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Horrific attack

In a frightening new event, at least 60 people died, and more than 120 people injured after three militants attacked a police training college in Quetta, Pakistan. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility. Earlier, a senior Pakistani military official had said the attack was carried out by the Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militant group, which had been behind numerous attacks on the non-Sunni populace in Balochistan in the past. In response to these conflicting claims, reports now indicate that the Islamic State had “outsourced” the attack to LeJ. The attack on a police training academy is the deadliest since a suicide attack on a hospital in Quetta two months ago, which killed at least 70 people. Predictably, some within the Pakistani political class have already induced conspiracy theories to blame India for the recent attack. Imran Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, has already gone on Twitter to claim that the Nawaz Sharif government is “too much of a coward to call India out”. Meanwhile, India's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar expressed his condolences to the victims and said governments should desist from supporting non-state actors involved in militancy. If anything, Parrikar’s claims carry more weight than the grand conspiracy theories being unleashed by sections of Pakistan’s political class. Its military-intelligence establishment’s policy of allowing militant groups to operate on domestic soil to achieve strategic foreign targets continues to blow up in its face. In a column for a leading Indian publication, Husain Haqqani, an expert on South Asian affairs and Pakistan’s ambassador to the US from 2008-11, wrote: “Jihadi militants do not accept the neat divisions between global, regional and local conflict. Once they are convinced of the righteousness of their cause, they are willing to fight and blow themselves up anywhere.” Past reports have indicated that Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence received commitments from the likes of the Afghan Taliban, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed that they would not conduct militant operation inside Pakistan. What is the guarantee that these armed groups will not support the likes of Pakistani Taliban or its breakaway faction, the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, and the LeJ? Haqqani goes on to write: “Pakistan’s greatest enemy at the moment is denial. It is time to acknowledge that jihadi groups cannot be trusted or considered allies of the state. However useful the Pakistani deep state might find them for external purposes, they will always be dangerous internally. And their usefulness in expanding Pakistan’s external influence is also severely overstated.” Coming back to Monday night’s events, it is clear that none of these attacks happens in a state of vacuum. The Pakistan Army continues to conduct extensive military operations against a slew of terror outfits in the country’s northwestern tribal areas, including the LeJ. The attack in Quetta is an act of revenge and an attempt at terrorising the Pakistani government and the Army into submission.
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