EDITORIAL: The terrorist attack in Shangla that killed five Chinese nationals is a game changer for a number of reasons. This is not the first time Chinese workers and interests have been harmed, and everybody knows that the enemy has long tried to hurt us economically and diplomatically with such tactics, often with success.

And the chorus of condemnation is also a routine practice. That is why the headlines need to quickly speak about what is being done to make sure this time was the last time. Because, let there be no doubt, Chinese casualties counting among the growing damage from TTP’s second insurgency must have already rattled capitals far beyond Islamabad.

It is important not to forget the backdrop. Just emerging from an election that was contentious enough to raise red flags across the world, the country is desperate to latch on to another IMF programme. Otherwise, tens of billions of dollars of debt repayment due as early as this fiscal will not get rolled over and a chaotic tumble into sovereign default will most likely follow. Now the fast-expanding insurgency has spilled foreign blood, compromised crucial projects which will not be completed without Chinese help, and spooked foreign investors just when Pakistan is crying for FDI.

So far the Chinese have displayed diplomatic restraint that would be expected of such a serious sovereign. But the word is that the direct government-to-government exchange was much harsher. That would explain why they’ve offered their military to work side-by-side with Pakistan’s in the hunt for terrorists.

Regardless, Islamabad faces the immediate question of what to do now that the hit inside Afghanistan clearly did not have the desired effect; and attacks have only increased since then, growing in scope from targeting security personnel to foreigners and sensitive projects as well.

There’s no doubt that the military will have to escalate its anti-terror campaign. Such times require nations to stand together, as ours did when TTP unleashed its first attack on the state. And it’s a shame that our corrosive politics has divided society so bitterly that there is no bigger concern for political parties and their followers than tearing each other down.

Nobody needs to be reminded that this is a very fragile moment. It is, therefore, imperative for all leading political actors, as well as pillars of the state, to come together and push everything down the priority list till an effective action plan is hammered out; one that will cleanse the country of this cancer. Beijing, too, will have to see the proof of the pudding, not the least to quell anger and concern that must no doubt have risen around President Xi.

This administration has been hit by numerous crises since taking office. But if it doesn’t find its feet very soon, it’s not just the ruling party that will pay the price. It must not only nip the cross-border evil in the bud, but also take out all sleeper cells inside the country. And it must do it very, very quickly.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024


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KU Apr 06, 2024 10:08am
The administration has been hit by crises because of its Sunday funfair mindset and benefits. There were times when heads would roll at security lapses or careers would end, today it is pardoned.
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KU Apr 06, 2024 03:23pm
HEI force majeure notification to Pakistan against terrorist attack targeting Chinese engineers is slap that will be heard all over the world. Meanwhile, SIFC can keep applauding its nonachievements.
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