Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Plugging the gender gap: female suicide bombers attack Pakistan

The two suicide bombs on Tuesday at the International Islamic University in Islamabad, Pakistan, have set numerous precedents (Click here for coverage in Urdu).  The attacks left three female students and three others dead. Another 25 female students are gravely injured. As a precautionary measure all academic institutions in Pakistan have been shut down. Pakistan is officially in a state of war.

The blasts took place in the building shown below, which was was being guarded by the security officials after the attacks: Just another example of acting too late.



The first precedent set by the suicide attacks at the University is that this is a first documented (if not the first ever) case of a female suicide bomber who blew herself in the cafeteria reserved for women in the University, which segregates male and female students.

Furthermore, the attack targeted female students, which is also a first in Pakistan. The other bomb, which may not have been a suicide blast, targeted the faculty members in the Shariah faculty, which again is a new precedent, which demonstrates that the proponents of the Saudi inspired Shariah could also become a target of violence in Pakistan. The past experiences have been that of violence perpetrated by the pro-Shariah quarters in Pakistan.

These attacks are first major attacks on a Saudi Arabian interest in Pakistan. The earlier similar attacks have targeted Iran-funded Shiite seminaries in Pakistan. The International Islamic University is a conservative, religiously inspired University with a very modern infrastructure that was built with Saudi funds in the 80s in Islamabad.


The University offers programs in law and business as well as teaching the traditional religious curriculum. The University attracts students from all over the world and has harbored extremist (but non-violent) views in the past.  Recent attempts to modernize the University have met with some success.


Female students at the University (

The 7th Convocation at the University was recently addressed by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yousaf Raza Gilani.


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