The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Massacre: 100 Plus Shiites Murdered in Pakistan

The news out of Pakistan seems to get bloodier by the day. Taliban and Baluchi separatists targeted Shia Muslims in the lawless province of Baluchistan, taking 120 lives in a pair of bombing attacks. The FT:

A senior police officer said from Quetta that the sophistication of the attacks was “unbelievable”. In the first of the double bombings in Quetta, a suicide attacker targeted a snooker hall frequented by Shia Muslims. Shortly afterwards a car bomb exploded nearby, killing five policemen and a cameraman from a local television station, among others. [ . . . ]

“In Baluchistan, there is no government and there is no rule of law,” said Sadiq Changezi, a Quetta businessman. He lost a brother in a terror attack last summer by Sunni extremists who targeted the family’s shop in the city. “Eventually, we just had to pack up and relocate because the government could not protect us.”

Pakistan is not yet a failed state, but it is a failing one. Authorities are increasingly unwilling or unable to provide a minimal level security to citizens, and especially to religious minorities.

The rising tide of Sunni-Shia hatred from Lebanon to Pakistan is emerging as one of the most dangerous trends on the planet. The Taliban is up to its eyeballs in this murderous contest, and the tangled relationship between the Pakistani government and the Taliban makes it unlikely that there will be an effective crackdown on the group.

Atrocities like this highlight the difficulties facing the Obama administration as it looks to disengage from Afghanistan. If faced with a stark choice between maintaining a significant military presence in Afghanistan for years to come or turning the country over to murderous thugs aligned with international jihadis and terrorists it is not clear what the White House would prefer. Either choice would come at a significant cost — both at home and abroad.

Published on January 11, 2013 12:25 pm