"This atrocity was a reaction to the repeated defeats the Pakistani Taliban have suffered at the hands of the Pakistani Army"by Anatol Lieven / December 19, 2014 / Leave a comment
The massacre of 132 children at a military-run school in Peshawar has already led to an unprecedented backlash of public feeling in Pakistan against the terrorists.
It is also a reminder that—contrary to the impression one might sometimes receive from the Western media—the overwhelming majority of victims of Islamist militant terrorism have been not westerners, but fellow Muslims. Pakistan alone has lost at least ten times more people to terrorism than the USA lost on 9/11. Pakistani soldiers killed fighting the militants also outnumber the total number of US and NATO troops killed in neighbouring Afghanistan. Now, the children of Pakistani soldiers have also died.
It is important that this atrocity should not be seen as some sort of malign success for the Pakistani Taliban (Tehrek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP). On the contrary, it was a sign of desperation, and a reaction to the repeated defeats that they have suffered in recent years at the hands of the Pakistani Army.
When I visited Pakistan earlier this year, officers and security analysts warned that terrorism in Pakistani cities would get worse in the short term precisely because the TTP were losing their ability to conduct successful insurgency in Pakistan’s Pashtun-inhabited Tribal Areas (FATA). In particular, this summer saw the Pakistani Army move into the last major stronghold of the TTP in North Waziristan. There is no possibility now—as there appeared to be for a while in 2008-2009—of the TTP extending their control over large areas of the country and even one day bringing down the state.
But, the TTP do still have sympathisers in many areas of Pakistan, giving them the ability to carry out terrorist attacks on a large scale. To deal with this threat in the country as a whole, military action alone is not enough—if only because while FATA has long been a de facto war zone, elsewhere the Army can only act at the request of the civilian government, and needs the help of the local police to act with any effectiveness. For this to happen, the Pakistani political classes, the media and the Army need to come…