Two years of peace after the May 2019 terrorist attack had provided a sense of security to the people of Lahore. Many had come to believe that the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) had destroyed the terrorist sleepers in the city while the intelligence agencies had managed to confine the terrorist networks to areas inside Afghanistan from where they could launch attacks only in the adjoining districts of KP and Balochistan. The myth was busted on Wednesday when terror struck in the heart of the expanded Lahore, causing casualties and loss of property. According to initial reports a vehicle-borne improvised electronic device (VBIED) was used by the terrorists. In the blast that followed at least three people were killed and over 20 injured, while several houses and cars were badly damaged.
Interestingly the blast took place near the residence of Jaamat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed who is supposed to be undergoing his sentence in jail. There are reports however of his having been transferred to his home. With a police picket outside the house, the vehicle with the IED was parked at a distance.
Dealing with the terrorist networks requires the agencies to be a step ahead of them in efficiency. The agencies have to gather real-time intelligence through human resources and electronic eavesdropping, collate the information, and immediately hand it over to those required to take action. What is required are specific alerts containing actionable information about terrorists, their helpers, and the target selected by them. What one concludes from Punjab government officials’ statement is that the CTD had received no specific alert in this case. This would indicate that the terrorists were steps ahead of the several agencies supposedly monitoring the terrorist networks.
According to police, the terrorists used 30 kilos of imported explosives. The terrorist act required acquiring the explosives, transporting the combustible material to Lahore, storing it at a safe house, transferring it to a vehicle and driving it to the targeted place. This would not have been possible without the presence of an active terrorist network in the city. Unless those who spread extremist thinking are sorted out, those planning terrorist attacks will not be short of volunteers.