As if the flood was not enough to blight the lives of people in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, we now have a new spree of killings by the terrorist death squads who have struck in South Waziristan, Peshawar and the Kurram Agency. The death toll stands at over 27, with the largest toll being taken by the suicide bomber who detonated his device at a mosque in Wana, targeting a former MNA. Since it was sworn into office, the provincial government has battled militant insurgency and terrorism while also attempting to cope with mass displacement inflicted first by fighting and then by flooding.
All three bombings targeted ‘pro-government’ figures, including those forming a part of anti-Taliban jirgas. The latest violence comes amidst reports of clashes in several places between groups of militants. These sometimes involve small-scale local rivalries but in other cases pitch the men of Hakimulah Mehsud against outfits seen as being loyal to the Pakistani Establishment. The latest bombings may be an attempt by the TTP to prove they remain the dominant force.
It is difficult to say how significant these developments are. It is possible the confrontation in the north is entering a decisive phase. But terrorism acts to further demoralise people everywhere and suggests that the battle against militants may not even now have resulted in victory. We have paid a very heavy price to defeat terrorists. Far too many people have died. People are now desperate for better times — or at least a glimpse of light in the distance. The latest bombings go to prove that claims of having overcome militancy are untrue. This of course further damages the credibility of government and leaves us all asking what will need to be done to finally defeat militants so that the terrible reign of death can come to an end.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2010.