Saturday June 22, 2024

The terror challenge

By Editorial Board
May 25, 2023

Pakistan seems stuck in a time loop, taking steps to deal with its terror problem but finding itself right back where it started. The recent heartbreaking news of a terrorist attack on two girls’ schools in North Waziristan – following an attack on a schoolgirls van – is the latest the return of terror in the country. What started in the early 2000s in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the US kept Afghanistan and Pakistan entangled in the ‘war on terror’. The country lost more than 70,000 people – civilians and soldiers included – and raised a generation amid the constant sounds of gunfire and bomb blasts. After at least two operations against terror groups, the country witnessed some peace. But a surge in terror attacks in one year has once again raised alarm bells in the country. Fortunately, the attack on girls’ schools did not result in a loss of life, but it should be regarded as a clear message from extremists who are vehemently against girls’ education. For years, the state ignored the warnings made by civil rights movements in Waziristan and the larger Khyber Pakhtunkhwa about the possible return of terror groups in the region. And now when terror is knocking on our door, all stakeholders are trying to figure out a way to deal with the situation at a time when the country is already in the grip of political and economic turmoil. A little while after the attack on the girls’ schools, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa saw another attack on the M8 and M10 well sites in Hangu District near the Afghan border. The attack led to the deaths of at least six people including two private guards. After the Afghan Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, there were fears that TTP fighters would get strengthened. Some argue that the neighbouring country is a safe haven for the TTP. Attacks like the one in Hangu will push foreign investors away from Pakistan, creating more troubles for an economically weak country. And not only do such attacks result in the loss of lives and infrastructure, they also clip the wings of the residents of the area. People living in war-torn areas need some normalcy. Years of bloodshed and a state of war have deprived people of so many opportunities. The state has to think about the future of its citizens. We have evidence that suggests that appeasement or leniency does not work in our favour. It is encouraging the state too has realized this and has decided there will be no tolerance for terror activities nor any appeasement with militants.

It is also important to raise awareness regarding girls’ and women’s education in the area. In the 21st century where the world is introducing so many technological advancements, Pakistan cannot afford to ignore a segment that makes up half of the country’s population. There has to be serious efforts on the part of the government to tackle the rise in terror and make Pakistan a safe space for all citizens. Generation after generation cannot withstand the pressures of living in a region with unmanageable security concerns. We already see the state of women right next door in Afghanistan; may no one ever have to live through that.