ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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What's behind Peshawar?

The inability of democratic forces to curtail the Pakistani military’s double-game continues to cost lives.

The attack on Peshawar’s Army Public School which claimed over 140 lives, mostly those of schoolchildren, should have put paid to remaining doubts about the reality of the campaign that the Pakistani military is waging against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the tribal region of North Waziristan. The TTP claimed responsibility even as the brutal massacre was under way. The school which admits children from all backgrounds is, nevertheless, part of a chain of educational institutions run by the military, primarily for the benefit of soldiers. The scale of cold-blooded murder perpetrated on the innocents is heart-wrenching even for those inured to well-publicised exploits of the Taliban and their counterparts in the Islamic State and Boko Haram. The target, the intent, and the clinical administration of countless individual acts of horror which made up the incident, sent as clear a message as any: the TTP today regards the Pakistani military as its enemy.

Public sentiment in Pakistan seems to have turned against the Taliban and other jihadist organisations. Public gatherings to express grief and anger turned into demonstrations against the jihadists. The military leadership reiterated its resolve to pursue Operation Zarb-e-Azb – a military campaign launched six months ago to “cleanse” the North Waziristan tribal territory of Taliban and other jihadist groups. The civilian leadership gathered in Peshawar for a show of unity, and Imran Khan called off his street protests aimed at deposing Nawaz Sharif’s government. The Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif promptly went to Kabul, reportedly to present Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani evidence that the attack had been coordinated by TTP chief Fazlullah from his base in that country’s Kunar province. In the meanwhile, the government announced an end to a six-year moratorium on executions and promptly hanged a few convicted terrorists to salve public anger.

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