By Afshain Afzal
Monday, 30th January 2023, an alleged suicide bombing took place at the time of Namaz-e-Zohar at Police Lines Masjid (Mosque) in Peshawar. Over 400 Namazis were offering the routine Namaz-e-Zohar. The sad terrorist incident took lives of at least 103 people including 97 security personnel and injuries more than 200 others when complete roof fell down in a big bang. Most of those who were killed or injured were Police personnel including Pesh Iman Maulana Sahibzada Noorul Amin, who was serving as Naib Khatib since 1994. Apparently, the debris at the Masjid reflected that such a huge damage to the Masjid cannot be done by explosive carried out by a single suicide bomber. The area where terrorist incident took place encompasses Headquarters of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Police force and the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) offices, Border Reserve Police, Elite Force and the Pakistan Telecommunications Department offices.
File Photo: Coffins of 97 Police personnel martyred
Although, it was huge damage which could not be done by explosive carried by single person but the Police authorities have ruled out that the attack was by a drone or missile hit. Police authorities said that they have reached the terrorist who happen to be some police personnel. Peshawar Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Peshawar Muhammad Ijaz Khan confirmed that families that live in the police compound where the mosque is located are being interrogated as police cannot rule out that the attacker has been helped by someone internally. CCPO Ejaz Khan in a statement said that that the head of the suspected suicide bomber was recovered from the blast site. He said, the alleged attacker has been identified as 37-year-old Muhammad Ayaz, son of Salim Khan of Mohmand Agency. He added that it is possible that the attacker was already present at the police line before the explosion and may have used an official vehicle. Meanwhile, security has been tightened and Department of Administrative Affairs Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa also issued new guidelines including security guidelines for Civil Secretariat.
Pakistan’s Tehreek e Taliban and Afghan Taliban have condemned the attack and ruled out any involvement of their members. The Afghan Taliban's Acting Foreign Minister Amir Muttaqi called on Pakistan to investigate the Peshawar attack rather than blame neighbouring Afghanistan for terror carnage. He added, "If Afghanistan was the centre of terrorism, it would have gone into China, Central Asia and Iran”. The Afghan authorities clarified that Afghan Islamic government believes in peace and good neighborly relations with all the countries and what Pakistan needs to comprehend is that if China, Central Asia and Iran were never attacked by Taliban why would they carry out terrorism in brotherly country like Pakistan. Interestingly, Pakistani agencies are shy of taking the name of India, which is openly challenging the very existence of Pakistan.
Intelligence agencies and foreign media, especially Indian claim that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan accepted the responsibility for the suicide attack, saying it was part of a revenge attack from Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as their commander Umar Khalid Khurasani was killed in Afghanistan in August 2022. According to security officials, the suicide bomber was present in the front row of the Masjid and blew himself up, causing the roof to collapse on the Namazis. The incident witnessed cooperation between all the departments and professional handling of post disaster management. Soon after the terrorist incident, heavy machinery and fire brigade tenders were combing the ruins for survivors in a rescue operation. However, the debris was so huge that it was impossible to do much for those who got trapped under huge concrete rubbles. However, their efforts along with Police force is worth appreciation.
Inspector General Police Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Moazzam Jah Ansari in a recorded video clip said, “My sons (Police personnel) who are to fight, have been trained, provided weapons, who are ready to take revenge and who are standing to fight, if they protest for their rights and talk about their protection than…” He ruled out drone attack on the Masjid and said that it was a suicide attack and Police have identified the terrorist, who happen to be police personnel. He said, security camera footage showed the bomber entering the heavily fortified police compound surrounding the mosque on a motorbike. In an earlier interview to Aaj Digital on 11 June 2022, IGP Moazzam Jah Ansari said, policing was introduced in the Newly Merged Districts (former FATA) in March/ April 2019, and he inherited force of 26,000 personnel of Levies and Khasadar who lacked training but a large number of them were trained by Pakistan Army at their Centers and other by police themselves totaling more than 22500 personnel who are fully trained. He said, during the interview that there is nexus between criminals and terrorists and mostly activities are on the basis of personal enmity but is tow with terrorist networks.
In the latest development, Bright Madina Channel telecast a video “Bayan” (a casual talk) of Maulana Sahibzada Noorul Amin and posted some days before the blast. A Facebook account with the name of Maulana Sahibzada Noorul Amin with his picture in Police line Peshawar has been created by someone probably last month. It could not be confirmed that the interview posted at Bright Madina Channel was delibrate and facebook account has been created by Moulana himself. The video clip iin Pushto language has been translated in verbatim, “Three questions will be asked inside the grave; Man Rab o Ka, Man Nabi o Ka and Man Deen o Ka. When he would wake up from grave and he would be aske four questions. Prophet Mohammad Alhe Salam says unless he answers these four questions, his feet will not move forward from the grave. These questions are; You were give an age how you spent it, youth was given to you how you spent, from where you earned money and where you spent this amount. In fact, we have Aqeda (Belief) everyone has his own Aqeda and all these questions there is no question of Aqeda as La Illa Ha Ill Allah Mohammad ur Rasool Allah, all have one Aqeda.”
File Photo: Construction work inside Masjid by a group
Witnesses disclosed that Police department allowed a particular sect to carryout major changes in design of the Police Line Masjid including new construction. It was revealed that hard talk between Razavi sect wearing green turban and Maulana Sahibzada Noorul Amin took place in the past, who considered Maulana following wrong faith. It is possible that same persons posted video clip of Maulana Sahibzada Noorul Amin on Bright Madina Channel that caused someone from opposite school of thought to carry out terrorism to eliminate Maulana Sahibzada Noorul Amin and replace him with favorite one. One individual on the condition of anonymity said that that clip proved that Maulana Sahibzada Noorul Amin had changed his faith and got influenced by Taliban. Some Police personnel were of the view that it is strange that most of those martyred were Police official but interrogation is also taking place of Police personnel and their families. One witness said that there is business adventure in front of the main gate where investors have eyes.
3rd February announcement after a high level conference between military and civilian authorities, highlighted strong action against the terrorist, establishment of Counter Terrorism Headquarters in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, provision of latest equipment and weapons to Police and Counter Terrorism Department. Equipping the Police force is essential and strong action against terrorists has no alternative but the authorities must not ignore hundreds of families from India settling in cities including old Peshawar occupying and dismantling unattended minorities left evacuee properties. The facts cannot be denied that authorities also inducted thousands of hard core terrorists in Levies as de-radicalization drive and later fully trained and equipped them. It is high time that we must break the nexus between criminals and terrorists and identify, “terrorist activities on the basis of personal enmity but is tow with terrorist networks” as rightly identified by IGP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.