In one of the most savage, heinous and cowardly attack on 16th December, 2014 on an Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan, the Pakistani Taliban have killed 145, of which 132 are innocent children of military families, besides many others injured. This is perhaps the worst terror attack on children ever since the Beslan school carnage by Chechen Islamists terrorists in September, 2004 in which 385 people were killed including 186 children. Pakistan based terror outfit Tehrik-e-Taliban has claimed the responsibility stating that they selected the army public School for the attack because the government was targeting their families and women; hence they wanted them to feel pain.
Horrific details of massacre are still coming out and without doubts these insane fiends have picked up the softest of soft targets for revenge from the government and army in Pakistan. During the attack, one of the militants is stated to have blown himself in a class with about sixty children. In another incident of extreme savagery, they literally set a lady teacher on fire with petrol, burnt her alive and made the kids to watch it in horror.
Prominent leaders and famous personalities from all over the globe have condemned the massacre with strongest possible words. Scores of Indians including famous as well as common men tweeted their sympathy and support for the aggrieved families and people of Pakistan. Pakistani Prime Minister has described it as a national tragedy unleashed by savages declaring a nationwide three days mourning. He declared, “I feel that until and unless this country is cleansed from terrorism, this war and effort will not stop, no one should be doubtful of this.”
I recall on the day of attack, during a live debate on a famous Indian private channel on the coverage of this massacre, an Indian ex-Army expert put death toll to about 80,000 due to various terror attacks in previous years in India. The Pakistani representative put this death toll to around 50,000 on their side during the last ten years. This number may vary in data compiled by various sources but what cannot be disputed is that there has been enormous loss of life and property during the last two and a-half decades in the Indian sub-continent.
A lot has been written, discussed and debated about the Pakistan army and ISI in the international foray in the past about their role, active support and patronage to militants and various terror outfits. Pakistan’s Taliban connection is well known for long. Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and several other terrorist groups, responsible for numerous terror attacks in Kashmir and elsewhere in India, are operating from the Pakistani soil. Hafiz Sayeed, mastermind of 26th November, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, and score of other terrorists wanted in India for various terror crimes are freely living and moving in Pakistan. Terrorists cannot be branded as freedom fighters because in the history of freedom struggle in various parts of world, nowhere ever a freedom fighter has killed any innocent civilians, women and children.
Pakistani Premier has stated that there cannot be good Taliban and bad Taliban and that his country would now fight against terrorism to finish it. Perhaps a more appropriate term vice ‘Taliban’ could have been ‘terrorist’ to represent all terrorist outfits. The issue remains if the recent massacre of innocent children, mostly from military families, would serve as a turnaround moment for the Pakistan army to stop supporting terror to serve political ends. If Pakistan army and ISI revisit its policy with a view to shun all terror links, it will be a paradigm shift and a new dawn for the peace and prosperity in the Indian Sub-continent. Only time will reveal, all of us have to wait and watch…