Why Peshawar, ‘once city of flowers’, turned into epicenter of violence

Peshawar - The News Today - TNT

PESHAWAR: Peshawar, provincial metropolis of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was once known as “the city of flowers,” surrounded by fruit orchards of pear, quince and pomegranate trees. It was a trading city, situated at the gates of a key mountain valley connecting South and
Central Asia.

But for the past four decades, it has borne the brunt of rising militancy in the region, fueled by the conflicts in neighboring Afghanistan and the geopolitical games of great powers.


The Capital City of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with a population of about two million people was reeling after one of Pakistan’s most devastating militant attacks in years. A suicide bomber unleashed a blast in a mosque inside the city’s main police compound, killing at least 101 people and wounding at least 225, mostly police.

Analysts were of the view that the suicide bombing attack resulting in worst carnage was the legacy of decades of flawed policies by Pakistan and the United States. ‘What you sow, so shall you reap’ is the better sentence to say when we mourn the one of the worst terrorist attack after APS attack.

Like other parts of the country, Peshawar was a peaceful place and attraction for
tourists across the country as well as outside, until the early 1979 when Pakistan’s
military dictator Ziaul Haq decided to become part of Washington’s cold war with
Moscow, joining the fight against the 1979 Soviet invasion of neighboring

Peshawar, a Vale of less than 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the Afghan border,
became the center where the American CIA and Pakistani military helped train, arm
and fund the Afghan mujahedeen fighting the Soviets. The city was flooded by
weapons and fighters, many of them hard-line Islamic militants, as well as with
hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees.

Arab militants were also drawn there by the fight against the Soviets, including the
scion of a wealthy Saudi family, Osama bin Laden. It was in Peshawar that bin
Laden founded al-Qaida in the late 1980s, joining forces with veteran Egyptian
militant Ayman al-Zawahri.

The Soviets finally withdrew in defeat from Afghanistan in 1989. But the legacy of
militancy and armed resistance that the US and Pakistan fueled against them

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, an analyst said.

The armed men who were figting the US sponsored was against USSR have started
a bloody civil war in Afghanistan to fight for power. Meanwhile, in Peshawar and
another Pakistani city, Quetta, the Afghan Taliban began to organize, with backing
from the Pakistani government. Eventually, the Taliban took power in Afghanistan
in the late 1990s, ruling until they were ousted by the 2001 American-led invasion
following al-Qaida’s 9/11 attacks in the US. Again Pakistani military leadership
under another military dictator Pervaiz Musharraf joined US in its so called ‘war
against terrorism’

During the nearly 20-year US war against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan,
militant groups blossomed in the tribal regions of Pakistan along the border and
around Peshawar. Like the Taliban, they found roots among the ethnic Pashtuns
who make up a majority in the region and in the city.

Some groups were encouraged by the Pakistani intelligence agencies. But others
turned their guns against the government, angered by heavy security crackdowns
and by frequent US airstrikes in the border region targeting al-Qaida and other

Chief among the anti-government groups was the Pakistani Taliban, or Tahreek-e
Taliban-Pakistani, or TTP. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, it waged a brutal
campaign of violence around the country. Peshawar was scene of one of the
bloodiest TTP attacks in 2014, on an army-run public school that killed nearly 150
people, most of them schoolboys.

Peshawar’s location has for centuries made it a key juncture between Central Asia
and the Indian subcontinent. One of the oldest cities in Asia, it stands at the
entrance to the Khyber Pass, the main route between the two regions. That was a
source of its prosperity in trade and put it on the path of armies going both
directions, from Moghul emperors to British imperialists.

A heavy military offensive largely put down the TTP for several years and the
government and the militants eventually reached an uneasy truce. Peshawar came
under heavy security control, with checkpoints dotting the main roads, and a heavy
presence of police and paramilitary troops.

TTP attacks, however, have grown once more since the Afghan Taliban returned to
power in Kabul in August 2021 amid the US and NATO withdrawal from that
country. The Pakistani Taliban are distinct from but allied to the Afghan group, and
Pakistani officials regularly accuse the Afghan Taliban of giving the TTP free rein
to operate from Afghan territory.

On January 31, several police officers joined a peace march organized by the
members of civil society groups in Peshawar, denouncing militant attacks and
demanding peace in the country. Police said they made some arrest in connection
with January 30 mosque bombing but did not provide details.

Ahead of worst suicide attack of Peshawar, the county had seen increasing small-scale attacks targeting police. In another spillover from Afghanistan’s conflict.

Though the Federal Government is taking serious note of the increasing attacks by TTP and incumbent Taliban government was asled to take steops agaist eht TTP leadership present in Afghanistan and ensure that militants who have returned to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa surrender before the government otherwise they will be eliminated.

Read more: IED blast martyrs two military officers in Kohlu Balochistan

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