The design of disrupting the forthcoming general elections in Pakistan and making them controversial has started to unfold. While we were still in a state of shock and mourning the tragic death of Haroon Bilour and others in an explosion in Peshawar, the terrorist attack in Bannu on a cavalcade of Akram Durrani just three days later and the carnage at Mastung, Balochistan, claiming more than one hundred lives, point towards a very dangerous plot against Pakistan. It is understood that our counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism apparatus is arrayed to foil such bellicose plans of the enemies of Pakistan. It is also a fair assumption that many such incidents are stymied by the efforts of our intelligence mechanism and law-enforcement agencies (LEAs) averting destruction and mayhem. This notwithstanding, such violent incidents are highly detrimental to the morale and motivation of the political leadership at all tiers and the masses who are passionately engaged in election campaigning. The worse is that these incidents are cunningly exploited by the fifth column and our enemies to promote their anti-Pakistan narrative.
In order to correctly comprehend the purpose of such violent attacks, two basic queries need to be answered. Firstly, why K-P and Balochistan? K-P, Balochistan and Fata border Afghanistan, which has unfortunately become a hub of all anti-Pakistan activities. There are hostile groups based in Afghanistan along the Pak-Afghan border whose terrorist activities are facilitated. There is virtually a consortium of hostile agencies from various countries operating from Afghanistan. Thus, it is structurally and logistically expedient to conduct such activities in K-P and Balochistan. Moreover, the so-called Pakhtunistan bogey has reemerged in a new bottle and concerted efforts are being launched to destabilise, Fata, K-P and areas of Balochistan adjacent to Afghanistan.
Secondly, why now? Willingness of all the political parties and the masses to wholeheartedly participate in the forthcoming general elections is a very healthy sign for the future of our country. It is an eloquent testimony to the growth of a representative system of governance and democracy. This comprehensively knocks out the enemy narrative that specific segments of the population are being oppressed or left out of the political mainstream. Vigorous participation by the Pakhtuns and Baloch in the election activities in K-P, Balochistan and across the country, is opposed by those elements who try to portray them as insecure and subjugated. In order to make their narrative sellable, they would need to disrupt the elections in K-P and Balochistan.
These incidents of violence and killing should not be seen in isolation. The plan against Pakistan has all the sophistications of a Fifth Generation War, wherein it is being subjected to multi-front targeting. Economic fragility, polarisation of institutions, recurrence of terrorist activities and reemergence of elements with secessionist leanings are all part of this devious game plan chalked out against Pakistan. The recent spate of terrorist activities in K-P and Balochistan should be seen in the same context. The hostile agencies inimical to the stability and prosperity of Pakistan have started to unfold their malicious design of punishing and destabilising the country. A large battle-hardened segment of the ISIS has been relocated from the Middle East to Afghanistan and is believed to be establishing itself for conduct of operations within Afghanistan and across its border. This will result in increased terrorist paroxysms and instability in Afghanistan spilling over into Pakistan.
When one dilates the threat to Pakistan, it does create anxiety and a sense of despondency. However, when we juxtaposition it with the country’s response capabilities, the threat seems to get diluted. Our counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism structure has matured over a period of time enhancing the capabilities of our LEAs. Election campaigning increases the vulnerability of our leaders, party workers and the common people. The enemy will try to strike again and we must counter him with full resolve and utmost precautionary measures. Greater coordination between the LEAs and the contesting parties and candidates is needed to prevent anymore untoward incident.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2018.