Saturday, February 9, 2008

Vicious harvest?

Today's bomb attack that killed at least 27 at a political rally in northwest Pakistan is yet another indication of the short-sightedness of President Pervez Musharraf's policy of accommodating al-Qaida-linked insurgents in his nuclear-armed country. The bombing, believed to have been a suicide attack, disrupted a rally of hundreds of supporters of the Awami National Party in Charsadda, about 25 miles from Peshawar, the capital of the North West Frontier Province. The Reuters international news agency said at least 27 were killed and 40 injured. The ANP is a regional party representing the Pashtuns ethnic group in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region. Meanwhile, in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, the Pakistan Peoples Party of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto held a campaign rally that attracted 100,000 while police clashed with protesters demanding Musharraf's resignation. The Islamabad protest included hundreds of lawyers demanding the restoration of Pakistan's former Supreme Court. At the PPP rally, Bhutto's husband, Asif Ali Zardari, emerged from the traditional 40-day Islamic mourning period to address the party faithful. "Her whole life was for you," Zardari told the crowd, Reuters said. "My whole life is for you. My children's lives are for you." While the political drama was unfolding around the country, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, met with Musharraf and Pakistan's top military leaders to discuss expanding the U.S. military role in Pakistan. Musharraf has previously refused to allow U.S. forces on Pakistani soil. Musharraf reportedly reached an agreement Wednesday with the largest insurgent group, the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, whose leader, Baitullah Mehsud, has been blamed for Bhutto's assassination by the Pakistani government.

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