Target is Pakistan, Not Christians

church blast peshawarBy Sajjad Shaukat

More than 80 people died and 150 injured when two suicide attackers struck the All Saints Church in Peshawar on September 22, this year, leading to country wide protest demonstrations by the Christians.

For this barbaric act at the church, Pakistan umbrella Taliban movement claimed responsibility, saying it set up a new faction, Junood ul-Hifsa to kill foreigners and non-Muslims to avenge US drone strikes. The new group works under the direction of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). As part of its double game, on September 24, TTP spokesman Shahid Shahidullah denied the Taliban’s role in the church attack and termed it a conspiracy to derail the peace process. Despite its bid to distance itself from the church carnage, the TTP was directly or indirectly involved because as to why the outfit did not issue the denial earlier.

Expressing woe and grief, the whole nation stands with Christian community, as besides ruling party, all other political and religious parties have strongly condemned the deadly terror-attack in Peshawar church. The National Assembly on September 23 passed a unanimous resolution which strongly denounced this heinous attack at the church.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif still seeks to initiate peace talks with the Taliban. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the government might review its decision to hold talks with the Taliban in consultation with all political parties, but he still supported peace process with the militants.

On the other side, various segments of society have demanded to use force instead of pursuing the dialogue option. While Ulema (Religious scholars) from different schools of thought issued Fatwas (Verdicts) on September 23, declared killing of innocent minorities as ‘un-Islamic.’ They urged the government that elements involved in the killing of Christians should not be invited to peace dialogue, adding that they deserved exemplary punishment for this inhuman act. They further remarked, “We believe that the attack on the church is a conspiracy against Islam and Pakistan.”

In fact, this terror-attack cannot be seen in isolation, as it is part of a continued wave of subversive acts in the country. A few days before the church assault, Maj-Gen. Sanaullah Khan including a lieutenant colonel and a soldier were killed in a landmine attack in Upper Dir. TTP claimed responsibility for that terror-act. In the recent years, a number of high-profile terror-attacks by the militants on General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan’s Naval Airbase in Karachi, Air Force Base at Kamra etc, and offices of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were conducted especially by the TTP’s insurgents and its affiliated banned groups which are also behind many other terror-activities like ruthless beheadings of tribesmen, assaults on security personnel and prominent figures including Shias, Ahmadis, Sufis, Christians and Sikhs. Notably, on July 29, more than 100 insurgents of TTP, attacked on the Central Prison in Dera Ismail Khan, freeing 242 prisoners including suspected militants. In this regard, June 15, 2013, was the blackest day in the history of Pakistan, as the insurgents of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) carried out the most dastardly terror attack on Quaid-e-Azam residency in Ziarat. Next day, in Quetta, these ruthless terrorists targeted a bus of the Sardar Bahadar Women’s University and Bolan Medical Complex. BLA and the extremist sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) felt pride in claiming responsibility for these brutal acts.

It is notable that during his trip to Beijing, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang signed eight agreements on July 5, 2013 in various fields. The most important one envisages the establishment of an Economic Corridor between deep Gwadar seaport of Balochistan and the historic Silk Road city in western regions-Xinjiang of China. By rejecting US growing pressure, Pakistan has handed over the control of Gwader seaport to China. Earlier, a day before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Islamabad; Chinese engineers being driven through Clifton Block-1 in Karachi escaped a major bomb attack. In June, the TTP claimed responsibility for killing 10 foreign mountain-climbers including several Chinese at a base camp of Nanga Parbat.

Now, a majority of people have understood that Balochistan’s mineral resources and geo-strategic location with deep Gwadar seaport, connecting rest of the world with Central Asia have further annoyed the US and India because China has already invested billion of dollars to develop this seaport. It is due to multiple strategic designs that the US which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008 seeks to dismember both Pakistan and Iran.

It is mentionable that entrenched in Afghanistan external secret agencies like American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have perennially been supporting bomb blasts, suicide attacks, abductions, target killings, ethnic and sectarian violence in various parts of the country through TTP, BLA, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and their affiliated-insurgent groups to destabilize and denuclearize Pakistan, because it is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. These militant outfits which have connections with each other including some Baloch feudal lords (Sardars) want to fulfill the secret strategic designs of US, India and Israel at the cost of Pakistan, China and Iran. Besides martyring several personnel of law-enforcing agencies and security forces in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa and Karachi, these foreign-backed entities kidnapped and massacred many Punjabis, Pushtuns, Shias, people of Hazara community. In the past few years, they abducted and killed a number of Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan.

In this regard, Karachi which is Pakistan’s financial hub with the largest commercial markets, collecting 70 per cent of the country’s tax revenue has become special target of the subversive activities of the external-backed culprits and the TTP.

The targeted operation which continues unabated by the Rangers against terrorists, target killers and kidnappers, launched by the present government, after obtaining consensus of all stakeholders like media, business community and political parties whose leaders participated in the All Parties Conference (APC).

The operation is rapidly achieving successes. But, it is regrettable that some analysts are using media to create misperception that operation in Karachi will fail. These are the real game spoilers. On the other hand, without any discrimination, the Ranger’s personal, and those of Police who have sacrificed their lives have arrested several criminals and terrorists besides capturing huge catches of arms and weapons in Karachi.

The game spoilers also propagate that the government and Army were not on the same page, as Army wanted to use force against militants, while prime minister favored dialogue. Army wanted the talks to be held as per Constitution of Pakistan and all non-state actors were required to lay down their arms before the start of dialogue, while no such pre-condition was laid by APC. They opined that all past peace accords with the Taliban failed and APC consensus on the option of dialogue is also likely to fail.

Nevertheless, now situation has entirely changed after the terror-attack at the church in Peshawar and assault by the TTP insurgents who assassinated Maj-Gen. Sanaullah Khan. Now, a majority of people and members of the civil society are talking about the foreign conspiracy against Pakistan, and support military action against the Taliban militants, especially of the TTP, who sometimes accept peace offer, while sometimes, retreat from their offer. Their duplicity indicates that they will continue to weaken Pakistan, as their recent terrorist activities have proved.

Notably, besides acts of sabotage, a deliberate propaganda campaign also keeps on going against Pakistan by the foreign-enemies who intend to achieve their desired goals. And these Taliban provide every opportunity to external elements in tarnishing the image of the country through their criminal acts. In this context, since the attack on Malala Yousufzai by the TTP, US-led foreign countries have perennially been manipulating the event to distort Pakistan’s image. Meanwhile, suicide bombings at church in Peshawar further tarnished country’s image abroad. In this respect, Pope Francis led several thousand people in a special prayer for the victims of the church attack in Pakistan, and western media and political leaders condemned the assault on the Christians, saying Christians are not safe in our country.

So, the target of the terrorists is Pakistan instead of Christian community, as other subversive acts of the Taliban, supported by anti-Pakistan conspirators show.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations


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