Monday’s savage bombing targeting a mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines is a disturbing reminder of the havoc the proscribed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is capable of, as well as a tragic illustration of the failed policy of suing for peace with the terrorist group.
In the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s worldview, either the state accepts their unreasonable demands, or gets ready to face murderous rampages like the mosque bombing. It is also a fatal security lapse in what is supposed to be one of the most well-protected parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa capital, bringing back memories of last year’s Koocha Risaldar bombing in the same city. That atrocity was carried out by Islamic State-Khorasan Province.
Monday’s bloodbath has reportedly been claimed by the Mohmand faction of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, apparently as “revenge” for the killing of Omar Khalid Khorasani in Afghanistan August. That notorious militant had at different times been associated with Islamic State-Khorasan, Jamaatul Ahrar, as well as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been bearing the brunt of the terrorist onslaught ever since the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan renounced their truce with the state late last year. While attacks mainly targeting law-enforcement personnel have been occurring with regular frequency, the Police Lines bombing is surely a major escalation, considering the high body count, specifically targeting the policemen and Army troops that were offering prayers in the mosque. Sadly, the needed response from the political leadership, treasury and opposition included, as well as the security establishment to the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan threat, has been lacking.
Politically, the nation has been witnessing paralysis over the past several months, with the Pakistan Democratic Movement and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf gunning for each other in a destructive battle of nerves. Meanwhile, there exist caretaker governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, while policymaking is largely frozen, mainly due to questions about when general elections will be held, as the economy nosedives. This perfect storm presents an ideal opportunity for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and others of their ilk to strike at the state.
It is welcome that the prime minister and the interior minister rushed to Peshawar following the tragedy, while the outrage was condemned across the political spectrum. However, more than ‘thoughts and prayers’, what is required now is action. At least where the menace of terrorism is concerned, the government and opposition need to close ranks and put up a united front, working with the security forces to plan and execute a result-oriented counterterrorism strategy.
The foreign minister has said the National Action Plan is the only solution to neutralise the terrorist threat. There can be little disagreement with this, which is why political forces and the establishment need to put all their energies into implementing National Action Plan. Intelligence-based operations should be launched to uproot the terrorist infrastructure, particularly their sympathisers and support system. Too much precious blood of our security men and civilians has been shed to let the ogre of terrorism reanimate itself.
This article first appeared in Dawn.