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July 22, 2019

Continued terror


July 22, 2019

Pakistan’s hopes that its battle against terrorism may be over have not yet been met. A well coordinated, two-pronged attack which took place in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa town of Dera Ismail Khan early Sunday morning shows that there is still a militant threat faced by the country. This is obviously not good news for the government, or anyone else in the country, especially at this particular juncture. The attacker targeted policemen and six of the nine persons who lost their lives belonged to the police force.

According to reports, several gunmen on motorcycles opened gunfire on a checkpoint in a residential area early Sunday morning. This was followed by a suicide bombing at the DHQ Hospital where the two martyred policemen and others injured with them had been taken. Four other policemen died in the bombing, along with three civilians who were at the hospital to visit relatives. In an unusual twist, the police have been quoted as saying that the suicide bomber was a female. However, this has not been confirmed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan which says the attack was carried out in retaliation for the killing of a militant by the Counter Terrorism Department in June this year. An inquiry has been begun, led by the District Police Officer Dera Ismail Khan to uncover further details about this latest act of terrorism and the persons behind it. Over the last two decades, the TTP has carried out multiple attacks across Pakistan, killing hundreds, though there has been some respite in the violence recently following major operations by security personnel against militant organizations.

However, despite these efforts it seems that at least some factions remain able to organize and act. The shooting and coordinated bombing in DI Khan had obviously been planned in advance and resembles previous attacks carried out by terrorist organizations in various cities and towns. At this point Pakistan’s dilemma would be what it must do next. It is essential to the interests of the country and also the morale of the police force that militants be countered. The strategy for this purpose may however needs to be widened. Cooperation with Afghanistan is also essential for this purpose. The recent improvement in ties between Islamabad and Kabul may then prove to be the pivotal point in changing past patterns, enabling better cooperation and boosting the ability of both nations to combat the menace that has so badly affected them and taken the lives of so many people on both sides of the Durand Line.

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