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EDITORIAL: No words are enough to express shock and indignation over the carnage wrought by sectarian terrorists at a mosque in Peshawar. 57 people lost their lives and 194 others were injured when a suicide bomber shot his way into a Shia mosque in the Koocha Risaldar area of the old city, killing a police guard and injuring another, and detonated his explosives-laden vest inside the mosque as the faithful prepared for the Friday congregation.

Ten of the wounded are reported to be in a critical condition. Local franchise of the Takfiri Islamic State group, IS-K, took credit for the bloodbath. Even before that claim there was little doubt as to who might have done the evil deed. IS-K terrorists have caused massive casualties at Shia mosques as well as a Shia-run university in Afghanistan. Under pressure from the Afghan Taliban they are believed to have shifted their focus to Pakistan. That is not surprising given that many among its leaders and activists come from the so-called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have strongly condemned the attack and offered condolences to families who lost their loved ones. Federal ministers Sheikh Rashid and Fawad Chaudhry termed it a conspiracy to disrupt this country’s peace. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was more explicit in placing the blame, though indirectly, at the door of this country’s arch rival.

His assertion seems to carry weight considering that not long ago India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval had publicly stated his “offensive defence strategy” aimed at, as per his own explanation, destabilising this country through terrorism. The fact though is also that those used for creating instability are local extremist groups. There are chinks in our own internal security. Notably, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said there was no threat of any untoward incident in the area, which points to intelligence failure in this particular case and also to undetected presence of terrorists in that entire region. It’s been five years since the nationwide operation ‘Raddul Fasaad’ was launched against terrorist groups. That has helped to a significant extent, but some sources of trouble remain to be sorted out.

It is no secret where the suicide bombers, their handlers and facilitators come from. Which is why in the aftermath of the December 2014 massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar a political consensus-based National Action Plan was devised. Yet seven years later it is no more than a talking point. It is time for all concerned to get real, and take unyielding action against violent extremists of different hues. The place to start is sectarian outfits.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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