KPK and Balochistan …. the people of KPK, being of the same ethnic group as the Taliban, are closely engaged in military action against the latter. This means that resentment against government of Pakistan’s policy about the Taliban to Al Qaeda is expressed in the idiom of Islam. This is a major source of anxiety so far as the Deobandi influence is concerned”.

Growing extremism and terrorism is a big challenge faced by a peaceful Pakistan. Suicide bombing, targeting the civilian and high-level officials is something new for our society mainly from banned underground factions of different sectarian groups. Though, the government, and its security forces are fighting against such factors which are trying to destabilize peaceful society.

Dr. Imran Ali Sandano

Dr. Imran Ali Sandano is an author of "Sufism and Peace: A Counter Strategy of Extremism" and "Separatist Movement of Balochistan: A Non Traditional Security Threat" books. Currently, he is working as Senior Research Fellow at Nontraditional Security and Peaceful Development Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. His areas of interest are nontraditional security issues, terrorism, and conflict resolution, diplomacy, and Sufism. Dr. Sandano is a regular writer of different newspapers and weekly magazines. He holds PhD degree in Nontraditional Security Management, M.Phil degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, Masters in International Relations. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweeter iiimran110.

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