Pakistan volleyball game attack: Will local opposition to Taliban hold firm?
The death toll in a volleyball game attack in northwest Pakistan Friday has topped 90. The government may face increased pressure to target militants who slipped out of South Waziristan, where the government has conducted an offensive, and north into neighboring areas.
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On Saturday, rescue workers continued to pull up bodies from the rubble as the full extent of the carnage was uncovered.Skip to next paragraph
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Successes in Swat may bolster local resolve
Anti-Taliban militias have met with some success over the past few months in the former Taliban stronghold of the Swat, as the “Army has attempted to use them as proxies in areas where it cannot maintain a permanent presence,” according to Mr. Basit, the analyst.
Whereas in previous years, the Taliban were able to quickly demoralize and dismantle the militias by killing their leadership, the success in Swat means it’s unlikely Friday’s attack will end local resistance, he says.
“Whether they make these lashkars or not, they are facing the music, so for most people it’s better to resist than to sit back and see your loved ones killed,” Basit says.
Rifaat Hussain, an analyst at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, adds that it may have been impossible for the Army to interdict the movement of fleeing militants, and neighboring tribal areas can expect to see an escalation in attacks unless the Army widens its offensives. The attack, he says, may give the Army the impetus it requires to make such a move.
Basit argues the attack is further evidence that the Army has inflated its claims of success in its South Waziristan offensive, and that key militants have been allowed to slip away into neighboring regions.
“The Army claims to have killed 600 militants and captured 1,000, but have yet to produce any evidence,” he says, adding that no key leaders have been killed or captured. “The military is playing hide and seek.”
Last Monday, a bombing at a Shiite religious procession in the southern city of Karachi left 43 dead, in an attack later claimed by the Taliban.
Clinton condemns attack
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, condemned Friday’s attack. “The Pakistani people have seen terrorists target schools, markets, mosques, and now a volleyball game,” she said in a statement, adding that the US would continue to stand by Pakistan in its efforts to “combat violent extremism and bolster democracy.”
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