The Quetta problem

The Quetta problem
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Running in circles

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It has, sadly, become routine. Every few weeks there’s a terrorist attack in Quetta – injuring/killing religious minorities or Punjabi labourers or police/army/FC personnel – and then the government vows to capture and hold accountable all cowards responsible. But since the proof of the pudding lies in the eating – more so in matters of security, arguably, than other arms of government – the official ‘capture and hold accountable’ strategy is now clearly in need of an overhaul. Quetta is hardly a large city by modern standards. And it has had a sizeable security presence for decades. Why, then, is it impossible to put a plug on terrorist activity in the city?
Of late security agencies have traced terrorist activities in Pakistan, not just in Quetta, to the TTP lair on the other side of the Durand Line. And this trend, too, has gone unaddressed far too long. Our government, just like Afghanistan’s, has long realised that there is no practical chance of an end to this terrorism until Islamabad and Kabul truly join hands and sandwich the bad guys from both sides. Yet despite the military frustration in both capitals, they are still unable to translate the realisation into a workable, mutually beneficial arrangement.
The military has, not dobut, done an outstanding job in dismantling the terrorist infrastructure with Zarb-e-Azb and following up with the combing operations of Rudd-ul-Fasaad. But, as the example of Quetta clearly shows, a far broader approach will be needed to completely wipe out the threat as the fight now reaches settled urban centres. To nip the evil in the bud, Pakistan and Afghanistan will eventually have to work together. That the governments are talking, at least, is encouraging. Now they must realise that their political stalemate is allowing the death toll to mount. And since leadership carries immense burden of responsibility they, too, will have blood on their hands if they don’t hammer out a solution sooner rather than later.

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