As the Pakistani Taliban make a shadowy come back to Swat, some questions are arising in every Pakistani head: Will they be restricted to Swat and their other former strongholds? Will the brutal march continue across the country? Will the entire country be razed to the ground as a consequence of terrorist insurgency — a replay of the Afghanistan experience?
One can’t deny the fact that terrorists’ cancerous spread heeds no bound. They always move, and their move is always violent. They hold no respect for the nation’s principles and laws. Instead they rage on indiscriminately. When a terrorist group is in an embryonic stage, it aspires only for siezing control of the area from where it has emerged. Once it has consolidated its position, its strength increases and ambitions break bounds. A plethora of examples could be provided, but there is no example as true as that of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
ISIS’s original aim was establishing an Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. But as it grew in strength and captured many territories, it opened many provinces and franchises — ranging from a province in the Philippines in the East to a province in Africa in the West. Numerous affiliate groups of ISIS also emerged at the same time. This is how a regional terrorist organisation grew into an international hydra.
In order to disillusion the people of Pakistan — especially the policymakers — and show them the seriousness of the situation, activists like Afrasiab Khattak and Mohsin Dawar have warned that the fire could burn us all to ashes without any exception
Besides the example of ISIS, there are many other examples that show a terrorist organisation is never static, but sees and acts beyond its power centre.
Pakistan should see the return of the TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) as a wake up call — for not only have they returned, they have also reportedly secured a checkpost on Balasoor Top in Swat. Maybe, they are more brazen and damaging now than before, after they successfully overthrew the Ashraf Ghani regime and became overlords in Afghanistan. Maybe, they are dreaming of similar success in Pakistan.
Interestingly, there are rumours that the TTP have been given a safe passage to Pakistan by the Pakistan authorities. But here is a point to ponder: if the Taliban have been given the rumoured passage, why have the Taliban come back with guns and also staging quite a violent show in Swat rather than peacefully and as good citizens of Pakistan as specified in the demand put forward by the Pakistan in peace talks with the TTP? Could this mean that the Pakistani authorities have shamefully surrendered to the Taliban’s demand of giving them back their formerly controlled areas without laying down arms? If these rumours turn out to be true, the already deep citizens’ distrust for the military would become enormous.
Not only should there be panic about Pakistan’s Taliban return, but there should be an alarm that such a move by the chastised group could embolden other groups in the region to imitate and even outdo the Pakistani Taliban. ISKP (Islamic State Khorasan Province) won’t be far behind the Pakistani Taliban in performing the same feat, but the ISKP has an edge over the Taliban here as the former has a hardline approach towards shias and other religious minorities and Pakistan providing an atmosphere of sectarian hatred won’t disappoint the group. Such a development would rend Pakistan asunder.
A delayed response will cost us the lives of our soldiers and countrymen — and above all the loss of our hard won peace. The returned Taliban fighters from Afghanistan should be apprehended and security forces deployed in the region.
Sadly, the open and deliberate neglect to the emerging bloodhound by the authorities is beyond astonishment. While the group is gaining foothold in the northern mountainous regions of Pakistan, the Pakistani authorities are locked in a dirty game of power grab, political point scoring and vendetta politics. The Pakistani military, which should be maintaining peace, ensuring security, and dealing with terrorist groups is also embroiled in political intrigues. If this is how things are moving ahead, the future looks nightmarish.
In order to disillusion the people of Pakistan — especially the policymakers — and show them the seriousness of the situation, activists like Afrasiab Khattak and Mohsin Dawar have warned that the fire could burn us all to ashes without any exception. In fact, they have been warning us about the emerging spectre of terrorism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for a very long time, but their warnings have fallen on deaf ears. Now that it has dawned upon the people that the warnings were grounded in reality, they can’t withstand the shock. The activists even warned that the Taliban wouldn’t stop only at having Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but Pakistan as a whole will be engulfed by the fire the terrorists would ignite.
Now is the time for Pakistani authorities to wake up to the perils posed by the menacing monster before it is too late. A delayed response will cost us the lives of our soldiers and countrymen — and above all the loss of our hard won peace. The returned Taliban fighters from Afghanistan should be apprehended and security forces deployed in the region. Moreover, the border security should be enhanced and arms smuggling and illegal arm trade in Pakistan checked. The burden should be borne both by the federal and provincial government. A collectivist approach is the need of the hour.