Here’s a news item from The New York Times yesterday:
Two Taliban suicide bombers caused carnage on Sunday at a Sufi shrine in eastern Pakistan, killing at least 41 people and wounding scores in the latest bloody attack on minority religious groups.
Here’s a news report from The Financial Times from (roughly) four years ago:
Almost 80 people died in a reported truck bomb attack on a Shia mosque in Baghdad on Tuesday, hours after 10,000 US troops launched a hunt for al-Qaeda militants in the province of Diyala – one of the largest offensives since the US-led invasion in 2003.
What do these two bombings have in common, aside from murderous religious fundamentalism?
In both instances, countless copies of the Koran — the holy book of Islam — were burned to a crisp.
It goes without saying that there were no wild protests about either of these acts of Koran-burning. Outraged mobs apparently only become homicidal when a nitwit preacher from Florida holds a Koran-burning ceremony to get himself some face time on CNN.
As it happens, when the preacher in question — Terry Jones — held his little bonfire of the Koran on March 20th, the media wouldn’t even cover it. Yesterday’s news. He had to film it himself and put it up on YouTube.
No one watched it there, either.
One person who did watch it, however, was Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. The AfPak Channel reports on what happened next:
In fact, the conflagration of April 1 likely would not have happened had it not been for President Karzai himself, who drew attention to the little known event on March 24 when he issued a press release in which he called the immolation of the Quran “a crime against a religion and entire Muslim umma [community].” He further called for the U.S. and U.N. to “bring to justice the perpetrators of this crime.”
Despite the condemnation of U.S. civilian and military leadership, Karzai continues to stoke the sentiments of Afghanistan’s uninformed masses and goad entrepreneurs of death of violence into further murderous action.
Karzai’s various demands for Pastor Jones be brought to justice are simply bizarre. Karzai knows full well that Mr. Jones committed no crime in the United States and Afghanistan has no jurisdiction over the dubious pastor and his firepit. Some countries such as the United Kingdom have denied Jones entry into their country, which is an entirely appropriate, sovereign response. Other countries could certainly follow suit justifiably.
It is very difficult not to conclude that Karzai chose to pursue a path of deadly controversy to demonstrate his strategic independence from the very country that continues to pay the vast majority of all of his bills while his coterie of supporters loot his country’s coffers. According to the recently downsized U.S. defence budget, American taxpayers will still pay about $300 million per day for the military effort in Afghanistan alone. For all operations in the country, the United States is expected to spend about $17 billion in Fiscal Year 2011 alone. This is in addition to the 1,461 US soldiers killed and countless more injured in Afghanistan since 2001. Needless to say, many more Afghan civilians and security forces have died in the same period, as have U.S. civilians as well as coalition military and civilian personnel. In 2010, more than 2,777 civilians were killed.
If you’re looking for someone to blame for the Mazar massacre, the conventional media wisdom fingers Terry Jones as the match that lit the fire. But the man who struck the match was Hamid Karzai. And he’s our guy in Afghanistan.
President Obama needs to reconvene his Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy group. The current arrangement is never going to work.
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