At a political rally on the northwest Pakistan-Afghanistan border, a suicide bomber blew himself killing 44 people at 4 p.m. on the 30th of July 2023. The incident also caused serious injuries to 200 others in the Bajaur district, northwestern Pakistan. Local politicians have gone to war to paint the incident as a political upfront against Pakistan’s Islamist groups. The overall situation resembles that of Western parts of Asia, where one ‘peaceful’ kills another ‘peaceful’.
The Bajaur district, located near the Afghan border, is an erstwhile stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. The Pakistani army drove away the militants from the region. The supporters of the political leader Fazlur Rehman, a hard-line cleric of the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) party, were holding a rally outside the district capital of Bajaur. Reports claim that Rehman was not at the rally. However, the event was attended by a large number of supporters.
The blast occurred after the arrival of Abdul Rasheed, another leader of the JUI, was announced. The bomber detonated the explosives attached to his vests close to the stage, killing a member of the JUI party. Initial reports suggest that a sister group of ISIS which operates in Afghanistan is responsible for the attack. This group is portrayed as the enemy of the Afghan Taliban. However, the investigations into the incident are still in process.
In a public statement, Pakistan’s PM Shehbaz Sharif and President Arif Alvi condemned the suicide attack. They also reassured all possible assistance to the bereaved families as well as the injured locals. Furthermore, the Pakistani government has assured proper investigation and inquiry into the terror attack. The JUI party members have declared the 44 dead as ‘martyrs’. Moreover, they have stated that such incidents do not scare the party members from participating in the upcoming elections in the nation.
The TTP or Pakistani Taliban states that the incident was used as a trigger to make Islamists fight with each other.
Zabiullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Afghan Taliban, said that such mindless terrorist activities are not justifiable. After the coup in Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban; the TTP has unilaterally challenged the authority of the Pakistan government. They have ended the cease-fire with Pakistan and have unleashed terror attacks across the country.
Speculations on the political ramifications of the bombing are on the high. The incident came hours before the Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng arrived in Islamabad. This incident stains the upcoming celebration of 10 years of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC. This corridor is a cooperation of the two nations through which Pakistan has accessed billions of dollars from Beijing. Moreover, the cooperation has allowed Pakistan to take heavy loans from the PRC.
However, the corridor is only complete in parts and parcels in the last 10 years. The rising insurgency in the region has made this venture a loss-making investment of the CCP of China. The recent economic crisis in Pakistan has decreased its dependability in the eyes of the CCP. Thus, this incident may further discourage China’s faith in the Pakistani administration.