I used to enjoy going to the Pearl Continental in Karachi. It was cosmopolitan, discreetly luxurious and the Japanese rooftop restaurant served the best sashimi with wasabi in town. I was saddened that its sister in Peshawar had been so cruelly and unnecessarily targeted. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades would appear to have been named after Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian militant who joined the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan and was killed in 1989. An Internet website calls him “Bin Laden’s spiritual mentor”; or “The Man Before Osama bin Laden,” and notes that there is an armed wing of Hamas called the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. A favourable profile on Islam.org calls him “The Striving Sheikh,” while a 2002 account of his life on Salon calls him both “The Godfather of Jihad” and “The Lenin of International Jihad” which will almost certainly tick off both doctrinaire Leninists and James Brown fans.
This bombing was carried out to ‘pressure the government to stop military offensive against the Taliban in Swat and Bannu’. If the Taliban were to realise that civilisation perceives their organisation as backward, reactionary and mediaeval, with no place in the modern world, furthermore their violence cannot be tolerated by intellectually self-aware people and their brand of Islam is flawed, dangerous and criminal, then the sooner they would be welcomed back into the human race.
When, I wonder, will the rage and visceral hatred of this kind of impoverished Islam burn itself out? I also wonder, was the intention to kill and maim, or merely to cause damage to property? If the latter, then the charge is vandalism, if the former, it’s simply murder.
As an afterthought, I wonder how civilisation will react to the re-election of the Iranian despot – the word ‘re-election’ being used almost metaphorically since it seems clear that coercion, thuggery and baseball bats win battles at the polls in Tehran as efficiently as in Mingora. Obama’s reference to a ‘robust campaign’ seems uncomfortably pertinent, if naive. I wonder who he thinks runs the country and is he prepared to engage unilaterally with unelected clerics as well as an administration as racially venomous as Ahmedinajad’s? Dweebish, wide-eyed willingness to meet on the mat isn’t gonna cut it this time, Mr President. They actually do mean you harm.