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The bomb blast that took place on Wednesday near Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed’s house in Lahore is an indication of the meltdown taking place in that region as a consequence of the ongoing US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The proximity to Saeed’s house indicates his people were the target, as he is presently in jail, or it was a warning. Who would target him in a country where he is a national hero for his crimes against India? The permutations and combinations are many, but very probably it is a result of a turf battle taking place among ‘militant’ groups in the hope of filling space that would come into existence after the US has left.

Pakistan has long sponsored terrorist groups that use religion to motivate young men, mostly from the poorer sections of society, to become ‘martyrs’ in the ‘war’ against India. Unfortunately for it, over time, many others have taken inspiration from this approach to pursue their own agendas that include freedom for ethnic groups like the Balochs and Pakhtuns. The Taliban in Afghanistan, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan are among radicals that are not content even with even a semblance of democracy and modernity anywhere. In the absence of a common enemy, they are now turning on each other to obtain dominance.

It is not that the Pakistan establishment is unaware of this and attempts are being made to manage the outbreak through the usual inducements. One of these has been to ramp up emotions against India to channel the fervour in a desired direction, but internal conflict has been on the rise. If nothing else, the blame will be cast on India’s RAW, as usual, to divert public opinion. But Pakistan’s own experts have been drawing attention for a long time to the rise of the fundamentalists in the face of the present government’s failures, particularly on the economic front. Even the Army is losing its sheen, under which its wrong-doings have been hidden for a long time.

It is tragic that all of these groups think nothing of killing innocent people in the pursuit of their goals. They promote otherworldly beliefs that consider all actions justified by the goal, in this case the elimination of the heretics. Their leaders, on the other hand, make the decisions on the basis of the profit involved. It remains to be seen how long Pakistan’s greatly diminished civil society will be able to hold out against the challenge.