Given the propensity of the bombers to choose to strike on Fridays, the holy day of the week for every Muslim everywhere, one would have thought that security across the country at mosques and imambargahs and all other places of worship would be on the highest of alerts. As yet there has been no statement on security outside the imambargah in Parachinar where 22 died and at least 57 were injured on Friday 31st March, but there has been a quick avowal of ownership by the Jamaatul Ahrar. The blast itself took place in the crowded Noor Market but the target would appear to have been the women’s entrance to the imambargah. It was preceded by firing and in the aftermath what appears to be the tail-end of a mortar bomb was being displayed, an unusual choice of munitions. There is no doubt that the butchery was sectarian in nature and Shias the target. The organisation claiming this latest atrocity is banned which makes little difference to its operational capacity. The JuA is one of the most active domestic terrorist groups over the last three months.
As ever there was the ritual condemnation of the bombing by leading political figures. The prime minister did himself no favours by saying that “The network of terrorists has already been broken…” — when it clearly has not, and if it had then the JuA would not be able to go about its business as it does. The terrorists have certainly been hit and hit hard, there have been considerable losses in terms of dead and injured, but for any government agency or individual to claim that the terrorist threat is on the wane or close to being defeated, then they are going to be made blood-spattered fools of within very short order. Terrorism in Pakistan is nowhere near defeated, it has absorbed severe blows and adapted. Banned groups still operate openly and solicit funds. Money still comes to terrorist groups from abroad. Terrorism is not defeated by turning a blind eye when it suits. It also requires a spine. So grow one, you invertebrate politicians.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2017.