Review on Islamic University suicide attacks

Striking Islamic University in Islamabad
Islamabad, Oct 22: On the fourth day of the South Waziristan offensive by the Pakistan Army, the terrorist suicide-bombers decided to strike at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, killing six, out of whom three were girls. Heeding the message, the federal government and the provinces have closed down all educational institutions for five days, after which some decisive developments are expected.

The attack on the university reveals the changing temperament of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its increasing desperation. The University is a centre of the study of sharia and is staffed in such a way that a worldwide perspective on the Islamic way of life becomes available to Pakistani students. It has featured renowned foreign scholars on its faculty and is highly regarded in the Islamic world.

But the TTP signature is crying out to be noticed. The girls, most of them observing hijab, have been targeted. In this sense, the attack is of a piece with the attacks on girls' schools elsewhere in the country by the Taliban. From a recorded past of approval, the terrorists have moved to disapproval of the University. Since it is funded by Pakistan's friendly Arab states and is located right next to the Saudi-built Faisal Mosque, the attack also contains a message from Al Qaeda. All bets, it appears, are off.

The students of the Islamic University expressed their view of the government by pelting stones at the car of the interior minister, Mr Rehman Malik, as he arrived to review the scene of bombing. This was a leftover from the settled understanding they had of the government. It might change in the coming days as they review their opinion of the TTP and Al Qaeda. But the question to be asked here - and in other universities - is: will the campuses undergo a change of mind?

When the Islamic University was set up, one teacher sent by Saudi Arabia to teach here was Professor Abdullah Azzam, a renowned Palestinian scholar who also ran the famous Saudi humanitarian organisation Rabita al-Alam al-Islami, which had an office in Islamabad. Mr Azzam also laid the foundation of Al Qaeda in Peshawar, not as a terrorist organisation but as an Islamic response to the Soviet incursion in Afghanistan. He was killed in Peshawar but his legacy has remained a part of Al Qaeda.

It is significant that a TTP group of terrorists that killed a number of khassadars, or local levies, during the month of Ramazan in Khyber called itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigade. Is it a lapse of memory on the part of the terrorists that they have attacked a university where Prof Azzam taught once and to whom the leaders of such organisations as Harkatul Mujahideen and various Lashkars owe allegiance? One can only put it down to an act of desperation. And it must cost the TTP a lot of support.

Those who have held exchanges of views with the Islamic University will remember that its students did not share the generally liberal outlook that characterises Pakistani society. In this they are in tune with views held in most universities of Pakistan where religious parties have almost a permanent influence. In Pakistan's education system, the madrassas and the universities are close in their worldview. In the middle, among the schools and colleges, is where the typical middle-of-road Pakistani view - backed by our non-religious political parties - is still prevalent.

The TTP may be about to lose the support at campuses where most students tended to look at them positively and were in favour of "talks" with the Taliban, adhering to the stance adopted by Jama'at-e Islami and Tehreek-e-Insaf. A glimpse of this was offered by the Punjab University where the vice-chancellor led a march of protesting boys and girls against Tuesday's outrage at the Islamabad Islamic University. Daily times

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Bombing at male, female campuses of Islamic university
Islamabad: Several months ago, I was invited to speak at a seminar at the women's campus of the International Islamic University (IIU). It was, to say at the least, a memorable experience. I came to the unfortunate realisation that I too was a prejudiced individual after I compared my expectations to what I saw there.

I expected a strict, stifling academic atmosphere that would be pervading the air in a sea of burqas. It was none of those things; the only cliché present was my pre-conceived notion, sadly with what could be called new neo-colonial mindset of the modernist Muslim despite his/her good intentions. The female students there were animated, gutsy and held intellectual discourse with vigour.

Most striking was the plurality of the female campus of the IIU; the girls there chose their own identities and wore what they liked (with even the occasional moderate western wear). The segregation hadn't created an artificial environment; the students were free to be their own selves without the social mores that come into play when the genders mix.

When I heard of the bombing at both the male and female campuses of the IIU, I was deeply saddened. I continue to wonder how urban apologists for the Taliban will spin this one. In all likelihood they won't, they will pretend it never happened. Rehman Malik is already at the blame game, claiming the problem was a lapse in university security. Since when have universities become experts in counter-terrorism is beyond me. He chose to ignore the obvious, which is that his ministry miscalculated when it thought schools were under threat and advised to shut them down instead of including universities on the list as well.

While the PPP maybe an abject failure in governing this nation, our only alternative is proving to be a duplicitous man preaching a hollow holier-than-thou tirade. Nawaz Sharif won't answer questions about the Taliban, nor will he back the army into a war it has been slow to engage in.

After the IIU bombing, what else is it that the Taliban can do to prove to Nawaz Sharif that they are entirely Godless? The left will quote Chomsky, Pilger and others to explain the social conditions that lead to movements like the Taliban, in effect intellectually justifying their methods. There is no denying the areas that have spawned this collective deserved better. But then, frankly, what are the redeeming features of the Taliban, if any? Explaining their background cannot, and does not, mitigate their callousness or inhumanity.

Muted defenses of the Taliban always argue that one should not attempt to wipe them out because they are Muslims, 'well intentioned' but deviant. But what is odd that it seems the Taliban have no such qualms, having relegated everyone but themselves into the pit of infidels.

For a long time now, there has been no room left for understanding and compassion. It is time to demonise them. General discourse and the media need to paint them as the new infidels. The kid gloves need to come off; the right wing of this country has to treat them with the same disdain and suggestions of all-encompassing evil that they reserve for USA, India and Israel.

To be a member of the Taliban should be an unequivocal slur, it needs to have shame. In the battle for minds, maybe the same misdirected and spontaneous anger that creates mobs in streets against people (usually religious minorities) for alleged blasphemy should be aimed at people who collaborate with these murderers. It's no less a grave blasphemy to kill and maim innocent girls in an overtly Islamic university in the name of the Prophet (PBUH).

But no, we have one standard for the Taliban and another for people who mark their heads with red dots and adorn their necks with crosses. This is the crux of our problem, not military might against the hordes of barbarians inside our gates. -Fasi Zaka, (The news)

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Staff's bravery saved scores of lives at varsity
Islamabad: The courage shown by two unsung heroes, including one who lost his life during the two suicide bombings in the International Islamic University (IIU), saved lives of hundreds of girl students in the institution's cafeteria on Tuesday.

Pervez Masih, a 40-year-old Christian worker, saved scores of lives at the double-storey cafeteria, where around 400 female students were present at the time of the attack.

"There would have been dozens of deaths had the suicide bomber not been blocked by Pervez Masih," said Saifur Rehman, a senior security official of the IIU.

The other hero, Mohammad Shaukat, survived the attack but he is fighting for his life on a bed in the surgical ward of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, as a shot fired by the suicide bomber hit him in lower abdomen.

Narrating the scene of the suicide attack on the cafeteria for women, Shaukat said that: "The attacker clad in a black burka was heading towards the cafeteria for female students at a time when they were having their lunch. I felt something wrong as no girl student, even one who observes veil, wears a head-to-toe burka on the women campus. I intercepted the bomber, who shot me, and I fell down but Pervez, who witnessed the scene, understood the designs of suicide bomber and held him at the entrance of the dining hall where the blast took place."

Organs and flesh of the suicide bomber littered the entrance area and Pervez was thrown at the wall on the other side of the dining hall, said another eye-witness.

Pervez Masih, who leaves behind a three-year-old daughter and a widow, had joined the IIU on October 5. He was not only the sole breadwinner of his family, who live with him in a rented house in Dhoke Kala Khan, Rawalpindi.

"He was very simple and, by nature, he was quite different from others workers in the university," said Amjad, the contractor (employer) who inducted Pervez Masih in his workforce on daily basis.

Two suicide attacks took place in two separate blocks of the IIU on Tuesday, killing seven people. Three girl students and the Christian worker died in the cafeteria, while three people, including two male students, died in the main block for men.

The university administration announced that it would extend monetary assistance to the bereaved family of Pervez Masih and injured Shaukat for the courage they showed in the tragic events in the international educational institution.

IIU President Dr Anwar Hussain Siddiqui in a press conference said there was no prior threat to the university and even then "best available" security had been provided. Dawn

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IIUI to observe 'Yaum-e-Tahafuz-e-Pakistan'
Islamabad: International Islamic University Islamabad (IIU) will observe 'Yaum-e-Tahafuz-e-Pakistan' on October 26 to pay homage to those killed in suicide attacks in the university.

Students and staff will hold a rally on the occasion while flower wreaths would be laid on the two places which were attacked.

IIUI President Dr Anwar Hussain Siddiqui announced this on Wednesday during a press conference. He said the university would also hold Qura'an Khawani on Friday at Faisal Mosque for the departed souls. app

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IIUI blasts FIR registered
Islamabad: Sabzi Mandi police have registered a case against unknown suicide attackers and terrorists for carrying out two blasts at International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI). A police official said that the FIR was lodged under sections 302, 324, 427, 109 PPC and 7 ATA (Anti-Terrorist Act) on the behalf of SHO Muhammad Hussain Lasi.

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Breakthrough in IIUI bombing probe
Islamabad: Inspector General of Police (IGP) Syed Kaleem Imam on Wednesday claimed that investigators had made breakthrough in investigation of two suicide attacks on International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI).

Talking to journalists at Police Lines after passing out parade of anti-terrorist squad, the IGP said investigators had got some crucial clues about the suicide blasts. "The blasts were carried out in a patron similar to terrorist activities in near past," he said.

Imam said suicide bombers aged from 18 to 20. Security of the capital would be enhanced and more pickets would be set up, he said. Daily times

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