Just when it seemed like the country may be getting a respite from the onslaught of militant attacks, another deadly incident took place in Karachi. Three suicide bombers, poised to attack, were pursued by police near the Sea View area, only to be embroiled in a shoot-out. In the melee, one of the militants blew himself up.
The casualties including at least four militants and two policemen, and the encounter served as yet another reminder that the militants can strike anywhere at any time. Just a couple of months ago, a terrorist attack targeting a police officer in the same vicinity took many lives and damaged a nearby school. Before that, the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi was brazenly attacked. For years, Karachiites had convinced themselves that they had been spared the militant menace that plagued the rest of the country. We now know that to be a misguided belief. This latest potential attack should sound the death knell for a policy of appeasement. The recent All Parties Conference recommended pursuing negotiations with militants, as if mass murderers can be reasoned with. Not only is holding talks with militants an absurd idea, it has been proven to be a failure on multiple occasions. Peace agreements have been used by militant groups as an opportunity not to put down their guns but to regroup and emerge stronger than ever. Taking the fight to the militants, as this Karachi incident has shown, is as pressing a need as ever.
One shudders to think how many casualties Karachi may have suffered had the attackers able to proceed unimpeded. That they were unable to do so is entirely to the credit of the brave police officers who thwarted them. The police should now also work on figuring out what the actual intentions of these militants were. In the asymmetrical war we are currently mired in, police officers, often without counterterrorism training, find themselves on the frontlines. The whole country has suffered from militancy but none more so than the police.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2011.