Terror reaches Islamabad?

Blast in Islamabad shows the strategy to tackle the TTP has failed

The blast in Islamabad’s I-10 cannot be dissociated from the Bannu Counter-Terrorism Department siege, which only ended on Wednesday with the killing of 33 Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants and two soldiers, a horrific carnage by any standards, and which indicated that the SSG unit deployed to clear out the militants, was obliged to conduct a ‘scorched-earth’ policy. Whether the unit conducting the operation refused to give any quarter, or whether none of the militants were ready to surrender, it established that whatever way had been settled to deal with the TTP had failed dismally. The TTP has shown itself able to attack a Department which is at the cutting edge of the fight against it, while the Islamabad shows that even the federal capital is vulnerable.

Overall, it shows that the Taliban in Afghanistan have not proven effective in helping the Pakistani state tackle the terrorist menace. Neither have they prevented their soil being used for terrorism, not have they used their good offices to help Pakistan to deal with the TTP. All of the optimism, even joy, expressed at their taking power in Kabul, all of the crowing at their having expelled the Americans have gone to nothing, for their inability to govern has meant the resurgence of the terrorist threat. This merely adds to the burden of the Coalition government, which has also to tackle such gigantic issues as the current political instability, the economic malaise and the other crises bedeviling the state, not least being its own survival.

It is perhaps unfair to lay all the blame at the Taliban door. Those responsible on our side to deal with the fallout perhaps underestimated it and were too busy celebrating the US ouster from Afghanistan, as was visible especially in the case of the establishment, to notice the imminent threat posed by the TTP. The USA is again taking an interest, and the last thing Pakistan needs is US interference on the excuse of nuclear safety. All that talk of mainstreaming now seems fatuous, especially since the TTP continues to make impossible demands. The Afghan policy should no longer remain a sacred cow, but must be opened to civilian influence, and not just from the Foreign Office. The problem is one of violence, but it is a political problem, and demands a political solution. At a bare minimum, the forum of the NSC should be revived and used to bring all stakeholders together to discuss a way forward.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].

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