Those familiar with the movie ‘Casablanca’ will recall the classic scene where the hero Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogart) shoots dead the local Gestapo chief in front of police captain Renault (played by Claude Rains), who, moments later, then orders his men to ‘arrest the usual suspects’ for the murder.
Well, Captain Renault would have done well in Pakistan. Every time a major crime takes place in Pakistan the police round up the usual suspects, beat the hell out of them, and voila! They confess to the crime.
So when, within twenty-four hours of the bomb exploding outside Karachi’s PIDC building, our exceptionally incompetent police rapidly haul in five culprits, eyebrows are bound to be raised. Especially so when the local home minister also jumps in by announcing ‘we are sure of Baloch Liberation Army’s involvement’. As a fictional master sleuth would have said, ‘Remember, my dear Watson, when bullshit abounds something is deliberately being hidden from our view.’
So it’s time for a brief analysis.
If the target had been the ‘American’ KFC outlet, as all the early press reports suggested, then logic would dictate the bombing was carried out by religious extremists.
But if the bombers had targeted the offices of Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) located on the 4th floor of PIDC building then the following conclusions can be drawn:
- As they missed their target by four stories, the bombers were either completely inept or were simply sending a message to PPL.
- The bombers had ‘a bone to pick’ with PPL.
As the authorities now insist that it was the work of the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) one can simply surmise that either it was the BLA or the authorities are keen to heap the blame, and the resulting public condemnation, on the BLA.
The picture now gets murky because as the Daily Times reports
A man identifying himself as Chakar Baloch claimed responsibility for the bombing on behalf of the BLA. He said the bomb was targeted at the PPL.
Later, a man identifying himself as Azad Baloch and also claiming to represent the BLA condemned the blast. Neither man was the one who has claimed attacks on behalf of the BLA in the past.
However what is interesting is that Azad Baloch is reported by Dawn as also saying the following:
Spokesman for the [BLA], identifying himself as Azad Baloch, calling from some unknown place on a satellite phone, told media people here: “We condemn the killing and injuring of innocent people in the Karachi blast.”
He blamed secret agencies for the explosion and said that the agencies were involving the BLA in it under a conspiracy. “We are not involved in Karachi blast,” he added.
The spokesman said that the BLA was struggling against Punjabi rulers. “We can hit any target in Islamabad and other areas of Punjab, but not in Karachi or any other area of Sindh,” Mr Baloch said, adding that Sindhi people were also being victimized and their rights were being usurped by Punjabi rulers.
Your Blogger would tend to support this fellow Azad Baloch’s contention.
Among the disparate bunch of Baloch nationalists – of which BLA represents a violent splinter-faction - none would wish to alienate public opinion. As this group of people blames all its woes on Punjab and its preponderance in the army and bureaucracy, the last thing they would wish is to estrange the inhabitants of Sindh or NWFP.
So despite whatever stories the government, police or our intelligence agencies concoct, I would discount BLA’s role in the KFC bomb blast - having said that, I would not, however, dismiss the involvement of perhaps some other Baloch faction in the bombing.
PPL hit headlines in January for its revolting cover up of its employee Shazia Khalid’s rape and by the subsequent shoot out between PPL’s army guards and Bugti tribesmen in Sui. Two months later the army under the pretext of local disorder retaliated and used high-tech anti-terrorist TOW missiles in an attempt to bump off Akbar Bugti (this story is worthy of a blog in itself). Instead of killing the Bugti chief, thirty-two Hindus (including women and children) living adjacent to his house were killed in the failed assassination attempt.
Recent news reports suggest that things are once again on the boil in Dera Bugti. This has led some to conclude that the Bugtis could have ‘used the name of the BLA’ to hit out at PPL. But all this, at this stage, is mere speculation.
I recall a former colonel of the ISI once proudly telling me how he had personally arranged a large bomb blast in a Karachi multi-storey office building in the 1980s. Naturally the blast (and the resultant civilian deaths) would have been blamed on RAW, Al-Zulfikar, MRD fanatics or anyone else deemed worthy of being demonised in those wretched days of Zia’s military rule.
The moral that I learnt from the colonel’s lurid account was that in Pakistan we never ever know what is actually happening until someone finally blabs out the truth after the passage of many years.
And, in the meantime our police will continue with arresting and torturing the usual suspects and, needless to add, extracting their confessions .