Editorial: Tragedy in Kohat
Kohat was struck with tragedy on Saturday as two suicide bombers attacked an IDP camp as a group of internally displaced persons (IDP) were waiting to get themselves registered and receive aid handouts. More than 40 people were killed, including a journalist, and dozens more injured. After the first suicide attack, a large crowd gathered at the site of the blast and within minutes the second blast took place. The bombers were clad in burqas. At least 210,000 people have been displaced from the tribal districts of Orakzai and Kurram. Most of them have registered in Kohat and Hangu. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Al-Aalmi group, an offshoot of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has reportedly claimed responsibility for the bombings. Being a sectarian organisation, Al-Aalmi has cited the presence of Shias at the IDP camp as the reason for the attack. After the sectarian attack in Quetta on Friday and a day after in Kohat, it seems as if the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and its offshoots are hell bent on spreading sectarian terror all over the country. Why the government has not taken any action against these sectarian outfits is beyond comprehension. Pakistan already has a lot on its hands what with the Taliban and other terrorist outfits. The resurgence of sectarian terrorism, which flourished under the Zia regime, is something to worry about. The failure to quell sectarianism is a failure of political will.
The government has to take strict measures against terror groups to save the country from going up in flames. The government’s inconsistency in cracking down on militant outfits, especially the banned organisations, shows that there is a lack of requisite political will in curbing extremism. The extremists’ hate literature and cassettes are easily available across the country and obviously violate the law of the land, but seldom invite sanctions. The government has to reconsider its policy and stop treating these militant outfits with kid gloves, and launch a heavy crackdown born of a well thought out strategy. The ease with which the terrorists have recently operated exposes the inefficiency of the security agencies. Now that such attacks have targeted not only the security forces and government officials but citizens as well in the length and breadth of the country, this has certainly thrown up a bigger challenge to the security agencies. No doubt ensuring complete security against suicide attacks is difficult because of the nature of these attacks and the level of determination of a suicide bomber, but pre-emptive measures have to be taken.
Recent terrorist attacks have shown that large gatherings are at risk and present an easy target. To attack an IDP camp is atrocious but to expect any kind of sensitivity from the terrorists is unthinkable. They are out to create panic and kill whosoever they can. Precautionary measures have to be taken by the public as well. When one blast occurs, instead of rushing to the site of the blast, the public must wait for some time before going there as there is a great danger of another blast to inflict more damage. The media has to exercise caution as well. Journalists reporting in conflict areas should be trained properly and should report from a distance when an attack takes place. Media organisations should provide life insurance for their employees who are working in sensitive areas. Having said that, the security agencies and the government must take stringent measures against all militant outfits. It is time to act. *