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PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s Peshawar was as soon as often known as “the city of flowers,” surrounded by orchards of pear, quince and pomegranate bushes. It was a buying and selling metropolis, located on the gates of a key mountain valley connecting South and Central Asia. However for the previous 4 many years, it has borne the brunt of rising militancy within the area, fueled by the conflicts in neighboring Afghanistan and the geopolitical video games of nice powers. On Tuesday, the town with a inhabitants of about 2 million was reeling after one among Pakistan’s most devastating militant assaults in years. A day earlier, a suicide bomber unleashed a blast in a mosque inside the town’s foremost police compound, killing not less than 100 folks and wounding not less than 225, principally police.Analysts say the carnage is the legacy of many years of flawed insurance policies by Pakistan and the US.“What you sow, so shall you reap,” mentioned Abdullah Khan, a senior safety analyst.Peshawar was a peaceable place, he mentioned, till the early Eighties when Pakistan’s then-dictator Ziaul Haq determined to grow to be a part of Washington’s chilly battle with Moscow, becoming a member of the battle towards the 1979 Soviet invasion of neighboring Afghanistan.Peshawar — lower than 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the Afghan border — grew to become the middle the place the American CIA and Pakistani army helped practice, arm and fund the Afghan mujahedeen combating the Soviets. Town was flooded by weapons and fighters, a lot of them hard-line Islamic militants, in addition to with a whole lot of hundreds of Afghan refugees. Arab militants had been additionally drawn there by the battle towards the Soviets, together with the scion of a rich Saudi household, Osama bin Laden. It was in Peshawar that bin Laden based al-Qaida within the late Eighties, becoming a member of forces with veteran Egyptian militant Ayman al-Zawahri. The Soviets lastly withdrew in defeat from Afghanistan in 1989. However the legacy of militancy and armed resistance that the U.S. and Pakistan fueled towards them remained. “After the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1980s, Americans abandoned mujahedeen, Americans even abandoned us, and since then we are paying a price for it,” mentioned Mahmood Shah, a former Pakistani military brigadier and a senior safety analyst.The mujahedeen plunged Afghanistan into civil battle in a bloody battle for energy. In the meantime, in Peshawar and one other Pakistani metropolis, Quetta, the Afghan Taliban started to arrange, with backing from the Pakistani authorities. Ultimately, the Taliban took energy in Afghanistan within the late Nineties, ruling till they had been ousted by the 2001 American-led invasion following al-Qaida’s 9/11 assaults within the U.S. In the course of the almost 20-year U.S. battle towards the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, militant teams blossomed within the tribal areas of Pakistan alongside the border and round Peshawar. Just like the Taliban, they discovered root among the many ethnic Pashtuns who make up a majority within the area and within the metropolis. Some teams had been inspired by the Pakistani intelligence businesses. However others turned their weapons towards the federal government, angered by heavy safety crackdowns and by frequent U.S. airstrikes within the border area focusing on al-Qaida and different militants. Chief among the many anti-government teams was the Pakistani Taliban, or Tahreek-e Taliban-Pakistani, or TTP. Within the late 2000s and early 2010s, it waged a brutal marketing campaign of violence across the nation. Peshawar was scene of one of many bloodiest TTP assaults in 2014, on an army-run public faculty that killed almost 150 folks, most of them schoolboys.Peshawar’s location has for hundreds of years made it a key juncture between Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. One of many oldest cities in Asia, it stands on the entrance to the Khyber Go, the principle route between the 2 areas. That was a supply of its prosperity in commerce and put it on the trail of armies going each instructions, from Moghul emperors to British imperialists. A heavy army offensive largely put down the TTP for a number of years and the federal government and the militants ultimately reached an uneasy truce. Peshawar got here beneath heavy safety management, with checkpoints dotting the principle roads, and a heavy presence of police and paramilitary troops. TTP assaults, nevertheless, have grown as soon as extra for the reason that Afghan Taliban returned to energy in Kabul in August 2021 amid the U.S. and NATO withdrawal from that nation. The Pakistani Taliban are distinct from however allied to the Afghan group, and Pakistani officers recurrently accuse the Afghan Taliban of giving the TTP free rein to function from Afghan territory. Forward of Monday’s suicide bombing, Peshawar had seen rising small-scale assaults focusing on police. In one other spillover from Afghanistan’s battle, the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group attacked Peshawar’s foremost Shiite mosque in March 2022, killing greater than 60 folks. Shah, the previous officer, warned that extra TTP assaults might observe and mentioned that Pakistan wants to interact the Afghan Taliban and stress them to both evict the TTP or guarantee it doesn’t launch assaults from Afghan territory. “If we are to have peace in Pakistan, we should talk to TTP from the position of strength with help from the Afghan Taliban,” he mentioned. “This is the best and viable solution to avoid more violence.” ___Ahmed reported from Islamabad.


About Riaz Khan and Munir Ahmed | AP

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