Published On: Thu, Feb 8th, 2018

Threat of militancy still exists

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Thought there has been marked decrease in militant and terrorists’ attacks across country, but the threat of militantly is still existent. The last Saturday terrorists attack in Swat is a case in point. We were served a grisly reminder of the ever-present threat of militancy on Saturday  last when a suicide bomber martyred 11 soldiers and injured at least 13 others in an attack on an army camp in Swat. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, whose leadership is based in Afghanistan, has claimed responsibility for the attack. Swat used to be a stronghold of the TTP, ruled with an iron fist by its current leader Mullah Fazlullah, until the group was driven out by Operation Rah-e-Rast in 2009.

Such attacks show that nearly a decade after the state regained control of the valley, we still remain vulnerable to militancy. The situation is similar in the rest of the country. For all the successes Pakistan has had in the war against the TTP and other militant groups, their ability to strike at any time remains potent. This attack came the same day Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua went to Kabul to present the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Solidarity and asked the Afghan government to take action against militant groups based on their soil.

In the run-up to the meeting, Afghanistan had been blaming Pakistan for alleged support of the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network. But, as the Swat attack shows, the problem runs both ways. Ideally, both Pakistan and Afghanistan would realise that the militant threat affects both countries equally, and work together to take on all militant groups regardless of which country they are targeting. Instead, both countries prefer to scapegoat the other. Even if progress with Afghanistan is not possible at the moment, Pakistan should at least follow the dictates of the National Action Plan and have a zero-tolerance policy towards all militants.

Instead, the leader of the Tehreek-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi, the now aged Sufi Muhammad Khan, who originally brought extremist ideas to the once peaceful valley of Swat, was released recently from detention. Sufi Mohammed is not only the father-in-law of Mullah Fazlullah, he also laid the groundwork for his rule in Swat. The illegal FM radio stations Fazlullah used to gain popularity were first started with Sufi Mohammad. Militancy cannot be defeated so long as we continue to distinguish between different types of militants and send a signal that even someone declaring war on the state can be redeemed. T

his impunity from justice for even those who murder and kill on a mass scale can only encourage others. The situation in Swat needs a review even as we bury our soldiers and mourn the loss of life caused by groups which remain active despite years of action against them. Time has come to come hard on them.

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