A suicide bomber breached a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, on January 30th, 2023, killing more than 100 individuals. The bomber was believed to be wearing a police disguise allowing him to waltz into a heavily secure area in Peshawar.
The bomber carried a vest and used 12 kilograms of explosive materials. Once inside, the bomber died, and the blast not only killed those around but caused destruction to the mosque. Debris fell and covered the ground, as well as many bodies.
The mosque was built specifically for police and their families to worship. Of the 100 dead, the majority were police officers, and it is believed that around 225 individuals were wounded in this attack.
The mosque was located inside a government security compound. In this specific area, there are numerous important government installations. Some of these installations include the headquarters of the local police force and a counterterrorism department. Many question the city, the government, and the country’s ability to keep its citizens safe and fight against militancy.
The police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Moazzam Jah Ansari, admitted that “the police guards at the main entrance thought he was a member of the force; they didn't check him.” Azam Khan, chief minister of the providence, ordered a joint investigation team to investigate this attack and understand its reason.
Investigators said, “they did not rule out the possibility that the bomber had internal assistance evading security checks,” according to Ayaz Gul, who writes for VOA from Islamabad, Pakistan.
Moreover, Peshawar is not a stranger to attacks like this; it has been a hot spot for many years for Islamist militant violence. According to The New York Times, “for most of the past 40 years, Peshawar has suffered from the conflicts in the region.” In an article, they explained that “in the 1980s, it became a staging ground for fighters struggling against the Soviet-backed Afghan government.”
It has been rumored that the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), could be responsible for this and many other attacks. TTP “is an alliance of militant networks formed in 2007 to unify opposition against the Pakistani military.” They have executed many attacks resulting in casualties before. An article on Aljazeera states that the head of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (a branch of the TTP), as well as a member of the leadership council, said: “his group committed the attack in retaliation for the killing last year of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar’s former leader Omar Khalid Khorasani in Afghanistan.”
TTP said they did not orchestrate the attack, nor were they involved. Nonetheless, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, defense minister, accused them and said, “they were operating from neighboring Afghan territory and demanding the Afghan Taliban take action against them.”
Not only has Pakistan been a battlefield for terrorist groups, but they are also facing various problems.
The citizens of Pakistan have been through hell and back and cannot seem to catch a break. Zarrar Khuhro, a Pakistani journalist, wrote, “we see the machinations of a powerful establishment playing games while parents struggle to feed their children. We see politicians sniping at and sabotaging each other while businesses shut down. We see a government speaking loudly of sacrifice and austerity while constantly increasing the size of an already bloated cabinet.”
With all the negative issues circling the city, people do not know what to think. Some believe “the system shows us that it does not care for us, that the game is rigged in favor of a rapacious elite that continues importing luxury cars when essential medical supplies rot at the port, awaiting clearance,” Khuhro said in an article.
Pakistan is in a troublesome time. Political, economic, and security problems constantly knock on its door. From the national grid collapsing to a financial crisis, Pakistan requires aid.
It does not stand alone. The United States, the United Nations, and others are giving what they can and helping however they can. The Secretary-General for the United Nations, António Guterres, said he “reiterates the solidarity of the United Nations with the Government and people of Pakistan in their efforts to address terrorism and violent extremism.” The UN’s plan of action is to get “governments and other stakeholders to support the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, which has been developed by the Alliance, at the request of the Secretary-General.”
The United States Secretary of State said, “we extend our deepest condolences to the families of the many who lost their lives as a result of this senseless act of terrorism,” regarding the suicide bomber on January 30th. They elaborated and said they support the Pakistani government and its efforts to manage terrorism. The U.S. previously supported Pakistan as well. The USAID.gov website says, “the United States is pledging an additional $100 million to continue supporting Pakistan’s recovery efforts from the devastating 2022 floods.”
Can Pakistan catch a break and enjoy the sunshine and rainbow, or will it continue to face one catastrophic event after another? It is clear that Pakistan is going through tough times as it faces an increase in debt, worrisome citizens, and breaches in security.
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