Explosion in mosque an act of terror - GulfToday

Explosion in mosque an act of terror

Rescue workers conduct an operation to clear the rubble and search for bodies at the site of the blast. AP

Rescue workers conduct an operation to clear the rubble and search for bodies at the site of the blast. AP

The bomb blast in a mosque in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan which killed 92 people, and authorities are saying that the toll could be higher, is pointing to the danger of new groups emerging in the troubled region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. A year earlier, another blast in Peshawar had killed 64 people, and that blast was claimed by a group called the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP). Initially, a commander of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed responsibility for the Monday blast, but it was denied by the spokesman of the TTP, saying that the organisation did not target mosques and seminaries.  

The TTP and the Pakistan government have been on a collision course for more than a year now. Unfortunately, the blast comes at a time when Pakistan is going through a deep economic crisis and there is political confrontation between former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf Party and the coalition government of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif comprising the country’s two major parties, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and others.

There is much misunderstanding between Pakistan and Afghanistan as they face increased disruption and acts of violence from the extremist forces in both the countries.  Afghanistan’s Taliban government blames Pakistan for encouraging the extremists, while the Pakistan government suspects that it is the Taliban government in Kabul which is encouraging the terror attacks in Pakistan. In the 1990s, when Taliban was in power in Kabul, Pakistan was its friendly neighbour. But this time round, ever since its return to power in August 2021, the Taliban have not been on good terms with the Pakistan government, especially the coalition government of Prime Minister Sharif.

The outburst of violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan may not have a common source but it would be necessary for the two governments to cooperate with other to check the increase in terrorism in the two countries.

There is the distinct possibility that the extremists are using the territory of each country to escape from the other. And it will be necessary for the two countries to coordinate with each other. As a matter of fact, South Asia, including India and Bangladesh, would need an anti-terrorist protocol, and all of them would have to launch joint operation against the terrorists. That is indeed the need of the hour.  In both Afghanistan and in Pakistan, the violence has a sectarian flavour to it because most of the time the mosques that are targeted are those of Shiites.

Neither in Pakistan nor in Afghanistan is it possible to isolate the acts of violence and downplay their impact on the economy and on society. The two countries will remain economically brittle and vulnerable as long as episodes of violence occur. The absence of security is a big disincentive for investors at home as well as abroad. Whatever their differences at the political level, the dominant political groups in the two countries will need to chart out a common strategy to combat the terrorist groups in their territories. It will not be possible for Kabul and Islamabad to tackle terrorism on their own. With the Taliban in power in Kabul, there should have been no terror acts, but terrorism has not ended in Afghanistan.

Terror acts continue to occur even as TTP has disclaimed responsibility for the Monday blast. It is for this reason that intelligence agencies in the two countries should come together to counter the terrorist groups.

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