With terrorist incidents in parts of KPK and FATA occurring every day, not to talk of Karachi and Balochistan, there is real fear that the coming general elections, at least in these sensitive areas, would be marred by militant violence. On the heels of an attack on a mosque, killing four, in Peshawar came a massive bomb blast at Jalozai Refugee Camp where 17 internally displaced persons, who had lined up to get their daily ration of food, lay dead including a lady of an NGO helping in its distribution; the condition of four is critical; and nearly 40 others have been injured. The next day two other places were hit. And the TTP has warned that it would step up attacks during elections and the public against attending rallies of certain political parties. While violence has visibly come down in Balochistan, we hope that the caretaker government, unencumbered with political affiliation, would take adequate steps both in Balochistan and Karachi to make it possible for the polls to be free from deadly disturbances.

As for FATA, particularly Tirah Valley from where the militant bands of the TTP and other militant groups fan out to unleash their deadly onslaught in KPK and elsewhere in the country, the armed forces have, for some time past, been actively engaged in rooting out their strongholds. It is not a challenge of ordinary dimensions; for Tirah Valley spreads over 600 to 700 miles, is surrounded by tall mountains on all sides and is dotted with caves. It is too hazardous for the ground forces to attempt the clearing of the cave-sanctuaries of terrorists, who comprising different nationalities have been converging on the ‘safe’ spot when driven out from other areas. Another hurdles to getting rid of the plague is that Tirah situated in Kurran and Khyber agencies, lies close to the Pak-Afghan border, providing an easy access to militants from across the Durand Line and, thus serving as reinforcement and keeping their destructive game alive. Therefore, fighter jets and shelling by the ground forces, which have surrounded the hotspots, are being used to take them out or scare them away from the valley. We hope that the military campaign takes particular care to ensure the safety of innocent population; for killing innocent tribesmen would expose the armed forces to the same charge of swelling the ranks of terrorists as levelled against the drones. The safety of civilians would create a suitable climate for the lasting peace to take hold in tribal areas as well as in the rest of Pakistan.