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Will Pakistan take the right lessons from Peshawar?

The Peshawar massacre is Pakistan’s 26/11. While the assault on Mumbai aimed at crippling the Indian economy, the barely concealed objective behind the mass killing of students is to bring the Pakistan army on its knees, writes Vinod Sharma.

india Updated: Dec 19, 2014 03:35 IST
Vinod Sharma
Vinod Sharma
Hindustan Times
Rehman Lakvi,Beyond the news,Nawaz Sharif

The possibility of it happening has become distant with the release on bail in Pakistan of Mumbai attack under-trial Zakiur Rehman Lakvi. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to Nawaz Sharif for sub-continental solidarity against terrorism needs to be taken beyond symbolism.

The Peshawar massacre is Pakistan’s 26/11. While the assault on Mumbai aimed at crippling the Indian economy, the barely concealed objective behind the mass killing of students in the Capital city of Kyber Pakhtoonkhwa is to bring the Pakistan army on its knees.

The school raided by gun-toting marauders is run by the Army. A segregated count hasn’t yet emerged-- as it will be insensitive and inappropriate at this hour-- a large number of the slain kids could be from families of mid-ranking faujis. Besides, the attack was the Tehrik-e-Taliban’s ‘revenge’ for the on-going military operation called Zarb-e-Azb in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), notably North Waziristan on the Pak-Afghan border. The Army has been using heavy weapon systems including F-16 bombers to exterminate the TTP that considers Pakistan Darul Harb (a land for war in defense of Islam).

The dreaded outfit seeking Islamic rule is in conflict with the Pakistani State in its present form--- a ‘deficit’ parliamentary democracy based on the Westminster-model but surviving on the strength of its armed forces. So it isn’t surprising that the Army is one with Nawaz Sharif to do whatever it takes to eliminate the TTP leadership, especially Maulana Fazlullah, also known as Radio Mullah, who operates out of Afghanistan.

But the moot question India has for them is whether what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander? Will the military establishment that’s united with Sharif against the TTP, be on the same page when it comes to acting against organizations propped up by them--- the anti-India Haqqani network with links to the Al Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban’s Quetta Shura that’s identified with Mullah Omar and the Lashkar-e-Toiba of Hafeez Sayed?

The dastardly Peshawar killings had Gen. Raheel Sharif and his ISI chief rushing to Kabul to seek the new Afghan regime’s help in nabbing Fazlullah. While that happened, Hafeez Sayed went around accusing India for the Peshawar massacre that saw Modi calling up Sharif to condole and propose a joint fight against terror. There hasn’t yet been an official denial of Syed’s claim, reaffirmed by a brazenly expedient Pervez Musharraf to bounce back in the political game in his country’s hour of grief.

It would be instructive here to recall that it was under Musharraf’s Presidency that Pakistan, for the first time, accepted the use of its territory for cross-border terror against India. The admission and the promise to check that export was made in a joint statement he worked out with AB Vajpayee on January 6, 2004, on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Islamabad.

The release on bail of Lakvi has muddied further the waters for any India-Pakistan joint venture against terrorism. Pakistan would justify it in name of judicial freedom. But it’s well known that judges are as helpless as the political class in the terror-stalked country where the Army is the sole evidence of a State existing. If the Sharif brothers have to peacefully govern their home province of Punjab, they need to keep the powerful LeT in good humour. In the country’s other three provinces, violence isn’t an exception. It’s the rule.

That’s the curse Pakistan has to exorcise to secure its future generations. Can it?

First Published: Dec 18, 2014 23:08 IST