Representatives from the International Red Cross confirmed that a bombing attack by American plane resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians including women and children. Photos obtained by the Associated Press showed villagers burying the dead while others worked through rubble in search of other bodies. International Red Cross spokesperson, Jessica Barry said: “there were bodies, there were graves, and there were people burying bodies when we were there. We did confirm women and children.” Villagers claimed they placed women, children and the elderly in several compounds to protect them from fighting between Coalition/US forces and the Taliban. For some reason, the compounds were blasted by American planes.
The increased strength of the Taliban leads inevitably to the use of air attacks called in by American and Coalition forces who feel overwhelmed. President Karzai of Afghanistan has been complaining for months these air attacks only result in providing support for the Taliban since villagers can not understand whey they suffer when fighting breaks out.
Ahmed Rashid, writing from Pakistan told Der Spiegel there were rumors circulating concerning who was behind the bombings at Benazir Bhutto’s return which left at least 120 dead. Although, she was told by the nation’s security there was a risk of violence if she had an open parade, Bhutto insisted on showing herself to adoring crowds. “She had to show the whole country that she had many supporters and followers,” says Rashid. She was also sending a message to President Musharraf that she had greater popularity among the masses of Pakistanis. Rashid says it is unclear who was behind the bombings, but “there is speculation that the attack was not carried out by Islamists, but by certain groups within the regime who don’t want Bhutto in the country.” Although over 20,000 soldiers were sent to protect the parade, many of them came from the provinces where there is intense dislike of Bhutto.
The bombings undoubtedly will impact the election process. Many people will avoid attending political events fearing their lives might be endangered. This means less open political discussion in Pakistan. An outside observer might raise a simple question: who benefits by lack of political discussion? President Musharraf is not the most popular person to many Pakistanis and he most probably benefits by reducing opportunities for open and frank discussion.