Despite the global condemnation of the attack on Malala Yousufzai, violence of unimaginable brutality continues in the northern parts of the country. In Kurram Agency, as has been witnessed before, the violence has most often assumed a sectarian slant. The second such attack within three days came on October 12, when students travelling back to Parachinar after taking an exam in Kohat were attacked by unidentified militants, who used guns and acid to target them. Three students, including a girl, Nabila, were injured in the attack, which took place in the Durrani area of Lower Kurram.
The injured students were taken to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Parachinar. One of the victims had suffered a bullet wound and was admitted to the hospital in a precarious condition. This is the latest in a succession of sectarian attacks. Earlier this week, three Shias were injured when militants opened fire on a passenger vehicle in Lower Kurram Agency. There have been other targeted attacks before in the same area. The spread of sectarianism in Kurram Agency has been increasing for years. This influence has grown as extremist forces pursuing a sectarian agenda have increased in the area, using the years-old sectarian tensions present in the area to their advantage by pitching tribes against each other.
Brief periods of calm have not lasted beyond weeks or months. The situation is alarming. No easy solutions are in sight and there is the lingering suspicion that there is a lack of sufficient will to solve the problem. Until some resolution is found, tensions will grow and the risk of other attacks will remain in place, claiming more lives in a scenario where too many have been lost already. Somehow, we need to devise a strategy to tackle sectarianism wherever it exists. It is true that different factors exist in different places, but the root cause is the growth of hatred, of intolerance and the role of various agents in this. The problem needs to be assessed and measures have to be taken to ensure that the state mechanism resumes its capacity to maintain law and order in the face of this capacity having totally collapsed with no writ of the state prevailing.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2012.