Everyone analyzing the bombing of the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine as “extremists against Sufism” is totally missing the point. This is about the game of influence in Afghanistan, a game which Pakistan and India have not yet given up. The recent spate of bombings is either a message to Pakistan — don’t mess with us or we’ll create havoc — or a ploy to force us to the negotiation table. We know that homegrown terrorist networks exist in Pakistan. But we also know that they operate on money, not ideology, and that they can be sold to the highest bidder for the right price. Any idealistic portrayal of this as a battle for the soul of Pakistan is romanticizing a very ugly, long-standing and utterly cynical power game that has been going on since the British lost in Afghanistan back in 1842.