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Lest we forget – Peshawar

Every nation has certain occurrences which change the course of its history. The blood-curdling attack of Taliban on defenseless school children in Peshawar on 16th December, 2014 was such an occurrence. The terrorist attack not only shocked Pakistan but nations across the world. Even the Afghani Taliban called it “un-Islamic.” The cowardly act of terrorism started on the morning of 16 December, when nine terrorist disguised in paramilitary uniforms climbed the walls of the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar. Terrorists went from classroom to classroom, shooting indiscriminately. The international media predominantly, portrayed the attack as Talibans’ anti education agenda.However it is very clear that terrorists particularly targeted the children and wives of Pakistan Army officers.  The wife of a serving Brigadier of Pakistan Army was burnt alive and two sons and the wife of a major were also shout dead.At least 145 people including 132 children were dead by the time the last of the nine attackers was killed.

APS

APS

The decisive event led to a histrionic change in Pakistan. The grumbling politician Imran Khan had a face saving opportunity to finish his failed anti-government campaign. He also changed his pro-Taliban stance and openly supported the military operation against Taliban. The Government of Pakistan which initially wasted a lot of time in peace negotiations with Taliban called an all parties conference and unanimously agreed to a 20-point National Action Plan to combat terrorism.

APS

Pakistan army which had already launched an army offensive (Zarb-e-Azb) against Taliban since June 2014 in North Waziristan extended their military operation to other areas i.e. Khyber and Kurram tribal agencies near Pak-Afghan border. On successful completion of the first year of the Army operation, in June 2015 Pakistan army confirmed that 2,763 militants had been killed including 218 terrorist commanders in 9,000 intelligence based operations. Some 837 hideouts of terrorists have been destroyed and 253 tons of explosives recovered during the operation. The Army also recovered 18,087 weapons, including heavy machine guns, light machine guns, sniper rifles, rocket launchers and AK-47s. Thousands of terrorists were also arrested, their strongholds cleared and their communication infrastructure destroyed.347 officers and soldiers of Pakistan Armed Forces have embraced martyrdom during the first year of military operation.

Peshawar attack has indeed boosted both self-sacrifice and commitment in armed forces which is so essential for the maintenance of morale. However, Pakistani politicians are back to their old blame game on each other and continuingwith their politics of slogans. Militarily the efforts to combat terrorism seems very successful however social and political strategy to combat terrorism on part of the Government seems very scrawny. The best way to remember the martyrs of Peshawar would be that Government should show its commitment to social and educational reform, monitoring of religious seminaries and social media scrutiny to stop the process of radicalization. The Army is becoming overstretched therefore National Counter Terrorism Authority should be made effective and completely operational.

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