By Alok Bhatt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BAKHAKEL, Pakistan – A suicide-bomb attack in Bakakhel, a town within Pakistan’s North West Province Frontier (NWPF), left four Taliban detractors dead and wounded a passing woman. The attack represents the latest of multiple suicide-bombings which have recently been ravaging the Bannu district of northwest Pakistan. A suicide-bomb attack on Saturday took the lives of eleven civilians in the Bannu district, and a similar attack in a Peshawar bazaar killed thirteen more non-militant Pakistani nationals on the same day. While past violence was perpetrated by smaller militant organizations, Taliban fighters claimed responsibility for the death of the tribesmen.
A police official reported that the assassin crashed a car carrying explosives into the vehicle of Pashtun tribesman Abdul Hakeem. The bomber and Hakeem were killed instantly, along with three of Hakeem’s fellow tribesmen who served as his protectors. Hakeem was an avid proponent of anti-Taliban measures, and recently issued a decree against suicide-bomb attacks. Among his anti-Taliban exploits, Hakeem played an instrumental role in allowing Pakistani forces to cross into the Taliban stronghold in North Waziristan. The chief of police of the Bannu district stated that this indictment likely incensed Taliban militants to target the tribesmen. As an influential Islamic cleric and vocal critic of the Taliban, Hakeem signified the will of peoples who have long been suppressed by the Taliban’s militant strikes on the northwestern region of Pakistan.
It seems the Taliban has been systematically assassinating prominent local leaders to silence the voice of discontented Pakistani civilians. On September 24, Taliban fighters shot dead four tribesmen who advocated government-run countermeasures against the Taliban. These targeted attacks mark a sharp deviation from the indiscriminate bombings which have been occurring in Pakistan’s NWPF. By removing community leaders with the resolve to voice the grievances of the populous, it appears that Taliban militants aim to undermine civilian objections to their methods of gaining control over the area. Pakistan’s state military has stated on numerous occasions its resolve to beat back insurgencies and attacks by the Taliban and similar, smaller organizations. However, without the support of dedicated and sympathetic community organizers, such as tribal elders, the weary civilians of Pakistan’s NWFP lose the vessels for their freedom cries.
For more information, please see:
Al-Jazeera – Tribesmen killed in Pakistan attack – 28 September 2009
CNN – Pro-government elders killed in Pakistan attack – 24 September 2009
France 24 – Car-bomb attack kills anti-Taliban tribesmen – 28 September 2009