Some Food For Thought

On Tuesday, October 5, 2009 a suicide bomber attacked the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) in Islamabad, Pakistan. As a result, five people were killed, all Pakistani WFP workers, and at least six people were injured. According to the television network, Express 24/7, at least 80 people were in the building at the time of the explosion. The explosion took place in the reception area of the building. The suicide bomber was dressed Monday as a security office was allowed to enter the WFP offices. He bypassed the normal security procedures after asking the guards outside if he could use the bathroom; he then detonated 18 pounds of explosives.

As a result the Pakistani government has increased its security systems, closed down the WFP offices, and increased the number of checkpoints. Interior Minister Rehman Malik reported to The Los Angeles Times that he warned all international governmental agencies and offices that threats were made and an attack might happen soon. The guards at the WFP building are hired by a private Pakistani security firm. "We have private security guards who are not terribly skilled and very low-paid," Susan Manuel, the spokeswoman for the UN office in Islamabad said in the LA Times.

The WFP has been present in Pakistan since 1968, investing more than $1.5 billion. WFP is part of the United Nations system. WFP has reached more than two million displaced people since fighting resumed in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province in May 2009.

The WFP reports that 84.7 percent of Pakistanis live on $2 a day. One third of Pakistan's population lives below the poverty line. This poverty results in poor health, affecting mainly women and children. The WFP's main program, called the Country Programme, aims to help mostly women and girls with educational opportunities and health concerns. They want to give girls the opportunity to go to and stay in school. One issue the Taliban may have with the WFP is regarding women. Taliban treat women poorly, seeing them as inferior. The WFP wants to give women opportunity to take more control of their lives through education and health.

The WFP was one of the best protected UN centers in all of Pakistan. According to Issam Ahmed in The Christian Science Monitor, the attack was the first major terrorist attack in Pakistan after a two-month break that followed the death of Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud. Some government officials and analysts said that this attack may have been carried out by militants seeking to avenge the death of Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud. They were right.

The Taiban militants claimed responsibility Tuesday, October 6th, for this deadly suicide bombing at the UN WFP. Taliban Spokesman, Azam Tariq, confirmed this group was being the bombing in phone conversation with The Associated Press.  He said, "we proudly claim the responsibility for the suicide bombing at the UN office in Islamabad. We will send more bombers for such attacks. The UN and other foreign aid groups are not working for the interest of Muslims. We are watching their activities. They are infidels."