The western front has seen an unfortunate spike in fatalities this week, with six Frontier Corps (FC) men martyred on Friday. They all fell victim to an improvised explosive device (IED) near the Pakistan-Iran border when their vehicle was hit by the remote-controlled bomb. According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the victims that include a major, a naik, two lance naiks, and two sepoys were returning after patrolling in the Buleda area, 14km from the Pakistan-Iran border. Their assignment was “to check possible routes used by terrorists in the mountainous terrain of Makran”. On Wednesday also, two soldiers had been martyred in a rocket attack on a security checkpoint in Edek village near Mirali in the restive North Waziristan tribal district. The victims in that incident were a hawaldar and a sepoy. The military did not give details on where the rocket could have come from.
While North Waziristan remains a hotspot for sporadic incidents of terrorist attacks on security forces, it is worrying that flare-ups are still seen elsewhere. Although the large-scale military operations of the last decade have had great success in eliminating the terror threat of yesteryear, such incidents are still worrisome. In North Waziristan alone, at least 10 security personnel were martyred in separate attacks by militants. Yes, the attacks were on military targets rather than civilian ones, because the operations helped deny terrorists access to most soft targets. And civilian or soldier, the death of any of our friends and families is a tragedy, even if it is in defence of the country.
Getting terrorism down to a net-zero situation might be near-impossible, but that doesn’t mean we can let up. We are facing several security threats from abroad, but we cannot repeat the mistakes of the past and divert attention when the job is not 100% complete. While we cannot ignore the border, we also cannot forget about the problem inside. In fact, genuinely fixing it will allow full attention to be turned to the border. Expediency may look good during the interim, but without the job being done thoroughly, such incidents will keep occurring.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2020.
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