An al-Qaeda offensive against Musharraf?
Just after CNN reported that terror bombings in Pakistan had reached "unprecedented" heights; and not long after Bill Roggio reported security services had arrested the leader and five members of a Lahore-based suicide cell another suicide attack killed 22 people outside a high court building.
At least 22 police and civilians were killed and 70 wounded in the attack. The blast was described as "powerful." Geo News reported the attack was conducted by a suicide bomber wearing a vest. The police were standing guard preparing for a protest by lawyers. "Six or seven [police] constables lost their lives on the spot while others succumbed to their injuries on way to hospital and in the process of [receiving] first aid," a doctor told the Associate Press of Pakistan, the government’s news service.
The Stratfor Geopolitical Diary says things could get worse. When "the Islamic New Year begins in Pakistan on Friday ... it could bring increased Shiite-Sunni violence, and further threaten President Pervez Musharraf's hold on power." The version of the report behind the subscription wall tallies a number of indicators none of which bode well for Pakistan, such as capital flight and a collapsing real estate market.
The Islamic New Year is apparently signals the start of the yearly sectarian feud the world over. "Muharram is not only the first month of the Islamic calendar, it is also the month in which much Shiite-Sunni sectarian violence occurs in the Muslim world, especially in Pakistan." But this time, al-Qaeda may attempt to exploit the season of ill-will to add impetus to its campaign against Musharraf.
This is why the country abounds with rumors that, should an outbreak of sectarian violence occur during the initial days of Muharram, the government might exploit the situation and further postpone elections. It is not at all clear, of course, whether this will happen. What is certain, however, is that conditions are explosive and such speculation is not unwarranted.