Islamabad, March 17 (IANS) Pakistan has let the monster of religious militancy grow, admitted an influential Pakistani daily which noted that neutralising it will not be a short-term exercise.
An editorial "Peshawar bus bombing" in the Dawn on Thursday said that soon after the military high command announced on Monday that Operation Zarb-i-Azb was being wound down in FATA, terrorists struck at Peshawar exploding a timed device in a bus carrying government employees.
Banned Lashkar-i-Islam's supremo Mangal Bagh claimed responsibility for the attack.
"So while the army leadership is talking of wrapping up combat operations in the tribal belt, there is no reason to assume that the challenge of fighting terrorism in the rest of the country is over," said the daily.
"...though the militants might be scattered or on the run, they have not lost their ability to wreak havoc on society."
On the larger problem of militancy, the editorial referred to the announcement by the military after the corps commanders' conference that intelligence-based operations would be intensified countrywide.
"After destroying the militants' infrastructure and bases, this is among the best ways to proceed in order to root out extremist fighters and their sympathisers across Pakistan and prevent further acts of terrorism.
"For this, the military must work in tandem with the civilian law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, as they have an ear to the ground in the cities and towns. We must not delude ourselves by assuming that victory against militancy is near ... by all indications, this will be a long war."
The daily noted: "For decades, we let the monster of religious militancy grow. Neutralising it will not be a short-term exercise."
"Gains have indeed been made in the counter-terrorism effort, with the soldiers, and ordinary men, women and children of the country paying a price in blood. But the goal of a terrorism-free country will only be realised if the state continues to counter militancy and extremism with commitment. (IANS)