Down, but not out


Terrorist networks in Pakistan’s urban areas


The Leader of the opposition in Sindh Assembly Kh Izharul Hassan fortunately survived a terrorist attack on Eid day. As Hassan is also a leader of MQM-P his killing could have led to serious social and political consequences for a city where Rangers and police have worked hard for four years to improve the law and order situation. The MQM is already unhappy over the refusal by the Prime Minister to hand over to the party its zonal offices seized last year. Had those who targeted Kh Izharul Hasan succeeded in their mission, this would have added yet another major item to the list of grievances the MQM-P carries against law enforcement agencies, Sindh administration and federal government.


Keeping in view MQM’s past, the initial perception was that terrorist elements under the control of Altaf Hussain were behind the attack. A senior Karachi police officer however maintains that the attack was conducted by the activists of Ansarul Sharia, a terrorist group that was known so far for targeting law enforcement personnel, particularly the police. This shows that while the terrorists might have lost Swat and the two Waziristan Agencies, they are still active in the country’s urban centers. The recent incidents in Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar underline the reality.


The central commander of the terrorist network is reportedly a postgraduate student from a local university. This should once again remind those running the anti-terrorist operations of the need to eliminate extremist thinking not only among the culturally backward sections of society but also from the country’s mainstream prestigious educational institutions. While the fight against terrorism goes on, the country still lacks a comprehensive plan to root out the phenomenon of extremism. Unless this is done the fight against terrorism would remain confined to dealing with only the symptoms while ignoring the cause of the malaise. As a first step in the direction the PML-N government needs to fully enforce the National Action Plan which remains neglected despite repeated reminders by Parliament and civil society.