One of the congested markets and a taxi stand
adjacent to it was turned into debris within no time when two powerful blasts occurred within the space of a few seconds in Parachinar. Nearly 57 people are reported to have died so far. The death toll can rise as the 200 injured are in a critical condition. The blast took place two hours before Iftar, when people were shopping for the evening meal of Ramzan. The victims were mostly from the Shia community. So far no one has taken responsibility for the attack. Kurram Agency, of which Parachinar is the capital, is known for tensions between Shias and Sunnis making it a hub of sectarian violence in the region. The residents of Parachinar, predominantly Shia, have been the target of Jihadi extremists since 2007. The latter had blocked the Thal-Parachinar road connecting the city with Peshawar and killed any travellers brave or foolhardy enough to defy the blockade. This untold punishment forced the locals to detour via Afghanistan to get to Peshawar and buy daily necessities. The government to date has been unable to open the road, which has made life difficult not only in terms of hardship, shortages and expense as the city, almost cut off from the rest of Pakistan, depends on food or items bought to its markets through longish routes raising the transportation cost. The situation is even worse on the academic front. Most of the children and youth could not go to schools or colleges as none are functional or operational because of lack of teaching staff and equipment. The hospital too wears a deserted look. This attack has again exposed this negligence of the incumbents when the victims of the blast were lying unattended in the Agency’s Headquarter Hospital’s veranda without any first aid administered to them. Though this criminality of sectarian violence started during Zia’s regime, the indifference of the subsequent governments added to the misery of the Shia community in the area. Friday’s attack shows that things are as bad or maybe have gone worse.
As far as terrorism is concerned, it is not only an issue restricted to FATA. The flames of sectarian violence are equally potent in other parts of the country, especially targeting the Hazara community, killed in the hundreds so far in Quetta. So unscrupulous are the culprits that they don’t have any qualms even to violate the sanctity of the month of Ramzan. The timing they chose for the blast, two hours before Iftar, seemed deliberate to obtain maximum human casualties. The proximity of the imambargah to the market that was aimed at suggests that Shias were the real target. Such are the calculations and strategies of our enemies, while we are still sitting on our hands as far as formulating anti-terrorism policies and implementing them are concerned.
This laid back attitude will only serve to embolden the culprits, as it has done so far. Certainly the country is mired in deep crises of various natures and the energy fiasco takes the cake. But did it ever occur to the policymakers that with the present outreach of terrorists across the country, a viable solution to the energy crisis could be almost impossible to achieve. We need investors to overcome not only the energy problems but to revive our economy. Who will invest in Pakistan in this situation? Already a lot of water has flowed under the bridge. It is time to wake up and take responsibility. Even if the government starts today in earnest, it would take many years to clean up the mess dating back four decades. But to begin with, we need to first recognize the perpetrators as our enemies and our adventure with jihadi extremism a costly failure. *