Truck Bomb in Shiite Village, Pakistan, Kills 33, wounds 80

A suicide bomber used a huge truck bomb to blow up the market in the Shiite village of Ustarzai, Kohat District, killing 33 and wounding 80. Many shops, buildings and vehicles were destroyed in the blast. The village is largely inhabited by Bangash Pashtuns, who tend to follow the Shiite branch of Islam, unlike most other Pashtuns, who are Sunnis. The attack was probably, despite their denials, the work of the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or the Movement of Pakistani Taliban, now headed up by Hakimu’llah Mahsud from Orakzai Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (very vaguely like US Indian reservations, but for the Pashtun tribes up there). The attack follows on a bombing on Thursday that had left 6 dead.

Kohat is in red

On Saturday morning, tribal notables in the area held a peace jirga of congress that gathered Sunni and Shiite leaders together to defuse the tensions caused by the bombing.

The TTP is furious that the Pakistani military took them on and forced them out of the Swat valley. Although many Sunnis in Swat supported the operation, all Shiites did, and the Pakistani Taliban hate Shiite Islam anyway. The operation might have been revenge for the Pakistani army’s invasion of Swat, or it could just be a manifestation of the hyper-Sunni Taliban’s hatred of Shiites. The Bangash Shiites may be seen by the Taliban as a local intelligence asset for the government in its fight against Talibanism.

Pakistan’s Shiite population is probably about 13% of the country, and they have been brutally targeted by Sunni Muslim extremists in recent years. The Shiite Pakistanis, along with mystical Sufis and secularists, are die-hard opponents of al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

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2 Responses

  1. .
    the status of Kashmir weighs on everything else, even if it isn't mentioned.
    Thus, I think its important to be consistent in representing the boundaries of Kashmir.
    The "Northern Areas" depicted are part of the [former] Princely State of Jammu and Kashmir, I believe.
    It could be misleading to lump Azad Kashmir together with Indian-administered Kashmir and treat that as all there is to the disputed territory.

    avid student of geopolitics

  2. I agree that 13% is perhaps lower than the actual strength of Shi'i population in Pakistan. However, the fact remains that despite being less in number, followers of Shi'i belief are often among those who hold key positions in the administration – not to forget that the found of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also a Shia. The attack in Kohat was was expected eversince Hakimullah became the TTP chief, since he is know to harbour extreme hatred for Shi'i population of Pakistan.

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