Pakistanis Blame U.S. for Taliban Terror Bombings

Many Pakistanis blame the U.S. instead of the Taliban for increased violence.

ByABC News
November 12, 2009, 7:58 AM

PESHAWAR, Pakistan Nov. 12, 2009 — -- There are no girls choosing colorful bangles, no women buying dresses anymore in the narrow, dusty, aisles of Mina bazaar, one of the few markets in this frontier town that used to cater to families.

Instead, most of the small, fragile shops are now piles of bricks, destroyed two weeks ago by a massive car bomb that gutted this crowded corner of the city. The explosion was one of the most violent acts of terrorism in Pakistan's history. The official death count was more than 110, but residents here say at least 60 more bodies were never found, obliterated in the blast.

But the depravity of a bomb clearly designed to kill as many people as possible did not stoke the city's anger at the Taliban, who have recently launched a wave of violence in and around the largest city in the country's volatile northwest.

The bomb seems to have done the opposite. Most people in this city blame the United States instead of radical Islamist militants for the increased violence. Some blame the U.S. for launching the attacks, or accuse the U.S. of pushing the Pakistani army into an operation against a Taliban that are fighting back with suicide attacks against mostly civilian targets.

In some ways, the anger at the U.S. is another example of Pakistani disenchantment with American policy that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was trying to defuse with her recent visit to Pakistan that began on the same day as the Mina bombing.

At a time when the Obama administration is debating its future policy in this region, the anger threatens to derail American counterterrorism and development efforts that U.S. officials admit can only succeed with popular support.

Shams ul Ameen, a property dealer, was walking into Mina bazaar when the bomb went off. The scene, he says, was like "doomsday." Days after the explosion, he said he found the body of a 4-year-old girl on a nearby roof.

Like many of the residents in this working class section of Peshawar, Ameen blamed a "foreign hand" for the violence, suggesting the United States, India or Afghanistan. Anyone but the Taliban.

"I don't think any Muslim could have done this. Muslims can't spill blood of Muslims," he says. "These are foreign forces. Hindus and white men together want to destroy Pakistan. This is an American trick. On the surface, they pretend to be friends, but they strike Muslims in the back."