Threat assessment

Published November 7, 2023

MILITARY personnel as well as police officers have come under militant attack in three provinces over the last few days, resulting in the martyrdom of several individuals. The deadliest attack was in Gwadar, where 14 troops were martyred, while terrorists launched a brazen attack on a PAF base in Mianwali. Attacks also took place in Dera Ismail Khan and Lakki Marwat.

The latest attack came yesterday; leaving four army men martyred in Khyber. While a group allied with the banned TTP has claimed responsibility for the Mianwali attack, a separatist Baloch outfit said it was behind the Gwadar atrocity. Whereas security men have been the principal targets of the latest violence, the perpetrators belong to differing ideological strands, indicating the complexity of the threat matrix confronting Pakistan.

Talking to the media on Sunday, the Balochistan caretaker information minister claimed “two neighbours” are responsible for “blackmailing” Pakistan through terrorism.

The minister’s fingers were pointed towards India and Afghanistan. Indeed, the possibility of foreign actors’ involvement cannot be discounted; in the past, there has been evidence enough of the threat posed by such hostile actors, especially when agents working for external intelligence agencies have been apprehended.

In this respect, the hostility with India is decades old. Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan were hardly cordial before the Afghan Taliban took Kabul in 2021.

It was expected that ties would improve after the group’s victory, but things have not transpired according to this script. The Taliban have done little to rein in the banned TTP, which is using Afghan soil for launching attacks against Pakistan.

Moreover, the repatriation of Afghan nationals has also managed to take away whatever remaining goodwill there might have been between Islamabad and Kabul. Yet the fact remains that even if malign foreign actors are fuelling instability inside Pakistan, it is the responsibility of the state to counter these moves, and protect the lives of security personnel and civilians.

The recent attacks point to intelligence failures, as terrorists were able to target security men in significant numbers, along with raiding the PAF base, which is supposed to be a highly secure facility.

While there may not be evidence of this in the recent violent episodes, security agencies must probe the possibility of insider information being passed on to militants, as there are precedents of this happening during past terrorist attacks.

Frank questions must be asked within the security establishment to assess what loopholes are allowing terrorists to target our forces. This cycle of spasms of violence followed by uneasy calm must be broken.

For this, the security apparatus must give full attention to vanquishing the terrorist threat and neutralising the militants’ support network, instead of indulging in activities that are beyond its brief.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

New funds
27 Feb, 2024

New funds

PAKISTAN plans to seek a new loan of $6bn from the IMF under its Extended Fund Facility for a period of three years,...
Missing link
27 Feb, 2024

Missing link

WITH most of Punjab and KP now accessible via motorways, which have greatly eased road travel for the bulk of the...
Tragedy averted
Updated 27 Feb, 2024

Tragedy averted

Pakistan must shed the layers of intolerance that have been allowed to permeate society.
Spirit of ’74
26 Feb, 2024

Spirit of ’74

FOR three days in 1974, starting Feb 22, Lahore witnessed an epochal meeting of 38 Muslim nations as it hosted the...
Silence strategy
Updated 26 Feb, 2024

Silence strategy

Attempts at internet censorship only serve to tarnish Pakistan’s image globally and betray the democratic principles the country purports to uphold.
Nepra’s reluctance
26 Feb, 2024

Nepra’s reluctance

WHAT is the point in having a regulator that does not punish the entities it oversees for misconduct and...