Fresh Pakistan attacks underscore reach of Taliban
The Taliban attacked the Federal Investigation Agency, two police academies in Lahore, and a police station in the northwest, part of a weeklong onslaught that could strengthen military's resolve against the militants.
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Some Lahoris, like Mehreen Shehzad, who works at a nongovermental organization, say they feel let down by the government and helpless in the face of fresh attacks. "They always claim to have intelligence reports of imminent attacks on specific places after each incident. The FIA building seems to be taking repeated hits. When they know security forces are targets they should step up their defenses in those places."Skip to next paragraph
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The Lahore attacks began around 9 a.m. and continued till the early afternoon. Television footage showed helicopters hovering above the police academies while police and paramilitary forces hid behind trees and scaled walls during their clashes with militants.
The city – considered the country's cultural capital and the capital of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province – was paralyzed as shops, offices, and schools closed and a session of Punjab assembly was suspended.
According to Stratfor, an intelligence company based in Austin, Texas, "urban attacks in the Punjab center send a message to the Pakistani people that they are not safe in this area of the country. Though it is often perceived that militant problems in Pakistan are centered in the [northwestern] Pashtun areas, similar attacks are meant to reinforce fears in the country that more attacks of this nature will be felt in the heart of the country, and not just in far off regions."
Deeper resolve to fight back?
But the attacks could also have the opposite effect, and cement public opinion behind a planned military offensive in South Waziristan, where 80 percent of all terror attacks originate, according to military spokesman Lt. Gen. Athar Abbas.
The Army has said it will soon launch a ground offensive in the region, which borders Afghanistan and is home to Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. Pakistani forces are currently engaged in "softening up" the area through airstrikes and have blockaded the area with 28,000 soldiers.
Salman Kazmi, a doctor who works in the emergency ward at a Lahore hospital says, "It's really time for the government to act now and break their networks everywhere, including Waziristan. They need to stop these terrorists from infiltrating. Right now, they are targeting security forces, but the next target might be public places."
Ali Ibrahim, a Lahore-based lawyer agrees. "We should definitely be moving into Waziristan right now," he says. "Once you decide to take action, that should be wholehearted and made with a full effort."
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