Pakistani forces, driven by an angry PM Nawaz Sharaf, say they have succeeded in whacking one of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan ringleaders of the massacre in Peshawar.
The slaying of the Taliban commander, known as Saddam, comes as Pakistani leaders are vowing to forcefully respond to the attack on the school. With the country still mourning the deaths of 149 students and staff members, security forces are taking their battle deep into Pakistani cities while the country’s air force pounds militants’ havens along the border with Afghanistan.
Saying he plans “to wipe terror out of Pakistan,” Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif huddled with his cabinet much of Friday to oversee the implementation of a newly announced anti-terrorism policy. While Pakistan’s battle against Islamist militants has appeared to sputter during much of the past decade, Sharif has stressed in recent days that the current operations will define his term as prime minister.
“To me, zero tolerance is zero tolerance, and violence in any form against my people equals terror,” Sharif said. He vowed that Pakistan “shall come down heavy on it.”
However, the further description of the guy makes him seem more like an auxiliary member, providing support, than a ringleader:
Saddam was killed in a firefight with security forces in Khyber Agency, in the country’s unruly tribal belt near the Afghan border. The 25-year-old is believed to have provided lodging for the seven Taliban fighters who stormed the army-run school in Peshawar on Dec. 16, according to local officials. He helped guide the fighters, all of whom were killed in the attack, to the school, officials said.
Pakistani manned and US unmanned aircraft have been pounding suspected Taliban and Haqqani forces in North Waziristan, also. But the problem Pakistan has can’t be overestimated:
A senior Interior Ministry official said 6,777 Pakistani residents are being monitored around-the-clock for suspected ties to militant groups. Mass arrests are likely in the coming days, the official added. On Friday, 83 suspects were picked up in the capital, Islamabad, according to Pakistan’s the Nation newspaper.
The problem is that sympathy for extremism runs deep in the land of the pure, as Pakistan styles itself. The nation was founded by Jinnah’s rejection of a secular society, and on one level, a rejection of the very humanity of non-Moslems. This was exacerbated during the long rule of , who encouraged Islamist elements and stirred up loathing of foreigners and infidels to distract the public from his own failings.
As a result, the real power centers of Pakistan, the Army and Inter-Services Intelligence, are as likely to make common cause with Islamist terrorists as to oppose them. In 2002-03 the SF site at Lwara was abandoned because it was regularly shelled by the Pakistan Army. This enabled ISI to move terrorists across the border in that area.
More recently, the surviving ringleader of the Lashkar-e Taiba attack on Bombay, India, , was up for parole in Pakistan, where the authorities have evinced little interest in keeping him under lock and key.
And senior cleric of the Red Mosque in Islamabad, Abdul Aziz, initially refused to criticize the Taliban child-murderers, calling their actions justifiable under Islam. A Pakistani court issued an arrest warrant for Aziz, but there has been no attempt to arrest him.
And meanwhile, another Pakistani court has released Bombay small-arms attack planner and leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi on token bail. Lakhvi was a Pakistan-based controller for the attackers, who killed over 160 people. This is characteristic of the sort of blind-man’s investigation Pakistan has done, making every attempt to avoid any trails that lead to the actual doers (which trails would probably lead directly to ISI HQ in Islamabad, so that’s Pakistan isn’t serious about investigating).
The Indian Express reports Indian outrage over Lakhvi’s impunity in Pakistan.
Outraged over the grant of bail by a Pakistani court to 26/11 accused Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the [parliament] spoke in one voice Friday and adopted a resolution asking the government to “take every step in its power, including through its relations with other countries, to put pressure on Pakistan to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion”.
The government said it had asked the Pakistan government to ensure that the grant of bail to Lakhvi is reversed.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the House that this “attitude” of Pakistan, especially after the outpouring of grief and sorrow across India over the massacre of children in Peshawar, had come as a “great shock” and had been conveyed in the “strongest words” to Islamabad.
Referring to the Peshawar massacre, Modi said: “The pain felt in India was no less than that in Pakistan. Every Indian was in tears. And this kind of an attitude immediately after that has come as a great shock to all those who believe in humanity.”
Speaking shortly after the Prime Minister, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said India rejected the claim of insufficient evidence as ground for bail to Lakhvi. “We demand that the Pakistan government get this decision overturned immediately. We are keeping a watch on its response.”
“By releasing Lakhvi on bail, the Pakistan government has made a mockery of its pledge to fight terror groups without condition or discrimination. It only emboldens the terrorists responsible for the heinous crime in Peshawar.”
She said there was no doubt that 26/11 plot was hatched in Pakistan. “99 per cent evidence is available in Pakistan and Pakistani investigators had six years to collect the evidence. It is their responsibility to collect evidence and ensure that the accused are punished.”
The problem for Pakistan is that they can’t investigate anyone responsible for the Bombay massacre, unless they want to start with then-ISI head Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha.
And now the terror they sponsored has flashed back on the children of Pakistan’s military elite. But they can’t stop riding the tiger. The Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, the Pakistani terror group, recently released a tape in which a TTP leader accuses the Pakistani government of withdrawing the support for terrorism the ISI once freely provided.