Pakistani Taliban Murders 148 in School Attack

The Pakistani Taliban sent seven men wearing suicide vests into a school run by Pakistan’s military in Peshawar yesterday. Roughly 150, mostly students, died before the military killed the last of the terrorists. The world was rightly horrified, the government and military of Pakistan suddenly were as one in wanting to kill off the Pakistani Taliban [TTP], and the families are burying the dead even now. Yet, one cannot help but think that this will, in the end, change nothing.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has vast support at the moment, and he has vowed to end the Taliban as a part of the Pakistani security landscape. “We…have resolved to continue the war against terrorism till the last terrorist is eliminated,” he stated. No longer would there be a distinction between “good and bad” Taliban.

Pakistan’s neighbors are making sounds that resemble determination as well. The BBC stated, “After meeting Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday, Afghanistan’s President Ghani said the two countries should “work together in sincerity and jointly take effective actions against terrorism and extremism”. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “It is a senseless act of unspeakable brutality that has claimed lives of the most innocent of human beings – young children in their school. My heart goes out to everyone who lost their loved ones today. We share their pain and offer our deepest condolences.”

US ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson stated, “The United States strongly condemns senseless and inhumane attacks on innocent students and educators, and stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan, and all who fight the menace of terrorism. Few have suffered more at the hands of terrorists and extremists than the people of Pakistan.”

What the ambassador left out is that few have done more to enable the terrorists and extremists to grow in power than certain individuals in the Pakistani security community. The Taliban is, after all, the creation of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence spy agencies. The ISI created the Afghani Taliban as a counterweight to perceived Indian influence in Afghanistan. The Pakistani government has made been quite happy to use the ISI’s S-wing covert bureau to work with terrorists in advancing foreign policy objectives.

For this reason, one believes that the mess that is Pakistan’s security and political situation will continue much as it has been in recent years. The ISI has too many members who are on the side of the TPP to truly turn on the terrorists. It is safe to say that the TPP has infiltrated the ISI and will not allow itself to be destroyed by any effective counter-terror actions.

The army has been embarrassed by this, but the army has been embarrassed before (e.g., in Pakistan’s wars with India). The government has an opportunity to unite all the major political parties in a fight for the soul of the nation, but Pakistan has not developed very many statesmen capable of such civic mindedness. Meanwhile, the people of Pakistan remain divided about far too much to come together over anything.

One would love to be proved wrong, but Pakistan’s history suggests that anything beyond a degree of pessimism is naive.