So snugly does the idiom fit Pakistan. The terror that it disseminated has now come to haunt it. Purveyor of terror has now become its victim. And the worst manifestation of it was the Peshawar tragedy where as many as 145, including 132 children, were literally gunned down in a mid-morning attack in its Army Public School. It was said to be in revenge of the killings by Pak Army which has been conducting military operations against several terrorist groups in North Waziristan. It was a planned attack by a suicide squad of seven belonging to the terrorist group Teherik e Taliban Pakistan. With prior knowledge of the lay of the land they had come only to kill army officers’ children and they ruthlessly killed as many as they could. That some others, mostly teachers, were killed in the process was probably incidental. The attack created shock and awe, not in Pakistan alone but all over the world as this was perhaps the most barbaric and dehumanised act of terrorists bred in the fertile Islamic theological seminaries.
Having been the epicentre of terror it was a sad denouement for Pakistan to have been at the receiving end of their own terror network. Pakistan was probably enjoying the show when its terror networks were killing elsewhere. Their boys, radicalised to the core, were terrorising Eastern Europe, Russia, Central Asia, China, South East Asia and, of course India in the name of Allah and the daring brutal killings of the so-called non-believers was a matter of pride for their masters. In the process, a number of young and courageous young lads were lost, so brainwashed were they that they were prepared to give up their life in the prime of their youth for the cause of spreading the massage of the Prophet. Running seemingly an assembly line, the merchants of terror, the maulanas, mullahs and their ilk, have no qualms in readying young children or adolescents as suicide bombers or “fidayeens” for sacrifice for a cause that is as preposterous as their progenitors. Hitherto acting on foreign lands, their masters have now turned their evil eyes inwards on their own people and, what is more, on fellow Muslims. That they have the support of the Pakistani military in their endeavours is also a truth and yet the military launched blistering attacks on the perpetrators of the demonic Peshawar attack killing as many as 120 militants within three days in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
Pakistan has had a violent streak since its inception. Although the country was created for Muslims who felt they could not live with non-Muslims (read Hindus) yet its founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah had visualised a secular state. Ironically, he was at the back of the attack in 1947 on the Valley of Kashmir by Pakistani Army regulars and other tribal raiders just because a Muslim majority princely state acceded to a Hindu majority state. He wanted to grab by force whatever did not come his way in the manner he thought it should have. The violence fostered by the father of the nation has somehow stuck with the country and it happily treaded its violent ways down the years. A virtual genocide was launched against all non Muslims in Pakistan, Hindus getting the best of attention. Hindus constituted 15% of West Pakistan population when the country came into existence. By 1998 their strength had come down to 1.6% and today it should be much less as most of the Hindus have been driven out of the country. A majority of the Hindu population of Sindh is now in India, harassed as they were by abductions and then conversions of minor girls, demolition of temples and just plain killings.
Gen. Zia ul Haq’s advent as the dictator of the country saw incremental increase in violence. Having been unable to wrest Kashmir from India in as many as three wars, he planned to bleed India with “a thousand cuts” – in the shape of terror and proxy war in Kashmir. Radicalisation of the country and its Army was seen in full play in the 1980s during the Afghan War where Zia threw in his radicalised Army as also Mujahideens to assist the local resistance with the financial backing of the Western Powers to drive the Soviet Army out of Afghanistan. As the Russians withdrew the mujahideens morphed into two jihadist groups – the Taliban and al Qaida. It is these two groups which have spread the cult of violence. While al Qaida is somewhat quiet, the Talibans continue to operate in Afghanistan and in the FATA along the Afghan border, each distinct from the other with a different name and not quite aligned. Tehrik e Taliban Afghanistan generally takes on the government establishments and security forces of Afghanistan and Tehrik e Taliban Pakistan has earmarked for its operations the FATA region.
The massacre of the children saw Nawaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Pakistan meeting chiefs of all political parties to arrive at a consensual approach for dealing with the escalating terror. Obviously the consensus was to deal with the terrorists with a strong hand and the Prime Minister, a bit carried away, declared that he would root out terrorism from the country. In fact, earlier he had said that the entire region had to be rid of the scourge. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen. In the scheme of things of Pakistan and its Army, the Taliban working the Western frontiers have become a menace and need to be liquidated. But that apparently, would not apply to those who operate in Kashmir and other parts of India. They, after all, are “strategic assets” nurtured by the Inter-services Intelligence of Pak Army in pursuit of the planned “thousand cuts”. Called “non-state actors”, they are as much state actors as any. No wonder the mastermind of 26/11 attack on Mumbai was bailed out soon after the Peshawar massacre and, despite broad hints to the contrary, the Pakistani prosecution failed to file an appeal against the court’s orders.
As it appears now, regardless of what happens, Pakistan, , will not touch Dawood Ibrahim, Lashkar e Toiba and Hafiz Saeed’s conglomeration of terror organisations. Saeed went about spewing venom against India, brazenly holding Narendra Modi responsible for the Peshawar attack even as the dead children were being buried. The intense hatred for India that permeates the Pak Army, the Pak government and some terror outfits would not allow dismantling of all terror infrastructures especially created for India. That would leave Pakistan as Bruce Reidel, Director of Brookings Intelligence Project said, with the only alternative, “to play patron while bleeding as victim”. An Indian retired general too had said that keeping snakes in the backyard and serving them milk is a sure prescription for getting stung once in a while. Apparently, only after many more lost innocent lives can one expect Pakistan to change its spots.