Rescue workers sift through the rubble of the Peshawar blast that killed more than 120 civilians. Some Pakistanis refuse to believe the Taliban was behind this attack. Reuters photo.
The Pakistani government continues to blame India for the Taliban insurgency that is raging throughout the northwest. The New York Times explains why this is dangerous. The Pakistani people don’t want to believe their own countrymen could commit such acts of horror. Over time, this erodes support for operations against the Taliban, while anger at the government builds. From The New York Times:
In two days of interviews, Pakistanis here said they believed the war had taken a dark new turn, with civilians now bearing the brunt of insurgents’ fury. But that does not mean greater public anger at the Taliban.
The attack was so disturbing that people refused to believe that their countrymen were the culprits. If anything, it was met with disbelief or anger at the government for failing to protect civilians.
“The Taliban talk about morality and women’s dress, but they wouldn’t do such a thing to us,” said Muhamed Orenzeib Khan, a gas station attendant who lost nine members of his family in the blast. “Their target was never the common people.”
“It’s not easy to say our countrymen are in any way involved,” said Altaf U. Khan, a professor in the journalism department at the University of Peshawar. “There is a feeling of extreme helplessness: ‘We have no power, so why take responsibility?’ ”
Denial brings its own problems, namely the risk of prolonging the insurgency, because people do not know who their enemy is. That seemed to be the case for Muhammed Afzal, an oil trader whose building was damaged in the blast. “I know my tribal people,” he said, sitting on a couch in a room with blown-out windows. “They aren’t strong enough to do something like this.”
Mr. Afzal, who has relatives in Texas and Florida, offered a view of who was responsible, similar to many others interviewed here. “I’m telling you categorically – the people behind this bomb are the Indians and Mossad,” he said, referring to Israel’s intelligence agency. India and Pakistan are archenemies, and India figures into many Pakistani conspiracy theories.
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