In the backdrop of Operation Zarb-e-Azab in North Waziristan, a backlash from the TTP was very much expected and the security and other agencies were accordingly alerted and instructed to provide security to vulnerable places and to safeguard vital government installations. Unfortunately, the terrorists have succeeded in carrying out terrorist attacks in different parts of the country beginning with the one on Army Public School in Peshawar on 16th December, followed by a spate of similar acts against worship places of different religious sects and minority communities. The suicide attack on two churches in Lahore on Sunday in which 21 people including 7 Muslims died and scores were injured, was the latest and most horrendous manifestation of the ultimate bestiality of the terrorists. TTP has claimed responsibility for the Lahore attacks confirming the fact that it neither had a sectarian nor xenophobic hue to warrant the kind of reaction that was witnessed.
Whenever such incidents occur, the government is subjected to a barrage of opprobrium for its inability to stop them, lack of security at the sites of the occurrences and the failure of intelligence agencies. Nobody cares to appreciate and mention the likely attacks thwarted by the intelligence agencies. Ensuring hundred percent fool-proof security at all vulnerable places against an invisible enemy and its operatives determined to sacrifice their lives for their cause, is impossible. This is amply testified by historic evidence and the experience of the nations who also had to endure this kind of experience. Even nations with the best of technology and intelligence networks have often found themselves at the mercy of terrorists.
No words would be enough to condemn these acts. The solidarity shown by the people of Pakistan and the political leadership of the country with the Christian community over the loss of precious lives was demonstrative of the grief and pain that they felt over this tragic incident. The Prime Minister was right to say that the attack was not on the Christian community but the state of Pakistan. The terrorists are a threat to the Pakistani state, the values it cherishes and the narrative of equal rights for the citizenry irrespective of their religious beliefs. The attack on the churches in Lahore, therefore, needs to be looked at from this perspective. The phenomenon is a challenge to the entire nation and requires impregnable national unity to thwart the designs of the enemies of the country. An incisive look into the terrorists’ acts reveals that more than ninety per cent worship places targeted by terrorists have been mosques, in fact
The rage and anguish among the Christian community over the attacks is quite understandable and they deserve the sympathy and solidarity of the entire nation at this time of adversity. However, the way the Christian community reacted in Lahore by burning two suspects and damaging public and private property was also a variant of terrorism, fraught with chances of creating fissures among different communities; an avowed objective of the terrorists. It is painful to observe that most of our religious and political leaders are responsible for this rampant culture of violence which was adequately on display during the sit-ins in Islamabad staged by Qadri and Imran Khan. Leaders whether they are religious or political, are role models for their followers and their actions have a far reaching impact on society. Therefore they need to act with responsibility and shrewdness and avoid indiscretions.
The people need to understand that the war against terrorism was a long drawn out undertaking and there was no quick fix solution available to eliminate it. The government alone cannot fight this war nor can the security forces accomplish the objective without the unqualified support of the people. Nonetheless, it is encouraging to note that both were absolutely determined to take the fight against terrorism and religious extremism to its logical end and were unanimous on the strategy to deal with terrorism and initiatives on security issues. After a decade long dithering by the previous regimes with regards to tackling the phenomenon of terrorism, the present government and military leadership for the first time initiated decisive and indiscriminate action against the terrorists. External dimensions of terrorism has been taken care of by enlisting the cooperation of the Afghan government in quelling cross-border terrorism and action against TTP operatives based in Afghanistan. Opertion Zarb-e-Azab and Khyber-I have almost achieved their objectives and the implementation of the National Action Plan against terrorism is being pursued with unruffled commitment and equanimity in coordination with and support of the provincial governments. Peace in Karachi, which also is one of the objectives of the National Action Plan, is being pursued across the board. The infrastructure of terrorist and sectarian outfits in Balochistan is being dismantled and a number of successful operations have been carried out in this regard. People need to stand by their government and the security establishment with the spirit and resolve not to spare any sacrifice for winching the country out of these troubled waters.