By Haq Nawaz –
Enough is enough. Pakistani nation stands united to root out menace of terrorism
After years of ifs and buts, Pakistan has finally come to the conclusion to take some tough decisions in the ongoing fight against the insurgency within its sovereign frontiers without any discrimination of good and bad Taliban. The nation is one and united on this one point agenda after the militants brutally killed the school going innocent children and teachers in Peshawar on December 16, 2014.
The attack on small kids, who have nothing to do with the war, shocked everyone. They, even, lost the little sympathy in the society as some people were asking for a dialogue, but now no one is there to ask for any relaxations.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has apprised the Senate about the government action plan that is being devised in the light of the inputs of the political and military leaders’ inputs. “If terrorism is not eliminated today, then it will be impossible to contain it tomorrow,” he told the upper house of parliament. He explained the proposed steps including the new law to curb terrorism and formation of military courts to try the terrorists. “We should admit that no concrete steps were taken curb terrorism. But December 16 incident has turned our focus to root out terrorism from the country,” he insisted.
The people have seen many ugly incidents of terrorism and bloodshed across Pakistan with much higher casualties, but this latest strike on the innocent students was taken as serious by all that the top political and military leadership rushed to Peshawar to support the bereaved families.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Chief of the Army of Staff General Raheel Sharif arrived at Peshawar and were closely monitoring the situation. The top leadership of the country reviewed the security policy and decided to take on the militants with full force by using all means. Army Chief General Raheel Sharif described the Peshawar School terrorist attack as, “the terrorists hit us at the heart but we will not spare them.”
The schools, colleges and universities both in the public and private sectors are closed since December 16 deadly terrorist attack on the school but the survived students and their parents want the Army Public School to reopen soon to send a message to the terrorists that they could not deprive them from education. The administration of the school with the support of military high ups and police are confident to reopen the school shortly, may be by the mid of January.
Pakistani nation showed an unprecedented resolve to continue the war on terror of its own till the elimination of last terrorist on its soil. The massacre of innocent children by terrorists in a brutal attack on the day, as observed black since 1971 East Pakistan tragedy, left the nation with no other choice but to pledge fighting the menace at every level. Even the sympathizers and apologists have come forward and extended their full support in this renewed national zeal to defeat the terrorists.
This inhuman act of terrorism changed the whole scenario at the highest level, both the political and military leaders sit across the table and came out with a clear cut policy announcement followed by stern action against the militants. The fighting that were earlier limited only to the tribal region was expanded and now the hunt for the terrorists and their supporters have been launched with full and renewed spirit in every town and city of the country. The message is clear as no more militants on our soil, whether they are good or bad.
Analysts and security experts say the political and military leaders are serious in doing the business, and are determined to eliminate terrorism from the country as this had badly affected the country’s image, inflicted heavy losses politically and economically. Some 70,000 civilians and 5000 military officers and soldiers got killed in the over decade long fight.
The table turned on Taliban militants and after days of deliberations, the government announced a comprehensive multi-prong 20 points strategy or action plan to eliminate the menace of terrorism from its soil. Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif was mandated to fly to Kabul on December 17 to seek help from Afghan government as evidences found in the deadly school massacre pointing finger to the alleged planners of the incidents have some instructions from across the Afghan border.
After showed unconditional support by the country’s political leaders in an All Parties Conference in Peshawar, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has started consultations with his senior political advisers and military leadership, discussing ways to implement the country’s new counter-terrorism strategy.
In an address to the nation after Peshawar School terrorist attack, Prime Minister announced the formation of military courts to try terrorism suspects.
Prime Minister told a high level meeting on the newly announced action plan, “We will refer cases of hardcore terrorists, who are responsible for mass murders of innocent civilians, kids and jawans of security agencies. Special courts are part of the National Action Plan and an extraordinary solution to an extraordinary problem. All institutions will carefully scrutinize cases before prosecution in the special military tribunals. National plan is manifestation of national consensus and we will ensure swift implementation.”
Pakistan has faced a number of terrorist attacks in the last 13 years but the latest Peshawar school carnage is termed as the game changer and a turning point in this war against terrorism. Analysts termed 16/12 as Pakistani 9/11. Pakistani government came under pressure on this latest inhuman act of terrorism. There have been growing disparity in the country and the people were criticizing the government inability and lack of ownership of the military operations across the tribal region or FATA.
The message from the government was so strong that all the political leaders from across the line; the government and opposition, and the military leadership stood one against the terrorists. General Raheel Sharif declared that no one will be spared Pakistani militants, al Qaeda and Haqqani Network.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said the operation against the militants will be indiscriminate without taking into account the good or bad Taliban. But the fight will continue till the elimination of the last militant on Pakistan’s soil. The political and military leadership strong position was backed by all sections of society, and Pakistani nation was seen as united and one after a long time. The religious parties have also condemned the Peshawar school terrorist attack but fully backed the new resolve of government.
Everyone condemned the unfortunate carnage of Army Public School and College or APSC, Peshawar, located in the highly security zone of Peshawar Cantonment that resulted into the loss of over 150 students included 9 staff members. Peshawar that suffered the most in the war on terror as the frontline city remained calm for some time but that silence was temporary and was broken with this fatal attack by the terrorists.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Fazlullah faction claimed the responsibility of the attack on the school, but the reaction was so strong from inside and outside Pakistan that even Afghan Taliban Movement has publicly condemned the attack. A Pakistani Taliban group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and al Qaeda in Subcontinent have also condemned the massacre of the innocent children.
The group that took responsibility was defending their act, but their choice of hitting the soft target proved wrong. If the militants would have attacked any government or security installations, the reaction would have not so strong but mere condemnation. This planned attack also exposed the capabilities of the banned militant outfit TTP to carry out an attack on the innocent armless children, who might have not known the real meaning of war.
Director General of Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Bajwa states, “Today is the saddest day of our history. We are deeply grieved. We are angered as a nation. This is the national tragedy and we can never forget this sorrow. This is a mark, which has been left on us for the rest of our life.”
Giving his account about the incident, he said 7 attackers broke into the school from the boundary wall and entered the auditorium of the school where some 350-400 students were gathered in a training workshop on first aid. They started indiscriminate firing and shooting inside the hall. The army quick response force arrived after 17 minutes of the incident and took position. The operation went for hours and finally all the 7 terrorists were killed.
A senior military official told, “The loss of precious lives were too much and irreparable but some 950 students out of 1100 were safely rescued, who were present at the time of the attack.”
Senior security officials and investigators got some clues that the attackers have been instructed from across the border, where Pakistani Taliban commanders have safe havens and training camps. General Raheel Sharif’s visit resulted fruitful and Afghan government has started operation against the militants, who have been using Afghan soil to attack Pakistan.
Pakistan army has also intensified its action across the bordering region and pounded bombs on the hideouts of militants. A well-coordinated search operation against the suspected militants and their sympathizers was also launched in the cities across the country. Hundreds of suspected persons were arrested and shifted to some undisclosed location for interrogation.
A senior government official said the interior ministry has issued orders to all four provinces and Islamabad administration for taking into protective custody 6,777 suspects. Majority of the suspects belong to banned outfits.
Out of 6,777 suspects, 1000 belong to Sindh, more than 4,000 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 338 Balochistan, 1416 in Punjab and 23 from Islamabad.
The government has also withdrawn 6 years moratorium on the death penalty and the hanging of hardcore militants, who were on death row for years, resumed. Some of the executions did take place despite the pressure from the world community.
More than 8000 condemned prisoners are in the death cells but the government wants to hang the hardcore militants that is said to be some 500. After suspending the 6-year moratorium on the execution, Pakistan has hanged 7 terrorists, involved in terrorist activities, 6 in Punjab and one in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Pakistani security forces have started action in retaliation against the militants and killed over 150 militants in armed clashes and aerial strikes on the suspected hideouts of the militants in Khyber Agency, North Waziristan and other tribal agencies.
The reaction was so swift that 3 senior commanders, who allegedly facilitated the attackers on Army Public School, were killed by the security forces near Peshawar. Mustafa alias Manan, the brother of Umar Mansoor, the operational head and mastermind of the attack, was killed with 4 other accomplices in Frontier Region or semi tribal area of Peshawar, Siyyar another facilitator and Commander Saddam, who helped the attackers to reach the school, were killed in different parts of tribal region.
The militants are once again on run after the swift action against them by the security forces was intensified, according to well informed sources, Pakistani Taliban groups have gone into their hideouts and stopped using any kind of electronic gadgets like mobile phones and internet, which they were frequently using before the Peshawar school attack.
Unofficially, the police and other law enforcement agencies have been given the order of ‘shoot at sight’. But senior security officials and government functionaries are denying that any such order has been given. “It is not possible in today’s modern age where the media so vibrant, human rights groups are active and high tech gadgets are available everywhere. So it is not possible to pass such orders. We have to follow the rules and regulations to carry out any operation against the terrorists,” a senior government official in Peshawar responded.