The recent spate of militant attacks in different regions of the country signals an uptick in the militant problem, one that is worryingly close to the Chine-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor (CPEC). Following the horrifying torching of schools in Diamer, three policemen were martyred and two injured in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) when militants attacked a police station in Kargah area. Concurrently, at least six were wounded in a suicide attack on a bus in Balochistan.
This new wave of terror attacks comes in the midst of the formation of the new polity, and highlights the fact that the job of curbing such terrorist outfits is still ongoing. Whereas the onus of formulating a more effective policy in tackling terrorism falls to the yet-to-be amalgamated new government, the country cannot remain bereft of safeguards against such calculated violence. Also, where CPEC has been touted as the boon that can resuscitate the socio-economic bearing of the country, the project, the protection of the project should be equally robust.
With the apex of the CPEC route in GB and its course through a volatile Balochistan, the project has been flagged repeatedly as a development endeavour that has to have it bearings in a tactful navigation of local politics and tensions - variables that can impede the ambitious project. With these concerns in mind the government – and the military – need to come down hard on the militants with all the power of the state. Recent military operations have succeeded in clearing much greater challenges in the Tribal Areas, there no reason why GB and Balochistan cannot be secured as well.
CPEC and restive regions in GB and Balochistan should be prescribed proactive security measures. In parallel, there has to be an indelible component of political negotiation and local inroads in the region to ameliorate the concerns and misgivings of the people and allow for their involvement in the project. This is a chance for the new polity to revise its status-quo in these areas to allow for a more inclusive and holistic approach to the federation. Where CPEC is set to be the balm for Pakistan’s economic woes, it cannot be implemented without navigating the local spheres of influence that dominate its incidental route. The government needs to adopt an immediate plan for tackling terrorism both on the fronts of crackdown of militant outfits as well as negotiation with the indigenous power loci in the region.