Crossfire War – Eleven Suicide Bombers Enter Rawalpindi-Islamabad

Crossfire War – RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN – ISLAMABAD – BEIJING WATCH – South Asia Theatre: Tehran – Riyadh – Beijing – Katmandu – Kabul – Tashkent – Dhaka – Islamabad/Srinagar – Arunachal Pradesh – Delhi; Pakistan Remains on High Alert as Eleven Suicide Bombers Enter Rawalpindi – Islamabad Targeting Political Leaders – Officials Opposed to Musharraf – Indian Intelligence Services Blamed for Encouraging Unrest in Pakistan to Create Economic Instability – Israel States Deeper “Pinpoint” Raids into Gaza Will Increase

Night Watch: PESHAWAR – When a suicide bomber blew himself up on Thursday at a Shia mosque in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, it indicated not only a continuation of the constant state of emergency in the country, but it may also have signaled another dimension to the religious-political violence in the country that could easily spill over into increasing the tensions between Islamabad/Delhi. AKI questioned an official of Pakistan’s National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) who described the suicide bomber and the extremist group he belonged to, “The initial reports indicate it is Lashkar-i-Jhangvi’s Qari Zafar group, which hails from the southern Punjab, but is at present hiding in Pakistani tribal areas near Northwest Frontier Province.” [AKI]

Under normal circumstances, the bombing would be just another annual dispute between Sunnis and Shi’ites during the Shia holy month of Muharram and the Ashura festival, but according to the NCMC official, another element has entered Pakistan’s instability, India’s intelligence agency the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s counterpart to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). “We have reports that Indian intelligence has penetrated a network in various parts of the country which could carry out terror incidents to undermine the law so that international investors would pull out their money from Pakistan and the country’s economic boom could be shot down.” This is obviously Delhi’s way of responding to not only Tehran-Pakistan’s support for the Islamic uprising in Kashmir, since 1989, but also to Iran-Pakistan’s support of networks inside India that have conducted attacks for the past few years against religious sites and transportation centers. Both Pakistan/India are now actively engaging in campaigns of destabilization against each other knowing it will have economic consequences, political-economic warfare as a supplement to the military one. Pakistan’s State Bank on Friday announced foreign exchange reserves have fallen from 19 billion dollars to 15 in the last month and the Karachi Stock Exchange has begun to reflect the economic impact of the crisis throughout the nation.

Chaklala Airbase – In view of the international crisis of confidence in the country President-General Pervez Musharraf on Sunday has embarked on an eight day four nation tour of Europe designed to reassure the West of Pakistan’s image as a credit worthy nation and economically reliable. Xinhua reports Musharraf will meet with the heads of state in: Belgium-France-Switzerland-United Kingdom. In Switzerland, he will even address the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. [XINHUA]

Rawalpindi – In the meantime Islamabad-Tehran continue to maintain the climate of fear among leading political figures and officials in Pakistan opposed to Musharraf. The Daily South Asia News Scan, compiled by retired Indian Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle, reported today eleven suicide bombers have entered Islamabad and the adjacent garrison city of Rawalpindi. I suspect these suicide assassins are from the spiritual crucible of Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province on the Afghan border and trained by Iran-Pakistan to remove the remants of Pakistan’s enormously corrupt political establishment the reaction to which has created a lot of the country’s extremism. A semblance of increased security has been placed around former Federal Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Ejazul Haq, son of the late military dictator General Zia ul-Haq, former Premier Nawaz Sharif and top police officers. I suspect all this increased security really does is restrict their movements making them easier targets and placing them under unofficial house arrest. It is quite possible Tehran-Islamabad may have planned a new wave of unrest-assassinations to such an extent the elections scheduled for February 18 may have to be cancelled. [SECURITYRISKS]

Srinagar – Tehran-Islamabad are now generating new security threats to pro-Indian leaders in the battleground province of Kashmir. NewsBlaze reports Indian intelligence has received information one of the Islamic groups leading the uprising against India’s occupation, Lashkar-e-Toiba, is targeting for assassination pro-Indian political leaders in the Muslim majority province. At risk are Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and pro-Indian leader Omar Abdullah. [NEWSBLAZE]

Islamabad – In the midst of all this Al Jazeera reports Musharraf’s chosen successor to him as Army Commander, General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, declared last November when he took over that 2008 is the “Year of the Soldier”. Musharraf would make certain his replacement would be in full support of Musharraf’s offensive “Action Plan” against India that he presented to Tehran in February 2007 as part of his nine-nation tour of Islamic governments. Musharraf who planned the offensive Kargil Probe in 1999 nearly set off the fourth war between Pakistan/India since their independence in 1947. [ALJAZEERA]

Knesset – As Palestinian rocket-mortar fire from Gaza continued today and as Israel responded with an air strike Sunday evening there was actually more action in the Knesset during the Weekly Cabinet meeting than on the ground and in the air. The Jerusalem Post reports Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak got into a heated argument with Public Affairs Minister Avi Dichter who accused the government and military of not doing enough to stop the constant mortar – rocket attacks. Dichter had long been an advocate of more than just pinpoint attacks and has wanted an invasion of Gaza. He was even incensed at the Army Chief for being absent at the meeting and accused the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of not being sensitive to the sufferings of the residents of Sderot and Israeli communities near Gaza enduring what Dichter described as a “Gazan roulette”. [JPOST]

Barak responded by saying the government needed to show unity and “We will find a solution to the Qassam just as we found a solution to suicide bombers. We will continue our actions to rocket launching cells, we’ve closed off the crossings for several days and we are continuing to prepare for a large-scale operation.”

Gaza City – was plunged into darkness as Hamas shut down the territory’s only power station that produces a third of Gaza’s electricity. Last week Israel reduced the fuel shipments in response to the Qassam attacks but the Jerusalem Post reports, according to Israel’s Defense Ministry, there is enough fule in Gaza and that Hamas is creating a crisis, which need not exist. Hamas is of course acting on Tehran’s instructions and Iran wants to create a humanitarian crisis situation as Iran sets the stage for more war. That is why Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week called the Hamas leader based in Damascus Khaled Maashal and congratulated him on the willingness of Palestinian people to endure hardships. [JPOST]

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Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.