Bombers like Fridays, the day when people can be guaranteed to come together either for prayer or socially, a day when soft targets abound. There were two attacks on Friday, September 2, one at the Mardan district court that saw at least 14 dead and 52 injured (both numbers likely to increase as information becomes available), and the other, what seems to be a failed but complex attack on the Christian Colony near Warsak dam on the outskirts of Peshawar. There appear to have been four attackers, all killed by security forces, but they in turn killed one resident of the Colony. Two private security guards and a police constable were injured in the firefight with the attackers.
A faction of the Taliban, the Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, quickly claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing at the Mardan courts. The primary target once again appears to have been lawyers, six of whom died. The customary post-bombing condemnatory platitudes came from the prime minister and the interior minister and once again a well-known Taliban group scores what for it is a considerable success at Mardan and a qualified failure at Warsak. It is significant that the Taliban claim was specific in saying that both attacks were in response to an ISPR briefing held the day before which spoke of the elimination of terrorist groups. It is also significant that the Warsak attack was largely neutralised and casualties minimised by on-duty and alert security forces that had the firepower and the back-up air support to foil the attack.
The Taliban have proved themselves over the years to have an almost infinite capacity to absorb punishment and for regeneration. No matter how effectively the security forces fight them — and they do — there is no attempt, anywhere in the country, to fight the ideology that underpins and sustains the Taliban movement as a whole. So long as that is the prevailing paradigm, then the various Taliban franchises are going to exploit the ‘Friday vulnerability’ to the maximum. We expect no early change, only more dead and injured.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2016.
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