So deep-rooted is the terrorist threat in our country that no one single action can demolish it. This was underscored by the attack that was carried out between the nights of August 14-15 on two airbases in Quetta by militants, armed with rockets, grenades and suicide vests. Rockets were fired at the Samungli and Khalid airbases, located within 12 kilometres of each other, as the militants, in what was quite evidently a carefully devised plan, fired rockets into them. Seven militants were killed, while seven security personnel were injured during the nine hours of fighting, led by the Anti-terrorism Force, to protect the bases. Quetta airport was also shut down. The attack, of course, follows a pattern we have seen before as other military installations and airports have come under attack by Taliban militants.
While the security forces did well to prevent any actual penetration of the bases, the audacity and scale of the attack reminds us that the militants remain active and quite capable of striking, despite Operation Zarb-e-Azb. The military action in North Waziristan is obviously extremely significant, but on its own, it will not be enough to hold off the militants. We need to add more prongs to our strategy and use these collectively. This is especially true given that we face now a range of militant groups, who may — or may not — be operating under a single umbrella. In Balochistan, action against military targets inevitably leads to suspicions regarding the role of separtist groups. In the past, analysts have also warned of the danger of a nexus between them and Taliban-affiliated groups. The complexities of militancy in our country are many. The latest acts of violence in Quetta shows we are still a long way off from overcoming this menace. We need to think harder about how this can be achieved. Right now, terrorists have shown that they can strike in many places. Yes, security at key places has been tightened, but it is also imperative that militant outfits be defeated, so that our lives can return to something resembling normalcy without the sense of constant fear we currently confront.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2014.
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