A rather cruel welcome awaited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she started her visit to Islamabad. A car bomb ripped through a market in the frontier city of Peshawar, killing over 90 people and wounding nearly 200. One can only speculate if the timing of the bombing was merely coincidental or designed to convey a message to the United States. Despite the loss of life, the brazenness of this particular attack was not especially spectacular. Earlier this month, Islamist militants struck at the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army, killing several military personnel. They also attacked a police station in Lahore, the capital of the state of Punjab.
These attacks have two common features. At one level, they are becoming increasingly daring and violent. At another, they also reflect the hardening of anti-American sentiment within the country ranging from the virulent Islamist organizations to the military. The military establishment, while eagerly seeking military assistance from the United States, has also stepped up its anti-American rhetoric for its own reasons. It is dismayed that the recently authorized Kerry-Lugar legislation actually calls upon it to make some changes in its feckless dalliance with Islamists, its unwillingness to come clean on nuclear proliferation, and its intransigence toward India.
– Sumit Ganguly is a professor of political science and director of research at the Center for American and Global Security at Indiana University, Bloomington.