Yesterday’s brazen terrorist attack on the police chief’s office in Karachi—the commercial capital of Pakistan—and that too within the most secure zone where a string of such and much more sensitive offices are located, has reminded the lawmakers and the powers-that-be that their idea of holding peace talks with the Taliban, for respite from the violence, was a really bad one. However, this idea that they pursued has now become a noose around their necks, which tightens with every new terrorist incident taking place.
Talking peace with the terrorists? Nonsense. While they were killing our cops, our lords didn’t dare to take the gun to hunt the monster down but went straight to it and tried to humanize it with calm words. Stupidity has limits; however, our lords have shown time and again that limits to their stupidity are higher and accommodates much more. It is apt to say now that these overtures to neutralize the terrorists have landed us in this highly inflammable situation.
A couple of weeks ago, the blast in Peshawar Police Lines’ Mosque sent many brave souls to heaven, however, families lost their beloved sons, brothers, and husbands—an irreparable loss. This attack was on the scale of the one in 2014 on APS. What followed the attack on the mosque was a flurry of visits from the state officials—as if competing for getting their portion of appearance on the public TV and photo-op first and others matters later—to showcase their support for the cause against terrorism and express condolences for the bereaved families.
Sadly, the resolve—to battle the terrorists— shown by the officials who visited the spot of the carnage, had the energy only to continue till the situation cooled down and the talk of the horrific incident dulled, as there was no interest shown later by those officials who flocked to the spot of the blast. Moreover, what happened after the Peshawar attack was that the disappointed policemen protested and held those in the power corridors responsible for the loss of their comrades. Even this red signal of an emerging mutiny in the police ranks didn’t help in rousing the low-spirited lords from their slumber to the reality of rapidly deteriorating law and order situation in the county.
This deafening silence of the stakeholders led to the recent terrorist attack on Karachi’s police chief office. A lesson: the more deafening the silence, the more frequent and horrific the terrorist attacks.
These recurring terrorist incidents cast doubt on our abilities to deal with the terrorists. It also shows how weak our security infrastructure is, as the less equipped and poorly trained terrorists manage to assault the most sensitive and secure zones in the country with greater ease. What’s more, it also shows how hollow the National Action Plan is, which has been talked about too much, but which has failed to deliver what it promises. Or has the civil-military leadership failed in implementing what has been given in the National Action Plan? Or have they deliberately ignored the policy guidelines in it?
Just when the terrorists upped their ante a couple of months ago, at the same moment our politicians launched deadly political campaigns against each other. The PDM and PTI are locked in a tense battle for power and have razed to the ground whatever had the colour of democracy in the country—leaving the country extremely polarized. Almost all the state institutions have been used for political purposes in this struggle for power and polluted to a greater extent. State institutions which should have remained neutral, like the judiciary and military, also involved themselves in the political matters—supporting their favourites and trampling down under their foot those who have fallen out of their favour.
Moreover, what is more disconcerting at this juncture is that two of the country’s provinces—Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa—are without a real and functional government. This factor has contributed a lot more to the spread of terrorism. It is a common sense that without having a functioning government, the provinces won’t function normally and thus would find it impossible to keep the terror elements in check and remain secure.
Add to these problems the economic storm the country is faced with, and the threat magnifies. A cash-strapped economy with default knocking at its door and the IMF unwilling to release the funds vital for the country’s lifeline, the expansion in terrorism and the intensity in terrorist activities makes it a lot worse for the law enforcement agencies to carry out expensive military operations against the terrorist groups.
Conclusively, the stakeholders, be they the civilian or military, need to sit together and introspect. They should accept their individual and collective mistakes and apologize to the nation for the return and increase in terrorism, having facilitated the terrorists return by holding nonsensical peace talks with them. It shouldn’t stop here, but they should put their heads to work and take the country out of this mess they have plunged into.