In yet another devastating suicide bombing, this time in Mastung area of Balochistan, on a convoy led by Senate Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of the JUI-F Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, at least 26 people lost their lives and 40 others were wounded, 10 of them grievously.
Luckily, for Maulana Haideri, the main target of the attack, he stayed safe in his bullet-proof vehicle receiving only minor injuries. This was not the first terrorist attack on JUI-F leadership. The party chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, and its Balochistan Amir Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani survived similar attacks back in 2014 and 2009, respectively. The IS has claimed responsibility for the present atrocity. Notably, those acting in the name of IS in this country are local militants who have shifted loyalties from the TTP. And most of them are alumni of madressahs run by JUI-F and its breakaway faction, JUI-S.
It is pertinent to recall here that while addressing a news conference in Peshawar early last month, Maulana Haideri had said “we invite them [TTP militants] to join JUI-F and achieve their objectives through a peaceful political struggle.” The attack could well be their response to the ‘invitation’. On several earlier occasions in the past, Maulana Fazlur Rehman had also made similar overtures, opposing military operation against violent extremists and urging the government to hold negotiations with them.
He alongside the JI has also been offering vehement resistance to various de-radicalization proposals, such as madressah registration and reform, revision of school curriculums as well as action against those using the name of religion for resort to violence. The policy has not helped the party win over the militants. Instead they are believed to view its leadership as being duplicitous. In trying to placate rather than confront the enemy the JUI-F shares part of the blame for the loss of so many precious lives.
Reacting to the latest carnage, the party called for a general strike on Saturday in Balochistan. Which is rather inexplicable considering that such strikes generally are meant to register protest against governments whereas in the present case the anger should be directed at terrorists. The key responsibility for eliminating terrorism, however, lies squarely on the shoulders of the government.
Sadly, it remains long on rhetoric and short on action. As usual, after the Mastung carnage the Prime Minister, the Balochistan Chief Minister and others issued standard statements condemning the attack, offering sympathies and ‘compensation’ to the victims’ families, and directing hospitals to provide good care to the wounded. The consensus-based National Action Plan and rejuvenation of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority, decided nearly three years ago, remain largely unimplemented.
The Army operation, Ruddul Fasaad, has helped restore peace to a large extent, but the mindset that produces terrorists, their facilitators and sympathisers is alive and well. It will continue to generate violence and destabilise this state and society unless and until the political leadership, both inside and outside the government, gets its act together to eliminate terrorism root and branch. -Business Recorder