The May 9 violence shook the soul of the entire nation, not so much because of the damage done, but because of the targeting, which was of Army installations and monuments. Perhaps more reprehensible was the fact that the violence, the first ever against the armed forces, was committed by cadres of a political party protesting the arrest of their leader in a criminal case.
The Army authorities decided on a zero-tolerance policy, and to punish all the perpetrators under the Army Act, which meant by field general court martials. For this, the authorities would need first to identify the perpetrators, and then to find evidence for their offences. That means that the intelligence agencies would be busy with this task, and may be neglectful of their duty to gather intelligence about suspected terror attacks.
It is probably not entirely A coincidence that there was a suicide blast in Tank, while there was also a suicide attack on the motorcade of Jamaat Islami Amir Sirajul Haq in Zhob. While the attack in Tank had no particular target, the attack on Mr Haq must have had some sectarian element. Mr Haq, himself from Phyber Pakhtoonkhwa, was passing through a majority-Pashtun area. It should also be kept in mind that one of his party members, Maulana Hidayatu Rehman, the leader of the Gwadar Rights Movement, had only just been released by the Supreme Court’s orders. It may be that some elements, either sectarian or nationalist, did not like the Gwadar issue being adopted by the Jamaat Islami, or may not have appreciated the increased Chinese presence in the area ifs there is a settlement.
These incidents have shown that while the threat from the street may have emerged, the old threats have by no means disappeared. There is the threat of the agencies losing sight of these threats in the midst of the seemingly bigger task that they also face. Without detracting from that task, it should not be forgotten that there is evidence indicating that sectarian terrorism is being carried out by the same elements engaging the armed forces in recent attacks. It should not be forgotten that previous attacks on the armed forces were carried out by sectarian terrorists. It is not inevitable that sectarian terrorists are behind these attacks, but the possibility deserves exploring. And that can only be done if the agencies keep themselves focused on all tasks.