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EDITORIAL: Given recent statements from the military, the Mastung attack must bring retribution for TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan), and justice for Pakistan, that much closer.

These hits have grown incrementally in number and sophistication over the last year or so and, just as feared, now they are encouraging smaller local groups to join in on the frenzy as well. There were two attacks on gas pipelines in Balochistan just last week; a phenomenon that security forces thought they had already put a lid on.

These things have also started to appear on the global radar, with senior US diplomats familiar with the region calling TTP the “greatest threat to regional stability”.

Unfortunately, Pakistan’s government has little to show except policy blunders when it comes to Afghanistan’s return to Taliban rule. First we thought nothing could be better than repatriating TTP fighters to the tribal area, where they headquartered and caused the worst carnage.

Then we believed that the Taliban would honour their word and keep TTP in check, even though the only reason for the militant group’s existence was to topple the Pakistani government, by any measure of violence necessary, seize power and install its own version of sharia law in the so-called Fort of Islam.

Yet lately the military has been very clear about the nature of the threat and at what point this fight will end. There will be no repatriation and Kabul has been told, once and for all, that action will be taken one way or another. So, there will be no forgetting and nobody will be forgiven.

And now that these attacks have once again become a daily item, a grim reminder of the darkest days of this country, it is clearly time to put words into action.

It is surprising, to say the least, that the Afghan government does not fully understand the complexity of this situation. It may have just welcomed a Chinese ambassador, but everybody knows, including everyone in Kabul, that the country’s only window to the outside world is through Pakistan.

Surely, it’s not forgotten how it received emergency aid after devastating natural disasters not too long ago. And yet, by not cracking down on TTP, it is clearly choosing to destroy this special and very sensitive diplomatic relationship. But to what end?

Now that the international community finally understands Pakistan’s warning that TTP trouble in this country is bad for all of Asia, surely the option of decisive action, even if it has to be unilateral, will eventually come on the table. All this trouble because a regime, whose return to power was ultimately facilitated by Islamabad in Doha, refuses to clamp down on terrorists taking innocent lives in Pakistan and then boasting about it on the internet.

There’s also something to be said about the level of internal preparedness in such situations. Back when the National Action Plan (NAP) was hammered out, it lamented the lack of coordination among dozens of intelligence agencies scattered across the security landscape.

Explosive devices and suicide bombs have to be smuggled into target areas in parts to avoid detection. That’s why better networking, especially timely sharing of sensitive chatter picked up at different points, can alert authorities in time to not only save lives, but also catch the scent of the bad guys.

It was subsequently reported that this effort might have lost steam after previous military operations delivered swift victory. Hopefully, the military has gone back to check all of NAP’s points, and plugged any holes that remained.

Because the fight is obviously back. And this time it will not be over till TTP is completely smashed and shut down; whatever it takes.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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