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EDITORIAL: As Pakistan vowed to use all means to hunt and bring to justice perpetrators of the suicide bombing at a Quetta hotel by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that took five lives and wounded a dozen others, the bomb disposal squad examining the blast site said the car used in the atrocity was packed with an estimated 80 to 90 kgs of C-4 explosive and ball bearings – to cause maximum damage. According to reports, the explosives-laden car came from Afghanistan, which raises the obvious question how could the perpetrators succeed in dodging the border security as well as security check at the hotel? The answer maybe uneasy, but the agencies concerned are expected to identify not only lapses in safety protocols but also all those directly or indirectly involved in this heinous act.

Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said the suicide attack was the handiwork of “forces inimical” to this country’s peace and development. Through this act, he averred, they wanted to destabilise Pakistan. Although he did not name any names it is not difficult to figure out the ‘inimical forces’ he referred to considering that not long ago India’s National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, had openly declared what he called his strategy of ‘offensive defence’ aimed at destabilising Pakistan. How it played out was described last October by Prime Minister’s Adviser on National Security and Strategic Planning, Moeed Yusuf in a TV interview with an Indian journalist. Revealing some details of the tactics India employed to undermine this country’s peace and security, he said in 2019 the Indian embassy in Kabul used more than a million dollars to effect the merger of four TTP groups (Jamatul Ahrar, Harkatul Ansar, Lashkar-i-Islam, and another one whose name he did not mention) creating an organisation to kill Pakistanis. Notably, around the same time three Baloch insurgent groups were also brought together in a new outfit, BRAS, which has been involved in various acts of terrorism in Balochistan. Moeed also disclosed that India was involved in the 2014 Army Public School (APS) massacre — claimed by TTP — as well as attacks on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi, and a five-star hotel in Gwadar. The mastermind of the APS attack, he said, was in touch with handlers in an Indian consulate in Afghanistan. Furthermore, he told the interviewer that “we have records of eight phone calls; we have record of phone numbers; we have record of handlers who orchestrated this entire thing sitting in a third country.”

If Pakistan tried to publicize in international forums the evidence it says it has in its possession of Indian sponsorship of TTP and other terrorist groups, it has failed to be heard. For, following the military operation in 2014, the TTP had suffered a severe setback, losing its bases in the erstwhile tribal areas. Some of its leaders and other militants who fled to the adjoining Afghan provinces made occasional forays into the border areas of Pakistan. In due course, most of its commanders were killed in drone strikes, further eroding its capability to launch cross-border attacks. However, for a while, the TTP has stepped up attacks in the tribal districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as in Balochistan. Resurgence of this terror outfit would not have been possible without material and planning support of forces that make no secret of their desire to harm this country. Needless to say, the challenge demands urgent and effective action.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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