Who is behind the market bombings in Pakistan? No-one claims responsibility for them and it’s impossible to know. Two things are certain though – they benefit the Pakistani and US governments, not the Taliban – and Pakistan’s military and military intelligence have been involved in backing terrorism for decades.
Some of the bombings in Pakistan and Afghanistan attributed solely to the Taliban may be being organised by Pakistani military intelligence to try to get public support for the Swat and Waziristan offensives. At least two bombings of the Indian embassy in Afghanistan have been attributed to the Taliban, but are most likely to show that Pakistan’s ISI military intelligence continues to influence and back some Taliban factions to exclude Indian influence from a country which Pakistan’s military sees as theirs.(1)
Many previous “terrorist” attacks in Pakistan have actually been aided and abetted by the military. For instance Benazir Bhutto before her assassination said that if she was killed it would be by factions in the military. She was murdered in a military garrison town and the army made no attempt to prevent people getting close to her car (2). One US backed military dictator – General Zia – had her father hung; another - General Musharraf – let her assassins get near her in the town of Rawalpindi – a military garrison town where he had his headquarters (3).
Offensives demanded by the US and US drone strikes which have killed many civilians are both deeply unpopular inside Pakistan. After each “Taliban” bombing government ministers and generals make statements about how this terrorist attack shows the need to continue the offensives – first they did this for the Swat offensive, now for the Waziristan one. For instance after a bomb set in a market place in Peshawar on 9th October 2009 killed at least 49 civilians no-one claimed responsibility for the attack. However the Pakistan and US governments claimed the Taliban were responsible and Pakistan Interior Minister Reman Malik said “One thing is clear, these hired assassins called Taliban are to be dealt with more severely...All roads are leading to South Waziristan." Another market bomb killed at least 100 civilians in Peshawar on 28th October. Again there was no claim of responsibility. US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton happened to be visiting Pakistan that day, allowing an offensive carried out due to US threats of airstrikes to be presented as the US and Pakistan governments protecting ordinary Pakistanis. The Taliban have made several attacks by gunmen and by setting bombs on Pakistan’s military and military intelligence forces – and when they’ve done so they’ve claimed responsibility for them. It’s hard to see what they would gain by killing large numbers of civilians in a city sympathetic to them – but easy to see what the US and Pakistan governments gain from apparent Taliban atrocities – i,e the Pakistani public’s support for a military offensive (4) – (7). A similar pattern of bombings targeting civilians, with no responsibility claimed for many of them – and the US and its allies the main propaganda beneficiaries – took place in Iraq. Of course it’s impossible to know for certain who is behind these bombings, but it’s as likely to be Pakistani Military Intelligence as the Taliban – or by a Taliban or Islamic extremist group manipulated by or allied to the ISI - and there is no evidence whatsoever that the Taliban carried them out (unlike Taliban claimed suicide bombings and armed attacks on police and soldiers, many of which also kill civilians).
Even if the bombings don’t involve the Pakistan military they clearly increase during each military offensive and after it – they are not reduced by them.
(1) = Guardian.co.uk 08 oct 2009 ‘Deadly Kabul bomb targets Indian embassy’,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/08/kabul-bomb-indian-embassy (Taliban suicide bombings on Indian embassy in 2008 and 2009 – ISI suspected of being behind them)
(2) = Guardian.co.uk 03 Oct 2007 ‘Bhutto : I know exactly who wants to kill me’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/oct/19/pakistan.benazirbhutto1
(3) = Independent 28 Nov 2007 ‘What now for Pakistan?’,
(4) = guardian.co.uk 09 Oct 2009 ‘Pakistan market bomb kills dozens’,
(5) = guardian.co.uk 28 Oct 2009 ‘Bomb kills dozens in Pakistan as Hillary Clinton arrives’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/28/peshawar-bomb-hillary-clinton-visit
(6) = Guardian.co.uk 11 Oct 2009 ‘Pakistani troops rescue hostages after militants attack military HQ’,
(7) = Guardian.co.uk 28 May 2009 ‘Taliban deputy claims responsibility for Pakistan bomb attack’, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/28/pakistan-bomb-taliban-claim-responsibility