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Pak blasts: Time for tough action on terror

world Updated: Sep 27, 2008 20:28 IST
Amrita Sharma
Amrita Sharma
Hindustan Times
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The massive suicide blast at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad, close to the Pakistan Prime Minister's residence, is nothing less than a wake-up call - for Pakistan and for the Indian sub-continent as well.

The attack on Islamabad's landmark building, with almost 600 kilos of weapons-grade explosive, indicates that the terrorists are expanding the magnitude of their impact and taking it to an unprecedented level.

With 53 people being killed, and nearly 300 people being injured, it was nothing but a clear indication to the Pakistani establishment that there's a deliberate attempt to destabilize democracy in the country. What's also a cause for concern is that the spate of suicide attacks across the country has seen an alarming rise in the last two years itself. Until now, the country has seen 56 bombings, killing nearly 650 people.

The public opinion in Pakistan is also tilted towards the notion that the escalation in terrorist attacks is the direct result of Islamabad being the ally of the US in the anti-terror war, since the 9/11 attacks.

The inference drawn is that the Al Qaeda and the Taliban are striking terror in Pakistan to cement their hold in Pakistan's territory. It's clear that Pakistan provides a lifeline for US forces and the International Security Alliance Forces (ISAF) in the region. Because of its strategic position, it would be impossible for the US and NATO forces to wage a war against Afghan Taliban without Pak support.

It's also a known fact that Pakistan has been paid billions of dollars in the last few years for this support. And with Pak economy barely out of the crisis, Islamabad cannot afford to delink itself from the US efforts to carry on operations against Taliban, and lose all the incoming American aid.

But in view of the recent attacks, the need of the hour for Pakistan is to rise above its internal problems and politics. Soon after the Marriott blast, President Asif Ali Zardari vowed to eliminate the 'cancer; of terrorism. But the big question that hangs over Pakistan today, is - Will he be able to deliver on his promise and translate his promises into action?

The attack was also a sit-up-and-take-notice message for the Pak army. And in view of the spiraling militant activities in the country, it's almost imperative that the Pakistan Army, the civil society and the political parties join ranks and resolve to fight the war against terrorism, before the Frankenstein of terrorism spins totally out of control.