Early morning on Tuesday, police received reports of a blast in the Dir colony of Peshawar. Later the police confirmed that the target of the attack was a religious seminary, Jamia Zuberia Madrassah.
As the investigations are still ongoing, the police stated that it is too early to comment on the explosives used in the attack. According to eyewitnesses on the scene, a man entered the seminary with a bag and moments later the bag exploded. As of now, the reported casualties are 7 with more than a hundred injured. “Most of those killed and injured were hit by the ball bearings and some were badly burnt,” hospital official Muhammad Asim Khan told media agencies. He further commented that all of the dead were men aged from 20 to around 40 years.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.
Rahimullah Haqqani, the head of Madrassa Zubairiyyah is known throughout the region as a staunch opponent of the Salafi interpretation of Islam, which many see as a potentially violent and extremist approach towards the religion. Haqqani is also known for actively speaking against the activities of the ISIS in Afghanistan and the region. It is possible this opposition to extremism made his seminary a target.
The attack comes two days after the Quetta blast. Three people were killed and over a dozen others injured in a bomb blast in the Hazarganji area on the outskirts of the provincial capital on Sunday. Police said that an improvised explosive device (IED) was planted in a motorcycle parked in front of a shop in the Hazarganji area. When the IED was detonated with remote control three people lost their lives and 16 others suffered injuries.
Similarly, last week Karachi saw two explosions. The first one was at the Sheerin Jinnah Bus Terminal in the provincial capital of Sindh, which injured 5 people with no casualties. Police investigators said it was an IED that was planted at the gate of the terminal. According to them, a bicycle rigged with some explosive material was parked at the site a little after 3:30 pm.
The second one, that was termed as a gas explosion by the authorities, claimed 5 lives and injured nearly 20 people. Law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area while a bomb disposal squad arrived to investigate the cause of the blast. According to the initial report, the explosion occurred due to a “leakage of gas”.
The report further said that no trace of an improvised explosive device (IED) was found at the scene. However, the squad found pieces of metal and the burner of a stove.
This increase in attacks on the civilian population is in tandem with a rise in attacks on the armed forces as well. Only last month an explosion caused by an IED on Thursday evening, September 3, killed four soldiers and injured several others in the South Waziristan district of erstwhile FATA. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TPP) militant group claimed responsibility for the attack targeting Pakistani security forces.
A more recent incident took place on October 15, in Razmak, North Waziristan when an IED attack claimed the lives of one officer and five soldiers, according to the ISPR press release.
World news agencies and think-tanks have been warning over the possible regrouping of the Taliban in the border regions of KP. A report in TRT World stated, that it “is evident from the reunification of various TTP splinter factions, cessation of leadership disputes, the reappearance of its operatives into the erstwhile strongholds in the former FATA region, and an uptick of terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s peripheral areas.” This was not something the Pakistani authorities were unaware of, only last week The National Counter Terrorism Authority warned that the Pakistani Taliban could target the country’s political and leadership in Peshawar and Quetta.
Interesting to note are the recent statements from the Indian Security Advisor Ajit Doval, in which he remarked India will fight not only on its own territory but also on foreign soil which becomes the source of a security threat.
“It is not necessary that we only fight where you want to. India will take the battle to where the threat originates,” Doval said at Parmarth Niketan ashram located in the northern state of Uttarakhand. “We will surely fight, on our soil as well as on foreign soil,” he threatened.
Attacks such as the Pulwama, Pathankot and Mumbai attacks are all used to accuse Pakistan of being a security threat, and engaging in further subversive activities against it.
The uptick in attacks has dovetailed with a spree of Indian misinformation campaigns designed to use the increased tensions caused by opposition protests to sow division among the Pakistani populace.
The Doval comments have been termed the ‘New-India Doctrine’ of engaging in a heightened level of proxy war on foreign soil to achieve a strategic advantage in the region.