Minutes after news of the attack in Sehwan settled in, the Torkham border was ordered to be closed for an indefinite period. The closure of the border on such immediate notice seems little more than a diverting tactic that again attempts to put the blame on foreign forces, leaving no room for introspection as to how and why Pakistan failed, yet again, to protect its people. Closure of Torkham only affects local communities who have family and friends on either side of the border, traders and migrants who will face more humiliation and oppression at the hands of security forces. In no way does this promise an end to our ever-mounting tragedies. And the question is that even if people are coming in from Afghanistan, how do they find their way out of K-P that is dotted with security check posts?
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted that terrorist attacks taking place in Pakistan from sanctuaries in Afghanistan will be responded with full might. This leaves one rather speechless and dumbfounded of what it takes for the civilian and military authorities of this country to, at least in times of great tragedy, even acknowledge that in some aspects, we are failing.
In the aftermath of the attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar too, the blame was on Afghans, and poor refugees were routinely harassed and abused by the police and other security officials. The entire year was spent sending Afghan refugees home, yet we are still standing where we were. The closure of the border is just another way to avoid a problem that has been staring us in the face for decades and now manifests itself in the most ugliest manner. As the week draws to a close, at least 100 people have died because of terrorism alone. This does not take into account the hundreds others injured, many of whom will certainly add to the number of fatalities, and others whose lives will be marked with lifelong mental and physical injuries. In only Pakistan’s roots of militancy could be cut forever by closing one gate shut.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2017.
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