The gruesome killing of 132 children and nine staff members of an army school by terrorists belonging to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Peshawar is the worst reminder of perils of terrorism. And with this, Pakistan’s “mainstreaming of terrorism” – a word coined by Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin to describe Pakistan’s open support to LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, the internationally listed terrorist – has come into focus. What is shocking is that the Pakistani establishment, which tirelessly maintains that not all Taliban are bad, had to lose so many of its children, the future of the nation. The school, where children of both army personnel as well as civilians study, was targeted by seven armed-to-the teeth terrorists, in a highly secured area of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan.
Brutal Attack on the Army School: a Watershed for Pakistan
While it has led to Pakistani authorities blaming their intelligence outfits for this failure, they are squarely hiding the fact that Pakistan is gradually heading towards self-destruction. As per figures, more than 55516 people have been killed in terrorism-led violence between 2003 and 2014 in Pakistan. According to the Global Terrorism Index, more than 2,345 people were killed and over 5000 injured by terrorists in Pakistan in 2013. Of this, 49 per cent were killed and injured by the TTP alone. The brutal attack on the army school is seen by many as which has long been accused by the international community of treating terrorists as strategic assets.
Pakistan Politicians have been Taliban Supporters
The contours of internal developments of Pakistan for the past one decade show that Islamabad, despite bearing the costs of supporting terrorism, has little in terms of achieving consensus in dealing with jehadi elements many of whom are blatantly anti-Pakistan. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother Shawaz Sharif who is Pakistan’s Punjab province’s Chief Minister gave away millions of dollar worth of donations to Jammat-ud-Dawa, the banned outfit which is led by Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the November 2008 attack on Mumbai. Then Pakistan’s cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan’s soft corner for the Taliban is well known. The Tehreek-e-Pakistan’s supremo has openly supported talks with the Taliban. His argument is that there is no military solution to terrorism and that military offensive would only lead to more collateral damage, spark reprisal killings in Pakistan. “I was against this war from 2001 onwards,” Imran Khan told a British daily in an interview last year.
“In 2004, in my speech to Parliament I warned General Musharaff not to send the Pakistan army into Waziristan, because of the history of these tribal people,” the legendry cricketer was quoted as saying. Such open support to the mercenaries of violence and blood is cited as the reason why there is lack of consensus within Pakistan to handle religious militants. The 2011 attack by Taliban on Pakistan’s naval base in which 18 military personnel were killed and 16 injured and the two US built 3C Orion surveillance aircraft were also destroyed, later on revealed that it was orchestrated by terrorists with help from military insiders. The 2009 Pakistan Army General Headquarters attack had also been masterminded by those who were familiar with army personnel. Thereby, religious militants’ sympathisers who are spread across political, administrative and defence establishment, are seen as key stumbling blocks in the way of Pakistan eradicating the menace of terrorism.
Will Pakistan derive a Lesson from the Peshawar Tragedy?
Effectively this is what has endangered India-Pakistan relations also. To arrive at the Kashmir solution, Pakistan looks at gun culture, while India insists on talks. Despite India documenting presence of terrorists’ training camps across the Line of Control and presenting it to Pakistani authorities, Islamabad’s stand is mystifying. It maintains that there are no terrorist camps on its soil. Rather to the disappointment of international community, Islamabad with help from ISI and militants has tried its best to sabotage elections in Jammu and Kashmir. It is all happening due to Pakistan’s avowed policy to use terrorists as its strategic assets to wage proxy war against India. But inter alia, it has proved to be a disastrous consequence for Pakistan itself. The Peshawar tragedy is a clear example. But the question is whether Pakistan, taking a hash lesson from the brutal killings of school children, would be able to free itself from the clutches of jehadi forces? Perhaps, not.