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Taliban’s Swift Response to the Death of Baitullah Mehsud

Today gunmen in Pakistan have killed up to 39 people in attacks on the Pakistan security services.

These most recent attacks have seen gunmen storming security installations in Lahore and a suicide bombing in the north-western town of Kohat.

These were allegedly carried out by the Taliban in revenge for the US missile strike that killed their leader Baitullah Mehsud in August of this year. These follow a spate of attacks throughout Pakistan, which are becoming increasingly brazen and have left up to 100 dead in the past two weeks alone.
What is most concerning about these attacks is they are show a resilient response to the death of one of their top commanders, demonstrating their ability to quickly regroup after such a setback. They also suggest the Taliban is becoming increasingly brazen by setting their sights at the security services, rather than the “softer” option of civilian targets.

Furthermore, Lahore and other towns throughout the Punjab had until recently maintained a level of relative stability, but are now increasingly becoming the target of such attacks, with three occurring in Lahore alone this year. Some have suggested that the Punjab is becoming a new front line in Pakistan’s fight against militancy.

As Pakistan’s cultural capital, instability in and around Lahore has enormous implications for the rest of the country. A security official in May said, “Whoever wants to destabilise the country or the government, would go after Lahore.”

The government’s response seems to reiterate this and Interior Minister Rehman Malik has recently been quoted as saying “All roads lead to South Waziristan…now the government has no choice but to launch an offensive.”

Here is a reminder of the major attacks in Pakistan since Oct. 5 (h/t to The Long War Journal):

Oct. 15, 2009:
Terrorist assault teams attacked the Federal Investigation Agency building, the Manawan police training centre, and the Elite Force Headquarters in Lahore.

Oct. 15, 2009:
A suicide bomber rammed a car into a police station in Kohat, killing eight people, including policemen and children.

Oct. 12, 2009:
A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives as a military convoy passed through a checkpoint in a market in Alpuri in Shangla. Forty-one people, including six security personnel, were killed in the attack.

Oct. 10, 2009:
An assault team attacked the Army General Headquarters and took 42 security personnel captive. Eleven soldiers were killed, including a brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel, along with nine members of the assault team; and 39 hostages were freed.

Oct. 9, 2009:
A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives in a bazaar in Peshawar, killing 49 civilians.

Oct. 5, 2009:
A suicide bomber entered the World Food Program office in Islamabad and detonated his vest, killing five UN workers, including an Iraqi.

This article was written by Charlie Pembroke

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