Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Bombs Ahoy

Bombs have been exploding in Pakistani cities for four decades now. Invariably the authorities lay the blame on ‘miscreants’ and ‘foreign agents’ for these blasts. However, that does not always appear to be the case.

For instance in the 1970s, soon after the dismissal of Balochistan’s first democratically elected government, a sporadic bombing campaign took place in the urban areas of the province. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto publicly vilified the dismissed NAP politicians for the explosions. Much later it was discovered that it was in fact the Bhutto-created Federal Security Force (FSF) that was secretly behind these outrages. In fact an FSF guard named Taj Muhammad was caught red-handed carrying copious sticks of dynamite by the Quetta police. Subsequent facts revealed that he was ‘liberated’ from police custody on the direction of the Director-General of the FSF.

And then as I blogged earlier (see: The KFC Bomb & 'The Usual Suspects' )
A former colonel of the ISI once proudly told 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.

Coming back to the KFC bomb of November 2005, my private suspicions about the explosion were subsequently endorsed by an unusually upright DIG of Police. The senior police officer privately disclosed to your blogger that within minutes of the explosion Karachi police were contacted by an intelligence agency which directed them to proceed against the Baloch Liberation Army for the bomb blast.

And so we now come to an event that took place last month.

On 5th December Peshawar police arrested a man after he was spotted throwing an object into a bin outside the NWFP Chief Minister’s residence. The object was discovered to be an explosive and the culprit was subsequently identified to be a junior official of Intelligence Bureau (IB), Naib-Qasid Mohammad Tufail.

As BBC reported:
According to the arresting policemen, the metal object recovered from the rubbish bin outside Frontier House was seven inches long, one inch thick and labelled "high explosive".

[A]gent Tufail, was taken to a nearby police station and charged under the explosives act.

But within an hour of being taken into custody, agent Tufail was released when Intelligence Bureau (IB) joint director Zafarullah Khan came and took him away, provincial police officials on duty said.

Mr Khan also removed the alleged explosive device and later tried to play down events in an interview with a local paper.

He claimed the incident had been "a misunderstanding" and denied explosives had been involved - suggesting instead that agent Tufail had actually thrown a packet of biscuits into the bin.

The IB Joint Director Zafarullah Khan’s claim about ‘a packet of biscuits’ sounds rather unconvincing in view of the information that the Bomb Disposal Squad arrived at the scene and defused the recovered bomb.

For that matter if it was just ‘a mere packet of biscuits’ why did Zafarullah Khan insist on making off with the evidence?

Given these facts it is not surprising that the IB Joint Director soon opted to change his story and ended up giving it a further ludicrous twist. According to The News:
Joint Director-General Intelligence Bureau (IB) Zafarullah Khan told The News it was just a two-inch discarded piece of dynamite that could not explode because it had no explosives. “It was a sample collected by the agency officials. The Naib Qasid got it from somewhere and even had a bite of it, thinking it is a biscuit.

Soon after the ‘liberation’ of the culprit and the evidence, the angry Chief Minister sent a posse of policemen to raid the local IB office where it appears they were neither given access to the offender nor was the evidentiary explosive returned to them.

In the meantime the Peshawar police had filed criminal charges against both Naib-qasid Mohammed Tufail and Joint Director Zafarullah Khan. Tufail was charged under section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and section 5 of the Explosive Substance Act. Whereas Zafarullah Khan was charged under three sections of the Pakistan Penal Code – ‘resisting arrest by a person’, ‘resisting arrest of another person’ and for ‘destroying evidence’.

A few days later the Police were made to drop the terrorism charge against Tufail and the two ‘resisting arrest charges’ against Zafarullah Khan.

While the IB Joint Director managed to get pre-arrest bail for his remaining offence, Tufail was handed over to the NWFP Police on the chief minister’s insistence and is currently in detention facing trial under the Explosives Substance Act.


So the moral of the story is that when you hear next a bomb explosion in Pakistan, you may safely conclude that it has been carried out by religious fanatics or by ethnic nationalists or foreign agents or by representatives of the government itself.

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