After six years of the Army Public School (APS) attack, Pakistan witnessed yet another attack on students belonging to a religious school in Peshawar on Tuesday 27th October 2020. The city of Peshawar was once again brought to ashes by brutal bombers. It nudged the dark memories of the APS attack of December 2014 and took the lives of 148 students including the school staff as well.
At least eight students were killed and almost 136 were injured as a result of a bomb attack in a busy madrassah in Peshawar’s Dir Colony. The students killed were aged between 20 and 30 while the injured included students as young as the age of four. The madrassa was ripped through an explosion when a prominent religious teacher was giving a Quran class to the students. The reason for harming students who were gathered together for learning seems absolutely obscure.
PM Imran Khan took to his twitter strongly condemning the attack and offered his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims. He assured the nation that he will bring to justice the terrorists involved in this barbaric attack. But are these condolences and assurances enough for the families who lost their loved ones? Has this attack not brought about the incompetency of the government as well as the security institutions to the national as well as global limelight? It seems like another failure of the security agencies because it has cut afresh the wounds of the APS attack.
Ever since Pakistan joined USA in its War On Terror after the 9/11 attacks, it has been under the constant radar of attacks from the Taliban belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Their targets have specifically been public places, schools, religious institutions, mosques and military bases across the country. They consider Pakistan as a traitor to Islam for joining US in the War On Terror instead of fostering the terrorists who are making efforts for their so-called Jihadist movement.
In one the deadliest and most barbaric terrorist attacks in the history of Pakistan, students and some teachers of the APS were mercilessly murdered by heavily armed militants six years ago in December 2014. The Supreme Court of Justice made the one-member judicial commission report on APS attack public in September 2020. That report had revealed that the terrorists involved in APS attack came from across the Afghan border into Pakistan.
These terrorists from outside had successfully befooled the security apparatus of Pakistan. The reason to this seems pretty apparent that is the porous and unrestrained movement of Afghan refugees across the Pakistani frontier. Under the disguise of refugees, Afghan Taliban have carried out god knows how many terror attacks in Pakistan.
The judicial commission’s report also revealed the involvement of internal factors along with the external factors in the APS attack. It had said that no matter how strong the security institutions of Pakistan had been, the internal treachery and infidelity made the attack inevitable. Now this makes one wonder how many terror attacks have occurred with the internal assistance in Pakistan? The APS attack had happened even after a prior warning given by the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA). It had already warned that a threat was looming over the army families and academic institutions as retribution for the successful military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Khyber-I against militants.
Yesterday’s attack seems like a similar attempt like that of APS attack. NACTA had already given the sensitive alert to Peshawar in the wake of the Pakistan Democratic Alliance PDM’s political power shows happening across the country. Even the people with the slightest but of familiarity with the recent events, saw it coming. A day earlier to the attack, Imran Khan had hinted at the possibility of a terror attack. Nacta had issued a security alert for the Quetta and Peshawar rallies of the PDM stating that they had been given crecible information about suspected bomb attacks.
The warnings did come true on Sunday 25th October 2020 when a blast ripped through the Hazar Ganji area of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan. It coincided directly with PDM’s jalsa day in Quetta. Nacta had also given a warning to security institutions and the political parties involved about the threats of an attack. Before this attack, another attack had happened in Karachi on 21st October 2020 in which almost five people were killed and 20 had been injured.
Last month, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa state, an explosion occurred in a market next to the Kabul River in Akbarpura, where five people were killed and two were injured. All of these incidents happening in a row don’t seem like just a coincidence. Despite the constant warnings given by Nacta, the security institutions and government failed to prevent these attacks from happening. It is an utter failure on account of both the military and the government who seem to be at extremely good terms with each other.
The terrorists chose a religious school in Peshawar where mostly adult students come. They had acted with self-assurance and succeeded as well. But the ones who are responsible for countering these terrorists seem to be on the edge of skepticism with their security moves. The recent situations demanded high security consideration from the government but it failed to provide that.
Pakistan needs to be vigilant in its security apparatus now. Certain external factors and militant groups do not want the victory in the peace talks initiated by Pakistan between USA and Afghan Taliban. It is highly required for Pakistan to tighten its security institutions because the various angry militant groups do not want regional peace.
The peace talks hosted by Pakistan in Qatar between US officials and Afghan Taliban came after more than a decade of the War on Terror started. This is highly important to maintain and keep these talks going. But the outside factors who do not want peace to prevail are making heinous efforts like terror attacks on Pakistan. So Pakistan must prepare itself a highly effective and strong security policy for the coming time.
The author is doing M. Phil in Public Policy and Governance. He is working as a freelancer. Previously worked with HubPages and Washington Post.