Saturday June 15, 2024

Acts of terror

By Editorial Board
October 01, 2023

On one of the most revered days in the Islamic calendar (12th of Rabiul Awwal) this Friday, the terror monster once again raised its head – the targets: Mastung (Balochistan) and Hangu (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). A suicide attack near a mosque in Mastung killed nearly 52 people while a separate attack in a mosque in Hangu killed at least five worshippers, highlighting the return of extremist and intolerant ideology that is hungry for people’s blood. In the post-2001 world, Pakistan remained a helpless target of extremism and terrorism, with its people left to identify and collect the bodies of their loved ones. The terror of those days have already left deep and unshakeable imprints in the minds of a generation that grew up amid the constant sounds of blasts. Over the last few years, there was a lull in terror activities, and many people hoped to see the return of peace in the region. But all such hopes were lost after the fall of Kabul, which saw a resurgence in terror attacks.

America’s miscalculation has left Pakistan alone to pick up the pieces of a fractured peace deal. People with the latest and sophisticated weapons were left unsupervised, making such attacks easier. While the TTP has distanced itself from the Mastung attack, and there is as yet no one who has claimed Friday’s attacks, we are familiar with both the TTP and the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) being active in the region. The range of groups targeting the state and their differing strategies and motivations highlight the growing complexity of our terror threat. It is unlikely that a one-size-fits-all approach will deal with the multi-pronged threat we currently face and the security forces and law-enforcement agencies will likely need to tailor the strategies to tackle the unique threat posed by each of the groups. There is also the overarching problem of the TTP being able to find safe-haven in neighbouring Afghanistan following the return of the Afghan Taliban to power. Unless this issue is effectively addressed, Pakistanis will never be safe.

It may not eventually matter which group has carried out the attack. No matter which militant group carried them out, these attacks are obviously spurred by hatred. Whatever the different tactics various militant groups may adopt, they are united by a common ideology of hate. No one is safe from their wrath. This is why the government needs to stop treating different militant groups in different ways. With the ISKP posing an even bigger danger – if that is possible – than the TTP, the Pakistani state has to come up with a strategy fast. It is important for all stakeholders to do something about the growing extremism in the country. Religious tolerance and harmony is fast losing its ground in the country. Hateful content and self-proclaimed religious scholars have found a shockingly large audience on social media, allowing them to brainwash people and plant the seeds of hatred. Investigations by some digital news outlets have also revealed the growing use of social media in the recruitment process. Since young people are more prone to falling prey to such extremist ideologies, terrorists use popular networking sites to get more people to join them. There is enough evidence that points to the root causes of the terrorism disease, slowly devouring the country. It is now on the government to take foolproof steps to put an end to terrorism.