PESHAWAR: With target killing and extortion fast becoming the order of the day in different parts of the province, people are casting doubts over the government’s claims of complete security. People live in constant fear and many see the provincial metropolis as the hub of such criminal activity.
Official data reveals that up until September at least 60 terror-related incidents occurred in Peshawar, resulting in the deaths of 42 people and injuries to almost 100 others. At the same time, law-enforcement agencies are refusing to register FIRs in many of the cases, especially those related to extortion. They claim that the resulting violence is due to “personal or family disputes”.
Meanwhile, there have been at least five suicide attacks registered in the calendar year throughout Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. These have caused the deaths of 34 people and injuries to 93 others. The statistics compare to 2015 when six suicide attacks were reported, killing 63 and injuring 113.
Locals fear more attacks as militants are regrouping in some of the tribal territories.
Soon after the deadly terrorist attack on Army Public School on December 16, 2014, law-enforcement agencies focused on operations against terrorists in according with the 20-point National Action Plan launched in 2015.
Earlier in 2014, armed forces embarked on Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan and it is still in progress. Though rare nowadays, terror acts are still taking place all over the country. At the same time, senior civil and military officials have expressed their satisfaction with the military action.
Reports reveal around 200 deadly terrorist attacks have occurred all over the country since Operation Zarb-e-Azb and 101 of those were in K-P alone.
A polio drive in charge, Dr Zakaullah, is the latest victim of terrorists as he was shot dead near his home on Saturday night. Also, sub-inspector Mohammad Ibrahim lost his life in an act of terror in Peshawar on Friday night. Over the last few weeks, targeted terror attacks have claimed 22 lives all over the province, thus proving the problem is not confined to Peshawar alone. There have been target killings of policemen reported from Mardan, Buner, Swabi, DI Khan and other places.
Beside Zarb-e-Azb, Khyber-III is also under way in the inaccessible mountains of Tirah against militants from Bara tehsil in Khyber Agency.
In Zarb-e-Azb and operations Khyber I, II, and III, troops succeeded in occupying inaccessible mountainous regions which even remained out of the reach of British colonial rulers. However, top ranking militant commanders like Hafiz Gul Bahadar of North Waziristan and Mangal Bagh from Khyber Agency are still at large. Another major name that has escaped unscathed from all this action is TTP chief Mullah Fazalullah. Until these big names are eliminated, one must hold their applause for the military action.
Awami National Party leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain believes that “unless and until strike and combing operations are conducted throughout the country, no one can ensure an end to terrorism. Militant groups in Punjab are not only visible, but actively involved in collecting donations in Islamabad. They must be treated like other terrorists”. He said the police may be given a leading role in search and strike operation which could help in getting rid of militants.
About the continued targeted killings, Mian Iftikhar said the criminals can now eliminate specific individuals and it less costly than a suicide attack. Also, the assailant remains safe in such incidents.
Almost all political parties are insisting on implementation of the National action Plan which prescribes action against all those directly or indirectly involved in terror activities.
Before Zarb-e-Azb, North Waziristan was declared as a hub of militants and many of them slipped into other parts of the country. No one can deny the fact that the Punjabi Taliban has dominated Waziristan and some are still safe and sound. Such elements still have links with likeminded fellows throughout the country and this network is believed to be responsible for target killing in Peshawar and other parts of K-P.
Law and order custodians are claiming effective measures and coordination with intelligence agencies. However, the results are less apparent.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2016.