It has become quite a norm; the abnormality of the security situation in my troubled city called Mardan. Most of my fortnightly visits there have become nightmarish of late. In one of my recent ilogs here, I wrote in detail about a blast at a refreshment center in the cantonment area which took lives of a dozen of people including one of my very good friend. I was there to witness the scenes of horror and tragedy that befallen the innocent people of Mardan.
Hardly a month of comparative calm, and there we go again. Last night, at around 9 O’clock, I along with a friend was strolling past the ‘Taj Cinema’ around the busy ‘Pakistan Chowk’ area when a thunderous blast almost shook us off balance. A bomb went off inside the cinema hall and all in a sudden a giant smoke cloud engulfed the entire building. I could hear the wailing of injured from inside the hall. Hearing the thunder, people ran in all directions with mostly heading towards the place of the incident. I too wanted to go inside to try and help the injured but I had to obey my mother when she called me to reach home immediately. Within minutes Edhi ambulances along with the police vehicles reached the location to carryout the needful. Thankfully it didn’t take many human lives; 1 person is killed along with a few injured.
The incident is being termed an extension of the activities of a local religious outfit with connection to the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban. In the recent past, they have blown a few Video Cassette Shops along with a Cable Operator’s office and some Internet Clubs, warning them of refraining from spreading ‘vulgarity’. The outfit holds a strict view of imposing Islamic concepts through force which a common Mardanian doesn’t agree with. News are also emanating about the mixing of criminals with the outfit to get a possible shelter and promote their heinous activities in the facade of religion. However the blast is unique in a context that most of the previous incidents save the second last one, took place either very early in the morning in the off business hours with least human activity, or were directly targeted towards the security personnel, be that Army or Police so the timing and target of the latest is obviously people oriented. The situation is even more tricky as the Provincial government have struck a peace deal with the millitants which is showing encouraging results in the Swat valley but the Federal government doesn’t seem to be satisfied with it courtesy the American pressure which wants wiping out militancy by forceful measures. A few Provincial Government officials have termed such sporadic violent acts as conspiracies from outsiders to destabilize the region along with the Provincial Government led by ANP.