Attack on mobile phone outlet
The attack on a Telenor franchise outlet in Karachi that left two people dead on December 23 appears at first to be a crime without a motive. The two gunmen did not demand any money or goods, nor did they seem to be targeting any particular employee. With all the usual reasons for such an attack ruled out, the crime may have been spurred, theorised the police, by ideological reasons. The franchise is linked to a Norwegian company, and newspapers in Norway had re-published the controversial cartoons, which originally appeared in a Danish newspaper. The connection may be a tenuous one but it takes very little to spark religiously-inspired crimes in Pakistan, as the original protests against the cartoons back in 2005 showed. The spree of attacks inspired by the cartoons include the bombing of the Danish embassy in Islamabad in 2008, a letter bomb being sent to a hotel in Copenhagen in 2010 and about 100 deaths in the Muslim world attributed to riots.
Needless to say, attacks like the one on the foreign firm’s franchise are counterproductive. Like most multinational companies, it has sold the franchise for the use of its name to a local business and thus it is the local owners, and not the Norwegian conglomerate that suffered the consequences of such an attack. A similar phenomenon has been on display during anti-US protests in the country for the last decade, when protesters would make their point by torching the outlets of American fast-food companies, again not realising or caring that the restaurants themselves are owned locally by businessmen who have bought the right to operate the franchise. By resorting to violence, extremists are giving credence to those who would try to wrongly paint. Their faith as one that justifies violence. Such people do know service to Islam by their actions.