news Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - 05:30

Chitra Subramaniam | The News Minute | December 17, 2014 | 5.44 pm IST

P for Peshawar, S for Sydney, B for Bengaluru – what next? 

An entire generation is in the process of growing up afraid their city, school or playground will be the next target of ruthless violence by terrorists. They are learning geography and history through terrorism. The worst thing to happen now would be to try and explain what happened in Peshawar on Tuesday so we can leave a note for the next generation. Another bloody one, this one so gory that it should frighten the creator of people who kill in the names of gods no one has seen. There is nothing to understand about the Tuesday attacks on school children in Peshawar. To understand is to accommodate and to accommodate is to accept from where it is a slippery slope to deaths and more deaths.

A greater blunder for India would be to appeal for assistance to the international community, the United Nations (UN) and other bodies that have long ceased to matter and in some cases actively supported terror groups in India’s neighbourhood. If the UN had any teeth, there would not have been the Gulf War and before that the Bosnian War and before that Afghanistan…the list is long. Bringing in the UN would be handing over the hand to Pakistan, something they have struggled to take since they were born as a nation. 

A lot has been written in the past 24 hours since gunmen, dressed in army fatigues went into classes in an army school in Peshawar and sprayed bullets into children while elsewhere in the school compound a suicide bomber detonated himself. By evening, comments from Pakistan attempted two things – one, to show that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) was in cahoots with the terrorists and then a wild suggestion inviting India to help Pakistan to fight the Taliban in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border alongside the Pakistan army which shot gaping holes in their accusations! Had it not been in the background of this gruesome tragedy, such a suggestion would be laughable. 

Pakistan is hoist on its own pétard and the chickens have come to roost. The Taliban is a creation of the state and there are no good and bad terrorists, friendly bombs and collateral damage. The Pakistan Taliban (Tehrik - e -Taliban Pakistan TTP) which claimed responsibility for the carnage had no demands, no negotiations nor ransom calls. They wanted to make a point to the world and their creators that old allies have fallen out since the Pakistan Army launched Zarb-e-Zarb, its push-back against the TTP in North Waziristan. 

There is helplessness, sadness, fear, anger, grief before life returns to normal till the next attack on a café, a school or a street. Mothers are writing poems, children are lighting candles, journalists are commenting, politicians are strategizing and life is continuing. Peshawar is no differently viewed on the map, preceded by Sydney and before that Bangalore, all in a matter of a few days. Of course they are all different, but united in the fear, terror and death they either cause or stir others to cause. It is futile to grade terror – that’s exactly what people do when they speak about good and bad terrorists. 

The outpouring of sympathy and solidarity around the world on Wednesday is for the families, the parents, the teachers, not for the perpetrators or supporters of the Peshawar killings. The children are not martyrs or Shaheed as the Pakistani politician tried to say on a Times Now discussion on Wednesday. A Shaheed goes to war, children go to school. As terror comes closer, it demolishes false identities like freedom-fighters, god’s warriors, Shaheed and similar description that hide the true intent which is always one – to kill, maim and dismember people and countries. 

The Indian people and parliament have conveyed their condolences to people in Pakistan. The Prime Minister has spoken to his Pakistani counterpart and the Indian parliament has observed a minute of silence in memory of the children and others who lost their lives. How Pakistan proposes to deal with the TTP is their problem – they are its genesis. The international community (politicians) would do well to take stock of the monkey-balancing they are trying to achieve in the region where they have two sets of weights and measures for countries. Many western states have had a role to play in destroying the region sometimes alone, other times with the connivance of local leaders and tribes. They are not as brave as the little girl who took three bullets in her face to return to condemn the Taliban. Her Nobel Peace Prize is hugely deserved, but cannot serve to let nations off the hook for causing deep damage to the region and destroying generations of people and re-drawing boundaries based on faith and fanaticism. Hafiz Saeed is one such creation – wanted in many countries but free to rile on Pakistani television about enemies of Islam according to him.

India is a vibrant democracy with all its warts and scars and Pakistan is a semi-failed state and that is now more obvious than ever. If they are unable to do what they say instead of threatening to do so - stop assisting states where terror is a state instrument - then the least they can do is to stop outraging. The Tuesday attacks just made things worse for everyone, but mostly for Islamabad.


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