Saturday May 18, 2024

Escalating terror

Country witnessed 432 violence-linked fatalities and 370 injuries among civilians, security personnel, and outlaws

By Editoril Board
April 24, 2024
Pakistan Army soldiers patrol in a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. — AFP/File
Pakistan Army soldiers patrol in a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. — AFP/File

Most Pakistanis are unaware of what it means to live in a safe country where there are no threats of terror attacks. In the early 2000s, after the American invasion of Afghanistan, the security situation in Pakistan worsened. An entire generation grew up amid deaths, destruction, and the never-ending sound of bombs. For about two decades, till 2019, Pakistan was constantly fighting with extremist elements operating across the country. But the relative calm that the country saw eventually disappeared in 2021 after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. And since then the sound of bombs is back in Pakistan. In the first quarter of 2024, Pakistan saw 245 incidents of terror attacks and counter-terror operations, per a report by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS). The country witnessed 432 violence-linked fatalities and 370 injuries among civilians, security personnel, and outlaws. On March 26, five Chinese officials were killed in a suicide attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The beginning of the second quarter has been equally scary. Last week, five Japanese autoworkers narrowly escaped death after a suicide bomber attacked the car they were travelling in. This happened in Karachi, raising alarm bells about the possible return of terrorists in urban areas – not that the presence of militants in the peripheries is acceptable.

In a separate incident in DI Khan, at least three officers, including two Custom officials, were martyred after unidentified armed men attacked them. The series of violent attacks calls for authorities to draft a foolproof plan to put an end to this unrest in the country. In this context, on Monday, the ISPR announced killing at least 11 terrorists in DI Khan and North Waziristan districts. The freedom that most militants enjoy in neighbouring Afghanistan has had disastrous consequences for Pakistan. To its credit, Pakistan has been trying to engage the interim government in Afghanistan through talks. However, the Afghan regime has not taken any major steps to stop militants from using its soil for terrorist activities. Last week, security forces killed seven terrorists who were trying to infiltrate the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Last year, a study published by a local news outlet highlighted the role of social media in recruiting for militant groups. The study found the provocative material posted online by these groups to lure people into joining them. It is obvious that the terror threat is a complex problem, one that requires all stakeholders to work together. Pakistan’s domestic problems make it easier for external forces to spread anarchy in the country. Pakistani authorities need to tackle this issue on a priority basis. That so many people want to leave the country is not only linked to economic conditions here. People want to raise their families in an environment where their children can enjoy freedom of movement. Pakistan cannot afford to keep losing its bright minds. All measures must be taken to put an end to terrorism.