Since the beginning of the year, a resurgence in terror attacks has been observed. According to the latest media reports, banned militant organisations, including Baloch separatists, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Islamic State (IS), have intensified their terror strikes in various areas of Balochistan province. Reportedly, since the start of the year, at least 22 people including soldiers have been killed in Balochistan in seven major terrorist attacks. It is a deadly reminder that despite the strides made in the battle against terrorism the fight is far from over. Among the main banned outfits who pose a threat to peace in the country, Baloch insurgents are counted as homegrown militants who can be brought into the national fold, if they lay arms. The history of Balochistan since Pakistan’s independence is marked by repression and resistance. Successive regimes have tried to quell such resistance in Balochistan with military force again and again, which only succeeded in hardening the alienation of the local people. A low-intensity insurgency that began in 2002 as a response to the frustration of Baloch aspirations and the failure to address their long-standing grievances spread and intensified immeasurably after the killing of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti. Now, a new Baloch generation has been spearheading the insurgency because they have become so disheartened with the policies of the state. The government should engage them in talks to move towards bringing an end to the years long insurgency and make them partners in the development of the largest province in area and important strategic location of the country. Historically, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has roots in tribal areas of the country and is believed to be an offshoot of the Afghan Taliban as both share the same ideology on religion and their operational tactics also have similarities. The TTP has a number of veterans who fought against NATO forces in Afghanistan. Lately, the government and security agencies have tried to broker a peace deal with the TTP, but failed to convince them. After the expiry of ceasefire, the TTP has intensified its subversive activities in the country.
In order to counter the TTP, the government needs to convince the Afghan Taliban to play their due role in stopping them from using Afghan soil and carrying out terror bids in Pakistan. Lastly, the Islamic State – also known as ISIS, or Daesh – emerged from the remnants of al Qaeda in Iraq. It is stated to be a local offshoot of al Qaeda founded by Abu Musab al Zarqawi in 2004. In its quest to expand its network of affiliates, it has reached Pakistan. Government needs to understand that it is not necessary for the IS to physically shift to Pakistan. Rather it can wage a war using its local sympathisers and supporters, who are still free to continue their activities. There is no shortage of perverted minds in the county whose allegiance with the terrorist group will be enough to let loose hell in the country. In this precarious situation, the government and security agencies need to give a rapid response and nip the terror in the bud. In order to counter this three-pronged threat, interprovincial cooperation and national unity can play a key role. While putting provincialism aside, all concerned departments and ministries need to develop a centralised system to coordinate and implement plans to curb militancy. So far, the federal and provincial governments are working autonomously to deter terrorist activities, but a forum must be established at the centre to supervise and monitor all operations against terrorists.