The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an assassination attempt on Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani. Gilani was not in the car, one of a convoy, when it was fired on by gunmen on Wednesday.
The Taliban have announced by way of a spokesman that the sniper attack was a response to military strikes against their fighters in the northwest provinces, for which they hold Gilani responsible.
Gilani is a member of the Pakistan People's Party, the same party to which Benazir Bhutto belonged. Former Prime Minister Bhutto was assassinated earlier this year. Gilani is currently leading Pakistan until the election of a president who will replace Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf resigned under pressure recently.
At the same time, reports are issuing from the northwest of a raid by U.S. or NATO forces that have left at least seven civilians dead, according to Pakistanis living in the area. U.S. military spokesmen have declined to comment on the attack. Although the attack is the first by ground forces, U.S. missile attacks have been a constant for several years.
The ousting of Musharraf's military government was perceived by the U.S. as a positive step toward controlling the activities of Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan's northwest. The events of this week suggest, however, that the underlying dynamics present during Musharraf's presidency are still present. Pakistan's government and the Taliban continue to circle each other, with neither achieving definitive victory, while independent U.S. and Coalition military moves provoke outrage among Pakistan's citizens and may fuel militants' and sympathizers' justifications for their actions.