Cii News | 24 Safar 1436/17 December 2014
They departed from home in school uniforms and returned in coffins.
A cowardly attack at a Peshawar school has left at least 130 people, most of them students, dead, sending shockwaves all around the globe.
“Horrific, callous killing,” “unspeakable brutality,” coldblooded murder” are some of the reactions the incident has rightfully evoked from a large spectrum of individuals drawn from all segments of society.
“This is a national tragedy. These were my kids. This is my loss. The Peshawar attack is an absolutely cowardly act,” Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said of the murder.
“The government, in collaboration with Pakistan’s army will take the decision on fighting terrorism. We won’t stop until terrorism is stopped.”
The innocence of the youthful victims has magnified the pain of this crisis; the imagined spectre of parents finding their own children meeting a similarly callous end has meant that the incident has struck a deep sentimental chord among ordinary citizens globally.
However, as the scale of the brutality is digested and disgust at the actions of the perpetrators is amplified, a leading commentator on Pakistani politics has cautioned the public to be careful in apportioning blame to the correct quarters.
Lieutenant-General Hamid Gul, a retired high-ranking general officer in the Pakistan Army, and a former head of the highly influential Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) told Cii Radio Wednesday that a clear distinction needed to be drawn between the Afghan Taliban and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP), who have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Most mainstream media outlets have reported the atrocity to be the handiwork of the Taliban without explaining the nuances associated with the name.
“There is a terrible confusion being caused because of the name,” Gul lamented.”Somewhere between George W. Bush and the CIA, a decision was made by the Americans to create their ‘own Taliban’. And so they did.”
“But these are not the ones who are fighting for the freedom of their country which is a legitimate right,” he added. “These people are real terrorists. They are killing Muslims.”
The authoritative commentator said the philosophy of the Tehreek-e-Taliban was far flung from true Islam and a mockery of established Islamic rules of Jihad.
“This is sheer tyranny. Tyranny inspired by American policies and Pakistan succumbing to those policies way back in 2001. Pakistan, willy nilly, accepted all the conditions the Americans imposed upon us. That is the long and short of the story”.
Gul opined that the latest manifestations of instability were part of the machinations of a US-Indian-Israeli axis that seeks to keep Pakistan perpetually weak.
“Yesterday we also marked the anniversary of the fall of Dhaka where our country was severed into two halves. This was a very great blow to Pakistan. Now, such violent actions in Pakistan are being sponsored from across the border. We know that two terrorists, Fazlullah and Khorasani were both harboured in Afghanistan for a long period of time. They are being financed by India – Pakistan has concrete information about this. So there is nothing new. It is like the old East Pakistan/Bangladesh story repeating itself. Mukti Bahini, called the liberation force at the time, had actually trained beforehand and were then launched, creating a fertile ground for the entry of India, which it did when its forces marched in. So it is a similar situation now, even though these people have their own anger perhaps and distorted philosophy, the people who are giving them the direction are the same elements who had caused us this pain on this very day”.
He added that India’s right wing Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, had gone on record previously saying that he seeks to inflict maximum pain on Pakistan.
Gul said Pakistan had grown accustomed to externally orchestrated violence on its soil since the time of the Soviets, and with a firm national resolve, would be able to thwart the latest round of terror.
A positive spinoff of this attack, he said, was the Pakistani nation’s collective rallying against the attack and its perpetrators.
“I hope we begin to see that the problem lies with our foreign policy and with the aggression of the Americans. They are not letting up and now they are again upto mischief in Afghanistan, and as long as they are sitting there, the trouble will go on in Afghanistan, we will suffer and they will suffer”.
The retired general however warned of the potential such incidents, if they occur consistently, could have on setting entire region – a hub of nuclear powers – ablaze.
“If the conflict continues to grow, there will be an inferno, so large that neither East nor West would be able to contain it”.
On Tuesday, the Afghan Taliban unequivocally condemned the Pakistan school attack.
“The intentional killing of innocent people, women and children goes against the principles of Islam and every Islamic government and movement must adhere to this fundamental essence,” Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has always condemned the killing of children and innocent people at every juncture,” the Afghan Taliban’s statement continued.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan expresses its condolences over the incident and mourns with the families of killed children.”
Commenting on its alleged links with the TTP(Pakistani Taliban), in 2009, an Afghan Taliban spokesman told The New York Times: “We don’t like to be involved with them (TTP), as we have rejected all affiliation with Pakistani Taliban fighters…We have sympathy for them as Muslims, but beside that, there is nothing else between us.”