FATA bleeds again

JUST when one started assuming that law & order situation is returning to normalcy in tribal areas after successful operation Zarb-i-Azb, a deadly blast Saturday ripped through a crowded marketplace in Parachinar, administrative headquarters of Kurram Agency, killing 25 people and leaving scores of others injured. The deadly blast shocked the entire nation and drew widespread denouncement. In toto, it was the fourth blast of its kind that rocked the Eidgah market. A similar attack in December 2015 had killed as many as 25 people there.
Timing of this blast is significant in the context that it has come in the wake of allegations recently levelled by Afghanistan that tribal areas continue to serve as safe havens for terrorists. Thus this should not leave any doubt in anybody’s mind that the despicable act was carried out with intent of maligning Pakistan and undermining the unparalleled successes achieved by Zarb-i-Azb, which even NATO forces despite all available resources could not achieve in war torn Afghanistan. These successes have not only been recognised by the US officials who personally visited tribal areas but the return of temporarily displaced persons to their homes is also a testimony to improved security situation and reinforces the claim that back of terrorists has been broken. Given the close proximity with Afghanistan, we believe the situation in these areas will remain sensitive unless cross border movement of terrorist elements is not stopped. At some crossing points, Pakistan has introduced border management system but the response of Afghan side on this security related initiative has rather been very cynical. Because of its unique geographical location providing link to eastern, western and southern Afghan provinces, Kurram tribal region is used for trade activities between the two countries. Hundreds of truckloads of goods daily move to and from Afghanistan and the militants under some sort of garb can or may already been exploiting the situation. In view of the bloody attack on vegetable market in Parachinar, there is need to enhance security deployment at the border areas especially at check posts. Extensive checking of trucks coming from across the border should be ensured by all means. Apart from using latest detecting tools, sniffer dogs can also be used for this purpose. Local people also need to be more vigilant and keep an eye on their surroundings and cooperate with security forces in eliminating terrorist sleeper cells. Tribal elders and religious scholars have also a very important role to play vis-à-vis maintaining sectarian harmony in their areas as elements financed by some foreign intelligence agencies could resort to such sordid acts which may trigger sectarian strife in these areas. With complete harmony and mutual cooperation, local people can fully realise the long cherished dream of unbreakable peace in their areas.

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