The past couple of days have seen a re-emergence of organised terrorist attacks in Pakistan. From the mountainous FATA to Karachi’s shores, to Quetta and finally to the plains of Lahore, it seems our supposedly ‘toothless’ enemy isn’t exactly toothless at all. The enemy very much holds the ability, or even worse, has regained it, to strike at will, where and when it pleases.
Keeping up with the past, these attacks have robbed us of the best among us: FC soldiers on the frontlines against militant groups in FATA, the bomb disposal officials in the midst of defusing a bomb in Quetta, the young budding assistant cameraman Taimur of Samaa TV, who was the sole breadwinner for his family, the people protesting for their rights in front of Punjab Assembly, the brave Punjab police officials who were negotiating with them, or other civilians who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, as is often the case.
The Jamat ul-Ahrar, a Taliban faction operating from Afghanistan, along with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami faction has claimed responsibility for the Lahore blast and has warned of a new wave of attacks against the government all over the country. It is a chilling reminder that our enemies exist, are alive and recuperating, and naturally, my heart is filled with a sense of foreboding.
While it is always sad to see civilian casualties in a war where they are no more than innocent bystanders, it is undoubtedly quite an achievement for the TTP and the Jamat ul-Ahrar, the alleged culprits, that they were able to add to the body count by including in them three FC soldiers and two very senior Punjab police officers: DIG Traffic Police Lahore Capt (r) Ahmad Mobin and Operations SSP Zahid Gondal. Such scalps give these demented organisations legitimacy and added ‘prestige’ among militant circles in their fight against the state.
The state should be under no illusion as to the might and organisational capacity of these militant groups: it has battled them for the better part of a decade now and knows well their modus operandi and their base of operations. It is never too late to realise one’s mistakes and begin to put one’s house in order, for to dismantle these groups, the state must also stop the oft-derided ‘Good Taliban, Bad Taliban’ policy. The state must also ensure mobilisation of all concerned intelligence and security agencies to act promptly on terrorist threats. It must also quickly decide on FATA’s status; merge it into KP and do away with militant harbouring nurseries for good. Any more dallying over this issue could prove catastrophic in the long run.
And finally, representatives of the state should try not to make fools of themselves by making crass and insensitive statements deflecting blame for their security failures on the departed. They are the ones who took an oath to protect our lives and they should stand up to it. If they feel they are not up to the task anymore, they should admit their shortcomings and step aside with dignity. Such garrulity only does the memories of the departed a disservice while sheds a bad light on the government’s character and intentions.
When we as Pakistanis look back on the past decade or so, it is frightening to realise how close we were to falling into the throes of anarchy thanks to a hallucinating despot and a long standing foreign policy that has brought us nothing but misery at home and abroad. It is no less than a miracle and owes to the remarkable bravery of our security forces that Pakistan didn’t descend completely into chaos. For it is only when you step out into the light that you realise how deep the darkness was. We have lost far too much in the past ten years and cannot afford another decade of terror and darkness. The state must ensure this isn’t allowed to happen, for they may have won the battle, but the war isn’t won yet. Not by a long shot.