During primordial times the Chinese reportedly used to torture and kill an enemy by inflicting thousand cuts on his body. A contraption called the Wire Jacket was draped around the ill fated victim. The raised flesh in the wire jacket would be slashed with a sharp blade, stroke by stroke, until the victim bled to death.

 Pakistan is in the grisly grip of callous contraption of home-grown terrorists linked with global terrorist networks. Haplessly we are watching ourselves being subjected to cuts-one by one, bleeding profusely. The series of recent ‘cuts’ culminated into the dare devil Dera Ismail Khan jail attack drama which demolished the confidence of Pakistanis to the hilt. It must have baffled those even more who came to know that this inverted jailbreak was one of the episodes of international serial of such jailbreaks carried out in Abu Ghraib and Taji jails in Iraq in quick succession. The pattern and style in all the incidents was almost identical giving a strong indication that the same planner was behind it.

Recently the US shut down nineteen diplomatic posts across the Middle East and Africa over an unspecified terrorist threat from al-Qaida. Reportedly an intercept revealed that Dr Ayman Al Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden, gave directions to Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the founder of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), to undertake an attack. Some Western analysts like Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert and Georgetown University professor believe Zawahiri is in border lands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. ‘It is being presumed that Zawahiri is seeking to compensate for the weakness of al-Qaeda’s core group in Pakistan by working more through regional affiliates’. The New York Times quoted an American official briefed on the intelligence report who said: "This (Zawahiri-Wuhashi interaction) was significant because it was the big guys talking, and talking about very specific timing for an attack or attacks."

This is a matter of greater worry for Pakistan than the US. If al Qaeda is trying to replenish its strength and carry out terrorist acts like inverted jailbreaks through its affiliates in and outside Pakistan, then Pakistan is the most vulnerable target, because of the presence of dreaded TTP and its sub groups; more importantly due to deadly delay in the government’s decisiveness to tackle them in a coordinated and sustained manner. Zawahiri’s reported presence in or around Pakistan and calling shots for international terrorism from our soil puts Pakistan in a graver situation. Not only the foreign militants would be emboldened to look at it as re-establishment of the centre of command of al Qaeda in tribal areas of Pakistan, but the international reaction would be also highly unfavourable.

It is a folly to think that al Qaeda is dead and that Pakistan is not its target. Al Qaeda is mercurial in nature. When it is suppressed at one place it emerges at a different place in a different form, with more vigour and vengeance. Zawahiri has never minced words to express his disdain for the government, the army and the constitution of Pakistan. Like Abu Bakr Naji, an al Qaeda ideologue, Zawahiri eyes the extremist elements in Pakistan as a potential pool of activists for his present and future designs.

To correctly fathom the gravity of situation it is imperative to have a look at the series of recent ‘cuts’ administered to Pakistan. This picture also shows the level of logistic self reliance, excellent planning, immaculate execution and heightened morale of the networks of terrorists. On June 18, a Member of Provincial Assembly Khyber Pukhtunkhawa, Imran Mohmand and at least 35 persons were killed and over 57 others were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a funeral prayer in Shah Zaman Qala village of Shergarh town in Mardan District. On June 21, at least 15 members of the Shia community were killed and 25 others were injured in a suicide attack at an Imambargah in largely Shia area of Gulshan Colony, Peshawar.  On June 23, 10 foreign tourists-cum-mountaineer were among 11 persons killed, when militants wearing paramilitary uniforms attacked a base camp of Nanga Parbat mountain range in Bonar area of Diamer District in Gilgit Baltistan. Several similar incidents have occurred since, causing the death of over 200 people and injuries even to a greater number,

One should not take solace in the less frequency of terrorist acts in Punjab. It is an illusion and matter of choice of the terrorists. Bomb blast at Food Street Old Anarkali Lahore when the Prime Minister was on a tour to China was a strong message from the terrorists of their presence and prowess. High profile kidnappings and extortion are the modus operandi mostly employed in Punjab so far. Karachi is already on fire where a host of groups are engaged in target killings with impunity.

Are we waiting for somebody to come and free us from this contraption? Allah’s system does not work like this. The enemies will gloat and friends will watch from the fence. Nobody would come forward and yank us out of this contraption of terror. Only we ourselves are responsible and capable of doing it. The government and people of Pakistan will have to take the bull by the horns now before the cuts bleed us to unfortunate destiny. If the government is taking time to make up its mind and to formulate its long awaited anti-terror policy, people should organize themselves to defend their localities, towns and cities. It is a war of existence. Everybody must act as a warrior and a defender.

The writer is Honorary Director of the Centre for Peace and Security Studies, University of the Punjab, and holds Master’s degree in Intelligence and International Security from War Studies Department, King’s College London.