Karachi attack

Editorial Board
Saturday, May 14, 2022

Karachi has been experiencing a new wave of terrorism. In the latest attack, an IED blast killed one and left at least nine wounded in the busy Saddar area of the city on Thursday night. The blast occurred just as a vehicle belonging to the Coast Guards was passing through, but police have made it clear that they do not believe there is a connection between the blast and the vehicle which did not regularly use this as its route. The attack has been claimed by the Sindhudesh Revolutionary Army (SRA), an outlawed separatist party which was also responsible for a coordinated attack on Rangers personnel in Sindh back in 2020. It has also been involved in attacks on Chinese nationals and is said to have formed an alliance with Baloch militant group, Baloch Raji Ajoi Sangar (BRAS). Thursday’s attack comes just two weeks after a suicide bombing by a female Baloch militant in Karachi University, which targeted Chinese nationals. It is in this context that CM Murad Ali Shah has vowed not to let bad times return to the metropolis which has seen more than its fair share of violence over the past few decades. No one wishes to return to those times.

As Pakistan’s economic hub and a melting pot of ethnic diversity, it is essential that the city be protected at all costs. Pakistan fought a long and hard battle after losing more than 70,000 people at the hands of the TTP. There have always been other smaller terrorist outfits operating on Pakistani soil, including SRA, which have targeted both civilians and security forces. That the Baloch militants are targeting Chinese nationals and security agencies means that their network is growing. We have also seen that ever since the Afghan Taliban took over Afghanistan, the TTP too has gained strength and is systematically carrying out attacks in different parts of the country.

The National Action Plan is essential at this time – and needs to be taken out of cold storage. Together with Nacta, which must also be given new life, this is the only way to deal with the multiple terrorism, militancy, and insurgency challenges. At a time when Pakistan is going through its worst economic crisis as well as a political crisis that has divided and polarized Pakistani society like never before, we cannot afford to have a new terrorist wave in the midst of all this. The federal government, provincial governments, security forces and our police apparatus must find a concrete way to fight this. This will also require a major rethink in how the question of militancy has been dealt with. Security and political solutions need to be considered so we make our federation stronger and more united – because more resentments within areas that are deemed peripheral to the centre will only lead to more radicalization of the young.