The security apparatus slumbers
Sectarian terrorists who continue to be on a rampage killed 16 members of the Shia community travelling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit-Baltistan via the KKH. They segregated the victims on the basis of their names out of 117 passengers before shooting them in cold blood. The notorious Jundullah has reportedly accepted the responsibility for the heinous act. Last week, several members of the community were targeted in Orakzai while a Shia religious leader was killed in South Punjab. The failure to put an end to acts of communal terrorism is creating dismay among the minority communities who feel more and more unsafe.
The Kohistan killings will have serious ramifications. Most of the passengers who fell victim belonged to a region which supplies the bulk of what was once called the Northern Light Infantry. One of the hardy fighters from the area won Nishan-e-Haider during the Kargil Operation. Keeping in view the strategic importance of the area and its population, terrorist outfits should have been weeded out long ago from Gilgit-Baltistan and the surrounding areas. The Karakoram Highway where the buses were plying provides the sole all-weather access to Gilgit-Baltistan and is Pakistan’s only road link with China. Allowing the communal terrorists, who have also launched attack inside Iran, to flourish along the strategic artery would send a highly negative message to China.
That Harban where the killings took place is only four kilometres from Tangier and Darail where security forces have been attacked several times in recent past is all the more disturbing. One had expected that all sort of intelligence networks would be busy tracing out the terrorists with all the resources at their command in the sparsely populated region with virtually no big town. That nothing of the sort seems to have happened would strengthen the perception, being widely formed after the Abbottabad incident and attack on the Mehran Naval Base, that the agencies remain steps behind the terrorists. Instead of possessing the initiative required they only react after the damage has been done, interrogating the hastily arrested ‘suspects’ sometime in gross violation of laws.