On December 16, six to eight Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers entered the Army Public School in Peshawar and massacred 132 school children and ten adults. The tragedy has sent shockwaves throughout global public opinion and raised question marks regarding Pakistan's counter-terrorism policies. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP or the Movement of the Pakistani Taliban), which claimed responsibility for the attack, has been recently operating from Afghanistan.
The Pakistani military, which carried out an anti-Taliban operation called Zarb-e-Azb in the North Waziristan tribal district this past summer, has been criticized in recent years for coopting militants from various Taliban groups in order to use them in Afghanistan and against India, one such militant commander being Punjabi Taliban chief Asmatullah Muawiya. Just before the Zarb-e-Azb operation, the military allowed the militants associated with the Haqqani Network of the Afghan Taliban to leave North Waziristan and move to safer areas in Kurram Agency. The Haqqani Network is seen as the long arm of the Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
In an editorial titled "One More December Sixteenth - One More Tragedy", Karachi-based Urdu daily Roznama Ummat reflected on the school tragedy. Following are excerpts from the editorial:
"Such Incidents Become The Source Of Disgrace For Islam And Muslims In The World, Though Such Incidents Of Terrorism Do Not Have Any Connection To Islam"
"The dear nation [of Pakistan] was cut off from its eastern arm on December 16, 1971 [when East Pakistan seceded to become the independent nation state of Bangladesh]. On Tuesday, the nation was sad and mourning the tragedy of the Fall of Dhaka when, on the same date in December, one more devastating tragedy struck. In Peshawar, terrorists attacked the Army Public School in broad daylight and eight-to-ten terrorists armed with modern weapons proceeded to ravage innocent buds [i.e. schoolchildren] with extreme heartlessness. As per initial information, the attackers dressed in the uniform of the FC [Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force], entered the school through a back door, and mercilessly massacred the students and teachers..."
"This gruesome terror attack has shaken up the entire nation and government officials, religious groups and national circles have condemned it. The country has announced three days of mourning and Prime Minister [Nawaz Sharif] has called a special meeting of the national leadership... Without a doubt, it is a national tragedy whose consequences will continue to be felt in our history and psychology for a long time. This tragedy has badly damaged the international standing of Pakistan, and in reality, such incidents become the source of disgrace for Islam and Muslims in the world, though such incidents of terrorism do not have any connection to Islam. Even in the middle of war, Islam sternly forbids Muslims from killing even the children of kafirs [infidels]. And any aware and orthodox Muslim is not unaware of these clear teachings of Islam.
"If the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for this incident, had even a distant relationship with Islam, then they would not have even thought of such a massacre. In the most credible book of Hadith [traditions of the Prophet Muhammad], Sahih Al-Bukhari, [the author] Imam Bukhari established a chapter with regard to not killing children during war. It narrates a statement from Hazrat ibn Masood, [who said] that the lover of humanity [the Prophet Muhammad] has forbidden the killing of women and children during war. In addition to this, many hadiths forbid the killing of children. Ibn Battal has authored the consensus of all the jurists of the Muslim Ummah that killing of the children of infidels is haram [forbidden by Islam]."
"Ever Since America's Unpious Feet Have Entered Afghanistan, Entire Region Has Been Caught In Destruction And Bloody War..."
"In the context of these realities, it can be definitely said that the killer of the innocent school children cannot be a Muslim, whether or not he formally belongs to Islam. These incidents are a conspiracy to defame Islam and Pakistan, and the selection of the date of December 16 for it is not mere coincidence. Instead, it is the specific mentality of the enemies of Islam and Pakistan that is at work, whose objective is to remind the dear nation [of Pakistan] of its bitter memories of the Fall of Dhaka. However, it is also true that Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq [two Muslim names used as synonyms for a traitor, in this case the Pakistani Taliban] become instruments for the foreign forces. Ever since America's non-pious feet entered Afghanistan, the entire region has been seized by destruction and bloody war..."
"Our tribal areas and the strip [of territory] along the Afghan border are in a state of war. On the other side of the western border [i.e. in Afghanistan], if a military war is underway between the NATO forces and the Taliban, then on this side of the border [i.e. in Pakistan], an intelligence war has been underway for a long time, during which the forces that wish to cause lawlessness and instability in this region have been finding many opportunities to play their game. In this region, these forces systematically promoted terrorism against Pakistan and the Pakistani military. On the one hand, the drone attacks and other operations gave birth to the environment of combustion/provocation, and on the other hand, they lit the fire of the terrorism against Pakistan and turned the anti-colonial sentiments among the people of the region against Pakistan, its armed forces and [intelligence] agencies.
"It has been a long-standing project of the international anti-Islam forces to have the people of Pakistan and the armed forces fight against each other. Unfortunately, our policies adopted after 9/11 have provided opportunity to actualize that project. Now our armed forces have to fight a war for the country's stability inside our territory. And apparently, people are being affected by this war in large numbers; and innocent and unconnected people are also killed in the operations against the subversive elements, which leads to sentiments against Pakistan and its national security institutions in the region. Therefore, it has now become essential and inevitable that we save our tribal areas from becoming the experimenting grounds of enemy forces and pave the way for the [displaced] tribesmen to return to their homes. It is essential to establish peace in the tribal region in order to terminate instability and insurgency..."
"This tragedy has raised many questions. Our political and military leadership wouldn't tire of claiming that we have broken the back of terrorism. This tragedy has apparently dissolved these claims into thin air. The school where the terror attack took place is situated in such a location that in order to reach it, one has to pass through several checkpoints where identity and [physical] searches are carried out. Despite this, how could the terrorists succeed in reaching the [school] building? Although they entered from the backdoor, there is still a big question mark on the security system that enabled the attackers to enter this [militarily] sensitive area. The attackers brought so much ammunition that they continued to fire for several hours? Why are the uniforms of the army or FC [Frontier Corps] available in the market? Security officials say that so far thousands of terrorists have been arrested, but how many terrorists were hanged?"
Source: Roznama Ummat (Pakistan), December 17, 2014.