The bomb attack on the Danish embassy killed six people and wounded nearly 30 in Islamabad yesterday, [see yesterday’s post]. Although the blast appeared to target the embassy, [a car bearing a fake diplomatic license plate reportedly held about 55 pounds of explosives], no Danish citizens were killed or injured, reported BBC News. Instead the majority of the dead were Pakistanis, including two policemen, a cleaner at the embassy and a handyman. The attack was quickly condemned by the obvious parties – Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the bombing “cowardly” and affirmed it would not change Denmark’s policies, while The News quoted White House spokeswoman Dana Perino telling reporters, “We condemn the terrorist attack, there is no justification for it…The president has been briefed, he offers his condolences to victims of violence and their families…” Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir expressed a similar sentiment in his statements, noting, “The president, the prime minister, as well as the foreign minister, have all very strongly condemned this terrorist attack… and our hearts go out to the families of the victims.”
Although officials made the expected remarks following the bombing – condemning the attack, offering condolences, and affirming that they were not caving to terrorist threats – I feel that the government lost an opening to take a stronger stand against Islamist militancy. Although the perpetrators seemed to be targeting foreign nationals, Pakistani civilians were the victims. They were not just collateral damage – they were innocent people whose families will mourn their passing. They were the faceless casualties of yet another attack in Pakistan. This fact should also have been addressed in Pakistani official statements to delegitimize this militant ideology. This incident presented an opportunity not only to showcase the holes in extremist militant rhetoric, but to distance ourselves further from the perpetrators of such crimes. Our government should emphasize that these groups are not friends of Pakistan, are not within our definition of what it means to be Muslim, and furthermore, are hopefully not the same people that we are negotiating with.