Jamaat-ul Ahrar (JuA) has turned into the biggest menace in Pakistan and should be first on the list to be eliminated by any means necessary. A suicide bomber targeted a mosque in Mohmand Agency’s Anbar tehsil during Friday prayers, leaving at least 24 people dead and 31 others injured. Since June 2014, groups like the JuA have been at the receiving end of a fully-fledged military operation in FATA, and the backlash has been seen in Lahore and most recently in Mardan.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has so far launched several attacks on Pakistani civilians and security forces in recent months to boost their profile amongst Pakistan’s increasingly fractured militants. These terrorists detonate bombs as PR stunts and their lack of value for human life is astounding.

The lives of the people of FATA are indeed precious, and considering the fact that the region has been under the burden of a military operation with large-scale loss to life and property, FATA should get the most attention from the government and media. The lack of attention given to the tragedy on the airwaves was a sad reminder that our national psyche is now so used to the region being in constant turmoil, that even mass deaths do not get significant time on air. This callousness cannot be taken lightly because at the extremes of such apathy is the hate-filled ideology of groups like the JuA, who we would rather not compare ourselves to.

JuA claims to be fighting for the establishment of an Islamic state in Pakistan. It is likely to have some support in Mohmand, and the other FATA agencies: Bajaur, Khyber and Aurakzai, but is not limited to these areas considering the attack in Gulshan-e-Iqbal in Lahore. The Punjab operation, in tandem with the sweeping of these areas in FATA should be prioritised. The military, under the incumbent army chief Raheel Sharif, is seen as by the public as willing to take on the militants, however the government in Punjab seems lacking in political will to take on the militant groups in southern Punjab because of parochial political interests.

The counter-terrorism strategy towards the people of FATA has to change. There has to be public recognition that their tragedies are ours as well. The other related issue that gets minimal coverage by the media, and seems to be a distant memory for politicians is that of the IDPs of FATA. According to the UNHCR, as of March there were 178,461 families still displaced. There has to be a serious focus on immediate resettlement of the displaced families with a promise to make sure that perpetrators of any attacks will be caught and dealt with.