EDITORIAL: If any Jirga or religious leaders’ peace mission wants to meet the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership and secure its acquiescence that its foot-soldiers will immediately shun terrorism and live as peaceful citizens of Pakistan it should think again.
It should pause for a moment and read Wednesday’s newspaper reports spelling out how the detained militants at a Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) facility in Bannu cantonment, KPK, took over the compound and conditioned release of the hostages upon their safe evacuation to Afghanistan - only to be crushed by a contingent of security personnel on Tuesday.
In the clash that lasted about three hours, 25 terrorists were killed while seven taken as prisoners. A junior commissioned officer and two sepoys also lost their lives, embracing martyrdom.
A TTP video clip that had gone viral on Sunday displayed a militant holding a security official at gunpoint. In another video the alleged militant could be heard saying eight to 10 security personnel were in their custody. He also claimed that 35 of his associates – whom he described as fidayeen - had managed to break free and demanded the government of Pakistan ensure their departure to Afghanistan by air.
Also on Sunday, four policemen were killed when terrorists attacked a police station in the Lakki Marwat District in the same province. That torrent of violence does not seem to relent. On Tuesday, terrorists stormed a police station in South Waziristan – again in the same province – and took away weapons and vehicles from there. They are not returning home, as claimed by the KP government after they were sighted in Swat, to resume peaceful life.
These three attacks are neither the first on the part of terrorists nor is there any indication that these were the last. The bitter truth is that they - you may call them Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan fighters or local affiliates of the Islamic State – are back in the field and more acts of terrorism by them cannot be ruled out. They are better equipped, hosted as they are by the Taliban government in Afghanistan where they are described as misdirected Pakistanis. The concerned quarters in Pakistan need to rethink and re-plan their policy towards the incumbent government in Afghanistan.
The media reports suggest that in their attacks on Pakistani security posts the terrorists used the night-vision thermal goggles. These goggles were part of the military hardware the Americans left behind in Afghanistan following the Doha agreement, hoping this would help the newborn Taliban government effectively fight the Islamic State and its affiliates who had begun planting their footprints in Afghanistan. The military hardware left behind is said to be worth 7 billion dollars and includes planes, guns and night-vision goggles.
The Afghan Taliban reneged on their promise that they made in Doha to rein in terror groups, who of late have intensified acts of terrorism. There has been an attack on Pakistan embassy in Kabul, followed by intense repeated shelling by the Afghan forces on the Pakistan border town of Chaman.
Be that as it may, as to what should Pakistan do now there is a word of advice by former foreign secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan. In a newspaper (Dawn) op-ed he says, “Even if we cannot comprehend the pathology of Afghan hostility, we must have clarity in our response… . We must take clear positions with the Pakistani Taliban and with the Afghan Taliban. No conflicted messaging. The Pakistani Taliban can return to Pakistan only if they surrender their arms.”
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022