First blood redrawn, the consistent reign of terror


June 2017 witnessed a series of terror attacks including a suicide car bombing in Quetta targeting policemen, targeted killing of another four policemen in Karachi, and two blasts in Parachinar market area resulting in a total death toll of 96, leaving approximately 200 injured severely


Consistency, in our beloved country, apparently has remained an exclusive attribute of evils prevailing, and prosperity seems to have succumbed to this consistency. Despite being struck back, optimism however still finds its way, and is a symbol of national resilience we have acquired over decades of setbacks, both political and security.

Political stability and security establishment particularly post 9/11, till date, remain the most formidable challenges Pakistan is faced off with.

The recent successes against terrorists silencing insurgency across the country overshadowed the harsh reality of deep-rooted terror network that exists within our boundaries, which the insurgent groups reinforced themselves yet again, by striking at the nation preparing for Eid celebrations while approaching the end of sacred month of Ramzan. The deadly attacks in Quetta, Parachinar, and Karachi by anti-state elements have re-asserted not just their ruled out existence, but their capability to strike upon their will, and cause considerable damage in the form of innocent lives lost.

June 2017 witnessed a series of terror attacks including a suicide car bombing in Quetta targeting policemen, targeted killing of another four policemen in Karachi, and two blasts in Parachinar market area resulting in a total death toll of 96, leaving approximately 200 injured severely. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and ISIL claimed responsibility for attacks in Quetta, while no ownership of Parachinar and Karachi attacks has come into notice.

The attack in Quetta left 14 people dead including 7 policemen, while 80 innocent lives were lost in wake of Parachinar attacks.

Pakistan army, however, stated that the attacks were coordinated by anti-Pakistan elements from Afghanistan, forcing the Pakistani security forces to beef up the surveillance of Pak-Afghan border. The COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa, according to ISPR, has stressed on the need to “Do More” by Afghanistan in order to prevent the terrorist attacks from being carried out across the border in Pakistan. “Security has been tightened across the country. Special intelligence based search operations have been launched in coordination with other law enforcing agencies”, the DG ISPR further quoted the COAS.

Let us remind ourselves that the war on terror is far from over and requires undivided attention and persistence in order to achieve absolute success.

The Bahawalpur catastrophe: No use crying over spilt oil

The nation, while mourning the irrevocable loss of lives caused by the terror strikes, witnessed the Bahawalpur catastrophe only a day prior to Eidul Fitr. An oil tanker, allegedly carrying 50,000 litters of fuel, travelling from Karachi to Lahore overturned 6kms from Ahmedpur Sharqia while taking a sharp turn resulting in an oil leakage. Hundreds of nearby villagers rushed to the incident site to collect the spilt oil. In the midst of the event unfolding, the oil tanker caught flame, and soon after turned into a huge ball of fire catching hundreds of people in its reach. Approximately six cars and as many as 70 motorcycles were burnt in the blaze. The death toll in this sad incident rose up to 164, while hundreds were severely burnt, and were moved to nearby hospital burn centres for treatment. The army, upon instructions from the army chief, participated in the relief operation, and army helicopters remained at disposal for support of civil administration for rescue operations.

Avarice is the root of all evils, they say. The state of abject poverty rampant across the country, however, is the devil’s advocate here, and raises questions on the standard of governance.

The incident is an eye opener for the responsible officials, and has given birth to serious questions. The first and the foremost being the overloading of the oil tanker, and non-compliance to the standards defined by National Highway Authority (NHA), followed by the fitness of the vehicles to carry such flammable materials in such quantities. Are oil and transport companies adhering to the standards? Another question arises on the provincial government for insufficient burn centres in the southern part of the province. Why?

As per practice of the past, post incident concerns and questions could be ignored, and things could go on, or the relevant authorities could look into these seriously, seek the required answers, and take actions necessary to prevent any such incidents from happening in future.

The Ummah falling apart?

The dream of a unified Muslim Ummah seems far from reaching climax yet again, this time around with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of the most flourishing economies in the GCC, at loggerheads with each other. The recent rift between the two countries rooted from the Riyadh summit, where the 33-year-old emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the youngest to be crowned in the GCC, in presence of World leaders including US President Donald Trump, and Saudi King declared Iran as a force of stability in the region, as opposed to other heads of governments agreeing to keep Iran in a political and economic quarantine.

The summit also agreed on countering the Muslim Brotherhood, black-listed as a “Terrorist Group” in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain. The latter’s withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar over its support for the former, and declared the act of support from Qatar as a breach of the organisation’s security agreement and violating its principles of unified destiny. Broadcasts of Al-Jazeera and other Qatar television stations have also been banned in KSA, UAE, and Bahrain. Saudi government has also placed sanctions on air corridors and land routes for Qatar causing food blockade.

The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud-al-Faisal, stated that the diplomatic crisis will persist as long as Doha does not rethink and revise its policy towards Muslim Brotherhood. The US Secretary of State, James Mattis, also warned Qatar that maintaining its relations with Muslim Brotherhood might be costly as President Trump was considering declaring the organisation as a terrorist group.

The emir of Qatar, on the other hand, exhibiting no inclination on mending the weakening ties, and reiterated his resolve of no compromise on the independence of Qatar’s policies.

The ongoing diplomatic spat between Saudi and Qatar can weaken or even unravel the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, analysts say, which could destabilise the vulnerable Middle Eastern region, jeopardising regional and global security.

It is imperative for Arab powers to avoid confrontation and resort to diplomatic means in reaching a meaningful settlement.