31 October, 2006

Madrassa Attack 2: the reaction

The Pakistan government, reports Boston World News, is now saying that the madrassa was taken out because US intelligence reports indicted that senior al Qaeda figures were in hiding there.

"This was a training camp, and they had been warned to stop their activities," said General Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan's ambassador in Washington. "They did not pay heed, so they were hit by our gunships and all the people there were killed. There will be a lot of unhappy or misguided people saying we are killing our own people for the sake of the Americans, but we had a commitment to fight terrorism on our soil, and we made a decision."
We shall no doubt eventually see who fired the missiles but, as BWN reminds us, it would not be the first time the Pakistanis have lied about such things.
A similar strike occurred in January, when US missiles devastated a nearby compound that authorities believed Zawahri [a senior al Qaeda figure] was visiting. Officials initially denied, then acknowledged, reports that a US drone had carried out the strike, which killed 18 people. The raid set off protests across Pakistan and forced the Musharraf government to publicly condemn the action.
The Pak Tribune has no doubts that it was an American raid and reports on political opposition and the demonstrations which are certain to follow.

South Asia Times analyses the political repercussions, concluding that President Musharaff is now heading for a showdown with Islamic forces sooner rather than later.

Aljazeera also examines the political consequences, indicating a jihad against the government.

A (UK) Times correspondent has spoken to several eye-witnesses who claim to have seen "a US predator drone" circling the madrassa on days immediately before the attack.

Arab News focuses on the claim that many of the dead were children or religious students, as does the Arab The News - International.

The Khaleej Times condemns the raid as a war on innocents.

The BBC has a picture gallery of the raid's aftermath

So it goes on with claim and counter claim. One thing is fairly certain: any chance of peace deals between Musharaff and Pakistan's western border rebels in Balochistan, Waziristan and Northwest Frontier Province must be much reduced.


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