Al Qaeda wants to regain public support in Pakistan

Published: May 31, 2010

The attacks came at a time when govt is considering options for North Waziristan operation.

The Friday carnage at two worship places of the Ahmadiyya community in Lahore and subsequent claims of responsibility apparently show growing realisation within al Qaeda that the public support it once enjoyed in the Pakistani society has dwindled now with no chances of revival, observers say.

The Punjab chapter of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the brazen attacks and vowed to launch more such attacks on what it called “infidels.”

The attacks were apparently planned to achieve a specific strategic target: To cement the terror network’s support base across the Deobandi mindset spread in the country, explained Brigadier (Retd) Muhammad Saad.

Brig Saad believes that by attacking a community that is not liked by most of Sunni Muslims belonging to Deobandi and Barelvi schools of thought, the terror network has attempted to win some sort of support from these groups.

Though al Qaeda affiliates in sectarian outfits like Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) have been launching attacks on Shia congregations in the past, majority of Sunnis did never endorse these attacks.

But in case of Ahmadis, Brig Saad says, at least close to two million those who study at Deobandi madrassahs across Pakistan would definitely have some kind of “favorable” opinion about al Qaeda.

“That’s what may be the thinking behind the assault on a community that was so far spared by al Qaeda,” Brig Saad told The Express Tribune by telephone from Peshawar.

Initially when al-Qaeda established the TTP as a frontline group in 2007, it attempted to grab public support by demanding implementation of Shariah laws in Pakistan.

But when the group briefly ruled Swat valley between 2007 and 2009 under radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah, the public opinion turned against them.

“They know they can’t have the support of ordinary Pakistanis any more after what they did in Swat…that’s why their focus now is to create a goodwill in Deobandi madrassahs,” argued another expert who runs a think-tank in Islamabad.

“And attacks on a group like Ahmadiyya community is the best to achieve that goal…it may work for them,” he added.

The attacks came at a time when Pakistan’s top political and military leadership is considering options to launch an offensive against al Qaeda hideouts in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Brig Saad believes the carnage might be a message for political and military authorities that the militants trained by al Qaeda can play havoc across Pakistan.

“This appears to be a preemptive strike to rattle the nerves ahead of the most important phase of the war on terror,” Brig Saad added.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 31st, 2010.

Reader Comments (10)

  • S.A.R.A
    May 31, 2010 - 2:27AM

    oh shoot! “This appears to be a preemptive strike to rattle the nerves ahead of the most important phase of the war on terror,” Recommend

  • May 31, 2010 - 5:31AM

    Brig Saad believes the carnage might be a message for political and military authorities that the militants trained by al Qaeda can play havoc across Pakistan. If they get rattled by this what will they do if they have to fight an actual war? Recommend

  • May 31, 2010 - 5:31AM

    I mean conventional warRecommend

  • cucumucz
    May 31, 2010 - 11:18AM

    Every time there is peace and calm in country , US designs a strategy to bath our country in blood . People wakeup , all this fabrication is to convince that ‘Al-Qaida’ is here to kill Pakistanis if you are not going to kill some pushtons in N/S-Waziristan. Our final enemy is US only US people open your eyes. Recommend

  • May 31, 2010 - 3:12PM

    Is this news? commentary? opinion? guesswork? Some journalism standards required, please.Recommend

  • What
    May 31, 2010 - 6:20PM

    This is ridiculous hearsay. I live in Karachi, home to the most Deobandi madrassahs per square mile in the entire world. Everyone is horrified at the flagrant disregard for the sanctity of human life and the wanton killings.

    Despite the nation’s near unanimous opinions on the Qadiyani community, they are considered at the very least, “People of the Book”, like Jews, Christians, and Shi’a. Meaning, they are non-Muslim monotheists who follow a divinely revealed scripture.

    There has been no winning over of hearts by Al-Qaeda and its attacks on Shi’a and there’s no reason to think that will change with attacks on Qadiyanis.Recommend

  • STH
    Jun 6, 2010 - 12:57AM

    Despite the nation’s near unanimous opinions on the Qadiyani community, they are considered at the very least, “People of the Book”, like Jews, Christians, and Shi’a. Meaning, they are non-Muslim monotheists who follow a divinely revealed scripture

    What the HELL is that supposed to mean?? Who are you to imply Shias are non muslims monotheists and to group them in the same category as Christians and Jews. You do not know your religion and its followers at all. Shias are not just “People of the Book”. They are true Muslims.Recommend

  • maaz
    Jun 6, 2010 - 6:43PM

    i agree with STH. Shias are our muslim brothersRecommend

  • SAB
    Jun 14, 2010 - 9:47PM

    One should remember islam was not spread across the half of glob with power of sord. these were the sofi who won the hearts of nonmuslims by their acts and deedsRecommend

  • ali hamdani
    Jun 21, 2010 - 12:59PM

    @sara. Which war on terror? I think the terrorist here are trying to initiate a war within the sects by igniting hatred amongst each other. Unless we do not promote tolerance we can never win this war or be successful as a nation.Recommend

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