A car bomb exploded in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Wednesday morning, killing at least 30 and wounding 100. The death toll could rise. The bomb targeted Pakistani security and intelligence offices, and likely was a Taliban response to the military campaign against them in the northwest.
Lahore is a quintessentially Punjabi city, and there is an ethnic dimension to the fighting against the largely Pushtun Taliban by the largely Punjabi national army.
Pushtun refugees from the northwest are said not to be welcome in Sindh and Punjab. Sindhis launched a strike on Monday to protest displaced Pushtuns coming into their province. The Muttahiddah Qaumi Movement (MQM) that organizes many of the Urdu-speakers in the southern port city of Karachi is secular and has a longstanding vendetta with immigrant Pushtun clans in the city. It also advocates keeping the Pushtun refugees in the northwest.
In a decision important to social peace within the Punjab, the Pakistani Supreme Court ruled that the Sharif brothers, leaders of the Muslim League-N, can now again hold high office. Punjab was roiled this spring by MLN supporters who both wanted a reinstatement of the Supreme Court that had been dismissed by the military dictatorship in 2007 and a return to provincial rule under the MLN with the Sharifs able to hold political office.
The Pakistani military maintained that its campaign against the Taliban in Malakand district was continuing on Wednesday.
Samina Ahmed asks if Pakistan can win the hearts and minds of the over a million Pakistani displaced persons who have fled the fighting in Swat. If not, the current operation could be sowing the seeds of future conflict in Pakistan.
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