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EDITORIAL: Thursday's two back-to-back terrorist attacks are a poignant reminder that Pakistan remains in the crosshairs of its enemies. According to press reports, security personnel escorting a convoy of the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) staff, on their way from Gwadar to Karachi, came under an armed attack on the Mekran Coastal Highway near Ormara. In the ensuing clash the terrorists incurred heavy losses. Seven FC Baluchistan soldiers and as many civilian guards also lost their lives while ensuring the safety of civilians they accompanied. The same evening six soldiers, including a Captain, were martyred and one suffered injuries when two improvised explosive devices struck their vehicles in North Waziristan district. Neither of these tragic incidents is new or surprising.

It may be recalled that in April of last year, nine Pakistan Navy men were taken off a bus on the Coastal Highway, also near Ormara, by terrorists and shot in cold blood. Police and security personnel also keep getting targeted in other areas of Baluchistan. Similarly, in the erstwhile tribal areas adjoining Afghan provinces - where TTP terrorists are known to have safe havens - security forces are frequently attacked from across the border. The latest incident comes four days after a rocket attack on a security post in the Shawal Valley of North Waziristan, in which two soldiers were martyred and three others wounded. Earlier last month, in an intelligence-based operation, security forces killed four terrorists, including a militant commander. Although military operations in the tribal districts inflicted heavy losses on TTP terrorists and the Baloch insurgents have also been largely subdued, these militants retain the capacity to cause harm, made possible by their foreign backers. It is an open secret that they are sheltered by certain elements in the Afghan intelligence agency, NDS, and used by India to destabilize this country and undermine the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor - the flagship project of President Xi Jinping's Road and Belt Initiative.

In his recent interview with an Indian journalist, Prime Minister's Adviser on National Security and Strategic Planning Moeed Yusuf offered some details of the tactics employed by India to hurt Pakistan. Last year, he said, the Indian embassy in Kabul used more than a million dollars to effect the merger of four TTP groups (Jamaat-ul Ahrar, Harkat-ul Ansar, Lashkar-e-Islam and an unnamed other), creating an organization to kill Pakistanis. Although he did not mention it, in what hardly seems a coincidence last year three Baloch insurgent groups - BLF, BLA, and BRG - also got together under the banner of a new outfit "Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS)", which has now claimed credit for the attack on OGDCL convoy. The PM's adviser went on to say that India was involved in the Army Public School (APS) massacre as well as attacks on the Chinese Consulate and Pakistan Stock Exchange building in Karachi as well as a five-star hotel in Gwadar. The mastermind of the 2014 APS carnage, he revealed, was in touch with handlers from an Indian consulate in Afghanistan, and later in 2017 received medical treatment in a Delhi hospital, adding that "we have records of eight phone calls, we have records of phone numbers, we have records of handlers who orchestrated this entire thing sitting in a third country." At the time, the then Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif had gone to Kabul to speak to the government there about the use of Afghan territory by Pakistan-centric terrorists. But as the present developments show little has changed. Things may improve when the ongoing Afghan peace process concludes in a durable solution. Nonetheless, for those intent on playing the same dirty games there will always be other ways to do that. Pakistan, of course, is aware of the challenge and must be doing all that is necessary to deal with it. It also needs to publicize in international forums the evidence, it says, it possess of Indian involvement in creating and funding terror groups.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020