The Associated Press reports fifty people were killed by suicide bombers in Pakistan on Monday, along with over a hundred injuries. The target was a tribal meeting, held inside a government compound, to discuss the formation of an anti-Taliban militia in the region. Among the dead are tribal elders, police officials, civilians, and journalists. A similar attack killed 67 people last month.
The bombers wore vests filled with bullets to cause maximum carnage, and were disguised as tribal police officials. Eyewitnesses said body parts were scattered across the compound.
There are some things the Taliban didn’t have to deal with, when they planned this operation. They didn’t concern themselves with the laws of war, and made no effort to reduce civilian casualties – in fact, the attack was designed to maximize them. The lack of precision in their weapons was not a problem.
They didn’t think twice about the Geneva Conventions, or ensure their operatives were clearly identifiable as uniformed soldiers with clear allegiance.
The Taliban had absolutely no fear of their operational communications being exposed on a web site by self-appointed crusaders for truth. Even if such an exposure took place, Taliban leadership is not terribly concerned about the disapproval of the international community. They spend little time worrying about what U.N. functionaries, American political operatives, or outspoken celebrities think. They’re not afraid of negative portrayal in a string of big-budget movie flops, which Hollywood would keep pumping out with grim determination, no matter how much money they lose.
Before authorizing this murderous attack, the Taliban did not wonder if it was a disproportionate use of force, or agonize about whether the paperwork for a declaration of total war was correctly filed with the appropriate Pakistani and international bureaucracies. They didn’t ask the government of Pakistan where it would be permissible for them to strike.
No prisoners were taken in this engagement. If any had been taken, the Taliban would not have spent millions providing them with comfortable accommodations and fulfilling their demands for religious materials of their choice. They wouldn’t have provided tours of their POW facilities, or tolerated hysterical propaganda about them from human rights groups. They most certainly would not have paid for expensive, internationally televised court proceedings, allowed incompetent prosecutors and slick defense lawyers to beat charges against their captives, or released prisoners to return to the battlefield. No Taliban official has rushed to the cameras to denounce their own soldiers as “Nazis” for their “brutal” treatment of war prisoners.
To date, Taliban leaders have not announced a timetable for withdrawal from Pakistan.