Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday pledged not to allow the scourge of terrorism to rise again, a day after five people were killed and a dozen others injured in a suicide blast at Serena Hotel, Quetta.
In a tweet, the premier said he was deeply saddened by the loss of innocent lives in the condemnable and cowardly terrorist attack. The prime minister personally monitored the post-blast situation until late Wednesday night.
Pakistan has seen a consistent drop in terrorist violence since 2014 when the government had mounted a massive operation – codenamed Zarb-e-Azb – to cleanse the terrorists-infested regions along the border with Afghanistan.
Zarb-e-Azb was followed by Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad in 2017 to eliminate the “residual/latent threat of terrorism” by disarming and eliminating the terrorist “sleeper cells” in the country’s urban centres.
According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, Pakistan saw 319 terrorism-related incidents in 2020, and 169 associated deaths of civilians. This represents a decline, from a high of nearly 4,000 such incidents in 2013, with over 2,700 civilian deaths.
I am deeply saddened by the loss of innocent lives in the condemnable & cowardly terrorist attack in Quetta yesterday. Our nation has made great sacrifices in defeating terrorism & we will not to allow this scourge to rise again. We remain alert to all internal & external threats— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) April 22, 2021
This drop in violence is attributed to the Pakistani military which has secured a convincing battlefield victory against terrorist groups and largely purged the country of their sympathisers and financers.
The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella of terrorist groups which claimed credit for Wednesday’s Quetta bombing, has found safe havens in Afghanistan after it was routed from Pakistan.
The TTP, which was responsible for most terrorist violence in Pakistan, is reportedly regrouping in the border regions of Afghanistan. Pakistan has undertaken a gigantic task of fencing its porous border with Afghanistan in an effort to stem the inflow of terrorists from the strife-torn country.
Pakistani officials have repeatedly pointed out that the hostile agencies are using the TTP and other terrorist groups based in Afghanistan’s border regions as assets in their efforts to stoke terrorism in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said the real objective of the Quetta suicide attack was to “disrupt peace” in the country.
Addressing a news conference in Islamabad, he said the car used in the suicide attack was rigged with 60 to 70 kilos of C-4 explosives.
“The attack was carried out by forces that oppose the country's development and want to undo the stability achieved by the PTI government,” Rashid explained. “They also wish to disrupt Quetta's peaceful environment.”
Before the attack, Rashid said the government had handed over the command of 13 Frontier Corps check posts to police. “The Frontier Corps were also ready to leave several others [check posts] before this [incident],” he added.
The minister said a final decision would be made after an investigation into the attack. “I have issued directions to the Balochistan chief secretary to immediately look into the incident.”
Responding to a question, the minister rejected speculations that the Chinese ambassador was at the hotel when the blast took place. “The diplomat was somewhere else.”
Rashid maintained that hostile forces were desperately trying to fuel terrorism in major cities of Pakistan because of the way the country was heading towards progress and how its economy had seen an improvement under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“This is why the interior ministry has directed all 22 security-related departments under it, including the FC, Rangers and Coast Guards, to be on high alert,” he added.
“The Pakistan Army, the [country’s] great agencies and the 220 million people will defeat the TTP that is reorganising and the plots being hatched in the neighbouring country.”
The minister said around 300,000 social media accounts were created in India within the last eight to 10 days. “I cannot speak about accounts opened in America and Korea,” he claimed. “I had previously warned about attempts to internally destabilise Pakistan by forces outside the country.”