Hours after the assault on Bacha Khan University, Asad Munir, a former ISI official-turned-columnist, surprised many by tweeting that Pakistanis would do well to look for the attackers among themselves instead of blaming India.
Munir, a retired brigadier with long experience of serving with the Inter-Services Intelligence agency in Pakistan’s volatile northwest, blamed the terrorism afflicting his country squarely on Islamabad’s policy of using jihadis for issues such as the war in Afghanistan and the move to “liberate” Kashmir.
RAW is not likely to fund an attack on #BachaKhanUniversity on his death anniversary.These murderers are Pakistanis, don't blame others.— Asad Munir (@asadmunir38) January 20, 2016
The state trained Jihadis to liberate Kashmir,leaders had limited vision,couldn't achieve that aim but 1000s Pakistanis killed since then.— Asad Munir (@asadmunir38) January 20, 2016
In an unusually blunt article in The Nation daily, Islamabad-based journalist Umer Ali stated the time had come to ask the Pakistan Army “some hard questions” why the anti-terror National Action Plan framed after the 2014 Peshawar school massacre had failed to prevent the university attack.
In many ways, Munir’s tweets and Ali’s article – though limited to the English language media and social networks that are probably inaccessible to the Urdu-speaking majority – reflect the churning that began after the Taliban brutally killed more than 130 children in an army-run school in Peshawar in 2014.
For far too long, it has been the trend in India and Pakistan to blame the other country for any unsavoury development, be it a terrorist attack or even floods (blamed by some in the Pakistani Urdu media on excess river waters being released by India).
But such narratives have worn thin, with more people across the Western border now asking tough questions of Pakistan’s civil and military leadership about the steps being taken to counter or eliminate the jihadi groups which enjoyed a free rein since northwest Pakistan became the staging ground for the “holy war” to liberate Afghanistan from Soviet occupation.
Munir even want so far as to tweet that Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan leaders such as Mullah Fazlullah, now believed to be ensconced in Afghanistan, would be “happy that RAW is being blamed by some morons for an incident that TTP planned and executed”.
Not that there aren’t others in Pakistan – such as status quoist reporters and TV anchors such as Ansar Abbasi and Moeed Pirzada – who were happy to trot out clichéd and well-worn arguments of an “Indian hand” in the attack on the university named after the messenger of peace, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan or the “Frontier Gandhi”.
Hope Bacha Khan University attack is not Ajit Doval's "defensive offence" against Pakistan!!!!!— Ansar Abbasi (@AnsarAAbbasi) January 20, 2016
Def.Minister Parrikar's comments & what's happening now leave little doubt about Indian thinking & strategies ? https://t.co/df6QL4QADD— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) January 20, 2016
That the tide may slowly be turning – at least as far as public opinion among the Pakistani elite and liberals is concerned – is perhaps evident from this: Munir’s tweets got far more retweets than the two tweets quoted here from Abbasi and Pirzada.
(The views expressed by the writer are personal. He tweets as @rezhasan)