An upsurge in terrorist activities by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has prompted senators and residents of Swat to sound the alarm. The Senate witnessed a heated debate as senators from both sides of the aisle voiced concerns over recent developments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in Swat and its adjoining areas. The senators demanded a briefing on a recent threat alert issued by the Home Office regarding the increased risk of terrorist attacks by the banned team. Since the activities of the Taliban have attracted a lot of attention over the past two months, it has become a matter of public concern that the government and state institutions must address immediately. It is urgent that the Ministry of the Interior put the Parliament in confidence. Swat residents also staged protests this week demanding the removal of anti-peace and anti-state elements from the Swat district, warning that if the state does not act, Swat residents will take up arms. That the people of Swat, who bore the brunt of the Taliban regime and fought bravely against them, should take to the streets and demand that the state protect them should be a moment of shame for the government and the state whose responsibility is to protect its citizens.
This is a serious matter that has preoccupied Pakistan for more than two decades now. Such issues call for the need to take Parliament on board and no discussion with prohibited attire should have begun without the express consent of Parliament. The revelation of the dialogue with the TTP was surprising. The speed with which the TTP, Islamic State Khorasan and associated militant groups are now gaining ground and the means to carry out targeted attacks against security forces and civilians is alarming. Pakistan has fought a long and hard battle for over a decade to rid our soil of terrorist groups. But after the rise of the Afghan Taliban in the neighborhood, these groups have largely regained their power.
On Saturday, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa stressed the need for regional peace. However, he said that our desire for peace should not be interpreted as our weakness. The army chief’s words should serve as a warning to all militant groups that threaten the country’s hard-won peace. We hope that the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan will not mean the rise of the TTP in Pakistan. As a democratic country that has valiantly fought terrorism and sacrificed over 80,000 lives, we deserve peace and security. How long will we expect our people to lay down their lives in this fight against terrorism? When large numbers of people take to the streets of Swat demanding that the government take decisive action against the militant elements in the valley, the government should take this very seriously.