The Army chief’s statement came after a suicide bombing at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar claimed the lives of 72 people.
“No more restraint for anyone,” the Army chief was quoted in a tweet sent out by DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor.
In an earlier tweet, DG ISPR said recent terror attacks are being executed on directions of hostile powers and from sanctuaries in Afghanistan. “We shall defend and respond,” DG ISPR tweeted.
A suspected suicide bomber blew himself inside the shrine of Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan on Thursday evening, martyring over 72 people and injuring dozens of others, officials confirmed.
The blast occurred soon after the devotees entered the shrine after dhamaal.
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) has also appealed the nation to stay calm, he said. “Your security forces shall not allow hostile powers to succeed. We stand for our nation,” Ghafoor quoted the COAS as saying.
Large crowds of people, from different parts of the province, were gathered at the shrine when the blast took place. Devotees throng to the shrine of the revered Sufi saint every Thursday to participate in a dhamaal and prayers.
Terrorists have targeted shrines of Sufi saints in the past.
In November, at least 52 people were killed and more than 100 got injured in a suicide blast in Shah Noorani shrine near Hub in Balochistan’s Lasbella district. Additional Deputy Commissioner Lasbella Tariq Mengal had said that 500 to 600 people were in the shrine at the time of the blast.
COAS warns hostile agencies against playing with regional peace
Earlier during his visit to Mohmand and Bajaur agencies, General Qamar Javed Bajwa warned hostile agencies against playing with regional peace and stability, saying, “We reserve the right to respond, despite our current policy of restraint”, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations.
He met with troops and interacted with tribal elders during the visit. Commander Peshawar Corps Lieutenant General Nazir Ahmed Butt and other senior officials of the Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps were also present on the occasion.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa also met with the families of those who embraced martyrdom during Wednesday’s suicide attacks in Mohmand Agency and offered his condolences, the ISPR said in a statement.
The army chief said that terrorists were trying to regroup in safe havens in Afghanistan and attempting to spread doubt and despondency. “We all collectively shall fail their desperate manoeuvres,” he vowed.
Gen Bajwa praised law enforcement agencies (LEAs), especially Levis for thwarting Wednesday’s suicide attacks and minimising the loss of lives. He also lauded troops for effectively responding to a cross-border attack from Afghanistan on a Pakistani outpost last week.
“Cooperation between our brave citizens, Army, LEAs and intelligence agencies is the cornerstone of our success against terrorism,” he said.
The COAS said that efforts to ensure that our soil is not used against any other country shall continue and others are expected to reciprocate it, according to the ISPR statement.
He assured local tribes that Army will continue its efforts to improve infrastructure in FATA, including roads, health, education and community development projects.
“Army fully supports initiatives for mainstreaming of FATA being undertaken in accordance with the wishes of the people,” the COAS said.
Wave of terrorist attacks
The attack in Sehwan on Thursday is part of a recent wave of terrorist attacks in the country, the fifth blast in less than a week targeting innocent people.
On February 12, a cameraman from Samaa was killed when the news channel’s DSNG van was attacked in Karachi.
On Monday, a suicide attack in Lahore killed 14 people and wounded over 60 others.
On Wednesday, three suicide bombers targeted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the adjoining tribal areas leaving around leaving seven people dead. One of the incidents occurred in Peshawar where a suicide bomber riding a motorbike hit a vehicle carrying civil judges, while two other suicide bombers blew themselves up at separate locations in Mohmand Agency.
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The 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) annual conference is scheduled for April 8 to 11 in Boao, Hainan Province. The forum will be themed "An Open and Innovative Asia for a World of Greater Prosperity."
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily