New wave of terror and AfPak ties

It seems a new batch of bombers are ready to wreak havoc on our cities and towns again

Editorial February 16, 2017
In this file photo, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani shakes hands with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AFP

One hopes it’s not the case but the recent terror attacks across the country bear an uncanny resemblance to pre-Zarb-e-Azb days when Pakistanis were butchered in the streets, inside mosques, etc with impunity. It seems a new batch of bombers are ready to wreak havoc on our cities and towns again. As of today, terrorists have killed more than a dozen people in attacks spanning from Karachi, Quetta to Lahore and beyond. As citizens see a repeat of attacks that were all too common before the summer of 2014, they are wondering if there are dark days ahead. Our Frankenstein — the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan may have been dismantled to some extent but it is clearly not out completely. Many of its factions still have a system in place which is allowing them to carry out these attacks to everyone’s shock. This brings to the fore the issue of safe havens for terrorists inside neighbouring Afghanistan, an oft-repeated and habitually-ignored complaint. So in an expected development, Pakistani authorities told their counterparts in Afghanistan that the use of their territory to carry out attacks inside Pakistan is unacceptable. Vital information was exchanged but to no avail.

There’s no doubt that the issue of terrorism cannot be resolved by one country alone. With the terror network drawing financial, logistical and ideological support from different countries, a coordinated effort by all stakeholders is an obvious prerequisite. But despite incurring numerous losses, Pakistan and Afghanistan — the worst terrorism-hit countries in the region — are yet to come up with a system of effective management to prevent these attacks from happening. In a scripted response, they both accuse each other of supporting terrorism post an attack and then it’s business as usual. For anti-terrorism strategies to truly work, both Pakistan and Afghanistan need to remove mistrust from their relationship and work together with sincerity. Until then, we will continue losing innocent lives to terrorists.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2017.

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