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Fear Grips Pakistan’s Heartland as Terrorism Intensifies Special

By Tayyab Y. Malik     Dec 9, 2009 in World
Fear grips Pakistan as terrorism intensifies. As analysis of the attacks in this quarter show, there is less regard for civilian casualties and an attempt to launch at least an attack a day in an apparent psychological war to break the opponent’s nerve.
“When I leave home for work every day, I am not sure I will reach back safely or at all. I have to work at two jobs to make ends meet. Food prices are soaring, there is no gas or electricity but my landlord insists I pay the bills. Police harass me at every checkpoint so it difficult to reach my workplaces in time”, said a sanitary worker with brave face after Monday’s twin blast in the bustling Moon Market in Lahore, the capital of Punjab. With over half of Pakistan’s teeming millions, the largest province is considered its heartland.
As the terror spate intensifies in reaction to the Pakistan Army’s operations in the lawless frontier region, similar fear and anxiety was witnessed in the south eastern city of Multan around noon on Tuesday. A truck laden with almost a ton of explosives was rammed into the check post in front of the premier spy agency’s offices by two armed terrorists who claimed seven lives along with their own. A gaping crater almost 30 feet wide was created by the blast which also demolished a large part of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) building. This was the third attack against the ISI this year. Similar attacks were launched against its offices in Lahore and Peshawar. The ISI is widely considered responsible for letting the genie out of the bottle for recruiting, training, funding and coordinating, under the aegis of the American CIA, the Mujahedeen who fought successfully to ouster the Soviets in Afghanistan after almost a decade of intense guerilla war. These extremists have now turned against Pakistan’s security apparatus under the umbrella of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a bid to dissuade them from continuing their operations in their homeland.
TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud said in a phone call with CNN on Tuesday. “We will wait till January for our offensive since we are stronger during the snowing season. We have conserved our energy and have not lost our morale. The leadership of my organization is safe,” said an adamant Hakeemullah who succeeded Baitullah Mehsud who was killed in CIA drone missile attack in a remote frontier village. The pattern and intensity of terrorist attacks have changed since he took over. As analysis of the attacks in this quarter show, there is less regard for civilian casualties and an attempt to launch at least an attack a day in an apparent psychological war to break the opponent’s nerve.
The bid appears to be working as psychologists frequently reported in the print and electronic media that a large number of patients were complaining of fear and anxiety related disorders. “They have turned our schools into fortresses”, complained a young student after authorities insisted that schools raise their walls and improve security. “My nerves are so weak; I jump at the noise of every cracker”, the harried student said. Snipers prowl on the roof of some schools and heightened security created long queues to enter and leave schools.
It is difficult to get first hand reports from the abode of the terrorists in the tribal belt or Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), but easy to speculate that similar or worse psychic conditions affects this region. Media reports show that constant bombardment by jets, helicopters, drone missiles, mortar, artillery and gunfire have created extremely hazardous living conditions. Military authorities have reported that Hakeeemullah Mehsud’s house has been razed to the ground and his village evacuated.
Both of these situations are direct fallouts of the eight year old military intervention by NATO in Afghanistan. As a reconciliatory window of opportunity appears to be opening after the announcement of Barrack Obama’s new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, most people yearn for peace in Pakistan. As one citizen poignantly said: “We do not want to be involved in an un-ending war!”
More about Terrorism, Pakistan, Bomb blasts, Fear, Afghanistan
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