Attack inside red zone

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The bomb cum gun attack in Karachi killing at least 24 and injuring over 1,000 indicates that the city which had till recently avoided bigger attacks by Taliban militants is no more immune. Like the strike on the Marriot hotel in Islamabad in 2008, this too was an audacious but well planned adventure. The CID building, where recently arrested Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) activists were also being interrogated, was chosen despite its location in the red zone. The attack was presumably aimed at achieving two purposes. First, to convey a message, clearly and loudly, that arrests of the sort would not go without retaliation. Second, to try to kill the arrested militants who could have cracked and spilled the beans. The LeJ wanted to ensure that crucial intelligence about the operations of their network did not pass into the hands of the intelligence body.

That the terrorists succeeded in taking a van filled with 1,000 kilo explosives and accompanied by several militants carrying lethal weapons right inside a high security zone once again raises questions about the alertness of the security agencies. That the TTP should promptly claim responsibility once again substantiates the view that those conducting heinous attacks of the sort are homegrown terrorists rather than foreign networks as is often claimed by some. This also reveals that various networks of communal terrorists are now a part of the hydra-headed monster that goes by the name of TTP and is reportedly allied with Al-Qaeda.

There is a need on the part of the establishment and opposition parties, particularly those who support negotiations with the terrorists, to realize that to save the country terrorist groups have to be completely eliminated irrespective of their brand name. Attacks of this sort are aimed at demoralizing the law enforcement agencies. The way to reduce their impact is through determined and thoroughgoing action against these groups. Any hesitation or double-mindedness would turn cities like Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar into hostages in the hands of the militants.