I do not often find myself at a complete lost for words. But what can be said? What can one say after 131 children are slaughtered in the name of religion? What can one say that has not already been said so many times? In a few short hours I have experienced a full range of emotions. I have been shocked. I have been angry. I have despaired. It is like a nightmare that repeats itself and I cannot wake up.
Today the nation is united in mourning and outrage, but I fear it will not last. Already there are vested interests trying to manipulate the tragedy for their own gain. Already there are those terming it as a ‘false flag’ operation that was actually carried out by ‘Raymond Davis Network’.
It is being blamed on Indian RAW.
ISPR, COAS, and PM have all declared the terrorists as defeated, and yet they continue to carry out their attacks at will. The monsters carrying out these attacks do so in plain daylight, and yet we seem more willing to believe the stupidest conspiracies than what is right before our eyes.
131 children slaughtered.
131 children slaughtered.
131. Children. Slaughtered.
And within hours we are already making excuses for their killers.
Today is a proud day for Pakistan as one of its citizens was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo, Norway. While some are uncomfortable with the young woman’s fame, I believe their concerns are misguided and today provides a good example of why.
Much fanfare was made of COAS Gen Raheel’s recent trip to Washington, with even the supposedly independent Express Tribune publishing an embarrassingly sycophantic editorial praising the Army chief’s trip. Now that the celebrations have died down, more sober assessments are finding nothing to write home about. One analyst noted that the trip had a sense of deja vu around it, and he is correct. Even the General’s much touted “Legion of Merit” award from the US appears to be little more than diplomatic theatre. Six of the last eight recipients were high-ranking Pakistani military officers including former COAS Gen Kayani. These diplomatic visits are always more about theatre than substance, though, so that is not surprising. What is more bothersome is the feeling of deja vu one is getting at home.
In September, The Nation offered a dire assessment of Army’s efforts against the Taliban:
Operations like Zarb-e-azb will in all probability fail, because one can’t really fight fire with fire. The Taliban can survive air strikes and bombings, but they cannot survive without support from people. Sadly, there are a substantial number of people in Pakistan, from all classes and professions, who believe in the Taliban philosophy.
At the time, the worry was about extremists infiltration of the military, but there is a much larger threat, which is noted in the The Nation’s piece: The uninterrupted spread of extremist ideology throughout society.
Sunday’s attack at Wagah border killed over 50 people and injured hundreds. It was the worst attack since months in Pakistan, and serves as a terrible warning of the direction the country is headed if the existing national security strategy is not radically changed.