The story of the gigantic car bombing of the area between Meena and Kochi bazaars in Peshawar, which killed at least 105 persons, is especially heartbreaking. Muslim extremists in Darra Adam Khel appear to have planned and carried out the attack, done by remote-controlled car bomb. They had threatened the markets with retribution if they did not forbid women to shop there. Pakistani extremists often preach ‘char divari’ or the immuring of women– keeping them within the four walls of their homes and forbidding them to go out at all. This idea, typical of Taliban sorts of thinking, is not Islamic and is contradicted by what we know of early Muslim history, in which women played an active and public role.
In any case, the extremists then bombed the area around these markets, since Kochi is a women’s market. At least 70 of the victims were women and children.
Darra Adam Khel is an Afridi Pashtun village in the North-West Frontier Province between Peshawar and the Federally Administered Tribal Area of Kohat (which itself witnessed a big bombing last week). Darra Adam Khel is notorious as a center for arms and munition production, using artisanal techniques. Adam Khel tribesmen can reproduce virtually any rifle or other weapon with which they are presented.
Of course, a further context for the attack is the ongoing Pakistani military campaign against the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan in South Waziristan.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in Islamabad after the attack. ITN has video:
Clinton pledged the Pakistanis American aid in increasing and making more reliable their electricity production. Pakistan has been plagued by brown-outs, referred to in India and Pakistan as ‘load-shedding.’ These electricity outages are more than mere annoyances. You cannot run a factory if the electricity keeps going off. Details of the energy aid plan are here.
The USG Open Source Center translates from Jang for Weds. October 28:
“Pakistan is facing stern energy crises. The industrial, trading, and domestic consumers are affected so severely that approximately 24000000 workers will face unemployment only in the textile sector because of energy crisis. These crises will badly affect the textile sector and other sectors also. During the past week, the Standing Committee of Senate on Petroleum has been informed that the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) is facing problems in producing 300 MMCFD (millions of cubic feet per day) gas and 7000 liters of oil daily and there are cases filed in several courts, while 250 stay orders are there in this regard.”
The aid of which Clinton spoke, assuming it is efficiently delivered and used, could therefore be key in preventing a big rise in unemployment, and thus could help forestall disturbances deriving from bitter and unemployed workers (who are more numerous and more potentially disruptive than mere rural Taliban). Pakistan will grow a little over 3% this year, though to tell you the truth, that is their population growth, as well. So their net collective increase in gross deomestic product will be . . . zero.
Clinton’s press conference was overshadowed by the bombings, and most channels put her on a split screen with the bombing aftermath, rather undermining her message of reconstruction.
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