Many call it Black Thursday. Over 120 people died in three separate bomb blasts on Thursday - two that took place in Quetta and one which occurred in Swat. Though these two places are hundreds of miles apart, it is believed that the attacks were carried out by outfits that are loosely aligned to
each other and a shadowy network of followers.
Quetta's blasts were carried out inside a snooker club at Alamdar Road first. Then as people gathered to help the victims, another blast outside the club killed several more including rescuers and mediapersons. Alamdar Road is a Shia dominated area and the killings follow a pattern of violence against this community by the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed organisation that has targeted Shias in high-profile killings for the past several years.
Earlier, a nationalist group had claimed to have conducted the attack but most independent observers said that such a group was incapable of such an attack.
The Swat blast was carried out against members of the Tableeghi Jamaat, a Sunni organisation that focuses on spreading Islam through preaching. It is believed that the blast was carried out by some outfit aligned to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which holds sway in the region. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
On Friday, Tahirul Qadri, a religious preacher who plans to hold a million-man march to Islamabad, alleged that both blasts were conducted at the behest of the state. "They do this to show that things are not okay in Pakistan and cause instability," Qadri told a press conference, adding that the militants outfits "are mostly in the command of the government or the military." Qadri says that he wants to protest in Islamabad over the government's role in terrorism in the country where the main sufferer is the common Pakistani.
Many seem to agree with this reading, with some even saying that the TTP has some tacit understanding with the military. "That is where the good and bad Taliban notion came from," says Mehmood Ghaznavi, a professor at the University of Karachi. Ghaznavi says that the army has consistently provided support to the TTP.
Journalist Amir Mir chronicles this in his writings where he has shown how many militant outfits have been used by the military in its secret wars. "I am not surprised at the beheading of the Indian solider. This must have been done by an outfit loyal to the army," comments Ghaznavi.
The army denies the charge of an understanding with militant groups, citing frequent attacks on its bases and personnel as proof that it is not encouraging these groups.
The army says that the militant groups are independent and they have been trying for the past several years to eliminate them. Army chief General Kayani says that these groups are being supported by outside powers. Privately, he also alleges that Indian intelligence helps them, especially in Balochistan.