If there were any doubts that terrorism is not only present in the country but that terrorists have access to every part of it, Friday night’s attack in Karachi should have put them to rest—not that there should have been any in the first place. We are still reeling from the atrocities committed in Peshawar, where militants attacked a mosque within the city’s police lines, killing nearly 100 people.
And now comes an attack in the country’s largest city, Karachi, in which three terrorists allegedly attacked the Karachi Police Office on the main Shahrah-e-Faisal street. In the subsequent law enforcement action, which also claimed the lives of two police officers, one member of the Rangers, and a civilian, all three assailants were slain.
The terrorists’ daring strike on Friday night, namely by the TTP, which has claimed responsibility, is a timely and alarming reminder that we could be in the middle of a catastrophic spiral into terrorism once more. The only way out is through clear plans, unambiguous solutions, and zero tolerance for any obscurantism related to terrorism.
We had hoped that a strategy to deal with militancy would be created after the APS assault in December 2014 and that we wouldn’t have to experience these atrocities ever again. The National Action Plan developed at the time never really got off the ground. And right now, our nation is being hit by a fresh wave of terrorism.
We also have an apparent helpless political leadership that would rather engage in petty politics than sit down and discuss how to get the country and its people to safer shores as violence and terror resurface. This must also be done to allow for political stability in the country and for the economy to stabilise to the point where investment is possible and foreign investors are willing to come in.
The police and paramilitary forces’ helplessness is also terrifying. They are in the eye of the storm because the TTP has declared war on them. For the sake of our security officials, our first line of defence, and every single Pakistani, we need a solution to lift the country out of the horror it has been subjected to for far too long, primarily because our political leadership has lacked the courage to confront it. The TTP’s ability to strike anywhere, at any time, cannot be viewed as anything other than a serious security flaw.
Despite our undeniable successes in clearing the tribal areas of militants and the significant drop in casualties from attacks in recent years, it is now clear that the Afghan Taliban’s victory across the border has been a morale booster for the TTP here. Fighting the TTP and militant behaviour in general requires us to improve our intelligence capabilities so that defensive measures can be taken to protect against impending attacks.
Above all, we must combat the regressive and violent ideology shared by all militant groups. The recent wave of attacks demonstrates that only a zero-tolerance approach to militancy will make Pakistan and its people safer.