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2002 Karachi attack on French engineers contributed to further suicide blasts in Pak?

By Abdul Nisar

Islamabad, Nov 20 (ANI): The Karachi suicide attack on French naval engineers on May 8, 2002- allegedly in retaliation against the cancelling of commissions for one of the France-Pak arms deals- could have contributed to the host of suicide blasts across the country since then, a Pakistan newspaper has said.

"The attack on the coach carrying the French personnel was blamed at the time on an extremist group. If this was not the case and quite different elements were involved, we should investigate if other acts of terrorism could have a similar background," The News reported.

"It also seems - from what we have heard so far in the matter - that this attack could have contributed to the host of suicide blasts we have seen across the country since 2002, with an acceleration seen over the past three years," it added.

It noted that while the case involving the death of 11 French nationals had attracted a great deal of publicity in France, "at home we have had deafening silence. We need to hear more about what happened. The potential fallout is grave. We must get to the bottom of the affair and consider opening up a parallel inquiry at home, so that the eight-year-old mystery can be solved."

In France, the victims' families have been calling for President Nicholas Sarkozy to testify in a matter thought to involve political corruption and kickbacks, as in 2002, he was the spokesman for then-president Jacques Chirac, who is believed to have played a key role in the matter, the paper said.

"For us in Pakistan, it is the other side of the chain of events that is of key interest. Allegations from France have implicated a certain Mr Asif Ali Zardari, a key minister in his late wife's cabinet when the Agosta submarines deal was struck during her second stint in power between 1993 and 1996," it pointed out.

"The implication is that he, and key pals, organised the attack as an act of revenge over the stoppage of kickback payments after a change of government in France - a mafia-style action aimed to ensure that promises of kickbacks were not broken. The outcome of a full investigation would be fascinating," the paper added. (ANI)

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