On January 30, 2023, a man detonated his suicide vest inside a mosque in the Police Lines area of Peshawar, a high-security zone where police headquarters are located, killing more than 100 worshippers, most of them police officers, and wounding scores of others. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Movement of the Pakistani Taliban, TTP) has carried out many attacks in recent years in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, of which Peshawar is the provincial capital. These attacks have increased since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021.
It was expected that TTP – which describes itself as a branch of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA, i.e., the Afghan Taliban) – would carry out a major terror attack to avenge the August 2022 killing in Afghanistan of Omar Khalid Khorasani, a leading jihadi commander who was part of the TTP alliance. It is believed that was Pakistani security agencies killed Khorasani.
Despite initial media reports suggesting that the TTP had claimed responsibility for the Peshawar mosque bombing, the TTP issued a statement the same day denying any involvement in the attack and citing an excerpt from its strategy document forbidding attacks in mosques, madrassas, graveyards, funerals, markets, or other public places.
Urdu-language newspapers in Pakistan published editorials on the mosque bombing, exploring all possibilities of what could have gone wrong with Pakistan's counter-terrorism policy, which in recent years has forced the TTP mujahideen to flee to Afghanistan. This report will review excerpts from editorials in three mainstream Urdu dailies: Roznama Jasarat, which belongs to Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Roznama Express, and Roznama Jan.
Following are excerpts from the Roznama Jasarat editorial titled "The Blast In Peshawar's Mosque:"
"Now The Rulers Have Reacted As Expected – [Saying] That There Is A Need For A Big Operation Against It; In Other Words, Once Again The State Is Going After An Unseen Enemy"
"As usual, in the first instance, a statement came in which the TTP accepted the responsibility for the blast and later in the night news came denying the statement. By which means this statement of admission came and where did the denial come from? Newspapers have reported that TTP accepted the responsibility for the attack and claimed to have taken revenge for the killing of Khalid Khorasani.
"Then suddenly the denial also came. If the claim were correct, then what was the need for them to deny it? These claims and denials are [always] doubtful and if the police were their source, then surely the same would be wrong.
The Roznama Jasarat editorial
"Police and investigating agencies, first of all, described it as suicide [attack] to dismiss the story; now if the attacker is not alive, then there is no question of interrogation and the factories that issue statements about claims of admission can then release anything. Due to the publication of such news the direction of investigation of serious tragedies gets altered.
"Those [military and police] responsible for the defense of Pakistan should say, was there no value for people's lives? Now the rulers have reacted as expected – [saying] that there is a need for a big operation against it. In other words, once again the state is going after an unseen enemy."
"A Large Number Of Worshippers, Including More Than 400 Security Officers, Were Present In The Mosque – Among The Martyrs, Most Were Police Officials"
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Following are excerpts from the Roznama Jang editorial titled: "The Terrible Tragedy Of Terrorism:"
"Pakistan was already gripped by the worst political and economic instability but now the anti-national elements have sped up their anti-humanity activities to play with Pakistan's integrity. And all of this is happening as the Taliban have taken power in the neighboring country of Afghanistan. The land of Afghanistan is being badly used for terrorism in Pakistan, while the Kabul government, which has apparently soft corners for Pakistan, instead of preventing it, is sitting idle...
"It has been reported that as soon as the group prayer began in the mosque, the unfortunate suicide bomber who was in the first row blew himself up with explosives. As a result of this, the roof of the mosque fell down and a part of it became martyred.
"Struck by pieces of explosives and due to being buried under debris, more than 200 worshippers, including police officials, prayer leader, and one woman were martyred or injured. At that time a large number of worshippers, including more than 400 security officers, were in the mosque. Among the martyrs, most were police officials...
The editorial in Roznama Jang
"The Pakistani military and security institutions had broken the back of terrorists in Pakistan, and they had been forced to hide in their safe havens in Afghanistan. But after the Taliban government came to power in Kabul, the Imran Khan government of Pakistan began conciliatory talks with the group of the Taliban called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Taking advantage from this, this group's terrorists began returning to Pakistan freely and started their terror activities from their former hideouts."
"Even Today, Pakistan Shelters Hundreds Of Thousands Of Afghan Refugees On Its Soil And Is Providing Livelihood For Them; But The Taliban Government [In Kabul] Is Patronizing Its Enemies"
"Unfortunately, the Taliban government of Kabul refused to see their activities across the border. As a result, these terrorists are not only launching attacks on the border posts from the soil of Afghanistan but also have become active in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan, Punjab, and areas of Sindh.
"The Kabul government, despite being reminded about it, is not taking any steps to prevent their activities from its lands. Even today, Pakistan shelters hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees on its soil and is providing livelihood for them. But the Taliban government is patronizing its enemies...
"The situation demands that the government and intelligence agencies ensure the implementation of the National Action Plan [against terrorism], adopt a serious diplomatic policy about the Kabul government, and with regard to this make difficult and audacious decisions..."
"In Reality, The Agenda Of The Terrorists And Their Facilitators Is To Destabilize Pakistan – With This Attack The Terrorists Have Crossed A Red Line"
Following are excerpts from the Roznama Express editorial titled "The Heads Of Terrorists Must Be Crushed:"
"To target Muslims whose heads bow before the Creator of the Universe is an act of enmity against Islam and humanity. In reality, the agenda of the terrorists and their facilitators is to destabilize Pakistan. With this attack the terrorists have crossed a red line. After initial successes against terrorists [in counter-terror operations], the federal and provincial governments adopted a soft policy regarding terrorists during the past three to four years, demosntrating their disregard. As a result, the sleeper cells of the terrorists and their support network were not fully destroyed.
"Then at the behest of the Afghan Taliban, negotiations were held with the TTP. Meanwhile, the fighters of TTP succeeded once again in organizing themselves and becoming active again. The policy of reconciliation and soft corner adopted with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan during the former government [of Imran Khan] led to the terrorists once again becoming powerful.
The Roznama Express editorial
"Officials have claimed that the links of most of the terror attacks are connected to eastern Afghanistan where the Afghan Taliban host the TTP fighters as their guests...
"The focus of terror attacks during the past few months was centered on Bannu, which joins Waziristan, Bajaur, and Kurram districts; these districts are connected to the Afghan provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, Paktia, and Paktika. For this reason, these areas are used to enter Pakistan with the objective of carrying out terror attacks. And then these terrorists become successful in carrying out terror attacks in Islamabad and other big cities of the four provinces."
"The Anti-Pakistan Powers Should Know That If Pakistan's Peace Is Damaged, Then They Too Cannot Live In Peace"
"Our enemy forces have developed plans to destabilize Pakistan by using terrorism. In the first stage, an effort was made to destabilize the country's economy and the dollar was made to disappear from the Pakistani market. An artificial economic crisis was created and an impression was given that Pakistan may go bankrupt and become destroyed economically, thereby becoming cut off from the international economic system.
"There was also talk that when Pakistan gets caught in an economic crisis and the banks become corrupt, lawlessness will spread in Baluchistan, and it will be separated [from Pakistan]. Also, there was talk about India's occupation of [Pakistan-controlled] Azad Kashmir and India occupying Sindh – so much so that it was also said that after the economic crisis, only nuclear assets will be left with Pakistan, about which a deal will be made [by the international community]. The anti-Pakistan powers should know that if Pakistan's peace is threatened, then they too cannot live in peace...
"On the one hand Pakistan has fought a war against terror organizations and on the other hand it has also faced a propaganda war against itself. Pakistan is fighting against fifth-generation warfare."
 MEMRI JTTM Report, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Denies Involvement In Mosque Bombing In Peshawar's High-Security Police Area, Publishes Extract From TTP's Strategy Document Prohibiting Suicide Attacks In Mosques, Madrassas, Funerals, Public Places, February 2, 2023.
 Roznama Jasarat (Pakistan), February 1, 2023.
 Roznama Jang (Pakistan), February 1, 2023.
 Roznama Express (Pakistan), February 1, 2023.