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In this battle, be prepared for casualties

world Updated: May 28, 2009 01:11 IST
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The Connaught Place of Lahore was attacked on Wednesday. A suicide bomber drove a pick-up van into a building housing police offices in the heart of Pakistan’s political capital, killing some 30 persons and wounding another 250.

This was the third major strike in and around Lahore in the last three months; the message of the militants behind these attacks is hardly hidden. They not only want to create terror – they want to demoralize Pakistan’s security forces as well.

“This is not a terror strike like the one on the Mariott Hotel in Islamabad. This is directly related to the ongoing military operations in Swat,” Salman Haider, former Indian foreign secretary, told this writer.

“The militants in Pakistan are expanding the contest. The police seem to have become a favourite target. You just have to look at the attack on the Manawan police academy in March,” he stressed.

With 2.5 million people being displaced and the Pakistan Army looking set to continue with its operations, there are obvious fears of more terrorist strikes in the country’s major urban centres.

“There is no other reason. It is connected to the ongoing military operation,” Ayaz Amir, a member of Pakistan’s Parliament, said by telephone from Islamabad, about Wednesday’s terror strike.

Did he think that this was the most serious of military operations against terrorists in Pakistan?

“It is the only serious operation so far,” Amir replied, adding that the Pakistan Army was showing a lot of resolve.

Will the operation be pursued to its logical conclusion? “There is no other choice,” Amir, who is also a leading columnist, stated.

A leading resident of Lahore, who preferred anonymity, agreed with Amir’s assessment. “This time the Army does mean business.”

If these assessments are accurate, and the Army goes ahead with its operations, then the many terrorist groups in Pakistan are bound to persist with their policy of retaliation.

It’s a do-or-die battle for Pakistan. There can be no halfway measures.

A solid and sustained battle against militancy is the only way by which the country can begin to roll back the monster of militancy so assiduously cultivated by the Pakistani establishment over the years.