WHILE the frequency of terrorist attacks in Karachi has come down considerably compared to what it was a few years ago, it would be naïve to assume that militant networks have been permanently neutralised. Proof of this has emerged in the recent arrest of four alleged militants belonging to Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent from the metropolis, which police announced on Sunday. According to law enforcers, the militants were arrested during an operation in the densely populated Gulistan-i-Jauhar area. Weapons were seized from the suspects; the cell was apparently planning to launch terrorist attacks targeting the Pakistan Stock Exchange, City Courts and other public buildings in Karachi.

The law-enforcement agencies must be commended for busting the cell before it could carry out its disastrous agenda, especially at a time when security forces are busy enforcing the lockdown in the province and the rest of the country. The fact is that both militants and violent criminals are well aware of the fact that security men are preoccupied with lockdown-related duties, which is why the security apparatus must continue to keep a watchful eye on such elements to prevent acts of terrorism and mass violence. While most of the planet is in the midst of the battle against Covid-19, violent actors will sense a perfect opportunity to reorganise and carry out acts of terrorism. Therefore, the state must keep two steps ahead of such elements through intelligence-based operations. The threat of jihadi and sectarian terrorism in this country is still there; the militants are only keeping a low profile and waiting for an ‘opportune’ time to resume their business of death and destruction. Indeed, law enforcers have their plates full managing law and order and keeping the peace during these volatile times. But it would be unwise for the security forces to not remain vigilant where the terrorist threat is concerned, in order to prevent large-scale attacks. As the arrest of the AQIS men has shown, militants are keeping themselves busy.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2020

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