The situation in Pakistan has been boiling as the politicians and generals have locked in intense verbal fighting and at times, physical confrontations.
No one knows what will be the result of the crisis, but everyone in the society is worried and disturbed. According to AP report, 15 people were killed in suicide attack in Bannu, the hometown of the NWFP Chief Minister. The report said that a burqa-clad suicide bomber set off a blast that killed at least 15 people Monday at a crowded police checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan, police said.
The bomb, which injured 22 others, apparently was in a rickshaw that was being examined at a police checkpoint around 8:25 a.m. local time in the town of Bannu, said police officer Habib Khan.
He said it was unclear if the blast was detonated by the driver or the passenger wearing the burqa, an all-encompassing outer garment worn by women. It wasn't immediately confirmed that the bomber was a female, but police said early evidence collected at the scene suggested it was.
"We have confirmed that the passenger sitting in the rickshaw was wearing a burqa and detonated the bomb, but we are checking whether the suicide bomber in a burqa was a man or a woman," said Interior Minister spokesman Javed Iqbal Cheema.
While there have been reports of some women being trained to carry out suicide bombings in Pakistan, it was not immediately clear if any have ever undertaken such an attack.
Bannu police chief Ameer Haamza Mahsud said the casualty figures were high because scores of people were milling about at a nearby bus stand.
The blast killed four police officers and 11 other people, including the bomber, army spokesman Maj. Gen Waheed Arshad said. Because the attack occurred in a public place, he said he did not believe it was aimed at security forces.
The district hospital in Bannu reported that at least seven of the injured were in critical condition.
Bannu is near the North Waziristan tribal region, about 110 miles south of Peshawar.
In recent months, militants have staged almost daily attacks on security forces in North Waziristan since scrapping a peace agreement with the government.
Militants accused authorities of violating the September 2006 deal by redeploying troops to checkpoints vacated under terms of the accord. Officials said the troops returned because of deteriorating security. Most of the combat has taken place in the rugged mountains along the Afghan border where the U.S. fears al-Qaida is regrouping and that Osama bin Laden is hiding.
Pakistan is a key ally of the U.S. in its war on terror and says it has about 90,000 troops in the northwest tribal areas to combat militancy and prevent infiltration into neighboring Afghanistan.
According to an editorial comment of a leading newspaper:
The politics in Islamabad today is posited by the opposition as a battle for civilian rule and the confinement of the Pakistan army to its constitutional role. The lawyers’ community and the opposition political parties may have different agendas up their sleeves, but at the declaratory level it is the civilian-military relationship that everyone is supposed to be trying to correct. Even the ruling party, by keeping a general as president, promises a more reliable reversion to more democracy. The consensus is apparently shared by President General Pervez Musharraf himself. But the antagonists fall apart on whether the post-Musharraf period should be “transformational” or “transitional”.
A Pakistani scholar has tried to “define” the character of the Pakistan army in his forthcoming book. A journalist and an ex-IMF officer, Shuja Nawaz, in his Crossed Swords: Pakistan Army and the Wars Within (not yet published), compares it to the army of Indonesia under Sukarno and Suharto instead of the Turkish army as is often done by those who wish to posit a polarity between the army and the people. He explains that “the army has gradually expanded its remit to include protection of the national ideology, as defined by the army itself. He said this ideology has changed from a loose definition of a Muslim state at birth to an Islamic polity under Zia-ul-Haq, and now to the ‘enlightened moderation’ of General Pervez Musharraf, even as the growing urban population appears to prefer the conservative end of the social and political spectrum”.