Carrying out the Lahore attack on a day when the Turkish premier was in Islamabad was a bid to capture headlines in the media and undermine the writ of the government
After the Army Public School (APS) attack in the theatre of terrorism, images of the destruction are being changed hastily. Savages seem to be in astate of escalated desperation whilethe government is trying to create and sustain the impact of counterterrorism initiatives. Simultaneously, thegovernment is trying to legislate, coordinate and implement the National Action Plan (NAP).The price of confusion and the reluctance of the past are being paid by innocent souls. Thick clouds of dejection fully cover the blinking rays of peace butwith determination, resilience and volunteerism soonwe will reestablish peace.
The ongoing wave of sabotage depicts that terrorism and extremism are no longer area specific but are, rather, a mindset. Even after decades we have failed to understand that the war against terrorism is not a conventional war but more of aconfrontation with a hidden enemy. The severity of the situation warrants methodical understanding of the nature of threat and a diagnosticapproach coupled with surgical operations.
Since January 30, 2015, five suicide attacks speak of the escalated desperation of the savages and their presence in our urban areas. Two attacks were carried out on Fridays and four were intended against the Shia minority. In Balochistan, a Frontier Corps(FC) check post in Loralai was attacked by 40 militants and, resultantly, seven personnel were killed. While travelling with family in district Pasni, District Police Officer(DPO) Khuzdar was attacked. The DPO and his family escaped unhurt but two of his security guards were gunned down. According to tribal traditions, women and children are neverattacked but the incident signifies that ongoing militancyhas also destroyed our cultural fabric. In Noshki,with a remote-controlled device, the motorcade of the Chief Justice (CJ)of the Balochistan High Court was targeted but luckily the CJ remained unhurt. This was not the first ever attack on a motorcade in Balochistan.In the recent past, in Kalat and Quetta,militants also attacked the cavalcades of Nawab Zulfiqar Magsi, Nawab Aslam Raisani and Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Luckily, in all these incidents the targets remained unhurt. Since Balochistan is a big geographical unit,hence targeting moving vehicles with remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs) seems an ideal modus operandi.
In Zhob,a,anti-polio vaccinator, driver and two levies officials were kidnapped and, after four days, their dead bodies were found in the mountains. LastNovember, fouranti-polio vaccinators were killed in Quetta. Such incidents have terrified vaccinators and have affected vaccination campaigns.Though Sindh interior hasprimarily remained safe from the wrath of savages,the recent attack on the imambargah in Shikarpurhas proved theirdestructive presence.Since 2010, Shikarpur has gradually become a transit point for extremists. In 2013, thecavalcade of a former MNA was attacked but he remained unhurt. The mostrecent attack at the imambargah in Shikarpurseems like theoutcome of a well thought out strategy and the presence of extremists in large numbers in the historical hub of Sufism.
After the APS attack, the situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa primarily remained calm but the attack on a mosque in Hayatabad multiplied the prevailing insecurity. Few similarities can be found in the APS and Hayatabad attacks. The attackers did not enter from the main entrance, they used uniforms belonging to the forces, lobbed grenades, resorted to indiscriminate firing, opted to fight and die and, soon after the attack, they burnt the car used for their transportation. The car may have been burnt with the objective to destroy evidence and divert attention. The vehicle used in the Imamia Mosque attack was stolen property. In a majority of such incidents stolen or non-customs paid vehicles are used, hence police and excise authorities should devise a joint apparatus to detect such vehicles. In this way,the owners of these vehicles will be motivated to transfer the vehicles on the real owners’ names.
An IED attack on a police mobile in Mansehra resulted in the death of two policemen. They were targeted when they were just returning from security duty detail for a convoy of buses travelling to Gilgit. This incident warrants that the security of the Karakoram Highway(KKH) requires special attention and improved coordination between the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan police.With continued strikes in Rawalpindi, Shikarpur, Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad, suicide bombershave tried to persistently hit media headlines. In Peshawar, three suicide attackers were used while in the rest of the attacks one attacker was used for eachstrike.Ahle Tashee(Shia community) and police have remained their primary targets.
The comparison of the Police Lines attackto the Wagah attack also identifies miscalculation on the part of the bomber or handler. In Wagha and Police Lines, Lahore, on both occasions either due to better security or bad time management of the bombers, they prematurely blew themselves up away from the gates of the border and the Police Lines. If the bomber was reportedly waiting for a police officer then the security meant for police officers need immediate improvement. Furthermore, carrying out the Lahore attack on a day when the Turkish premier was in Islamabad was a bid to capture headlines in the media and undermine the writ of the government. The selection of Police Lines was a very smart move where hundreds of policemen are always present.Had the bomber managed to enter the Police Lines proper, the destruction would have been colossal. Before the Lahore incident, the terroristshad successfully hit Police Lines Swabi,Dir lower,Dera Ismail Khan and Quetta. On the same day, in Pul-e-Alam city, Afghanistan, a police station was attacked by four suicide bombers, resulting in the deaths of 26 people. Targeting the police is part of the comprehensive strategy to dent the morale and jolt the public’s trust in thepolice. InPul-e-Alam, APS and Hayatabad,suicide attackers entered in groups.
In the recent attack on the Islamabad imambargah, by deploying trained guards, the community played a responsible role;these guards engaged the suicide bomber for a while, enabling the worshippers to lock the doors from the inside,which contributed inminimising the damage. In Rawalpindi, a local leader of the AhlusSunnahWalJamaah(ASWJ) was killed by unidentified attackers.In Karachi, Aurangzeb Faroqi of the ASWJ reportedly escaped a fifth attempt on his life. Such incidents indicate the growing sectarian divide.Responsibility for the Lahore attack was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Shikarpur was claimed by Jundullah,Rawalpindiwas claimed by the Jamatul Ahrar faction of the TTP and Peshawar was claimed by the Khorasani faction of the TTP. These claimed responsibilities depict the augmented presence of splinter groups and destruction seemsto be their common goal.
Remember: it is neither numerical strength nor quality of hardware; it is the commitment of leadership, publicvolunteerism, clarity and capacity of the law enforcement agencies that will enable us to emerge victorious.