Anyone who thought that the onset of the holy month of Ramazan would bring a halt to the militants, deadly campaign of bombings across the country has now been shown to be naive and unduly optimistic. Twin bombings in Peshawar on August 11 that killed at least six people and injured dozens more provide yet more proof that the militants are guided not by religion but by a twisted, hateful ideology. That one of the attacks was carried out by a young woman only further shows their complete lack of humanity. This is an enemy that cannot be negotiated with and has to be completely crushed in order to render it inoperable. Appeasement, as previous efforts at peace deals have shown, leads nowhere and just gives militants groups time to regroup.
As there have been fewer major, attention-getting attacks in major urban areas in the last few months, a mistaken impression has been created that there has been an overall decline in the total number of terrorist attacks. This is not true at all, at least in Khyber-Pakthunkhwa and the tribal areas. According to data collected by the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), there were a total of 74 terrorist attacks in Fata and another 32 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa last month. What has changed is that the attacks are not as effective as they used to be, with a total of 81 people being killed in these 106 attacks.
What the relatively low casualty rate shows is that the much-maligned police is doing its job, and doing it well. Even yesterday’s Peshawar attacks mainly took the lives of policemen at a checkpost. These brave policemen risk their lives daily, manning checkposts that help divert attacks from areas that have a high concentration of civilians. According to the same PIPS report, 10 policemen and 29 members of the Frontier Constabulary were killed in terrorist attacks last month. It is important here to draw a distinction between policemen who are risking their lives on the frontlines of an irregular war and law-enforcement authorities responsible for gathering intelligence to prevent militant attacks. The former are heroes who deserve our gratitude while the latter have failed us.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.