(Funeral procession of some of those killed in the Peshawar school massacre. are carried through the streets. Photograph: Asianet-Pakistan/Barcroft India )[D]arkness hit Pakistani mainstream society again on December 16, the day of mourning for the loss of East Pakistan more than 40 years earlier. Pakistani leaders seem to have ignored the pertinent lessons of time and history. TTP- Pakistani Taliban group claims the cold blooded massacre of 132 innocent school children and 10 teachers at Peshawar. Had the authorities listened to advanced warning by the principal, the 8 hours bloody carnage could have been prevented. The BBC interview tells that School Principal informed the authorities for two years how Taliban were threatening to the school. Yet, the civic authorities failed to ensure the appropriate security measures to prevent the expected terrorist attack. Despite convenient cynicism of some Western mythologists, violence and terrorism are not inscribed in the genes of Pakistani people. But Pakistani masses continued to be victims of bloody violence raging across the nation. This is the direct outcome of Pakistan‘s former military dictators to join the bogus war on terrorism. Nobody can or will understand the fullest nature and scope of tormenting pains and anguish unleashed to the mourning 142 families in Peshawar. Condemnations simply do not alleviate the sufferings of the common citizens from the ripple effects of the monstrous killings. Those responsible for the security must face public and respond to legitimate concerns of fear and hatred of the official dictum. Pakistani politicians and military security officials would have hard time to provide rational answers to critical questions.
The Questions to be Answered
The question is – why did it happen again? There are vital questions of accountability, effectiveness of security apparatus and leadership responsibility. The fault lines are widening day by day without anybody being held accountable for the heinous crimes. Are there any elements within the political elite or security establishments having conspiratory alignment with the TTP extremist groups? Few weeks earlier, Taliban hit at Wagha India-Pakistan border to kill more than 50 citizens and injured 100 or so innocent spectators. Such a vital location was left unattended by the security apparatus. In June, Taliban attacked the Karachi international airport and killed hundreds of innocent people resulting in closure of the air terminals and destruction of several aircrafts. Why Pakistani Government is indifferent and neglectful of the basic security and safety of life of the citizens? Are the Pakistani leaders worse than being useless? Do they have the essential know-how and knowledge-based intelligence networks to prevent such monstrous attacks from happening? If not, why not? Are the political rulers waiting for some foreign aid package to protect the lifelines of the common citizens of Pakistan? There are numerous questions but no clear answers from the authorities. Is the Taliban phenomenon a new and strange notion to understand and to cope with?
Who are the Talibans?
The Pakistani media reports blame Afghanistan-based Maulvi FadulahUllah faction for the latest atrocities at the Peshawar School. Was this factor unknown to the Pakistani security establishments? Taharak-e-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP) claims adherence to unknown perceptions of Islamic precepts and practices. But Islamic faith does not embody or allow cruelty and killing of innocent people and it does not sanction individualistic absolutism against the collective interests of the Ummah. The Taliban groups failed miserably to capture Islam as a force of moral and intellectual persuasion to spearhead change and reformation (“islaha”) in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Naïve jihad and violence tell the real Taliban narrative of life and struggle to forge presence in Pakistan.
Taliban are diverse and scattered around all the tribal regions of Pakistan-Afghanistan. Taliban are not a legitimate political entity in Pakistani politics as their aims, mission and guidance originate from the embattled Afghanistan landscape. Their secretive recruits hide their faces while perpetuating violence as means to sustain their identity. Their standing in public image is hardly of any appreciable strength in moral and religious values. They are known to have used extortion schemes, drug trade and killing innocents in major cities across Pakistan. How could anybody open a peaceful dialogue with such bloody monsters who claim faith in God, yet target and massacre innocent people across the land? TTP is a continuing threat to civic, moral and intellectual consciousness of Pakistani nation.
Time and Opportunities Stolen from the Innocent School Children
Students who are hurt and witnessed the eight hour long massacres of their fellow classmates can never imagine the school being a normal place of learning. Their parents and families whose trust and hopes were shattered by the bloody massacre cannot forgive those who failed to protect them. Often telling the truth is offensive in the political culture of Pakistan. But the call of time and humanity demands rethinking and concrete steps for accountability and futuristic security to be strengthened. Kids and parents who have been traumatized by the horrific experience will carry on not only physical injuries but psychological impacts for long time to come. Who is responsible for the remedial actions and lifelong support to such victims of home-grown terrorism? What will be the means and opportunities offered by the state and society to children whose future is stolen by few thugs and gangsters calling themselves “Pakistani Talibans”? Would any amount of compensation bring back the lives and future of the heartbroken kids?
Pakistani rulers and their behavior typifies what can go wrong when leadership is indoctrinated and barricaded by the deliberate evolution of corruption, dishonesty and treason; embracing a culture of convenient nepotism, gangsterism and killing as a political tools to manage the political absolutism. Consequently, the world is adding insult to pains and anguish of the morally and intellectually conscientious Pakistanis and more so to those citizens of Peshawar whose human losses are irreversible.
Pakistan in Need of Political Change
Pakistan lives in self-inflicted turmoil of political and military intrigues – all deceiving all – all trying to gain their footing in power either by attracting foreign interventions or creating catastrophic political up hazards to dismantle the fabric of the originality of the nation. All the stage actors want power and use it as a divine right of absolutism against the interests of the besieged masses. Public interest was never a core thrust of the political governance in Pakistan except as a shadowy window to patronize few sadistic monsters who desired to play with the lives and values of the people. When would the politicians and military leaders learn from the current complex affairs having dehumanizing impact on the Pakistani culture? The 21st century intelligence networks are no longer fixed entities seen from the eyes of guns and bullets and aerial bombardment as going on in North Waziristan. In a complex and diverse Pakistani society, security and intelligence gathering needs to be horizontally spread through traditional and unconventional methods. This is how, it seems that Taliban select targets and undertake killing spree of the innocent civilians. There appears to be no useful surveillance or public engagement and feedback process and no effective intelligence gathering in major areas of the crisis belt. It is probable some hidden elements within the security forces continue to collaborate with the terrorist groups to strike the public nerves and enlarge the scope of political fear and hatred.
The killing of school children portrays a naive image of Pakistan operated by temptation and compulsion of evil that is — a divided and renegade, nuclear-power nation that co-exists with political corruption, irresponsible leadership and extremist murderers. The culture, intellect and values these military and political elite follow are foreign to the genius of the people of Pakistan. The country appears to have its ennobling enemies within itself and daily death tolls and societal destruction provide ample data to document the growing despotism and politically geared domestic madness undoing the foundation of Pakistan’s existence. The masses cannot wait to expect something happen out of the nothing. Nawaz Sharif, the embattled Prime Minister and the Pakistani Generals need to look into the mirror. Rationality is losing on all fronts of Pakistani political spectrum and future-making. People aspire for political change and new responsible leadership and that is what nowhere seen as coming soon. To ensure political stability and future-making, arguably, a Government of National Unity under some educated and intelligent non-partisan leadership could pave the way for peaceful transformation into politically sustainable future. Pakistan desperately needs educated, intelligent and proactive people of new vision, new ideas and strong political imagination to articulate the unity of the nation and to protect the freedom and security of the people from ultimate chaos and ruins.
Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution with keen interests in Islamic-Western comparative cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Academic Publishing Germany, May 2012.