THE brutal murder of two Sikh traders in the outskirts of Peshawar on Sunday illustrates the vulnerability of minority communities in KP, as well as the threat militant groups continue to pose to the country’s security. Ranjeet and Guljeet Singh were murdered by unidentified gunmen at their shops and while no group has claimed responsibility for the atrocity, the Peshawar police chief has termed it “an act of terrorism”. There have also been other incidents in which members of the Sikh community were targeted in KP in the recent past. A Sikh hakim was murdered in October last year, with IS-Khorasan claiming responsibility for the crime, while another Sikh trader was shot in February but fortunately survived in what was termed a ‘robbery bid’. Meanwhile a Christian clergyman was killed on his way back from church in the KP capital in January. Considering these incidents, as well as March’s Koocha Risaldar mosque bombing, which was also the handiwork of IS-K, the threat the terrorist group poses to peace becomes clear. Moreover, elements linked to the banned TTP have also become quite active in KP and the former tribal belt, with attacks on security forces as well as civilians continuing. The latest incident — not claimed by any group as yet — came on Saturday when three soldiers and as many children were martyred in a suicide attack in North Waziristan.
Where the protection of minorities is concerned, security needs to be stepped up in the areas where non-Muslim citizens live, work and worship, while those involved in the murders need to be brought to justice. Overall, the state, particularly the security apparatus, needs to proactively neutralise the emerging threat, before militancy becomes an uncontrollable beast that can only be countered by large-scale military operations. Far too many soldiers and civilians have laid down their lives to quell the militant threat and their sacrifices should not be in vain. The authorities are taking action; for example an IS-K operative — said to be one of the planners of the Koocha Risaldar atrocity — as well as a would-be suicide bomber were reportedly killed by security forces on Saturday. More such intelligence-based operations need to be carried out to uproot the militant infrastructure that terrorists are trying to re-establish. Moreover, the Taliban regime must clearly be communicated the fact that Afghan soil cannot be used to host anti-Pakistan terrorists, and that action must be taken against these malign actors.
Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2022