Unhappy New Year

Published: January 1, 2015
The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto 

The writer is a columnist, a former major of the Pakistan Army and served as press secretary to Benazir Bhutto kamran.shafi@tribune.com.pk

For what else is it when 150 schoolchildren and their teachers, and by-standers, are cruelly murdered by monsters in the garb of human beings bang smack in the middle of Peshawar Cantonment, in broad daylight, just 15 days before 2015 dawned?

Whilst we have seen women and children die before in the hundreds in other wanton attacks on the innocent by that horror called the TTP, this school attack seems all the more poignant and so, so sad. “There are some children hiding under the desks, go AND SHOOT THEM,” shouts one of the animals. Two of them then go looking for the children and shoot them in the head. Another says into his mobile phone, “We have killed all the children and teachers, now what do we do?”

Not content on just shooting the children, and possibly on instructions from their handler said to be located somewhere at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, the militants went further to satisfy their blood-lust by burning a lady schoolteacher. This report was later denied but an email containing a letter from a Brigadier Tariq did confirm that his dear wife was indeed murdered cruelly, in that way. Heartless b*******.

A Twitter pal was also kind enough to send me an FB post by Brigadier Tariq (to whom my heart goes out in no small measure), confirming that his wife, poor thing, was burnt. Another person responded on Twitter and said the ISPR had clarified that she wasn’t “burnt”; that she just hid in the bathroom and the monsters hurled a grenade into it. Well, big difference! How in heaven’s name does it matter in which way that good human being was slaughtered? Poor lady, may she rest in eternal peace.

As an aside, if we could find within a few hours where the handler was located from his phone conversation with his murdering charges, sending COAS Raheel Sharif rushing to Afghanistan to demand the immediate handing over of Mullah Fazlullah, how is it that the spokesmen for the dastardly TTP who stay in constant touch with news reporters and news agencies, even foreign news agencies abroad, by mobile and satellite phones cannot be pinpointed and, say, droned?

What sorts of animals are these, for God’s sake? If the reader will Google my articles going back to 2003, it will become apparent that many like myself have been sounding warnings that these so-called ‘wayward brothers’ are nothing of the sort: that they are hell-bent on taking over the whole blessed country by force in tandem with others of their ilk be they the Afghan Taliban; al Qaeda, whoever (now we have the Islamic State in the mix too — most recently seen in wall-chalkings in DIK, listening Imran Khan?), and then to export the Caliphate to foreign shores. That they were joined at the hip, the lot of them. That we should not procrastinate and hem and haw while they went about their murderous way.

In-built in this collaboration was the takeover once more of Afghanistan, and a return to the medievalism of the last Taliban mis-rule in that unfortunate country. What one could not understand was why action on Swat was delayed; what one could not understand was why Mullah Fazlullah (aka Mullah Radio)’s FM radio on which the murderer broadcast daily messages on who was to be beheaded at Khooni Chowk that night. I mean if the handler of the Peshawar murderers could be found through a phone call, why not Mullah Radio’s FM radio…?

But that is much water down the Swat River and under the Indus Bridge: what we must ask now is what is being done to unearth what actually happened and who the helpers/facilitators of the Army Public School atrocity were? Where is the Court of Inquiry? Has any been ordered by the authorities concerned? There are rumours in the hundreds going around what will happen when the institutions concerned are not forthcoming with the truth in this age of instant communication.

Quite frankly, the APS attack and the raft of statements; the raft of denials and back-tracking has left a stunned nation flummoxed too. What is there to hide anyway? The fact is that 140, or more, innocent lives, most very young children have been brutally killed. It is imperative that closure is brought to their deaths by exposing the facts, and punishing those who did the gory killings and those who helped them. Indeed, as the case of Mrs Tariq amply illustrates, we must know what exactly happened.

Likewise, first reports said the murderers were dressed in army fatigues; another that they were dressed in Frontier Corps uniforms. Photos of the dead militants when shown on the media showed them dressed in shalwar kameez. It was then said that they changed out of their fake uniforms into shalwar kameez before going on their killing spree. Yet again, it was quickly put out that these were not the pictures of the present lot of murderers but those killed after another atrocity some time ago.

Again, first reports said the killers were speaking in Arabic; next came news that they were speaking Uzbek; yet again that they were speaking Seraiki. What I want to know is what the hell of difference does it make whether they stole into the school in this or that uniform; or in shalwar kameez? How the hell does it matter what language they were speaking? The fact is that they were cold-blooded and cruel murderers who have killed MY children and MY brothers and sisters. May the Almighty damn them to hell!

Let me add that closure will not come by merely hanging seven people convicted of attacking or planning to attack the Commando; or/and indeed ‘immediately’ executing the 500 convicts sentenced to death for terrorism and waiting on death row. Closure will only come when the bare facts of the Peshawar killings are shown to the country, indeed to the world. Closure will only come when this Taliban menace is wiped off the face of the region and the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd,  2015.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Rahul
    Jan 2, 2015 - 12:09AM

    Kamran Sahib, You can wipe out the Taliban, but what about the ideology that gave birth to the Taliban? The ideology I am talking about is not the one that is taught in the classroom or in the place of worship or in the media, for that can be wiped out too. The ideology I am talking about is the one woven in the fabric of the nation. As long as the nation is built on that ideology, it will keep giving birth to different versions of the Taliban.Recommend

  • Dr. Mohamed Boodhun
    Jan 2, 2015 - 12:45AM

    Very well said Mr Shafi.

    In my humble opinion the menace of terrorism will only come when true justice prevails in your country. Not the pseudo-justice of Maulana Imran Khan, Ameerul Momeeneen Nawaz Sharif or Child-Inheritor zardari-Bhutto.

    No one disagrees that that the bestiality of the TTP has to be eradicated. However I am not sure how this is going to happen when we see actors like Mr Khan, Mr Sharif and the very much culprit Pakistani Army involved. I wish all of them good luck even though I have no confidence in any of them based on their past performance.


  • Vakil
    Jan 2, 2015 - 12:55AM

    Shafi sahab, I totally agree with everything you have said — especially the underlying feelings … however, for a moment (just for a moment) consider the ‘equation’ from the ‘other side’ — they (these ‘animals’ or whoever/whatever they are) — they are trying to impose an ideology that they firmly believe is the way to go. Tell me, in terms of the kind of ideology/system/whatever that you believe in — exactly WHAT did it deliver (even before these ‘animals’ could barely walk and talk)…??? Do understand their frustration as well… the fact is that chaps like you who are well-fed, well-clothed etc etc… the fact is that a large number of your own country-folk are not… and when chaps like you were “hot-blooded” like these ‘animals’ (the ‘good-ole-days’ of the 1960s/1970s etc) tell me exactly what did the likes of you do? I will tell you: BUGGER ALL (Australian lingo) or DAMN ALL (British lingo) or just… ZILCH/ZERO/“kuch-nahin”. Please don’t mind what I am saying here… it is this very frustration that is coming to the fore… yes in the wrong way….but don’t just ‘blame’ the TTP – the fact is that at the end of the day, it is ALL of you that is/are responsible for this mess… Full Stop.


  • Mrs Shazia Arif
    Jan 2, 2015 - 1:17AM

    Another well written article. I totally agree although the gallows of 500 convicted terrorists would be a step forward in eradication of terrorism but what about the of arrest of TTP’s peers who have still not denounced this massacre and are set free to captured our mosques to breed blood sucking monsters?


  • soothla
    Jan 2, 2015 - 1:41AM

    Sir , I like this new word used by you ” flummoxed ” ie. adjective ; meaning
    bewildered or perplexed.Thank you.
    But I am confused by “How in heaven’s name does it matter in which way that good human being was slaughtered (Mrs Tariq)?” and then you say a few paragraphs later ” Indeed, as the case of Mrs Tariq amply illustrates, we must know what exactly happened. ”
    Does it matter or not ?
    Highest regards.


  • SV
    Jan 2, 2015 - 2:22AM

    How is it possible to wipe out the Taliban when the underlying foundation of the state creates an environment of extremism? The national narrative, constitution, laws and text books support extremism to the exclusion of all things non muslim. The constitution – that should provide the framework for good governance promotes discrimination. It was enacted by an elected leader – ZAB.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Jan 2, 2015 - 3:02AM

    Peshawar tragedy is a failure of our security forces but they have diverted whole nation’s attention towards judiciary and politicians who had nothing to do with this tragedy. If our security forces are really serious then they have to clean their house first before demanding similar actions from others.


  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 2, 2015 - 3:15AM

    So what happened in 2014 of a dastardly nature? A casual observation would show that 150 innocents were killed in Peshawar, about 3,000 innocents were killed in Palestine, two trigger happy military organizations keep killing each other on the LOC. Australia and American voted against Palestine joining the UN, the EU/US appear to be doing their best to antagonize Russia over the Ukraine incident, about 3,000 people have been killed in Ukraine, America ably assisted by Australia has invaded Iraq for the third time, ISIL, a US/Saudi equipped terrorist organization has gone rogue, and has reputedly killed over 5,000 people, Libya brought to its knees by the US/UK/France is an ever increasing basket case, Syria due to US/Saudi interference has lost over 200,000 people and is an ever increasing disaster, Afghanistan appears to be have many problems between its US puppet Government and the Taliban, the US was supposed to be leaving Afghanistan but still has more than 15,000 boots on the ground, the Afghan skirmish has cost the US taxpayer about $14 million per hour for the last 13 years, the US is constantly confronting North Korea, China and Iran, several European countries including Greece and Spain have taken an economic nose-dive, the Pakistan Government cannot handle its problems and is introducing military courts to do the job it has failed to do. The major is correct in that we are going into an Unhappy New Year. One wonders what disasters the worlds erstwhile leaders are planning for us in 2015. If the last few years are anything to go by I would suggest that we brace ourselves for a continuation of the same. I have not really mentioned economic disasters in depth, but the world spends a minimum of $2,000 billion per annum upon military expenditure, which is a disaster in itself.


  • Ahmed
    Jan 2, 2015 - 7:04AM

    @rahul, the roots to the problem can be traced to misguided religious ideology and madrassas, but this predominantly is the result of perpetual social injustice. I don’t expect you to understand it fully, but want to point out that your comment demonstrates the same lack of depth as these barbarians, for whom even killing is justified because one disagrees with them or follows a different religion. This is Not a national ideology.


  • Professor
    Jan 2, 2015 - 8:05AM

    It is so easy to talk about “rooting” out terrorism. Trouble is, there are vested interests embedded deep within the fabric of Pakistani society. The roots have dug in and to remove it will take decades of concerted effort with single-minded focus.
    The symptoms we see on the outside are just the tip of the iceberg. An entire nation has been brutalized and rendered intolerant by systematic re-education starting from Bhutto onward. It will take about the same time if not more to reverse the damage.


  • TooTrue
    Jan 2, 2015 - 8:19AM

    Why has Qadri not been hanged yet? Did he not actually shoot the sitting governor of Punjab in the back? Was that not a more dastardly act than the attempted assassination of Musharraf? When will there be justice for the governor’s family? Why are you so scared of publishing this?


    Jan 2, 2015 - 9:40AM

    You are very right. It is your “ideology” that made Mr Modi the Prime Minister of your country.


  • Milind
    Jan 2, 2015 - 9:44AM

    @Ahmed – “the roots to the problem can be traced to misguided religious ideology and madrassas, but this predominantly is the result of perpetual social injustice”

    I see another potential Imran Khan in you…. Earlier lack of education was blamed for existence of these beasts. However we saw that a M.S. degree or a degree from foreign university, did not stop some of these like-minded beasts from joining ISIS or doing a 9/11.
    Quite a few of these beasts in your country are either ex-armymen, gone armymen gone rogue..
    So where’s the social injustice in this?


  • ahmed41
    Jan 2, 2015 - 10:05AM

    “—–Closure will only come when this Taliban menace is wiped off the face of the region and the world._____”

    OK ! now how to do that ?Recommend

  • Ravian
    Jan 2, 2015 - 10:31AM

    Taliban is just a symptom, the disease lies elsewhere.


  • wonderer
    Jan 2, 2015 - 11:35AM

    We seem to have abandoned our interest in the ‘strategic depth’ concept, and that will be of much help in eradicating terrorism. Now we need to look into our obsession with Kashmir. We should seriously consider if that is not an essential need for getting rid of the Jihadi mindset.

    In my humble opinion we as a nation need to give up our habit of depending on lying and falsehood. We still rely a lot on misleading our own masses, and also the international community. We can never fool the whole world all the time. We ought to be truthful if we do not wish to face isolation in the comity of nations, and internal destruction. What is happening to our country is not just accidental. It is the result of our past actions, and is certainly ordained by almighty Allah.

    Has it not yet dawned on us that we are almost a failed state? The level of terrorism we are facing cannot but destroy us, as we are too divided a community to tackle it.


  • raider
    Jan 2, 2015 - 11:57AM

    how much time the writers would keep on spending in mourning and writting same things in one aad other way to get piece of writing in news and fill the belly of paper, kindly arrange an confession that these are all our faults and subtly be surfaced the root causes, put soultions and and menace be removed otherwise it would likely to remove u


  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 2, 2015 - 1:18PM

    Sometimes a glimmer of hope comes through from some of the missives, but when the real motives are revealed ones hopes are dashed again and again. An attractive young women smiles at a good looking visitor from the next village who is walking by and she is lucky to escape with her life. Similarly her brothers may join the military and might be posted to the LOC or North West Waziristan with all the disaster that entails. From a casual observation it would appear that some people are thought to be absolutely correct and others are absolutely wrong. According to the major some people are monsters and others are just the opposite. Obviously, from the major’s point-of-view, if one belongs to the military he/she is a good guy. If one disagrees with the military and takes an apposing view he /she is a bad guy. If this is the prevailing view in Pakistan I do not see much hope for the future. Best of luck Pakistan. However`, this seems to be the viewpoint of the world generally, which probably explains why the world is in such a mess, and has been for a long time..


  • Sri Khan
    Jan 2, 2015 - 3:13PM

    You mean liberate Kashmir from the Rape and slaughter of Indian Army ..?


  • Yousaf
    Jan 2, 2015 - 3:17PM

    @Sexton Blake:
    Fantastic summery …


  • reality
    Jan 2, 2015 - 3:32PM

    @Sri Khan:
    Yeah totally …they just had elections you know ….the fact that this is just a Pakistani hoax …not no one outside Pakistan even usually believe this nonsece …also India have so many muslims why would kashmiri be any special for us ?


  • Sam@ABE
    Jan 2, 2015 - 4:16PM

    One can really feel the writers anguish and frustration. Pakistan keeps looking westward for inspiration, perhaps it needs to look eastward – Indonesia perhaps with its ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika’ (Unity in Diversity) approach rather than a ‘Pakistan ka matlab kya…’ approach. Indonesians are very comfortable under their skin, there is no internal conflict with their past and present … (although petro-dollars seem to be changing that gradually) …sometimes I wonder if the selection of a name makes all the difference … there seems to be this race among some Pakistanis to be purer … this means what was ‘pure’ 50 years ago is not pure anymore, there is a new standard of purity … and it keeps shifting… Finally, there is a huge section of Indians who truly wishes Pakistan well, who have Pakistani friends, who would like to visit Pakistan for tourism etc. Please look for ways how liberal Pakistanis can tap this resource pool for your struggle … Wishing all Pakistanis a happy, healthy & prosperous new year.


  • TAKhan
    Jan 2, 2015 - 4:45PM

    @wonderer: in my humble opinion these things are not ordained by Allah the Almighty as you claim. Neither are wars ordained by Allah. Unfortunately, what you attribute to Allah is only attributable to humans..


  • wonderer
    Jan 2, 2015 - 6:43PM


    I am humbled, dear Sir. You are absolutely right.

    I did not put down correctly in words what I actually wanted to say. My fault.

    What I should have written is:

    “certainly sanctioned by almighty Allah” or “certainly the will of almighty Allah”

    I hope you approve.


  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 2, 2015 - 6:44PM

    Dear Sam,
    Well written rational submission. one of the few contributors not writing about monsters and killing people.


  • K B Kale
    Jan 2, 2015 - 9:31PM

    Pakistani people should create a situation that enables the democratically elected government to order the Army to the barracks and stay there till it is called to help. The democratically elected government may look weak, but best part of such a government is that it can be changed every four or five years. Dictatorships don’t go away on their own. They end with big events like assassinations or provoked riots!


  • Rex Minor
    Jan 2, 2015 - 10:50PM

    Closure will only come when this Taliban menace is wiped off the face of the region and the world.?
    They cannot be defeated but should be wiped off, says the retired Major? Not even Plotin considered it.

    Rex Minor


  • Proust
    Jan 3, 2015 - 4:30AM

    don’t forget most of them are psychos and in case of IS, every other individual is a newly converted Muslim. Something strange is going on.


  • Sexton Blake
    Jan 3, 2015 - 8:45AM

    It is interesting that the Major can explain in exquisite detail how the children of Peshawar were brutally killed. This has been routine stuff for the last 13 years in Afghanistan and outlying Pakistan by US/EU forces. This includes rape of women and children, throwing grenade into children’s bedrooms, blowing them up into little pieces, drones firing rockets into wedding parties, just to to name a few of the ongoing, never ending atrocities of Western inspired brutality stretching from Africa through the Middle-East to the Sub-continent. I have been loath to require that ET print these type of monstrous, diabolical activities, but in view of the Major’s presentation I have reluctantly decided to do so. It would almost appear that the Western powers have embarked on a plan to antagonize various groups with a view to introducing non-democratic martial law around the planet. Obviously, Pakistan has been picked as the scapegoat to introduce a dreadful justice system. If it works the West will pick up on it.


  • Parvez
    Jan 3, 2015 - 2:19PM

    Third ( short ) attempt at a comment….Closure will come when those who tacitly or openly support the terrorist OR religious extremist thinking, ARE EXPOSED and dealt with.
    Even today we have two prominent cases in the media and on social network……that are begging to be addressed……and NOTHING IS BEING DONE ABOUT THEM.
    ( ET : I hope you print this because I’ve been as vague as I can possibly be )


  • Ali Ahmed
    Jan 5, 2015 - 9:08PM

    The blood lust that has gripped Pakistanis is scary. In our haste for revenge, we have to be careful not to estoop to the low level of those that think killing civilians is acceptable. Pakistanis should have come out united and angry when the first school was attacked in the 2006 Chengai airstrikes, where over 80 children were killed by airstrikes. Extremism will only breed more extremism.


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