B.K. Bangash/AP
A massive truck bomb devastated the heavily guarded Marriott Hotel on Saturday, Sept. 20.

Pakistan Hotel Bombing a Strike Against Antiterrorism Effort, Say Experts

September 22, 2008 07:50 AM
by Emily Coakley
A deadly hotel bombing in Islamabad is a message that the U.S. and Pakistan must leave Islamic militants near the Afghan border alone, analysts say.

Militants Hitting Back Against Recent Strikes

“The attack is a message from Al-Qaeda and Taliban that unless Pakistan and America stop attacking their sanctuaries in the tribal areas, they can hit back in Pakistan if not the United States,” said analyst Hasan Askari in an interview with Agence France-Presse, which added that recent raids have killed hundreds of militants.

Brian Glyn Williams, a University of Massachusetts associate professor, told the Associated Press: “Both sides see Pakistan as a vital battlefield in their global struggle and clearly Pakistani civilians are paying the price for being in the middle of this struggle.”

More than 50 people, including Pakistani civilians and American, Vietnamese, and British visitors were killed, and hundreds were injured in the Saturday bombing of the luxury Marriott Hotel, reported the U.K. newspaper the Guardian. The Czech Republic’s ambassador was also among the victims.
Asif Ali Zadari, Pakistan’s new president, said in a televised speech after the bombing that the country would keep pressure on terrorists.

“We must root out terrorism and extremism wherever and whenever they may rear their ugly heads. Reforming the tribal areas, bringing them into the mainstream of national life can now no longer be delayed,” Zadari said.

Background: Turbulence and the war on terror

Pakistan has long felt the effects of the U.S. war on terror being waged in neighboring Afghanistan. The Pakistani public, before Saturday’s bombing, was angry with the U.S. military for coming over the Afghan border into the country, AFP reports.

And in a recent New York Times Magazine article, correspondent Dexter Filkins described numerous incidents that suggested Pakistan’s military was involved on both sides—fighting Al Qaida and the Taliban in return for American aid money while at the same time supporting the militants.

But the new civilian government is trying a different approach; using economic development to improve the lives of Pakistani civilians near the Afghan border and “drive a wedge between the militants and the people,” according to Owais Ahmed Ghani, a provincial governor, in the Times piece.

After eight years of military rule under President Pervez Musharraf, a civilian government took over the leadership of Pakistan earlier this year.

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