‘Taliban attacks on civil targets - evidence their back is broken’
RT:Why do you think the Taliban attacked a school rather than a military target? Are we seeing a change of tactics here?
Sultan M. Hali: The Taliban have been terribly battered in the ongoing military operations in North Waziristan as well as in the Khyber Agency. And with their back broken apparently the Taliban is not in a position to retaliate on hard army targets. So they have selected a soft target which happens to be a school, but symbolically it is a military school or a school run by the military. So they want to hit the military but since they were unable to target anything which was very heavily defended, they found it prudent and easy to infiltrate into the school and cause this very high casualty rate of over 112 children and women.
RT:You said retaliate. So do you think this is really revenge or is there something else behind this attack?
SMH: The Taliban has already taken credit for it. Not that any credit is due because this is a very shameful incident. Some of the very hardline leaders of the extremist groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief in Pakistan, Hafiz Saeed condemned [the attack] and said that this is a very shameful act. But it shows the desperation of the Taliban and they are willing to change the tactics, bring it out from hard army installations to softer ones which could be schools, which could be hospitals, which could be residences, and market places which are not that heavily defended. But the Taliban can score very heavy causalities and thus create chaos and desperation among the people.
RT:Can this attack be related to the upcoming withdrawal of foreign troops from neighboring Afghanistan?
SMH: Not directly, but then you see the venue of this particular attack is very close to the area where the battles have been taking place. It is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and it was easily accessible. And that particular school - at the rear of it is a graveyard which is hardly inhabited. So that is how they were able to infiltrate relatively easily. The lesson is to be learned from here is that the military as well as the government now have to be extremely vigilant not only to guard the vulnerable areas, but also the soft targets like schools and colleges.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.