DC Edit | Pak singed, playing with fire
A suicide blast at a mosque in Peshawar on Monday was the biggest terror incident in recent months. This one was aimed at the Pakistan establishment as the holy place lies within the heavily guarded police lines where several offices of security and counterterrorism forces are located. The restive capital of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa may have been relatively calm for a while but, as a haven for terrorists of every kind, the region has always been notorious as a hotbed of terrorist activity for nearly four decades now.
Tragic as they are in taking lives without making any distinctions, Pakistan has been witness to many such bloody bombings, including one on an army-run public school in the very area in which international fighters have gathered for years together. They came there first to fight the once Soviet-backed Afghan government and the area became more thickly populated with fighters after Imran Khan struck a peace deal allowing Pakistan Taliban fighters back in from Afghanistan. The deal, however, broke down last year.
Pakistan has paid a very heavy price for its dalliance with terror and its perpetrators as a State instrument that was used extensively across both the borders with Afghanistan as well as India. Its leaders have often pointed out to the outside world that Pakistan is also a victim of terror. But, given the background of encouragement for disruptive elements who use bombs as a weapon against civilians as well, Pakistan is far from blameless.
Police personnel nurse a grievance that, as soft targets, they suffer more though they are a force primarily dealing with civil order. It is not known yet who was behind this latest outrage in the bombing of a mosque at which around 300 persons had gathered to pray. The Pakistan Taliban, which had tried to take responsibility, backed out saying it was not in its playbook to aim at people praying. A branch of the dreaded IS – Islamic State Khorasan - operating in the region could be a suspect too.
The economy is on the brink with Pakistan desperately negotiating with the IMF to stay afloat amid dwindling foreign exchange resources and the politics is particularly polarised after Imran Khan was ousted from office. With the Taliban returning to power in Kabul in 2021 after the US pulled out, there has been a major shift in the maelstrom environment of the area. The more is the pity as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa resembles a war zone now.