After several months of calm, the news of a blast in Johar Town area of Lahore spread chaos in the city and raised fear that terror incidents had returned. At least four people including a six-year-old child lost their lives and dozens of others were injured in the powerful explosion that rocked the residential area.
The blast was earlier considered a pipeline explosion but highlights a more sinister plot. Police have now confirmed that it was a terror incident and the attacker failed to reach his target due to the pickets in the area. The Punjab police chief has not stated what the actual target was. Perhaps it was the house of the outlawed Jamatud-Dawa chief Hafez Saeed who is currently serving a prison term. This should be investigated if there is a deeper plot that needs to be uncovered.
The blast in a residential area is certainly a soft target. The statement by political leaders suggests that our law-enforcement agencies are not oblivious of their responsibilities. But it also suggests that our security situation remains fragile and under threat. The incident comes just days before Pakistan’s fate will be decided by the FATF whether it should be removed from the grey list on terror financing and money laundering. Pakistan has been compliant with the action plan and it is expected to be removed or receive massive relief.
If viewed in the geopolitical context, such incidents can be viewed as a precursor to the fallout from the Afghan situation. The US will begin withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan next months but violence in the war-ravaged nation is escalating with every passing day. The Taliban have captured 50 districts and the key town of Kunduz bordering Tajikistan. Americans are now considering slowing down the process and will not recognize any government by force. Pakistan, on the other hand, should prepare for the fallout as it could be one of the worst affected.
Pakistan should ensure that the gains in the war on terrorism are not reversed. The nation cannot once become embroiled in violence as we need to move forward and achieve economic growth. It is imperative that we must not let such elements succeed in their nefarious designs to violate peace in the country.