Quetta attack: Time to review good and bad Taliban policy

Pakistani army soldiers at the Balochistan Police Training College in Quetta. (Representative Image) Photograph:( AFP )

WION Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan Oct 25, 2016, 04.21 PM (IST)

By Taha Siddiqui


Three suicide bombers entered a police training academy in the garrison city of Quetta in Pakistan on Monday at about 11:30 pm and wreaked havoc, killing more than 60 fresh recruits. 


A battle between the security forces led by Pakistan Army and the assailants ensued and lasted for nearly five hours. The Pakistan Army managed to clear the area, killing one bomber while the other two detonated themselves. 


The Islamic State claimed the attack through its news agency, posting a photo of the three bombers.  However, WION correspondent also received an email from the Pakistani Taliban’s Karachi faction that also claimed the attack. Earlier, the Pakistan Army on its official site had said that Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Aalmi was behind the attack– a group known to have links with another militant outfit al Qaeda. 


Security experts are of the view that there is nothing new about conflicting claims as many militants work for different outfits but cooperate with each other during such terror attacks.


Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a high-level security meeting where the law and order situation of the restive Balochistan province, home to many notorious militant organisations, was discussed. Reports also suggest that militants from the Afghan Taliban have taken a refuge in the province. 


Besides the foreign militant groups, local ethnic population has also been waging a war against the Pakistani state for the last three decades as the Baloch people demand a separate state.


The province grabbed headlines in the recent months after the India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech where he raised the issue of Balochistan. 


China, Pakistan’s so-called all-weather friend, is heavily investing in the province in exchange of access to the Gwadar seaport in the region. 


However, amid the worsening law and order situation in the province, analysts are skeptical if the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can become a reality one day. 


In August, a suicide bombing at a Quetta hospital claimed by the Pakistani Taliban had killed 73 people, including some members of the city's lawyer community, who had gone there to mourn the fatal shooting of a colleague.


In the wake of spate in terror attacks in Pakistan in the past two months, questions are being raised about the country’s counter-terrorism policy. 


Several militant groups, especially those engaged in regional conflicts, continue to exist on Pakistani soil. 


“You see them operating all around us. Everywhere. They openly hold rallies, and congregations, and put banners across the cities… So where is the zero tolerance policy and the National Action Plan?” says senator Rubina Khalid, who belongs to Pakistan People’s Party, which leads the opposition in the parliament. 


The National Action Plan was established by government of Pakistan in 2015 following 2014 Peshawar school attack that had left more than 130 children dead. The plan aims to crack down on terrorism.


Later, the government also announced a zero-tolerance militant policy, however, its implementation is questionable. 


“There is no good or bad Taliban. They are all the same. Being on [Pakistan’s] side does not make you good – an evil is an evil,” Khalid adds.