19 May 2015
At a time when one thought that things had started stabilising in Pakistan and the government’s counterterrorism policies were paying peace dividends, terrorists struck back on May 13 by targeting Pakistan’s most peaceful religious community in Karachi.
The attack on the Ismaili community serves as a stark reminder that the threat of extremism is not confined to Fata. It is also a reminder that without disrupting terrorist networks in mainland Pakistan the fight against terrorism cannot be taken to its logical end. The attack has once again exposed the soft underbelly of Pakistan’s counterterrorism (CT) policy – ie the urban counterterrorism capabilities of Pakistan’s civilian law-enforcement agencies.
If we reflect back there is a visible method to this madness. Since the Peshawar Army Public School attack in December last year, terrorists have been deliberately hitting Pakistan’s sectarian faultlines in mainland Pakistan. After a deadly wave of attacks on Shia imambarbahs across Pakistan in the first four months of this year now militants have hit the Ismaili community. They are trying to gain asymmetrical advantage by hitting the state where it hurts the most – religious minorities. Such attacks not only create social anxiety but also shake the public’s trust in the military-led efforts to overcome terrorism.
… The writer is an associate research fellow at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Singapore.
ICPVTR / Online / Print
Last updated on 18/11/2015