Terrorist child killers - enemies of humanity

John Wight
John Wight has written for a variety of newspapers and websites, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal.
Terrorist child killers - enemies of humanity
​Peshawar school attack is the deadliest carried out in Pakistan. The 132 children killed in the siege, as with the 186 children who perished in the Russia’s Beslan massacre in 2004, are a grim reminder that evil does indeed exist in our world.

After the Beslan school siege in Russia’s North Ossetia - one of the most horrific terrorist attacks ever carried out - the world was entitled to declare ‘never again’. As with this latest outrage in Peshawar, Islamic terrorists entered a school, which by its very definition constitutes a ‘soft’ target. Unlike Peshawar, the gunmen and women in the Beslan attack took the 777 children and staff hostage. There were 32 militants involved in the attack. They had been sent by Chechen warlord, Shamil Basayev, who was killed in an explosion two years later.

The decision to storm the building was taken after explosions were heard coming from inside the school on the third day of negotiations between the Russian authorities and the militants. After two hours of intense fighting the school was taken, but at a huge cost. Along with the militants, 385 of the hostages were killed, including 186 children.

It was a brutal and barbaric terrorist attack that sent shockwaves not only across Russia, but throughout the world.

A soldier escorts schoolchildren from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar, December 16, 2014 (Reuters / Khuram Parvez)

In this latest outrage in Peshawar, a total of seven militants were involved. Wearing paramilitary uniforms and with suicide belts strapped to their bodies, they entered the school and began shooting their victims at random, moving from classroom to classroom. Along with the children, nine members of staff were slaughtered, including the school principal. There are reports that students were forced to watch one teacher being burned alive.

Eventually, Pakistani security services managed to kill all seven militants and rescue the survivors, though serious questions will be asked over why it took eight hours for them to do so.

According to the TPP (Taliban Movement in Pakistan) the attack was mounted in revenge for those who’ve been killed, including children, in an offensive begun in June, and which is still ongoing, by the Pakistan military in the tribal areas of Waziristan against the Taliban and its allies. Muhammad Khorasani, TPP spokesman, said in a statement: “We selected the army's school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females. We want them to feel the pain.”

Any notion on the part of the Taliban that such an attack could ever be justified is delusional. One of the few things which unites humanity across cultural differences is the sanctity of children; their innocence considered precious and the need to protect them non-negotiable in any civilized society. Already, in the immediate aftermath, the Taliban is being vehemently condemned throughout Pakistan, as it begins three days of national mourning, with many speculating that this barbaric attack will result in the organization's destruction. Even the Afghan Taliban has come out and condemned the attack as un-Islamic.

A Russian police officer carries a released baby from the school seized by heavily armed masked men and women in the town of Beslan in the province of North Ossetia near Chechnya, September 2, 2004.(Reuters / Viktor Korotayev)

That being said, it would be folly to lapse into hypocrisy. Over the past five years US drone strikes in Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan have killed 2,400 people. Many of those have been innocent civilians, including children, a key factor in the ambivalence, if not sympathy, with which the Taliban in Pakistan has been regarded up to this point.

Furthermore, when it comes to Pakistan, we are talking about a deeply religious country in which there exists an uneasy relationship between religiosity and secularism. The religious piety of the Taliban has, as a consequence, also won them much admiration, especially when compared to a pro-Western political establishment in Pakistan that has consistently been mired in corruption.

A murky relationship has over a number of years, existed between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and in Afghanistan, and elements within the notorious Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI.

The Afghans have long considered Pakistan to be responsible for harboring, funding, training, and equipping the Afghan Taliban during its long campaign against Kabul; its objective in doing so the destabilization of a government over its northern border considered too close to Pakistan’s mortal enemy, India. Such allegations have also been made by the US and NATO, with the ability of Osama bin Laden to hide in plain sight in a specially built compound in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad, close to a military base, merely giving further credence to them.

More recent events point to a breakdown in this relationship, however, replaced by a concerted effort by the Pakistan military to move against the Taliban in its strongholds in the mountainous northeast of the country. Indeed, the military offensive in North Waziristan has been augmented by what appears a newly established united front against the Taliban, both Afghan and Pakistan variants, on the part of Washington, Islamabad, and Kabul.

A Pakistani Taliban fighter (Reuters / Reuters TV)

Pakistan has just learned in the most brutal and horrific way the salutary lesson that you can’t control a tiger by holding onto its tail. It was in Pakistan where the precursor to the Taliban, the Mujahedeen, received training and a base from where it staged its campaign against the Soviet-supported government in Kabul in the 1980s. Ever since then, Pakistan has sought to use such groups to advance its own strategic interests, creating and feeding a monster in the process. Turkey is following much the same policy when it comes to Syria, and likewise will no doubt also pay a heavy price for doing so down the line.

As with the Beslan massacre of 2004, the Peshawar terrorist attack has sent shock waves around the world. And no wonder, for it is at times like these we are forced to confront the truth that just as barbarism speaks a universal language, so must resistance to it, regardless of any other difference or differences that may possibly exist between us.

Children are precious whether they are Russian, Pakistani, Syrian, Iraqi, or Palestinian. Those who would harm them in the name of a religion, ideology, or strategic objective are not only the common enemy of humanity; they are the enemy of the very air they breathe.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.