AS the people of KP are literally on the frontline of the battle against terrorism and violent extremism, they are bravely raising the loudest voices against this resurgent menace. Mass protests were witnessed in several KP areas on Sunday as people took to the streets to demand an end to terrorism, and the establishment of peace. Demonstrations were held in Mohmand, Lakki Marwat as well as Malakand. While Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement and ANP leaders were present at the Mohmand event, representatives of parties from across the political spectrum attended demonstrations in other parts of KP. Such large protests were also held as militancy began to rear its ugly head in the region last year, when the ceasefire between the banned TTP and the state started faltering. These protests have gained frequency after last week’s brutal Police Lines bombing in Peshawar; in fact, in an unprecedented move, KP policemen in Peshawar and other cities held demonstrations in uniform demanding justice for their fallen colleagues following the atrocity. The common denominator running through all these protests is a call for the state to crack down on terrorism, and guarantee peace.
The people of KP in particular, and the country in general, need to be reassured by the state that everything possible is being done to reverse the rising tide of violence, and keep them safe. A government-sponsored multiparty conference is due to be held in Islamabad later this week to discuss the challenges facing the nation. It is hoped that the political class comes up with practical solutions regarding an effective counterterrorism strategy, and that the state, opposition and establishment combine their efforts to realise the goal of fighting terrorism. There can be no room for petty politics and sniping when the ogre of terrorism is battering the door. The people want to know what plans the state has to stem violence, and want these plans implemented without further delay.
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2023