Alwaght- Pakistan’s Lahore terror attacks as well as other tensions in the capital city Islamabad have caused the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to grow concerns.
The local park Golshan Iqbal in Lahore, the capital of the Pakistan’s Punjab province, has come under terror attacks after the country’s President Mamnoon Hussein and PM Nawaz Sharif had sent a message to the country’s Christian community, congratulating the Easter on March 27, 2016, and after the Pakistani parliament had adopted a new rule, deciding to add the Christians’ Easter and the Hindus’ Holi, a religious festival, to the country’s official holidays.
These are coming while Pakistan is a Muslim nation, and the Muslims account for a majority of its population, though such radical groups as Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and a couple of other groups are supported inside Pakistan by Saudi Arabia.
The suicide bombing in Golshan Iqbal Park, which was full of families and Christians celebrating the Easter, has left at least 74 people dead and over 300 others injured. The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has said that it had deliberately chosen the Easter day to attack Lahore’s Golshan Iqbal Park.
Following the terrorist attacks in Lahore, the Pakistani army launched a massive operation in different Lahore’s regions, arresting over 400 people suspected of having hands in the terrorist attacks. As the conditions went tense in Islamabad and following the terror acts, PM Nawaz Sharif has cancelled his Washington visit. The Pakistani PM was set to go to the US at an official President Barack Obama’s invitation to take part in the International Conference on Nuclear Security which was held from March 30 to April 1, 2016 in Washington. Sharif was also planned to meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the Washington conference. Based on an assessment of the tense situation and the recent events in Pakistan, Sharif has called off his US trip. Raheel Sharif, the Pakistani army’s chief, has given orders to the army units in Punjab to launch a wide-ranging military operation to confront the terrorists and arrest them.
Ehsalullah Ehsan, the spokesman for the terrorist group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban’s splinter group, has published a statement, claiming that “Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has carried out Lahore’s attack.” “We entered Lahore and conducted our mission there, nobody could hold us back from entering Lahore,” the group’s statement read.
From the claims of the terrorist group’s spokesman, it could be concluded that the terrorists have the potentials to carry out terror assaults in different Pakistani areas anytime they wished, and thus no power could prevent terror attacks in Pakistan. The significant point is that at the same time of Lahore terrorist attacks, a memorial service was under way for Malik Mumtaz Qadri, the man who gunned down Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, in Liaquat Bagh in Punjab’s city of Rawalpindi. The Pakistani Islamist parties have organized the service for the assassin in Liaquat Bagh. They set up barricades and thus closed down the roads leading to the Pakistani parliament in Faizabad and Chandni Chowk districts in Islamabad. However, after end of the service, the protestors have removed the barricades and moved into Islamabad’s Zero Point district and gathered outside of the building of the Pakistani parliament.
The protesters and “Labaik Ya Rasool Allah” movement in Islamabad have called for unconditional release of leaders and the Sunni figures imprisoned in the Pakistani jails. They also demanded “martyrdom” for the assassin of Punjab’s Governor Salman Taseer. More requests included demands for not amending the Pakistani Blasphemy Law, which condemns insults to the Islam’s Prophet Mohammad. Mumtaz Qadri was a bodyguard of the former Punjab’s liberal governor Salman Taseer, but he instead gunned him down. The motive for the killing was, according to Qadri, to defend the honor of “the message,” in a reference to Prophet Muhammad’s call for Islam. The Islamist groups in Pakistan had threatened to hold massive rallies should Qadri be hanged.
The Anti-Terrorism Court of Pakistan hanged Mumtaz Qadri for assassinating Salman Taseer. The Pakistani Court of Appeal as well as Supreme Court have also recognized Qadri as murderer of Punjab’s governor and finalized his execution verdict. Mumtaz Qadri had asked the Pakistani president to grant him a pardon.
Mamnoon Hussein had turned his demand down, however. The execution verdict was implemented at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. Mumtaz Qadri had shot dead Salman Taseer on January 4, 2011, at Islamabad’s Kohsar Market. So far, the Islamabad police forces have detained and handed to the courts about 600 of the protestors who set fire to the public transportation buses and “fanned chaos” in Islamabad as well as Rawalpindi. All of the detainees were sent to Adiala Jail and were interrogated.
Furthermore, seven Indian security forces were killed as terror attacks rocked Pathankot Airbase in India’s Punjab province on January 2, 2016. New Delhi had claimed that some people in Pakistan’s Bahawalpur had links to the Indian airbase attackers. The Pakistani government has detained Maulana Masood Azhar, the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist group, as well as other 12 members of the group. Following its moves, Pakistan has formed a special investigation group and sent it to India for more probe. The investigative team has also visited Pathankot Airbase and collected the evidences provided by the eyewitnesses of this terrorist act.
Ongoing happening of terror assaults makes it clear that the government and the army in Pakistan have not been successful in battling terrorism and curbing the terrorist organizations. Although boasting as being among the powerful world’s armies, the Pakistani army has so far failed to tackle the terrorist groups at home, and the radical and terrorist movements are still insist that they would keep carrying out further attacks in Pakistan. Even in the recent months the whispers rose that the terror organization ISIS had penetrated Pakistan.
Perhaps the recent Pakistani developments could be connected to the rifts between Taliban group and the government of Nawaz Sharif. Fourth round of talks for peace between the Afghan government and Taliban was planned to take place in Islamabad, however, the event was cancelled for unclear causes.
At the same time, the Qatar-based Taliban’s political office has maintained, in a statement, that Mullah Akhtar Mansour, the leader of Taliban, had not given permission to any Taliban affiliates to engage in Afghanistan peace negotiations. Taliban has set a couple of conditions for attending Afghanistan peace negotiations, which included setting free the group’s prisoners, withdrawing foreign forces from Afghanistan and removing Taliban from UN’s terrorist blacklist.
Due to Taliban’s demands, and preconditions, it is very difficult to imagine clear prospects for Afghanistan’s peace dialogue especially that Taliban has splintered into an array of smaller branches which pose many security challenges to Afghanistan and Pakistan as they keep conducting their attacks. Recently, Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has taken “stepped up” Taliban’s operations in Afghanistan as excuse for suggesting to President Obama to increase and keep the US forces in Afghanistan.
Anyway, Nawaz Sharif has a burden of, on the one hand, fighting the terror groups in his country and, on the other hand, convincing Taliban to get into negotiations so that he manages to free Pakistan from the current critical circumstances.