Dr. Hussain Yasa, Chief Editor of the daily Outlook Afghanistan.
In a series of high level terrorist activities in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, on December 16, 2014, Pakistani Taliban (TTP) claimed to have executed 136 children and 9 teaching staff members including the principal of the school in Peshawar City, situated in North-West of Pakistan. According to the Pakistani army 125 children received serious injuries and are now being given medical treatment at different hospitals. The school’s floors were soaked in the blood of innocent children. The death toll may rise and hospitals are requesting people for blood donations as their blood stock have run out. This ranks globally as one of the worst ever acts of terrorism. The children killed were between five to seventeen years old. After proudly claiming responsibility for this ugly act of mass murder of innocent children, the Taliban later claimed that they had instructed their “FIDAYEENS” only to kill the older boys and girls.
This ISIS style massacre took place, around 10.30 in the morning, when senior students were attending a career-guidance session in the school auditorium. Foreign militants, reportedly of Uzbek and Arab origin (needs to be confirmed by further investigation), affiliated to the Taliban terrorists, stormed through the army-run school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s capital city. In the first phase four gunmen wearing paramilitary uniforms burst into the auditorium and opened fire killing almost everyone present there. In the second phase, terrorists started to target other students and school staff that they came across. The terrorists particularly focused on killing spouses and siblings of Army officers who were among the students and teaching staff. Wives of a brigadier and major, one with her two children, from the Pakistan Army were executed brutally and burned alive. The wife of a junior commissioned officer was killed in front of the students. Then the terrorists killed the students too. Ironically this gruesome act of terror took place in the centre of a metropolitan city, in what is supposed to be a high security zone.
The Taliban shamelessly claimed responsibility for this massacre. Mohammad Khurasani, the Taliban spokesperson said that the killing of the child was in accordance with the teaching of Islam. He said that the militants were ordered not to kill the smaller children who did not have public hair. He also quoted an authentic religious book and claimed that the action was consistent with the tradition (Sunna) of the holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), who conducted similar killing in one of the wars against the “Qariza Tribe.”
Indeed, this senseless and cold blooded act of terror will be remembered as a black day in the history of Pakistan. All of us who are parents should spare a moment to contemplate how those helpless innocent children felt while they were sitting in line or lying on the ground, waiting for their execution, while their parents were hoping for their safe return home.
The increased momentum and brutality of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan raises real questions about these two countries’ future. In both countries the same terrorist axis has been playing a game of death for more than a decade. Unfortunately both still lack a comprehensive counter terrorism action plan. In both countries it is innocent civilians who are paying the price. The top level political elites remain engrossed in their power politics. In both the countries the civilian administration is facing strong criticism for appeasing those elements dedicated to undermining democratic norms and promoting a strange inhuman code. In both countries the ruling class is under pressure for failing to provide enough visible political support to the army and other security personnel who are fighting terrorism.
The people on both sides of the border realize the gravity of the situation. But the politicians still seem ready to pursue opaque political aims, which oblige them to try and co-exist with the Taliban. The politicians try to look after themselves on a formula of “we don’t kill you, you don’t kill us.”
In both countries hundreds of captured Taliban terrorists exploit a weak and intimidated judicial system to get themselves released from jail. Nawaz Sherif announced with fanfare that he is ending a moratorium on executions. But he failed to mention that the conviction rate in serious terrorist trials is almost zero. Who will he execute? In both countries sub-human beasts have taken human form, donning religious robes. They openly defend and justify militancy. Pseudo intellectuals are allowed to appear on electronic media to confuse the public opinion. In particular, in Pakistan the terrorists seem to enjoy more human rights than the victims of terror.
The terrorist groups hide under different coats. Unfortunately they are able to manipulate countries. It is still not too late for the victims to agree a common strategy to deal with this phenomenon. With each passing day, the situation gets more complicated. The longer we delay dealing with this problem the more resources we shall require when the decision finally comes. Pakistan’s civilian administration needs to adopt a very clear policy towards the Taliban and all other religious militants. They need to abandon the old policy of protecting so-called good Taliban and good militants. The same standard needs to be applied to all kinds of militancy especially religious militancy as soon as possible. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan need a joined-up policy against the Taliban. If the two countries fail to cooperate on eradicating terrorism, then one day these religious militants may push the neighbors into a war.
Dr. Hussain Yasa is the Editor-in-Chief of the daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached ar email@example.com