Peshawar has been under attack from militants for some time, but this weekend will probably go down in the city’s history. Not just was there a major attack on the city’s airport, but the very next day, Sunday, there was a major gunbattle in a residential area. In both, the militants were killed, preventing any interrogation that might provide some indication of where the next attack might come, or failing that, at least some idea of their modus operandi. The airport was targeted, with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman accepting responsibility, saying that the fighters and gunship helicopters flying out of Peshawar were the targets, and vowed that the attacks would continue. It thus seems that the TTP launched the attack because Peshawar Airport, a dual-purpose air base, was where the aircraft operated from against the militants in the Tribal Areas.

It should be crystal clear to any terrorist organizations which operate “in the name of Pakistan”, that no challenge to the writ of the state can be tolerated. The excuse that somehow the military has “invited” trouble on itself is a cowardly attempt to cloud people’s judgement and destabilize the source of support that any troops involved in fighting a war ought to receive from the nations at whose behest and on whose behalf they risk their lives. It is unfortunate that the terrorist threat continues to emanate from Afghanistan, as well as their sympathizers on our side of the border. How much more patience does Pakistan have for this kind of violence and anarchy? There is only one loyalty that a Pakistani will accept – and that is a loyalty to the state of Pakistan. Any organizations acting as “benevolent” anarchists ought to remember that.

The authorities must not be content at entrusting the security of the airport to the armed forces, but must also play an effective role in obtaining the intelligence of future attacks that appear imminent. They should remember that Peshawar is a city under attack, and that this a time not just to affix blame and retaliate, but also to stop future attacks from occurring. As Sunday’s events showed, the Airport will not be the only target, and the entire city will be the battleground. The government must realise that its policies have contributed to the challenge it is facing, and with the USA on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan, it is vital that Pakistan is not saddled with the blame for the long American occupation of Afghanistan.