Pakistan faces terrorism surge post-Afghan war

Islamabad helped bring the Taliban to power, now it faces the consequences

ISLAMABAD — On Jan. 30 at 1:30 p.m., hundreds of worshippers, mostly police officers, gathered for Monday afternoon prayer at the Police Line Mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar.

A huge explosion soon rang out. The shock wave and debris from 12 kilograms of explosives sliced through the crowd. The entire structure of the mosque collapsed, the concrete walls falling in on anyone left alive. In all, 101 people were killed and 200 injured.

“There was a huge bang and I do not remember anything afterward,” said one of the victims, a police constable, who asked that his name not be used. “I was badly hurt in the attack but lucky to survive while so many of my colleagues lost their lives.”

A suicide bomber had carried out the attack, apparently aided by security personnel, according to an investigation. A breakaway faction of a terror group linked to Afghanistan’s Taliban known as the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), took credit for the blast, calling it revenge for the death of a former TTP commander blown up by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in August. Pakistan has denied killing the former commander.

For many in Pakistan, the bombing came as the unwelcome confirmation of a disturbing trend. While terrorism had become an almost daily occurrence during the 20-year civil war in neighboring Afghanistan, Islamabad had assumed that with the end of major fighting in 2021 and the victory of the Taliban, these attacks would end. The Taliban, so the thinking went, were beholden to Pakistan out of gratitude for years of support.

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Pakistan, Afghanistan, violence,