A suicide bomber took his own life along with around 60 others near the Indo-Pakistani border early Sunday morning, November 2, 2014. The attack came shortly after the conclusion of a daily ceremony where troops from both sides lower their nation’s flags in honor of those who have fallen in recent and past conflicts.
The bomber himself was located in a car about 500 meters from the border on the Pakistani side. No Indian troops were hurt in the incident.
Shortly following its conclusion, the Pakistan-based militant group named Jundallah, a Pakistani Taliban splinter group, took credit for the attack. Attached below is a video of a traditional flag-lowering ceremony on the Wagah border:
The attack comes during a period of escalating tensions between the two rival nations. Following Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move in August to cancel planned talks with Pakistan (with the initial hope of renewing dialogue between the two), tensions along the Indo-Pakistan border have dramatically increased. Earlier this month, Pakistani and Indian forces fired over the border, killing nine civilians and injuring dozens more. In the aftermath of the attack, both parties blamed the other for initiating the violence.
However, while the blast did target Pakistanis supporting their country at the Wagah border, some believe that it also sent a message to India in regards to their border security: these militant groups have the ability to attack the country right at their doorstep.
Shivam Vij, a writer for the Scroll News Network, believes this attack (which took place less than a few hundred meters away from the Indian border) drew similarities between the dreadful terrorist attacks that took place in Mumbai a few years ago.
Those attacks, which were carried out in November 2008, occurred when ten Pakistani citizens landed in Mumbai via boat and conducted a series of widespread violent incursions throughout the city over a span of three days. By the conclusion of the attacks, only one gunmen remained alive and the death toll stood at 164 with hundreds injured. Following Pakistan’s failure to bring the perpetrators to justice (after arresting 20 suspects within Pakistan who were related to the aggression), Vij claims that India has been hesitant to buy into Pakistan's continued narrative to other nations that they are the biggest victims of terrorism.
Vij commented on Twitter:
Narendra Modi's short-sighted Pakistan policy has only served to re-internationalise Kashmir http://t.co/B4hebyfMWW
— Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) November 4, 2014
As a result, Vij believes that more extremists will begin to look at India as a target and that the Wagah attack exposed fundamental flaws in India’s border security.
In fact, according to the India Times, the bombing was originally meant to hit the Indian side of the border but exploded in Pakistan due to a miscalculation. The bomb had exploded only a day before hundreds of Sikh pilgrims were to cross the border in order to celebrate Guru Nanak’s birthday. According to experts in New Delhi, the bomber may have had this event in mind as a target before he had detonated the explosives in Pakistan.
This “clear message” to India was further materialized a few days after the article’s publication, when a spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan tweeted that India was indeed their next target:
This attack is an open message to both governments across the border,” Ehsan Allah Ehsan, a Taliban spokesman, tweeted. “You [Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi] are the killer of hundreds of Muslims. We will take the revenge of innocent people of Kashmir and Gujarat.
While the tweet was removed from Ehsan’s page the following morning, he re-tweeted numerous articles detailing the Taliban’s threats throughout the day.
However, some still believe that the true intentions of militant groups like the Taliban and Jundallah are to ignite tensions between India and Pakistan. Matt Schiavenza, a writer for Defense One (a newspaper that focuses on delivering breaking analysis and ideas on topics that concern US national security and defense), pointed to the fact that the attack incidentally took place on one of the world’s most unstable borders. While he acknowledges that India and Pakistan have attempted to stabilize relations in the past, Schiavenza points towards the 500,000 troops that India reportedly keeps stationed in the Kashmir region in case of an attack.
In light of the recent bombings, Twitter has also gone ablaze with harsh criticism of the increased tensions along the border.
Adnan Rehmat, a political analyst from Pakistan, is appalled by the violent clashes between the two countries and believes that a diplomatic solution must be found:
— Adnan Rehmat (@adnanrehmat1) November 3, 2014
Some, such as Ravi Kumar Jha, simply expressed their sorrows at the atrocity:
— Ravi Kumar Jha (@rrraaavvviii) November 3, 2014
Latest developments indicate that Indian border security around the area has been tightened and that land trade between the countries has also temporarily halted. While it is unclear what next steps either Pakistan or India will take to secure their borders, their allied nations can only hope that the conflict does not escalate any further.