Tuesday, September 23, 2008


The massive bomb blast that devastated the luxury Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday evening is one more sign of the deepening political crisis in Pakistan produced by the Bush administration’s spreading “war on terrorism”. While no one has claimed responsibility, the blast was undoubtedly in retaliation for continuing attacks by the US and Pakistani military in the country’s border region with Afghanistan against Islamist militias.

Investigators have recovered a videotape showing a dump truck exploding after being stopped at the hotel’s security gates. The blast from an estimated half tonne of explosives left a huge crater some 20 metres wide and 8 metres deep and sparked a fire that rapidly engulfed the hotel and took 12 hours to bring under control. At least 53 people were killed and more than 250 injured. Among the dead were the Czech ambassador Ivo Zdarek, a Vietnamese woman and two unnamed US Defence Department officials.

The bombing was clearly aimed at sending a message to the Pakistani government. The Marriott Hotel is in the political centre of Islamabad, near the parliament building, the prime minister’s residence, presidential offices and foreign embassies. As one of the capital’s two five-star hotels, it was frequented by top foreign visitors and government officials as well as the capital’s business elite. Senior Interior Ministry official Rehman Malik immediately declared that “all roads lead to FATA”—the Federally Administered Tribal Areas where the Pakistani military is currently waging a major offensive against militias supportive of anti-occupation insurgents in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The blast came just hours after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari addressed a joint session of the country’s parliament pledging to free Pakistan from “the shackles of terrorism”. Since taking office earlier this month, Zardari has been engaged in a delicate balancing act—on the one hand, bowing to US demands for a crackdown on Islamist militants in the FATA, and, on the other, attempting to placate popular anger over what is seen as a proxy war on behalf of the US.

More: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/sep2008/paks-s22.shtml

No comments: