By Khushal Khan

At least 56 people lost their lives and 196 were in a suicide attack in an Imambargah in Kocha Risaldar, Qissa Khwani Bazar in Peshawar on the 4th of March. The numbers continue to rise.

It has been a while since an attack of this magnitude took place in Peshawar. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has suffered massively from terrorist attacks over the last two decades.

There have been reports of terrorists regrouping in North and South Waziristan and other newly merged districts of the province even after several military operations over the years. These reports have been substantiated with the spate of attacks, mostly against security forces in the areas. The State for its part has been attempting to engage and hold talks with the notorious Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) facilitated by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

We are yet to find out what these attempts have achieved but given the past records of such types of negotiations, it is difficult to be hopeful of any significant breakthroughs. No debates or discussions about these talks have been held in the Parliament or any other public forum as of right now.

The citizens of Pakistan – who have suffered the most at the hands of the TTP and who deserve to know what these talks entail for them – have been kept in the dark. At the same time, there have been reports of a war brewing between the Taliban and the Islamic State of Khurasan (ISK) known as Daesh in the region.

In recent years, there have been reports of Daesh targeting and attacking TTP figures in Peshawar and elsewhere in Pakhtunkhwa. All of this does not bode well for Pakhtunkhwa and indeed for Pakistan.

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan on the 15th of August, 2021, remains a major cause for concern for the region.

For all intents and purposes, their takeover has emboldened militant outfits in Pakistan and the region. Those in Pakistan who supported the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan have tried hard to portray them as some sort of legitimate representatives of Afghans, which they never were and can never be. The support for the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has not been limited to individuals or right-wing groups and political parties in Pakistan.

Representatives of PTI’s government have been at the forefront of advocating for the world to recognize the Taliban’s invasion and have tried very hard to get them some sort of legitimacy, attempts that have failed so far. At the same time, the US and its allies in the West, have abandoned Afghans at the mercy of the Taliban after handing over the country to them through the Doha deal. All of these developments have been taken as a victory by the religious right-wing in Pakistan and elsewhere in the region.

It is Pakistan that stands to suffer the most, with the growing presence and influence of terrorist outfits in the region. As it is, we have had to suffer significantly because of the presence of conglomerates of national and international terrorists in parts of Pakhtunkhwa. The State’s flawed domestic security and foreign policies have cost us a lot over the decades. What is more concerning is that there appears to be no indication of any changes in the dispensation of the state that have led the country and the region to its current state.

The attack in Peshawar is a reminder of the pain, the devastation and the destruction we have faced in the last three decades. And unless we change course and we do so now, we might be in for more pain.

The writer is part of the National Democratic Movement and a member of our editorial board.


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