Had it been an ideal world, even the unfortunate yet expected losses of soldiers fighting on borders would not have occurred. However, when the horrors of terrorism are unleashed upon innocent civilians going about their business, far removed from the battlefield, the uncalled war zone that ensues amid screams and panic cannot and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. The fear and chaos that seem to have completely engulfed the country after yet another blast in Lahore’s shopping district killed at least nine people, wounding many more, on Thursday, serve as an uncomfortable reminder that terrorism can strike anywhere and anyone. With all politicisation of this national tragedy aside, the authorities could have played a more meaningful role in standing by the bereaved families and the injured as they braved their loss and shock. However, as before, the attack only served to put the indifferent officials back into a defensive mode; wading controversial statements in a futile attempt to save their own skin.
The conflicting reports that originally downplayed the blast as a mere “generator explosion”, only to later confirm the presence of an explosive device (that, too, by the CTD spokespersons) clearly validated the government’s resolve to at least paint an illusion of normalcy before the public even when the reality says otherwise. It is quite unfortunate that the present circumstances expose our vulnerability to the fast-increasing influence of militant outfits despite much-touted governmental claims of having the terrorists on the run. The ever-wider reach of these terrorist groups has claimed more than 100 lives in a series of suicide bomb attacks across Pakistan. Last week, an alleged supporter of the Islamic State struck a crowd of Sufi dancers at the shrine of Sehwan Sharif, claiming at least 90 lives. This attack on the country’s moderate voices occurred only days after a suicide attack near the provincial assembly in Lahore killed over 10 people that included two senior police figures in Punjab. The blood tapestry adorning the walls in all provinces and even the tribal agencies in the last few weeks has, thus, exposed as hollow all claims of establishing order and “breaking the back” of terrorists in Pakistan.
It is not to say that the civilian and the military leadership are sitting idle as terrorist organisations continue to satiate their civilian bloodlust in order to test the state’s resolve. An extensive counter-terrorism crackdown, Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, has already been initiated by the armed forces across the country while yesterday’s blast saw the provincial law enforcement personnel evacuate the site of the explosion for further forensic investigation. Nevertheless, much more still needs to be done if the authorities actually aspire to undermine this ever-intensifying threat that has already thrown down many horrific gauntlets to the Sharif administration. In lieu of playing the old blame game, it is high time that all political elite gather to carve out a combined line of action against militant violence in the country. Given that the law agencies failed to prevent losses of precious human lives despite having received various bomb threats in the same market, Pakistani intelligence community, as well as police officials, also need to gear up to better anticipate such eventualities in order to take stronger preventive measures.
Stranded roads sans any usual roar of traffic, petrified families confined inside the so-called refuge of their homes, and the rumoured cancellation of numerous events in the local circuit, the militants have definitely stridden, if not succeeded, towards proliferating fear amongst the masses. Even if the government is not blamed for its lack of security provision to citizenry today, it would not be able to enjoy this immunity for long. In conjunction with the military-led operation, it should also work towards establishing more efficient civilian structures. Failure to do so would only highlight it as a fundamentally weak state, both in the eyes of militants and the general public.