Blast in Bannu

Another attack has been mounted by the militants, this time in Bannu district where 18 people have been killed — mostly police and military personnel — and more than 16 wounded when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives packed vehicle into a police station on Wednesday. A nearby mosque suffered collateral damage. Far from diminishing, the terror threat is still very real and is gaining a more ferocious appetite.It must not be overlooked, however, that this attack occurred on the very same day, at the very same time as US Vice President Joe Biden’s six-hour visit to Islamabad. It is not just a coincidence that the attack corresponded with Biden’s visit to remind Pakistan of the US’s expectations vis-à-vis North Waziristan; it was a clear message to the visiting dignitary and the world that the militant menace is not going down without a fight. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility and said that the attack was to avenge US drone attacks, particularly one that had taken place that very day.

Drone attacks have been ongoing in the tribal areas for over a year now. Retaliation does not come after each drone attack; this was an opportune moment, one the TTP played to get its voice heard. Usually, whenever a prominent figure pays a visit, the TTP shows its presence in such murderous ways.It is extremely unsettling that the militants have enough strength in manpower, strategy and outreach that they can orchestrate such deadly attacks to coincide with US visits. It is alarming because they are successful in showing, first-hand, to whoever comes to Pakistan just what the state is up against. This translates into what the US is up against in Afghanistan. It is time the Pakistani state took out these bloodthirsty terrorists. We do have militant sanctuaries in the tribal belt and the time has come to snuff them out. The US will not stay quiet and placated with just sporadic drone strikes in the region for long. Only full-blown action will pave any roadmap towards progress. The fact that we have been cradling the Afghan Taliban without realising that they are one with the direct enemies of the state — the TTP — has cost us dearly. We cannot stay victims of the illusion of strategic depth in our neighbouring country when we cannot handle the chaos and violence within our own borders – Dailytimes