Political Infighting Gets Attention in Pakistan, Terrorism and Militancy Don’t


Pakistan’s political and civilian leaders remain focused on domestic politics and economics but the biggest crisis facing Pakistan is on the security front. Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment still continues to deny it, but the reality is that we are paying for decades of surrendering to militants with the blood of our people.


A few days ago a coordinated assault on an army garrison in Zhob, Balochistan, by the TTP was a reminder of the growing terrorist threat emanating from cross-border sanctuaries. “The highest single-day casualties suffered by the security forces in a long time shows that the militants are now well equipped and better trained.” This was the second attack on security forces in the area this month.


As author and columnist Zahid Hussain noted in a recent column, “It is evident that the return of Taliban rule in Afghanistan has given a huge impetus to militant groups operating from their sanctuaries across the border. There is little doubt that the current wave of militancy has its roots across the border. But it is also our disastrous appeasement policy in the past that is now coming back to haunt us.”


As Hussain points out, “Thousands of armed militants returned to their home in the former tribal districts as part of the so-called peace deal that the state made under pressure from the Taliban regime in Afghanistan last year. The deal allowed the TTP to regroup and revive their activities in the region from where they had been driven out by military operations in 2016. Most of the fighters are now back in their areas but their leadership is still operating from safe havens inside Afghanistan under the protection of the conservative regime.”


What is even more alarming, Hussain shows “is the reported tactical alliance between some Baloch separatist groups and the TTP. Some recent militant attacks in predominantly Baloch areas claimed by Islamic groups having close links with the TTP is disturbing. The region has also been the centre of Baloch militancy. The unholy alliance has worsened the predicament of the security agencies in a mostly ungoverned region.”


After the recently held Corps Commanders Conference the military issued a strongly worded statement, warning the Afghan regime against providing shelter to the terrorist groups involved in attacks on Pakistani security agencies. “It is expected that the interim Afghan government would not allow the use of its soil to perpetrate terror against any country, in the real sense and in line with commitments made in the Doha agreement. Such attacks are intolerable and would elicit an effective response from the security forces of Pakistan.”


This is not the first time that Pakistan has called upon the Afghan Taliban regime to act against militant sanctuaries. The Taliban officials, however, consistently maintain this is Pakistan’s problem, not theirs.


After decades of allowing the mushrooming of militant groups on its soil, Pakistan is now facing the consequences of such actions. While the military has issued statements and threatened action, have we reached that boiling point where the state and its supporters realize the folly of their policies. If not, then Pakistan’s chaos will continue.


Author: Syed Bokhari