Peshawar is the capital of the North-West Frontier Province and the administrative center for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. It is located on the edge of the Khyber Pass near the Afghan border. It is the commercial, economic, political and cultural hub of the Pashtuns in Pakistan and acts as a geographical and cultural front line among extremist, moderate, and liberal Islam. In the recent months the city seems to be ‘under attack’ with over 8 bomb blasts taking dozens of lives.
A recent attack targeting ‘Pearl continental', a five star hotel located in a high security zone has triggered panic across Peshawar. Al Jazeera English has details:
Kulsoom Lakhani discusses the attack in Changing Up Pakistan:
US officials said no Americans who had registered with the embassy were staying at the hotel, [this does not mean there were no Americans at the PC, just that none who had registered were there]. I hope the news focuses also on the Pakistani victims of this attack. It seems there were many hotel workers killed, much like the Marriott bombing in Islamabad.
The city is of prime importance at the moment being home to a number of IDP camps. It also serves as a military base for those deployed to fight with the militants. In such conditions militants are bound to make their presence felt in the City, a much expected reaction to the ongoing battle in Malakand division. The Peshawar valley is bounded on the North and North East by hills, which separate it from the Swat Valley, where the army is currently engaged in a battle with the Taliban.
A blog post on Five Rupees contemplates on the recent mayhem in Peshawar:
A major bomb blast has rocked Peshawar, extensively damaging the Pearl Continental Hotel – one of the city’s few major hotels. The hotel was home to a large number of UN and INGO officials, as well as foreign reporters. Most of the UN officials belonged to the UN Food Program (credit: Dunya News).
It was a suicide blast. The bomb disposal squad reckons that about 500-550 kg of explosives were used which has caused a crate 8 feet deep and 25 feet wide. There were two attackers who first opened fire before driving their car into the hotel gates, which is similar to recent attacks in Lahore and Islamabad.
Faisal Kapadia regrets the unfortunate series of incidents in Peshawar in his blog DeadPan Thoughts:
The people of Pakistan are in shock, this is the third attack in so many weeks, each one brings more carnage and the realization that the war supposed to be fought far away in the mountains is now here in the streets of our cities.
Even now the police of our country are paralyzed having no forensics to trace our enemies and shoddy equipment, with a ratio of 1-500 plus civilians what security can they provide us?
Amid the ongoing war in Swat, the ordinary people are horrified realizing the worsening conditions all over the country. The Taliban retaliation to the army offensives seems to go on and grow fiercely. While the nation is under strain with the massive humanitarian crisis at hand. The killings of UNHCR and INGO officials are a major setback to the relief operations.
Raza Rumi at Pak Tea House shares his insight on the death of development workers in a recent blast:
Pak Tea House mourns the death of a dedicated aid workers in the Pearl Continental. As I am a part of the development ’set’, such incidents are deeply disturbing. After all development workers work in difficult circumstances for a commitment to their professions which in theory at least is based on idealism. We are saddened to see that UN staff have offered their lives along with scores of innocent Pakistani civilians. Why are the extremists killing innocent civilians – in a war surely you choose your targets or is it just a reflection of the mayhem they want to create and make it into another terror-zone.
The series of violence in Peshawar is evidence to the fact that the militants will be using massive force to destroy ‘peace’ in Pakistan. Their violence crosses all barriers of humanity as they continue to work towards damaging not only the lives of people but also hampering the ongoing relief operations leading to further chaos.