By Waleed Tariq:
Pakistan has had a long-drawn-out relationship with the modern day jihadist forces that pose a challenge to the state’s writ and are engaged in active warfare against it. In the 1980’s, with the help of the US, it recruited, trained, and harboured a series of networks that were to engage in the conduction of the ‘Holy Jihad’ in Afghanistan against the USSR.
The strategy of using the jihadist ideology for Pakistan’s own strategic gains was extended, and as a backlash, the domestic conditions had their fair share of spill-over effect in terms of internal consequences. It caused a rise in extremist thinking with the narrative of jihad, as well as rise in sectarianism, which, after 9/11, provided a platform for various militant and sectarian outfits to rise against the Pakistani state itself.
While attacks continued to rise in all these years, they struck again on Tuesday, December 16th. 132 schoolchildren and nine staff members were killed when the Taliban stormed an army-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan. They jumped a wall, and shot at students one classroom after another.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was quick to claim responsibility of the attack, with their spokesperson saying that “Army targets our families. We want them to feel our pain.”
This is the same TTP with which politicians, including Imran Khan, were proposing that there be peace talks. The same TTP have now come to get their children, and if they can do it in an army-run school, then they can do it wherever in Pakistan, in any school they choose. Girls or boys, it makes no difference. The savages are not just at the gates, they are in the building, with a passion that knows no mercy.
It is a dreadful episode of cowardice where innocent kids fell prey to the cold-hearted and criminal bunch of illicit savages who have sold their souls to the devil. Do we actually realize what has happened? A good countable number of innocent lives have met an abrupt end in a most odious and horrifying manner! Their lives did not even start and were brutally laid to rest in peace. Those feet, which were heading towards their goals, their destination were cut in between and stopped forever!
Although both the Pakistan Army and the government recently stated that they had inflicted a “fatal blow” to the terrorists, the attacks continue to rise. Can we call the operation Zarb-e-Azb and those before it effective and successful? Ironically, we are willing to rise up against electoral rigging and corruption but often choose to remain silent in speaking against barbarians who slaughter innocent schoolchildren. Does this not reflect on us as a nation, or us as citizens? While we spend huge amounts to combat terrorism, why are we failing to control it?
Let’s not wait for another national tragedy to occur for us to take a stand and speak up. We must act now, and let us not forget about it in a few days, like we always do. As we mourn the loss of innocent lives thus far, I hope we remain united in the efforts to eradicate the evil of the Taliban from this earth.