Pakistan's dual terrorism policies remain intact even after Peshawar massacre: Lisa Curtis

Surveillance cameras, snipers and barbed wire have become a common sight in the schools of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province after the horrific December 16 attack by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on the Army Public School in in Pakistan's Peshawar that left over 140 students and staff dead.

After the attack, TTP spokesperson Mohammed Khurrassani announced that the massacre was to avenge the killing of hundreds of tribesmen during repeated Army operations in provinces including North Waziristan, South Waziristan, and the Khyber Agency.

The heart-wrenching scenes of small coffins had sent shivers down the spine. The parents were not alone in mourning young souls of their families; people across the world bemoaned the deaths of the young ones.

Some saw the attack as the `Karma` of Pakistan, while another set of people opined that the horrific and mindless act of violence will change Pakistan's attitude towards terrorism.

In an exclusive interview with Kamna Arora of Zee Media Group, Lisa Curtis, a South Asia expert, discusses if the Peshawar massacre has changed Pakistan.

Lisa Curtis is a Senior Research Fellow at Asian Studies Center, Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, The Heritage Foundation.

Kamna: Do you think the Taliban attack on an Army-run school in Peshawar could prove to be a watershed moment for Pakistan, long accused of treating terrorists as strategic assets?

Lisa: It is too early to say whether some of the changes we are seeing in Pakistan as a result of the December 16 attack on the school in Peshawar will translate into a major shift in Pakistani attitudes and policies toward terrorism. While the Pakistan military is cracking down on the TTP, there are no indications that this crackdown extends to groups fighting in India and Afghanistan. The fact that Pakistan's Anti-terrorism Court granted bail to Mumbai terrorist mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi just two days after the Peshawar attack gives the impression that Pakistan's dual terrorism policies (fighting some terrorists while supporting others) remain intact.

Kamna: Do you think Pakistan's top political leadership was serious when it said that it was no longer willing to make any distinction between "good" and "bad" Taliban because “good” militants - such as Hafiz Muhammad Saeed - continue to live openly in Lahore and spew anti-India venom?

Lisa: The Pakistani media reported in January that Islamabad had taken steps against Lashkar-e-Toiba front organisation JuD. But Hafiz Saeed's high-profile launching of a new ambulance service in Karachi last week shows the organisation is not feeling much heat. If the Pakistani military wanted to show it was serious about cracking down on all forms of terrorism, it would try the seven LeT members in its custody in the newly-established military courts.

Kamna: Although the Pakistani military has taken the fight into the Taliban stronghold in recent months, there are reports that Pakistan’s generals continue to play favorites among militant groups.

Lisa: One of the most interesting developments has been the protests at the Red Mosque, where the TTP was nurtured, and whose leader, Maulana Abdul Aziz, refused to condemn the Peshawar attack. Unfortunately, anti-Charlie Hebdo protests received more media attention than the protests at the Red Mosque. While parts of the Pakistani civil society clearly want a comprehensive crackdown on terrorism, there seems to be continuing support within parts of the military establishment to keep jihadist ideology alive since it comes in handy when motivating groups to attack India.

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