While many wanted to congratulate the Pakistani security agencies for maintaining peace during the Ashura, Rehman Malik has surprisingly thanked the Taliban also for their cooperation. The common man expects the government machinery to provide him security. What Malik has said conveys the message that the country is still at the mercy of the TTP and but for its cooperation, the common man’s life would remain insecure. The TTP has never in the past condemned even the most barbaric terrorist attacks on Sunni shrines or Shia congregations. Two year back, Rehman Malik and his colleagues in the government had criticised the Punjab chief minister for making appeals to the extremists to spare Punjab and of the PML(N) for hobnobbing with the TTP. Malik’s critics would now be asking whether he, too, had approached the TTP this time with requests for maintaining peace.
Interestingly, the Afghan Taliban have strongly condemned the devastating attacks on a Shia congregation in Kabul and another in Mazare Sharif, killing 56 people and injuring 193 on Tuesday. The group has characterised the attacks as cruel, indiscriminate, inhuman, and a work of the enemies of Islam. The attack has been owned by Lashkar-e-Janghvi al Almi, a group with links to Al-Qaeda. The Taliban statement is yet another indication of widening schisms among the extremist networks. It has been recently maintained by the TTP watchers that the organisation has splintered into scores of groups because of internal differences sharpened by shortage of funds, battering by Pakistan army’s operations and US drone strikes.
The ongoing standoff between the US and Pakistan can only help the extremists. Even countries like Russia and China who are keen to see the US-led coalition’s back in Afghanistan at the earliest expect Pakistan to be fully devoted to the eradication of the extremist menace. What is needed at this stage is an unwavering pursuit of the army’s current policy of divide-and-conquer. Any indication of weakness on the part of the agencies could damage the army’s efforts.