By Sardar Khan Niazi
The two-day 254th Corps Commanders’ Conference presided over by Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, held at the General Headquarters resolved to fight against terrorists without any distinction and eliminate the menace as per the aspirations of the people of Pakistan. The top brass discussed and reviewed internal security with a focus on the spike in terrorist attacks.
Given the unstable situation in some districts of KP, a major military offensive to stem the fresh tide of terrorism is likely. The army has devised a strategy and in the upcoming National Security Committee (NSC) meeting will give its input.
Almost 420 terrorist attacks took place since the Afghan Taliban returned to power in August last year. In the last three months alone, the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for 141 attacks. Last week a suicide attack happened in Islamabad. It was the first such incident since 2014, raising the specter of another wave of terrorism.
Islamabad’s security has since been put on a high alert with certain diplomatic missions issuing advisories asking their nationals to restrict their movement. The US, UK, Australia, and Saudi Arabia have advised their respective citizens to avoid visiting a five-star Hotel in the capital due to a possible threat of a terrorist attack.
The hotel came under one of the worst terrorist attacks in September 2008 when a dumper laden with explosives struck in front of the luxury hotel located in a high-security zone.
The security situation, nevertheless, had improved significantly, as terrorist attacks in Islamabad were rare in recent years. The increase in TTP-sponsored attacks has compelled the civil and military authorities to review the strategy to deal with the situation.
The military commanders’ meeting came amid a spike in terrorist attacks across the country claimed mostly by the outlawed TTP, which unilaterally scrapped a ceasefire ending a start-stop negotiation process brokered by the Afghan Taliban.
The TTP, which was comprehensively defeated in a decisive strong operation by the military, has found safe havens across the border in Afghanistan from where the group has been directing its terrorist operations in Pakistan.
Pakistan has called these TTP sanctuaries “red-line” and pressed Afghanistan’s new rulers to take action against them. Experts believe Pakistan’s patience is running thin due to Kabul’s reluctance to crack down on the TTP bases as Foreign Minister Bilawal Zardari said during his recent US visit that “all options are on the table” to deal with a resurgent TTP.
Informal data show a 51% increase in terrorist violence between August 15, 2021, and August 14, 2022 – almost a year since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul. At least 433 people were killed and 719 injured in 250 attacks across Pakistan during this period.
Staying clear of the political noise the Corps Commanders’ conference focused on the military’s constitutional task of defending territorial integrity. COAS Gen Munir first visited the corps defending the country’s eastern and western borders to boost the morale of his force and to send out a message to adversaries that the army is ready to fight them and defend the country.
Gen Munir at the Rakhchikri Sector of the Line of Control (LoC), took note of the irresponsible warmongering by Indian leadership with regard to Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK. He said in case of war, Pakistan Army is ready to fight the enemy.
He also visited the North Waziristan tribal district of KP where the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has been seeking to re-establish a foothold. He vowed to eliminate the menace of terrorism at all costs. “No one will be allowed to spoil the hard-earned peace gained through supreme sacrifices of the nation and armed forces,” he stressed.