Bombings in Karachi target former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto

A scene of devastation after an explosion at a procession of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in Karachi. AP Photo. Click to view.

Former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s triumphant return to Pakistan was shattered by violence just hours after touching down in the country after an eight-year exile. Two bombs struck the convoy carrying Bhutto and senior officials of the Pakistan People’s Party. Over 132 were killed and several hundred wounded during the twin blasts. Bhutto and her aides survived the attack unharmed. South Waziristan Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud had promised to strike at Bhutto upon her return and has lived up to his word.

Bhutto appears to have narrowly escaped the assassination. The Taliban used two bombs, a smaller charge followed by a large bomb. “An initial small explosion was followed by a huge blast just feet from the front of the truck carrying Bhutto during a procession through Karachi,” the Associated Press reported. “The blast shattered windows in her vehicle and set a police escort vehicle on fire.” It is unclear at the moment if this was a suicide bombing or a bomb planted in the road or nearby vehicle. Police said they found the torso of a suicide bomber.

The Taliban was able to successfully detonate two bombs despite tight security on the route. The road was closed long before Bhutto’s procession drove down the route. Police in Sindh province received tips of a potential suicide attack. Over 150,000 supporters gathered along the parade route to welcome Bhutto home.

Benazir Bhutto after the attack in Karachi. AP Photo. Click to view.

Bhutto was aware of the Taliban and al Qaeda threats but dismissed them. “At the press conference in Dubai, Ms Bhutto said she did not fear ‘militants and extremists,’ acknowledging that Afghan and Arab militants as well as those of the Red Mosque had threatened her,” Dawn reported. “She said that threats to her life had been whipped up to ‘intimidate me and the people of Pakistan.'”

“I don’t believe that a true Muslim will attack me,” Bhutto said. “I believe Islam forbids suicide bombings.” President Pervez Musharraf had advised Bhutto to delay her return to Pakistan due to security issues.

In early October, Baitullah Mehsud, the powerful Taliban commander in South Waziristan whose troops are holding almost 300 Pakistani soldiers in captivity, threatened to kill Bhutto upon her return.

“My men will welcome Bhutto on her return,” Baitullah told a Senator. “We don’t accept President General Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto because they only protect the US interest and see things through its glasses. They’re only acceptable if they wear the Pakistani glasses.” The Pakistani government has accused Baitullah of orchestrating a suicide campaign throughout Pakistan, yet seeks to renegotiate “peace agreements” that would allow him to remain free and in control of the tribal regions.

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Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • therapist1 says:

    I just hope the people blame the extremists and not her for returning.

  • Winger says:

    She was popular with the people. This is another failure for Al Qaeda. They ended up missing their target and killing civilians. Hopefully this will be another example of them overplaying their hand.
    I am still not sure if this was Al Qaeda or Taliban or both but the Taliban leader said he would target her upon her return. He probably had some inside help from the ISI. The van she was traveling in was very close to the explosion. Either she was in a heavily armored vehicle that survived the blast(s) or she was lucky the blast projected away from her.
    I am like you therapist1, I hope their failure works against them. Maybe this will be a catalyst for an “attitude” change in Pakistan. They seem to support these militants. The crocodile will eat them last.

  • Thanos says:

    Therapist: that’s already started, most of the catcalling appears to be coming from the MQM corner on the blogs in Pakistan.
    I think Bill has it right, Mehsud’s the most likely perp. AP is throwing JeM and HiJ into the stack of possible perps, but those are just fronts for AQ/Old-Guard ISI factions.
    I’m more interested now in how BB and Mushy will handle this. Will she take a firm stand? Will there be visits to the families of the dead? What will the general political outcome be?

  • andrew says:

    sigh… when will there ever be a global anbar awakening for the rest of the islamic world? don’t they realize the hardcore islamists do not even care for the average muslim? WHEN WILL MODERATE MUSLIMS WAKE UP AND REALIZE THEIR WAY OF LIFE IS BEING HIJACKED?!

  • Turner Bond says:

    Interesting. al quaida chooses a “proof of power” move over hearts and minds. One appeals to inspiration the other appeals to fear. They’ve captured docile army columns marching, made peace treaties of appeasement that they boldly ignore. They spread the image of a national military made of shifting sands. So when this women comes in who is the antithesis of those morality schools for girls that their red mosque kept setting up … they bomb her. Apparently, they’re more focused on intimidation establishing a pervasive presence than the hearts and minds equation that America had to learn in the 70’s.
    It’s a mistake they’ve made before. Perhaps they the teimpation is overwhelming to misread the indecision of the Pakistani people as a sign of submission and, therefore fear.
    To the Islamist sympathizers in Pakistan, one can imagine Mushareff playing the good cop to Bhutto’s, emerging bad cop. Bhutto refusing to rule out US help, Mushariff acting impotent, as needed. Attacking Bhutto empowers her and it would seem that this is one of the deeper strategic mistakes we’ve seen al quaida make.
    Perhaps it’s a matter of hubris and a narrow understanding of the human heart but I’m guessing it’s something more. As the Jihadis are driven out of Iraq there’s a fresh crop of sodliers to deploy. Meanwhile tribal taliban wannabees are establishing territory and forces they can reliably claim as theirs. The game now, as the snakes come out of the box, is which snake will command the others. Which snake has the loudest hiss and most fearsome bite. Settings such as these quicken the animal heart and cause evil men to forget the eyes of innocents around them.

  • Tommy says:

    I really hope Bhutto comes in and kicks ass. In the final year of the Bush presidency, I think there is going to be a lot of pressure to clean things up in Pakistan. Bomb camps, disrupt plots, stop attacks, kill and capture high value targets…
    One of the first things i’d like to see done: Arrest Mullah Omar! Pleeeeese! I’m sick and tired of people saying ‘he’s in Quetta, he’s in Quetta, he’s in Quetta’ and not doing a damn thing about it! If you know where the sicko is, GET HIM! Intel says he’s been sitting on ass in that city for the better part of 5 years. Yet no action has been taken! It’s beyond sick!
    Come on! Al Qaeda in Iraq is pretty much done, its time to finish buisness in Afghanistan/Pakistan now!

  • Benazir Bhutto Survives Assassination Attempt

    Video: Bhutto Was Easy Target; Update: BB Calls for Sacking of IB Chief Ijaz Shah

  • Raj Kumar says:

    To people who are hoping tha Benazir Bhutto will ‘Kick Ass’ forget it.
    This bombing is a gentle reminder from ISI to BB about who really pulls the string in Pakistan nothing more. Its a warning to Benazir not to mess with the fundoos cause next time the bomb will make it through.
    In terms of getting the Mullah Omar of the Taliban fame, guess who was the PM of Pakistan when the Taliban were created….I will give you 3 guesses its was a certain Benazir Bhutto.
    The government of Pakistan set up the Taliban. Paid for it with money & guns supplied to it by Uncle Sam for fighting the Soviets and US taxpayers are still paying money in the form of direct & military aid to the same organisation which is now attempting to kill GI’s in Afganistan!!!
    The same Uncle Sam BTW which turned a ‘Nelson eye’ to the Government of Pakistan & AQK attempt at getting their hands on the nuclear weapons which now present such a clear & present danger to the whole world.

  • Turner says:

    From Raj Kumar’s post above:
    “….US taxpayers are still paying money in the form of direct & military aid to the same organisation which is now attempting to kill GI’s in Afganistan!!!”
    I don’t get this. Raj, somebody, what are you alluding to here?
    Pakistani Secret Services helping the Taliban?

  • section9 says:

    The Taliban were set up by the ISI for two purposes. The false flag, of course, was to fight Soviet Imperialism in Afghanistan and the legacy government in Kabul. However, the true objective, and one that the ISI couldn’t control in the end, was to secure Pakistan’s rear in any war against India over the Kashmir and the Kargil regions.

    The Pakistanis went to the extent of developing an atomic deterrent because of the fear of Indian Power. So it is not without reason that developing a client regime in Kabul was in Pakistan’s national interest. The ISI developed the Taliban out of their hip pocket. They simply never counted on someone as crafty, wealthy, and cunning as Bin Laden waltzing in from the Sudan to basically take over their operation.

    Benazir never knew half of what the ISI was up to, as they probably never let her know. Remember, the Army executed her father, and the ISI was made up of people who were probably in on that. However, if she turns out to be the “Iron Lady” of Pakistan, then all the better. I like her sense of timing: as Musharraf has grown critically weak, she has grown stronger.

  • David M says:

    Trackbacked by The Thunder Run – Web Reconnaissance for 10/19/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  • Raj Kumar says:

    Posted by Turner at October 19, 2007 7:08 AM ET:
    I don’t get this. Raj, somebody, what are you alluding to here?
    Pakistani Secret Services helping the Taliban?
    ISI set up the Taliban as a means of fighting intially the Soviets and then to act as their stay behind irr-gulars force in the event of an Indian attack/occupation.
    The US Government SUPPORTED & ASSISTED the Government of Pakistan (GoP) in its creation of the Taliban. It did this by allowing GoP to route weapons & money which it was giving it when the Soviets were in Afganistan in the 1980’s to who ever it wanted to.
    When the Soviets left the USG stopped this funding. However it was too late by this stage, the GoP were able to continue to fund the Taliban because like any irregular forces it doesn’t take that much to money to run. The Taliban with support by Pakistan Army personnel in mufti were able to take control of Afganistan after the Afgan civil war.
    The problem is that the USG did not recognise the fact that Pakistan & the Taliban are its mortal enemy and as such if you allow your enemy the space & the time to train it will hurt you the logical conclusion being 911.
    The problem NOW is that the USG & western governments are again allowing Pakistan & the Taliban the same space & time to regroup. USG has gone to the extent of funnelling US$11 bn of direct or military aid to Pakistan since 2001.
    I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that a very small fraction of that $11bn is being used to fund attacks on western forces in present day Afganistan. So now how do you feel about your tax dollars being used to kill your own troops!!!!
    Please contact me on rajDOTkumarATpoboxDOTcom if you want to continue.

  • Neo says:

    Raj Kumar stated:
    “ISI set up the Taliban as a means of fighting intially the Soviets and then to act as their stay behind irr-gulars force in the event of an Indian attack/occupation.”

  • Raj Kumar says:

    Yes you are correct on the Taliban front.
    However the estential problem remains which is Pakistan and the training space being provided to the Green fundoos by acts of commission or omission of the Government of Pakistan.
    The USG has invested 11 billion dollars and has nothing to show for it. That in my rule book is a very poor rate of return on a investment.
    The Government of Pakistan is saying ‘shock horror we can’t control NWFP’ and all of us are sitting here on our behinds saying “Yes you are right”. Trust me that one day we will pay a very heavy price for this sitting around doing nothing.

  • Winger says:

    Good analysis Neo. The problem now as most people see it is that the Tribal areas have been infiltrated by Taliban/Al Qaeda people. This means that sharia law is the rule. The problem with that is someone (human) has to do the interpretation of what that means. The Osama Bin Ladens, Mullah Omars and Biatulla Mehsuds of the area have set themselves up as the people who make those determinations. They can kill indiscriminately, including innocents and muslims, and those guys rule that it is okay.
    Islam does not allow killing of innocents like that so how do they get away with it? Because the guy in charge says you can. The first suras of the Koran did not allow looting and killing of caravans during Ramadan until they realized the big booty was getting away. So they went ahead and killed and looted one and offered their spoils to Mohammed. Initially he refused, but then Allah told him it was ok so another sura was written to allow it. Hmmm.
    Sometimes I think Osama thinks he is Mohammed and can divinely interpret the Koran to suit him. other Muslims follow him becasue they think he is correct in his interpretation, others follow so they don’t get killed. Threat of violence and death can be a powerful motivator.
    When Pakistan finally decides to presure these people to not choose that path or suffer death or imprisonment at the hands of the government. they will be between a rock and a hard place. The hardliners will be killed. The ones that are pressed into service will surrender, and the ability of the hardliners to intimidate the local citizenry will be diminished.
    Then the task will be to upset the brainwashing that is going on in the Madrassas and Mosques all over the world. I am going to assume people fighting the war on terror are working on this but based on some of the ineptness I have seen in the Iraq war, I am not so sure. BB sounds like she may be able to make some strides in that regard, even if it is with the good cop/bad cop routine.
    I thought Musharaff was going on the offensive before Eid. What happened? Still trying to make peace? Maybe this Bhutto bombing will give him the cover he needs to say “Hey, you guys came out of the tribal area and killed hundreds.” “All bets are off because we can’t trust you.” Hopefully, when they catch the snake, they cut his head off (not literally) instead of releasing him back into the wild to kill again. ie Red Mosque guy. Unfortunately, more killing will ensue and more innocent people will be caught in the middle. We must change the paradigm for those peole in the middle to give them better choices.

  • Neo says:

    “The USG has invested 11 billion dollars and has nothing to show for it. That in my rule book is a very poor rate of return on a investment.”


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