IN yet another deadly attack, militants targeted a police van in Kulachi, Dera Ismail Khan, on Monday. Five policemen were martyred and four others wounded. Like many previous attacks, the outlawed TTP accepted responsibility for this incident too. More likely, the attack appears to have been carried out by the Gandapur group, previously associated with the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, but which has been part of the TTP since 2001. This group has been active in the southern district of KP, carrying out attacks lately targeting the police. The law-enforcement agencies have also carried out successful intelligence-based operations recently, and killed some group members. Monday’s attack, thus, appears to be in response to the IBOs. But the most disturbing aspect was the use of a rocket-propelled grenade that hit the van which caught fire, burning the policemen to death. This is probably the first time that militants have used an RPG in a settled district. It is, however, known that militants and criminals operating in Kulachi, an extremely backward area, parts of which have no administrative access, have been carrying such weapons. Reports coming from South Waziristan say that the Mehsud-led TTP launched another attack on a military post in Barmal tehsil on Tuesday, and there are indications that there might be some fatalities on our side.
These back-to-back incidents, which, unfortunately, have become a frequent phenomenon, are extremely disconcerting and alarming. The TTP, in a statement in March, had announced the launching of the so-called Al-Badr spring offensive, making it abundantly clear that its militants would target the security agencies and their associates. It is now also clear that no matter how many IBOs are conducted to bust and eliminate active and sleeper cells, unless Pakistan takes effective and practical steps to address the root of the problem, such attacks will continue, with far-reaching consequences. Pakistan has been urging the Afghan Taliban to live up to their word, rein in the TTP and other militant groups and stop them from using Afghan soil to launch attacks against a country that continues to be home to millions of Afghan refugees. The hard-line regime, however, has done nothing tangible in this regard. In fact, to the contrary, the TTP has been allowed to carry out fundraising activities in Afghanistan for what it calls a ‘jihad’ in Pakistan. It is time that Pakistan dropped diplomatic niceties and spoke openly and bluntly to the Afghan Taliban.
Published in Dawn, April 13th, 2022