Last week’s attack on the Karachi Police Office (KPO), claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), once again exposed the vulnerability of Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies to terrorist attacks. Three militants—two of them suicide bombers—fought their way into the KPO with relative ease, triggering an hours-long stand-off between them and law enforcers, including the Special Services Group; the paramilitary Rangers; and the Sindh Police. Five people, mostly policemen, were martyred, while 18 others were injured. Occurring within weeks of the suicide bombing at the Peshawar Police Lines mosque, the message is clear: Pakistan and its police are sitting ducks for terrorists nationwide.
There has been a visible resurgence of terrorism since the Afghan Taliban returned to power in Kabul, as TTP militants who had sheltered in Afghanistan during the war on terror returned to Pakistan, facilitated by “peace deals” and attempts to “resettle” them, as government officials paid little heed to the terror they brought back with them. The worst of the terror Pakistan suffered in the past decade was perpetrated by the TTP, which comprises several factions that Pakistan has repeatedly failed to eradicate despite multiple military operations and vows of “zero tolerance.”
Unfortunately, Karachi is no stranger to terror attacks, whether from religious extremists or separatists. The TTP’s resurgence has, however, triggered fresh fears of the militants finding support among a disenfranchised populace, especially as it ramps up the frequency of attacks on high-value targets. This also spells trouble for general elections, due later this year, as the TTP has historically targeted politicians opposed to it, hampering campaign rallies and voter turnout. The government can no longer afford any delays; it is high time we devised a policy that tackles the root causes of terrorism, especially by enforcing the state’s writ in far-flung areas to bar external powers from funding and facilitating militancy in Pakistan.