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Pakistan: Surge in terrorism poses formidable challenge in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Cdr Sandeep Dhawan (Retd) Wed, 13 Dec 2023   |  Reading Time: 3 minutes

Islamabad [Pakistan], December 13 (ANI): The surge in terror in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continue to persist as an unsolved problem as despite countless military operations spanning almost a decade and resulting in substantial casualties among both security forces and innocent civilians, Dawn reported.
The residents remain sceptical of complete eradication of terrorism from the region.
According to an opinion piece in Dawn, the three separate incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Dera Ismail Khan that killed at least 25 soldiers and 27 terrorists on Tuesday is now seen as the deadliest attack on a security forces’ check post.
After a brief hiatus, the terrorist activities seem to have been resumed in Pakistan, as this attack, somehow occurred four days before the ninth anniversary of the Army Public School massacre in Peshawar, which left 144 students and staff members dead.
The surge in attacks prompts the question of what has triggered this resurgence. Over the past several years, incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in the southern districts of Tank, DI Khan, Kohat, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Bannu, Karak, and Lakki Marwat, have witnessed a significant increase.
According to the province police, 665 terrorist assaults were really carried out in KP between June 18, 2022, and June 18, 2023, Dawn reported.
DI Khan reported the most assaults, with 81, followed by Bajaur with 51 and Peshawar with 56. What makes DI Khan unique in terms of militancy, then?
Southern KP, which encompasses DI Khan, is endowed with a rich and varied topography that include of plains, mountains, forests, and deserts. Its hardy populace is renowned for their capacity to persevere through many hardships in order to make a living. But these same people have also endured a protracted history of desertion and neglect at the hands of Islamabad and Peshawar.
However, this region is also renowned as a place where senior governmental officials and politicians arrive, particularly before each election cycle, and engage in public meetings with locals, where their media teams capture photos, presenting their visit as if they travelled to an otherworldly place and met with celestial beings, according to the opinion piece in Dawn.
The growth and well-being of the people living in southern KP, however, don’t seem to be a top concern for these lawmakers and bureaucrats.
Moreover, the most concerning thing is that the present generation of militants is more sophisticated and well-organized than previous generations, even though the frequency of assaults and the number of killed and injured have reached levels reminiscent of the days of peak militancy.
Compared to the terrorists of the early and mid-2000s, who arrived in large numbers to launch assaults, this younger generation of them is tech-savvy and meticulous in their planning of their operations.
The additional burden of “political engineering” placed on the shoulders of the police and intelligence services, who are engaged in other activities rather than using their resources to combat militancy and uphold law and order, is another significant factor contributing to the rapidly worsening security situation.
A long-term concern arises from the consequent loss of public support for the police and security services, as these already troubled agencies greatly depend on public backing for both operations and morale.
The environment of information sharing has also altered significantly as a result of social media, with advantages and disadvantages. Militant organisations have greatly improved their narrative-building skills over time, resulting in a more polished product, Dawn reported citing the opinion.
Many of these outfits now increasingly rely on social media platforms, particularly those offering encrypted services such as Telegram and Signal, to amplify their voices, run recruitment drives, educate their followers on protecting anonymity and even train them in militant tactics, the opinion piece added.
The country united in the days following the APS tragedy and vowed, “Never again.” Pakistan created a National Action Plan to fight terrorism shortly after that. The country, however, is once again back to square one, nearly nine years later.
Cosmetic measures like holding jirgas in deputy commissioners’ offices won’t fix these problems because Pakistan needs a thorough national conversation that goes beyond local conversations. (ANI)



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