CLEARLY, the fiction that ‘all is well’ in KP — particularly in the province’s merged tribal districts, and those areas which were worst affected by terrorism — is unravelling fast. Two separate blasts were reported in the province on Tuesday and these violent incidents, seen together with other recent episodes linked to militancy, point to the troubling reality that the terrorists are back. A number of people, including policemen as well as the former head of a local peace committee, lost their lives when their vehicle was targeted by a remote-controlled bomb in Swat’s Kabal area. The banned TTP, which claimed responsibility for the atrocity, said they had been waiting to strike ex-peace committee head Idrees Khan for the past 13 years. The tribal elder had played a major role in mobilising locals against the militants. In another attack, a police station was targeted in Kohat while seven workers of a mobile phone company were kidnapped in Swat. Moreover, three soldiers were martyred in the Kurram tribal district after they reportedly came under fire from Afghanistan, while late on Tuesday security forces were attacked in Khyber’s Jamrud area.
The bombings, attacks on security forces and kidnappings in the affected area should put the state on alert, as remaining in denial mode will only add to the worsening law and order situation. Last month, after protests against the militant threat were held in parts of KP, the military’s media wing had dismissed this threat as “exaggerated” and based on “misperception”. However, as the recent violence indicates, the militant threat has moved from “misperception” to painful reality. In a recent KP Assembly session, an opposition MMA lawmaker said over 400 armed attacks had been reported this year, resulting in the loss of over 300 lives, while extortion activities were also in full swing. Moreover, security men have been kidnapped, while a sitting MPA belonging to the PTI survived a deadly militant attack in which several people were killed. It is apparent that the ceasefire the government had reached with the TTP is in tatters, and the militants are not in a peacemaking mood. The state must clarify what the status of these negotiations is, while the civilian and military authorities must tell the nation what they intend to do to ward off the militant threat. KP’s people have been through hell and back thanks to unchecked militancy, and they cannot be left to the mercy of such murderous elements.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2022