This year, terrorists struck on the ninth of Muharram in Jacobabad, killing at least 26 during a procession
While the much touted security measures taken by the government and the law-enforcement agencies may have succeeded in reducing the frequency of sectarian and terror attacks in major cities, the fact is that extremists remain able to strike in smaller towns where security is perhaps not so tight. This year, they struck on the ninth of Muharram in Jacobabad where a suicide bombing killed at least 26 during a procession. The attack was obviously aimed at claiming as many lives as possible. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has claimed responsibility for the blast. The same group says it is behind the attack on an imambargah in Balochistan on the eighth of Muharram in which at least 10 people were killed. It seems as if sectarian outfits have continued to operate in the country despite the ban placed on them and turned their attention to places where they believe it will be easier to strike and where security deployment will be weaker.
The reality is that it is simply not possible to deploy security to guard streets and places of worship in every town and every village. Terrorists retain the capacity to strike anywhere and at any time. The answer must lie in going beyond the issue of security alone and in rebuilding the ethos of tolerance that we have lost. Communities need to be involved in this and the message disseminated as widely as possible. The media could play a vital role in this regard. Since we cannot keep a watch on each and every militant, we need to create a social environment which guards against sectarianism. For too long, almost each year we have seen Ashura, one of the holiest times of the year for all Muslims, turn into an occasion when the blood of the innocent is shed. A multi-pronged strategy is needed to combat this involving not only good security and intelligence-gathering, but also the elimination of the hatred that has seeped into our soil and caused it to be stained with blood every year. This is easier said than done, but this is the path that needs to be taken to purge sectarian hatred from society.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2015.
Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.