Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lal Masjid: Bomb attacks in Rawalpindi

It appears that ISI and Signals Intelligence personnel have been targetted in suicide bombings.

A bus carrying ISI personnel was targetted in a suicide attack and then almost simultaneously, another suicide attack was carried out on Army personnel in the Royal Artillery Bazaar area. This area is home among other things to a signal intelligence center. It is unclear if any Signals intelligence personnel were killed in the RA Bazaar blast.

I suspect that someone is targetting Musharraf loyalists in the intelligence agency, sure with a bomb it is difficult to ensure that only loyalists are killed but then... people who do things like this seldom worry about collateral damage. Another way of looking at it is, the Jihadis just blow them, Musharraf automatically does the job of filling the next bus with loyalists - ultimately anyone who rides a bus to work in the ISI is a loyalist. The old Vietnam adage... if it runs.. its VC.. and that includes those buffaloes.

Collateral damage is not without its value for the Islamists, even when the average Pakistan army fellow or his dimunitive colleague in the administrative services dies, the result is the same - it tells everyone that even Rawalpindi, the home of the Great and Good GHQ is not safe and the Islamists can kill anyone - anywhere at will.

This systematically robs the Pakistan Army of the only right it has left - the right to kill people at a time and place of its own choosing. Remember the Pakistan Army has no moral authority left - Musharraf sacrificed that when he killed Maulana Abdul Rasheed Ghazi.

The Rawalpindi attacks occuring as they are - on the footsteps of GHQ - deprive the Pakistani Army of the apparently exclusive right to commit murder on Pakistani soil.

I have no doubt that the attack itself was carried out by Jihadis eager to avenge the Pakistan Army's innumerable insults to Islam, but the very fact that such an attack should should succeed points to the involvement of people inside the Pakistani intelligence community itself. At the very least someone ensured that the attempt itself would remain invisible to the very people tasked with seeing something like this coming.

My dear readers, I feel we are seeing the beginnings of a fairly serious bout of infighting in the Pakistani intelligence community. I suspect that a number of these feuds have been brewing for a while now, and Musharraf has been able to paper over differences here or even leverage them and continue smooth functioning. However with the slow and deliberate erosion of his power - the factions are going at each others' throat and the result is the precipitous decline in public security we are now seeing in Rawalpindi.

I note with some interest how Western newspapers are rushing to cover the event. One could infer so many things from that.

8 Comments:

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

There have been some news reports that say that the bombed bus was carrying PAEC personnel as well.

 
At 6:40 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Hello Anonymous,

Yes, I read that too. There is some disagreement about who was in the bus. If it is AEC employees attached to the Defence Ministry, then that is even more worrisome.

I think one reporter spoke to a witness who claimed that an injured victim identified himself as an ISI employee but beyond that most of the reporters seem to be collecting information from tertiary sources. Whoever they were, the unwillingnes to identify the victims is a first of sorts. Even after the Pentagon was bombed on Sept 11, the US identified the dead as DOD employees and gave out ranks and names. Whoever died there - the Pakistanis do not want to extend them the courtesy of a public mourning. Highly unusual given their public service.

My initial suspicion fell on the signals unit in RA Bazar, I thought that was the target. Sri. Raman seems to think that the target of this bomber was a particular army officer who was travelling through the area in a staff car. This is also interesting as is the link to Baitullah Mehsud.

Whether this is simply a repraisal for past sins or perhaps a preview of a more dramatic affair to follow - can be debated.

Okay.. so what if the ISI people were soldiers and that are at least technically are paid to die.
At the end of the day - they will still want some kind of warning.

The inability to keep tribal anger in check and the failure to insulate or at the very least warn GHQ personnel from it will count as a black mark on Musharraf's record in the eyes of the Army.

 
At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

What sort of signals unit would rate an attack by the jihadis?

I would think that in the totem pole of units that the jihadis would want to specifically target, a non combat unit like this one would rank rather low. If at all this signals unit was the target of the attack then I have a hunch on what is was and taken together with bomb attack it is worrisome. Note that I have no proof for this. Just my gut hunch. Before I go talking through my musharaff, I would like to listen to your thoughts on what made the jihadis target this signals unit.

Of course, all this speculation is moot if the signals unit was not a deliberate target.

 
At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

Where are you?

In light of the recent bomb attack on the SSG officers' mess, I am going to go ahead and talk about my gut hunch from the previous post.

I think it was very likely that the bombed bus in Rawalpindi was carrying PAEC personnel attached to GHQ. I would give credibility to those news reports that talked about this in the near aftermath of the bombing but hushed up afterwards. Quite a few times the seemingly sensitive information that is reported in the near aftermath of an attach before the information control people swing into action has an element of truth to it.

Coming to my hunch: I think the signals unit at RA bazaar plays a role in the command and control system that the Pakistanis have in place for their nukes. It certainly is located in the right place for a task such as this.

And now we have the bomb attack on the SSG officers' mess. The Zarrar Company of the SSG was reportedly hit. It is very hard to piece together a current coherent picture of the SSG as a whole due to the paucity of public information on it. However the Zarrar Company is at least one SSG unit that is loyal to Musharaff. Otherwise, he would not have allowed their presence in Islamabad to lead the attack on the Lal Masjid. Musharaff is able to retain sole possession and control over Pakistan's nukes because of his loyal praetorian guards in the SSG. And these are now seemingly being targeted.

Putting all of this together brings forth a very troubling picture.

As usual, your thoughts are most appreciated.

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hello Anonymous,

Have you seen any news item that points to specific linkages between the attack in RA Bazaar, the attack on the ISI/PAEC bus and the assasination of the SSG at Tarbela Ghazi.

I have not yet seen such a news report emerge. I agree that there is most definetely a link, but what precisely it is... is still a matter of some speculation.

 
At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

No, I have not yet seen a news item that mentions a link between the three events.

Agreed, there is a link between them. I am merely speculating what that link might be. Sorry for not making that explicitly clear.

When the Rawalpindi attacks happened, the nuclear link between the bus and signals units was the gut hunch that I mentioned but did not elaborate upon as I though that I was being a little too speculative. Thats why I asked for your thoughts on what sort of a signals unit would rate a jihadi attack before I went ahead and talked too much.

Now we have Musharaff's praetorian guards being hit, the ones who enforce loyalty and thereby ensure that he and he alone has complete control over Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

When the three events are taken together, the nuclear link between them, while still speculative, does not seem to be quite so far fetched as it would have seemed with just the Rawalpindi attacks to take into account. Thats why I went ahead and spoke anyway without waiting on your thoughts to my previous question about the signals unit.

 
At 8:59 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hello Anonymous,

It seems the same explosive was used in both blasts. This could be a potential link between these events, although with the proliferation of explosives in Pakistan it is hard say for certain that it all comes from a single source.

 
At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

I will continue on this topic in your post on the Tarbela incident ...

 

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