is much speculation over who is to blame for the October 24th terror
attacks at a police training center in southwestern Pakistan, as two different groups
have claimed responsibility, and a third has been accused. The Islamic State
(ISIS) boldly stated that three of its militants approached the center with
machine guns and grenades, and after detonating explosive vests, killed over 60
and wounded upwards of 100 people. ISIS similarly claimed responsibility for a
soft target attack at a hospital
in the same city of Quetta just a few months ago as well as for last Saturday’s
attack to a Sufi shrine in South
West Pakistan that killed 52. Nonetheless, questions
of their actual involvement remain as the level of ISIS’ growing presence in
the country is yet to be assessed. Many argued this August assault was more
likely perpetrated by Pakistani Taliban faction, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar
(JA), who has successfully launched attacks
in all four major provinces of the country and pursues soft target locations. Not
to be outdone, a third group, Hakimullah
Mehsud, a small faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed the Quetta attacks as well.
However, Pakistani officials are skeptical of the group’s means to carry out
this highly organized assault.
the Pakistani government claims
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) is actually the group to blame.
LeJ is a sectarian Sunni militant group
based in Pakistan and notorious
for targeting Shiites in the country. A senior military commander in Quetta’s province
of Baluchistan relayed to media that
they were able to detect LeJ’s involvement through intercepted
calls between the attackers and their supposed handlers next door: “We came
to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who
were getting instructions from Afghanistan”.
LeJ may have had motivations to retaliate after Pakistani police killed their leader just
is left to wonder how just three men could successfully pull off an attack on a
facility housing over 700 police trainees. Pakistani officials
steadfastly posited that LeJ planned the assault from inside neighboring Afghanistan,
a country that, according to Pakistan, trains and provides safe havens for
militants escaping after their attacks. Afghanistan, of course, denounced this
claim and pointed the finger back at Pakistan for providing refuge for the
Taliban. Other theories of sponsors behind this attack include India’s Research
and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security
(NDS), both countries’ intelligence agencies, whom Pakistan’s National Security Adviser retired
Lt Gen Nasser Janjua posited may be covertly
supporting terrorists “to come and hit the soft targets in Pakistan”. However, in spite of
recent attempts to implement counterterrorism finance measures, Pakistan has a
long track record when it comes to advancing extremism and terrorism in the
region for strategic purposes. At the current stage of the
investigations Pakistani authorities’ attempts to shield criticism for their own
and support of terrorist networks cannot be ruled out.
“Last week, Quetta
city in Pakistan
was yet again rocked by a terrorist
attack that killed 61 police
cadets. It’s the second deadliest attack in the same city in less than three
months: An earlier attack killed more than 60 lawyers in August.
While the attack highlights that Pakistan’s militant challenge is
far from over, it also underscores that the country’s leadership does not
take the rising security challenges seriously. The state has not just refused
to accept that its counterterrorism strategy failed, but has also continued to
woo various banned militant outfits that are a direct challenge to the state’s
survival in the long run.
forces were busy containing militants in the targeted police academy, the
government announced that the terrorists involved in the attack had received
support from Afghanistan.
This was another instance of the typical strategy of blaming foreign forces for
terrorism in Pakistan, which is used by the country’s leadership to divert
criticism and lure sympathetic public views for the sacrifices that Pakistan’s
law enforcement agencies and people have made to fight the menace of terrorism.
However, the reality in this regard is just the opposite: While there is no
denying the sacrifices Pakistan has made in blood and otherwise to fight
terrorism in the country, it’s equally concerning that despite these
sacrifices, the Pakistani leadership continues to cling to its long-held policy
of drawing lines between so-called good and bad terrorists.”