Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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Looming threat of terrorism

Shujaat Hamza

A new wave of terrorist attacks has begun in Pakistan since the talk of negotiations with Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan. Earlier it was gloriously announced that the government has ‘triumphed’ in reaching a ceasefire agreement with the proscribed organization. The Afghan Taliban were said to be the ‘third party’ engaged in the talks as guarantor. However, the ceasefire agreement lasted only a month. And since then, a worrisome wave of attacks on armed forces and civilians has started.

While the terrorist attacks on armed forces in the merged districts and Afghan border are rather common, two recent incidents have surely been alarming. First, Taliban claimed the responsibility of an attack on Islamabad Capital Police team, which resulted in a cop being martyred and two others getting injured. Both the attackers were killed in the encounter. It raises so much questions on how we are dealing with the terrorist organization. Just weeks ago, we announced a ‘welcome’ milestone in the start of negotiations, and now they are bold and strong enough to successfully target police personnel in the heart of the capital. Were the relevant authorities unaware of this gruesome attack at all? Or the threat was just not taken seriously? There must be a thorough investigation on the failures which led to the Taliban striking this deep into the country. Speaking after attending the funeral of martyred Head Constable Munawar Hassan, the interior minister said this was the first such incident of the New Year and said that all law enforcement agencies needed to raise their guard. Sheikh Rashid confirmed that this was a terrorist attack.

Another incident pertinent to mention is Lahore Anarkali blast, which killed three persons and injured dozens. The occurrence of a blast of this caliber, in the commercial area of Lahore, is not something to be ignored. It is a very alarming situation, which could lead to disastrous consequences in future if the threat is not properly dealt with.

It was late 2000’s when the terrorists were easily targeting big cities of Pakistan on weekly basis. The consequences of Pakistan’s participation in the Afghan war led to major unrest and violence in Pakistan itself. However, our people and armed forces have rendered countless sacrifices and managed to thoroughly curb the threat of terrorism. The relative calm that most of the country has enjoyed for the past years is a result of major offensive operations that led to the destruction of terrorists’ infrastructure, their networks and safe havens. They must not be allowed to have their anti-state and anti-people objectives brought into force.  It’s far too dangerous for the country which is just redeeming itself to the world as a land of peace.

The government and relevant authorities must also keep in check the role of the de facto Afghan government in this case. Though the Afghan Taliban have said they have no links to the Pakistani Taliban, still many of notorious TTP leaders have been residing there. The government must push the Afghan Taliban to stem out those who are masterminding the attacks on Pakistani people from safe havens in neighboring countries. That’s the least they can offer against Pakistani tireless efforts for getting them recognized. The reports of Afghan Taliban halting the work on border fencing has already tarnished much of their ‘Pro-Pakistan’ image that the incumbent Pakistani government has been eagerly building at home. The terrorist attacks further threaten to damage the mutual good-will.

The Pakistani government, military and all stake holders need to be on the same page on how to deal with the rising threat of terrorism. Government must not keep other stakeholders at bay if it really wants to devise a comprehensive plan to counter the threat. The negotiations were started without the consent of national political leadership or the Parliament. Now the Parliament must be taken into confidence before any new adventure with the Pakistani Taliban.

The writer is a staff member. (Shujaat.hamza@gmail.com)






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