State of War

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Wednesday’s terror attacks in Panjgur and Naushki areas of Balochistan, close on the heels of the attack in Kech that killed 10, all by Baloch insurgents on security forces, prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the state is once more under attack, and therefore at war with the same enemies that that killed upwards of 80,000 people and had to be forcibly crushed by the military not too long ago. Let’s not forget that TTP has also gone active again, attacking soft targets up and down the country, despite the Taliban regime’s assurance that no group would be allowed to use Afghan soil to plan and stage attacks in other countries.
Ominously, Wednesday’s attacks, claimed by Baloch insurgents, came just as the prime minister was flying to China. And even though attending the opening ceremony of the winter Olympics and holding high-profile meetings with the Chinese leadership make for just the right kind of optics, chatter in Islamabad suggests that “reviving CPEC” is number-one on his priority list. Beijing has apparently been unhappy not just because of the slowing pace of CPEC, but also because of the deteriorating security situation in Pakistan, which has also claimed the lives of a number of Chinese workers. Now, after the fresh wave of violence, the PM’s assurances of iron-clad security run the risk of sounding a little hollow, to say the least.
Reports of an alleged link between TTP and Baloch insurgents are also very worrying. Both are umbrella organisations stitched together by a number of like-minded outfits working towards the same goals; which in this case are destabilising the state of Pakistan by killing as many people, security officials and civilians, as possible in the minimum possible time to create the maximum possible fear and anarchy. If all of them are now on the same page not just strategically but also tactically, then they would be sharing information, weapons, reconnaissance reports, and also very likely doing each other’s dirty work on the ground.
There’s no doubt that the military must once again put its foot down and crush this enemy; this time for good. The whole country knows only too well the risks inherent in reacting to attacks each time, and waiting for something like Peshawar to happen before really taking the fight to the enemy. Pakistan’s armed forces earned the whole country’s respect when they exterminated the enemy last time. But perhaps letting it retreat across the border and find sanctuary in the hills surrounding the Durand Line was the wrong thing to do. Because it got stronger and has come back for another fight. This time the endgame should be very different.