An authority on Afghanistan and Pakistan and author of The Pakistan Taliban, London based Mr. Musa Khan Jalalzai in a recent article gives a chilling account of the spread of the Islamic State (IS) terror networks in Pakistan and Afghanistan. In September 2014 more than 800 members of the IS terrorist group stormed the Ajristan district of Ghazni province killing 100 people including the Afghan national army soldiers.
Last Tuesday Pakistan’s worst terror attack was launched. Suicide bombers killed over 130 children in a school run for army families in Peshawar. The scale of the attack and the choice of target suggest declaration of war, of a fight to the finish. The Pakistan Taliban, Tehriq-e-Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Pakistan army needs to decode the message behind the attack.
What is happening in Pakistan is the recurrence of a familiar pattern. Governments in pursuit of policy resort to immoral and criminal means to serve their ends. Later this recoils to target the governments. America created Osama bin Laden against the Soviet Union later to be haunted by Al Qaeda. India allowed LTTE training camps to operate in Chennai which eventually resulted in the death of Rajiv Gandhi. Pakistan nursed and encouraged the Taliban in search of strategic depth in Afghanistan and disruption of Kashmir. Now it is payback time. The Frankenstein’s monster created by the Pakistan army is ready to devour its creator. Now is not the time to recriminate about the past. It is time to determine whether Pakistan is to survive as a nation state.
Spokesmen of the TTP in Pakistan have claimed the attack as revenge for the Pakistan army’s assault in Waziristan. This view may be discounted. The TTP is a mere instrument directed by IS. The killers of school children were all Arabic speaking. The aim of the attack was determined by masters outside Pakistan. The attack accomplished what terrorists had failed to do against Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai. It was an attack against educating the next generation being weaned away from the distorted and lunatic version of Islam professed by the IS. By targeting army families the terrorists conveyed that it will be no longer possible for Pakistan’s ruling elite to live a liberal life style while it cynically promotes jihad fundamentalism among a madrassa trained underclass.
How will the Pakistan elite react? Will Hafiz Saeed blame India for this attack too? Imran Khan on TV appeared tongue tied. He mumbled that Taliban should fight men not children. It was a silly remark. The Taliban are not fighting either men or children. It is punishing the ruling class for not surrendering to its version of Islam. It is pursuing its fanatical agenda. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi while commiserating with Mr. Sharif said it was time “for our two countries… to decisively defeat terrorism”. This writer has for long advocated Indo-Pakistan joint defence against terror. It is better late than never. Will Pakistan for its survival now respond?