Thu, May 26, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Pakistan Taliban claims explosion at police station

WIKILEAKS:A diplomatic cable revealed US concern that Pakistani officers were biased against the US despite generous military aid of more than US$20bn

Reuters, PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN

A suicide bomber drove an -explosives-packed car into a police station yesterday as the Taliban intensified attacks against Pakistan’s security forces after the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

At least five policemen and a soldier were killed in the attack in Peshawar. The Pakistani Taliban said it was responsible.

The militants, allied with al-Qaeda, have vowed to avenge bin Laden’s killing by US forces in a Pakistani town on May 2.

“We will continue attacks on security forces until an Islamic system is implemented in Pakistan, because the Pakistani system is un-Islamic,” Pakistan Taliban spokesman Ehsanhullah Ehsan said, adding that the attack was also in revenge for bin Laden’s death.

The blast came two days after a brazen Taliban raid on a heavily guarded naval base in Karachi that killed 10 military personnel and destroyed two aircraft.

The police station, in a military neighborhood, houses an office of the Criminal Investigation Department, which is responsible for investigating Islamist militants.

There is also a training -facility for special forces and officers’ residences nearby.

A 2008 US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks revealed US concern that officers at a prestigious army institution were largely biased against the US, a key ally that has given Pakistan more than US$20 billion in aid over the past decade, about two-thirds of it military.

The military is also facing accusations of either incompetence, or possible complicity, after it became clear that bin Laden had been hiding out in Abbottabad, a garrison town north of the capital, for several years before he was shot dead by US forces.

After bin Laden’s killing, some Pakistanis have questioned whether the funding for the military is really worth it. Pakistan spent 442.2 billion rupees (US$5.15 billion), about 20 percent of its budget, on defense last year — an increase of 17 percent from the year before.

This year it plans to spend 495 billion rupees (US$5.76 billion), officials say.

“To me, it defies logic for allocating so much on defense,” said Asad Shafqat, a banker in Karachi.

Experts, however, said changes in defense spending were unlikely.

“The balance between defense and social development has to change, but I don’t see that happening in the short-term,” said Shafqat Mahmood, a political analyst based in Lahore. “Recent events have shown that we have to improve our defense and vulnerabilities.”

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