It seems as though there has been a renewed fear of Taliban attacks in urban centres. This fear was first raised by the Kamra attack and has now been cemented by a suicide blast near the UNHCR office in Peshawar that apparently targeted a US consulate vehicle on September 3, killing at least two people and injuring two US Consulate personnel. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) knows that its safe haven in North Waziristan may soon become the site of a bloody battle and it intends to inflict maximum damage in the interim. The indiscriminate violence that is a hallmark of the TTP appears to be back in full force.
There are some who will argue that this renewed violence is proof that a military operation will be counterproductive and do little but continue the cycle of violence. However, simply doing nothing will only strengthen the TTP and encourage the militant group to make further territorial inroads while continuing its bombing campaign. We are not in a position where we can treat militancy as a law and order issue. Arrests and trials are not enough. The ultimate goal must be to rout the TTP by taking the fight to them and ensuring that they have no area from which they can operate. This requires military, not police action. Simply clearing territory, as the military has done in the past, isn’t enough; our forces must also be able to hold it.
The job of the government and the judiciary is to ensure that those who died in terrorist attacks have not done so in vain. The perpetrators of this latest attack must be identified, arrested, charged and convicted. That a self-admitted TTP member was recently set free by the courts is not an encouraging sign. More commitment is needed in the fight against militancy. The government needs to minimise the damage from inevitable future attacks by doing a better job of collecting and acting on intelligence. The Kamra attack was a failure of intelligence and, with foreign organisations known to be on the militant hit list, this attack, too, should have been thwarted.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2012.
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