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Fallouts of the Bomb That Never Exploded

27 May, 2010

By Alam Rind


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The world media got chocked with the story of an attempted car bomb attack at Time Square, New York City on May 1, 2010. After about 53 hours U.S. law enforcing agencies arrested Mr. Faisal Shahzad an American of Pakistani origin from John F. Kennedy International Airport, while he was on board Emirates Flight 202 for Dubai. Immediately upon arrest he started cooperating with the law enforcing agencies, confessed his crime, rather he was waiting for them as is evident from his remarks upon arrest, ‘I was expecting you, are you NYPD or FBI?’ Without much delay it was known to the Press that he had his bomb making trains from Waziristan, Pakistan. It is assumed that to avenge drone attacks in the northern areas of Pakistan he wanted to explode a homemade bomb to inflict American casualties. TTP immediately accepted the responsibility, from which subsequently they retracted, Pakistani authorities taking lead from tele-communication arrested a number of people from different cities of Pakistan and Gen. David Petyaeus described him “a lone wolf" who never had direct contact with militants in his homeland of Pakistan. He said there was no indication that Shahzad worked with others in concocting the terror attack or the homemade bomb.

 

There is something strange about the whole episode. Faisal Shahzad earned his BSc computer science and MBA degrees from University of Bridgeport, was working as a junior financial analyst, with Affinion Group before he left the job at his own. He was happy married and father of two. He came from a well-placed affluent family. Being son of a retired senior Air Force officer he must have had best of everything in his life. His family enjoys respect in the area for their nonpolitical and non-fundamentalist stance. All this makes him the least probable person who could subscribe to the fundamentalist ideas and would perpetrate such a heinous crime, which is undeniably a sin in Islam.

On the other end the initial U.S. reaction was that of reconciliation and patch up, as is evident from the statement of Gen. David Petraeus. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in an interview to CBS's "60 Minute” Pakistani efforts to combat the militants have under gone a positive "sea change" over the past year. To keep the people of the city under check NYC Mayor Bloomberg Said that “We Won’t Tolerate Any Bias” Towards Muslims…” However, with passage of time U.S. stance started changing. One wonders under what compulsions Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to warn Pakistan of "severe consequences" if a successful attack on U.S. could be trace back to Pakistan. Pakistani spokesperson regretted her statement being based on hypothesis.

Pakistan’s Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) known for her links with Indo-Israeli mentors claimed responsibility for Times Square bombing attempt. Her claims have not been taken seriously by those who knew their potentials. It may be out of the desire to project TTP as a terrorist organization having global reach. The situation created by failed bomb attack is adequate to create a new focus on Pakistan, militants in her tribal areas and their connections. With the conformation of Shahzad - TTP link, hawks in the U.S. government would be justified in registering their impatient with the intricacies of Pakistani politics, its anti-American sensitivities and its fixation on India as its greatest strategic threat. To U.S. policymakers it will indicate a need to have a far more muscular and unilateral U.S. policy towards Pakistan.

This incident has put Pakistan in a difficult situation. The pressure on government of Pakistan is mounting to accord greater excess to U.S. authorities to investigate the episode. That will gradually increase insistence upon Pakistan to launch operation against Taliban operating from North Waziristan or else U.S. might enlarge the area of her drone attacks and may also press Pakistani authorities for permission to launch ground attacks in Pak-Afghan border areas.

That will push the government to the wall as it will be blamed for not being able to safeguard the sovereignty of the country. At one end it will trigger a severe public reaction and at the other end a new wave of terrorist attacks in the cities of Pakistan will start further eroding government authority. In military context situation will demand fresh operations in North Waziristan and other areas to flush out Taliban and Al-Qaeda elements. To conduct these operations more troops will be required that will mean that we will have to lower our guards against India. The situation can turn from bad to worse if insurgency starts in Baluchistan. If Pakistan fails to comply with the American wishes she might suffer in terms of economic aid, future of Pakistan U.S. strategic dialogue and even Pakistan – India comprehensive dialogue. One hopes that such an eventuality doesn’t arise and our decision makers are able to manage these affairs in the best national interest.

 

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