World View: Suicide Attack in Pakistan Means No Politician Is Safe

Malik Ishaq
The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Tianjin explosion poses new threats to China’s government
  • Suicide attack in Pakistan means no politician is safe

Tianjin explosion poses new threats to China’s government

Picture shows huge crater where explosions took place, with apartment buildings nearby (Reuters)
Picture shows huge crater where explosions took place, with apartment buildings nearby (Reuters)

China is overdue for its next “people’s rebellion,” and so nothing frightens Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials more than angry people. And the Chinese people are expressing fury over last week’s massive industrial explosion in Tianjin, and the stonewalling by officials.

Last Wednesday’s series of explosions killed at least 112 people. More than 700 have hospitalized, and dozens are still missing. Dozens of the dead are firefighters who sprayed water on a warehouse to put out the fire, and apparently ignited an explosion when the water mixed with calcium carbide.

On Friday, there were reports that the warehouse contained between 100 and 700 tons of sodium cyanide. Sodium cyanide can be “rapidly fatal” if it’s inhaled or ingested. If it’s dissolved or burned, then it gives off the highly poisonous gas hydrogen cyanide. Regulations permit only 10 tons of sodium cyanide to be stored in a warehouse. If there is a rainstorm before these chemicals are cleaned up, then there could be many further deaths.

As usual in Chinese society, the disaster exposed massive corruption. All of these dangerous chemicals were stored close to a high-rise apartment complex, in violation of Chinese law. This is raising speculation about possible corruption and criminal negligence, and an official cover-up.

In fact, CCP officials are actively trying to cover up the situation by suppressing news. There was a televised press conference on Friday, but the coverage cut away when questions were about to begin. Journalists who attended the press conferences said that propaganda officials gave no answers to questions, beyond “Let me check.” Security personnel were physically harassing foreign media trying to speak to family members of the missing. Some people were joking that local television in Tianjin was showing cartoons during much of the crisis.

There are still hundreds of firefighters trying to put out the still smoldering fire in Tianjin.

At the same time, Chinese authorities are trying to put out a raging fire in online social media. Online users are furious at CCP officials because family members are not being told anything and official negligence is being covered up. Posted messages called the situation “A real life Pinocchio,” and demanded the truth, as well as severe punishment for responsible officials.

The widespread criticism is casting doubt on the credibility of the CCP, something that officials fear very much. And this disaster comes just as China’s economy is slowing and the stock market bubble is collapsing. This is a potent combination for social discord. Globe and Mail (Toronto) and BBC and AP

Suicide attack in Pakistan means no politician is safe

Two suicide bombers were used on Sunday to target Shuja Khanzada, a senior government official, Home Minister of Punjab province in Pakistan. Khanzada was holding a Jirga (meeting) in his home with about 100 people. One suicide bomber stood outside the home, and the other went inside in the meeting. The resulting explosions caused the large concrete slabs that made up the roof to collapse, trapping people inside. Khanzada and 17 others were killed, while dozens were injured.

Several terrorist groups claimed responsibility, but the most likely perpetrator was Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ). I’ve written about LeJ many times. It is dedicated to the extermination of all Shia Muslims, especially the Hazara ethnic group.

Late in July, LeJ’s leader Malik Ishaq was killed in gunfight while he was in police custody. It’s believed that the gunfight was a setup by the police to allow them to kill Ishaq, rather than return him to jail.

Shuja Khanzada has been vigorously attacking militant groups in Punjab province, so an attack on him is not a surprise. However, this attack may have occurred at this time because of the perception that Khanzada was responsible for Ishaq’s death.

What is remarkable is that Khanzada was certainly going to be targeted by militants, and yet had no protection at all, since two suicide bombers had no trouble approaching him.

Sunday’s attack sends an unmistakable message to Pakistan’s political leadership across the country that no one is safe. If there are other successful operations targeting terrorist or extremist groups, then they can and will retaliate. There is no safe ground, and no one is safe. Pakistan Today and Express Tribune (Pakistan)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Pakistan, Punjab, Shuja Khanzada, Lashkar-e Jhangvi, LeJ, Malik Ishaq, China, Tianjin, Chinese Communist Party, CCP, calcium carbide, sodium cyanide, hydrogen cyanide
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