Open and brutal war

In a bomb attack on a military convoy in Lower Dir, three American soldiers and four female students lost their lives. Around 100 people were injured, a large majority of them being female students of a local school. The US soldiers were travelling with a military convoy comprising local troops, journalists and officials to attend the opening ceremony of a girls’ school that was renovated with American aid and humanitarian assistance. The Taliban had previously blown up the school. This was the first fatal Taliban ambush on American soldiers in Pakistan in nearly three years. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility and said, “The Americans killed were members of the Blackwater group. We know they are responsible for bomb blasts in Peshawar and other Pakistani cities.” Some people have been arrested and investigations are underway.

It seems as if the TTP tried to kill two birds with one stone: killing American soldiers who were training Pakistani forces to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda and blowing up a girls’ school as they have been doing in the past. It is horrendous that the Taliban once again did not shrink from attacking young female children. It proves once more that these fanatics have no mercy for anyone, women, children or the old.

Those elements that have been advocating holding a dialogue with the Taliban need to open their eyes and see the true face of these monsters. They have no love lost for humanity and only want to impose their own brand of ‘shariah’ on the people of this country at the point of a bayonet. Holding a dialogue with such ruthless barbarians is totally out of the question, as they are a species not amenable to reason. This dialogue policy has failed in the past and proved that the militants only sign a peace deal when they are weak in order to buy time and regroup. Once they get stronger, they change their stance completely and their demands also increase. The Lal Masjid episode in the past and the recent Swat deal are the most glaring examples of the faulty nature of the policy of negotiating with militants. There are no ‘good militants’; the Taliban sympathisers need to understand this once and for all. We have committed enough follies in the past. To bring peace back to Pakistan we need to learn from history and not repeat the same mistakes. Those who justify holding talks with the Taliban cite the example of the West seeking reconciliation with the Taliban in Afghanistan. What they do not comprehend or choose to ignore is that the Afghan Taliban are very strong and control a number of important areas of Afghanistan. The West’s bid to woo them is because the US-led Nato forces will be withdrawing from the region very soon while the Afghan army is not strong enough yet to fight the Taliban. The situation in Pakistan is totally different. We have a strong military which, if it continues with the military operations, will be successful in rooting out the local militants sooner or later.

The government must remain steadfast in curbing the ongoing militancy. The militants would try to use terror attacks as a tactic to pressurise the government into halting military operations and signing peace deals with them, but any such notion should be rejected out of hand. For peace and prosperity in the country, the menace of extremism must be eradicated. The only solution to the problem lies in pursuing the militants with full zeal. There should not be any let up in the operations against them. We have to see this struggle through to the bitter end.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


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