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EDITORIAL: As to who carried out the massacre in a Peshawar mosque last week the investigators on Sunday claimed to have unearthed the entire network. Was it the work of the Islamic State-Khorasan Province which lost no time in claiming responsibility for the horrendous massacre? The attack being coincidental to arrival of Australian cricket team the fingers have also been pointed at quarters who don’t want Pakistan to regain its right to host international cricket.

And even Prime Minister Imran Khan has, according to him, “all information regarding origin of where the terrorists came from”. But question remains whether the terrorists and their facilitators would ever receive due punishment for killing 63 and injuring 196 people who were in the Koocha Risaldar mosque for Juma prayer. Also, how come the Peshawar city remains an easy target of terrorists – 117 people were killed in market bombing in 2009, followed by a number of murderous attacks on mosques and churches. Almost always the concerned officials and agencies claim to have reached the criminals, but what after those claims? There is not much in public knowledge if the suspected criminals were also punished. That should not be the case now, as none but the prime minister himself has also called for swift prosecution of perpetrators of such bloodbaths.

The un-punished crime breeds more crime and that seem to be the case in Peshawar. Even when there is a comprehensive all-embracing National Action Plan to fight and defeat the demon of terrorism, both imported and home-grown, the results in hand are not very encouraging.

As is often the case, the NAP’s (National Action Plan’s) Apex Committee met and looked again into the possibilities of killing the demon of terrorism. As its first recommendation it wanted to strengthen the role of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) to “coordinate measures essential for countering terrorism and capacity building of the counter terrorism departments”. And for that it was for allocating more resources to the provinces for conducting effective investigations by adopting scientific techniques and setting up forensic labs.

But the provinces think differently, and therefore, as the Apex Committee learnt, the support from provincial governments was in short supply on issues that have inter-provincial implications. And there is no information if the committee also looked into the sectarian disharmony which is the main cause of incidents of terrorism, particularly in Muslim countries. What happened in Shia mosque of Peshawar is not very different from what happened, repeatedly, in Afghanistan in the last few months.

No doubt the IS-K has struck deep roots in a number of Muslim countries, and apparently Pakistan is no exception. How to counter the growing incidence of sect-based terrorism the work for the NACTA is already cut out. As it claims it is already working to choke terror financing, countering extremism, intolerance towards militancy and capacity building of law enforcement agencies. But given resistance to its objectives it may like to also sharpen its focus on three areas: unbridled sectarianism, go-slow on prosecution of terrorists in the courts and intelligence penetration into terrorist networks. And this should be on a regular basis, and not only when there is a case like the bombing of mosque in Koocha Risalpur.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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