Archive for the ‘Pakistan’ Category
As Pakistan detains an alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, Ahmed Rashid argues that Pakistan needs a broader, better co-ordinated strategy from state institutions and a willingness to face up to unpleasant truths if it really wants to curb resurgent extremism.
Pakistan faces a renewed threat of rising Islamic extremism, vigilantism, attacks on minorities and a reluctance to face up to how these threats are internally rather than externally inspired.
Also missing is the lack of a comprehensive narrative against extremism, articulated unanimously by all bodies of the state and civil society.
The result of the failure to push forward a clear counter-terrorism and counter-extremism narrative that embraces the entire public domain is that some extremist groups continue to be tolerated by elements of the state.
Just over two years ago, on 16 December 2014, an attack on an army-run school in Peshawar which killed 150 people – the majority of them children – galvanised the civilian government, opposition parties and the military to articulate the need for a comprehensive counter-terrorism plan.
For the first time there emerged a 20-point National Action Plan – a list of pointers of what needed to be done, endorsed by the military and all political parties.
However the 20 points were never turned into a comprehensive winning strategy or a common narrative and the fight against extremism has diminished ever since.
- The little boy killed at the market
- Two tasks for Pakistan’s army chief
- How Peshawar massacre changed Pakistan
The army’s Operation Zarb-e-Azb, launched six months earlier, had cleared out North Waziristan, a key staging area for dozens of militant groups – many of them foreigners.
Other military operations also took place, dramatically reducing terrorist bombings nationwide. But they were always going to be tactical operations, which still needed to be backed by a strategic plan carried through by the government.
The bomber blew himself up among devotees in the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in the town of Sehwan, in Sindh province, police said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the attack, which has been claimed by so-called Islamic State.
A surge of attacks this week has shattered a period of improving security in Pakistan.
The shrine was crowded as Thursday is considered a sacred day for Muslims to pray there.
The blast, in one of the country’s most revered shrines, is the deadliest in a string of bombings in Pakistan this week, claimed by the Pakistani Taliban and other Islamist militants.
The Edhi Welfare Trust, which runs the country’s largest ambulance service, said 43 of the dead were men, nine women and 20 children.
At least 250 others were wounded, a senior police official told the BBC. The only hospital in the area was said to be overwhelmed.
The critically injured were being sent by ambulance to Jamshoro and Hyderabad, some two hours away. The military said navy helicopters capable of flying at night would be sent to airlift the critically injured.