Peshawar’s school massacre: What’s next

What happened in Peshawar, when dozens of children were killed, is for the Westerns observers definitely horrible even by the Taliban’s gruesome standards. But is it something what could have an impact also on Pakistani society, would you expect some backlash against the militants? Read few comments.

Frederic GrareSenior Associate, Director of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s South Asia Program

What we have seen today is not gruesome only for Western observers, it is so primarily for the Pakistani society at large. This is clearly payback for the operations in Waziristan and the TTP has apparently said just that much, saying they wanted to make the military suffer their pain.

I don’t think it will create a backlash against the militants. There was no sympathy for them before, there is none now. What it may do is restore some sympathy for the military, at least temporarily.

Anita Weiss, Professor and Head, Department of International Studies, University of Oregon

The dust is still settling in Peshawar, and a three-day mourning period has been declared throughout the country. I can only think that the militants targeted that school thinking that all the students there were children of military officers — which is absolutely untrue, but the TTP is known for having illiterate members who don’t know any better.

Imran Khan had said he was going to shut down Lahore on December 18, but now that’s been cancelled. Siraj ul-Haq, leader of the JI, has condemned the attack. Perhaps the silver lining in this is that all factions are condemning it and are saying that the state must intervene and militancy must be ended. But of course, all this is being said a few hours after the attack occurred. Let’s see what they say in a few days.

Shaun GregoryProfessor of International Security in the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University

a) this attack on the children of military staff and relatives is clearly intent on punishing the Pakistan military for their Zarb-e-Azb operations in North Waziristan. It is the expected “blowback” therefore, albeit of a very brutal kind;

b) the Army and the Pakistani public will demand a strong response and even politicians such as Imran Khan and the PTI  who have been sympathetic towards the Taliban are appalled by this;

c) I anticipate significant escalation of assaults by the Pakistan Army (airstrikes etc) to demonstrate that they are taking action to retaliate, however I do not anticipate that this will change the fundamentals of Pakistani security policy or that the Pakistan Army/ISI will end their support for some militant groups (Afghan Taliban, LeT, etc);

d) it is not yet clear which particular group or groups have done this attack on the school and precisely which group or groups it turns out to be will shape the precise nature of the Pakistan Army/ISI response.

Marvin WeinbaumProfessor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Scholar-in-Residence, Middle East Institute

I fully anticipate that the attack will have the effect of military’s stepping up its campaign against the militants. What makes this so different aside from the numbers involved is that many of the children were no doubt those of military personnel. The current army chief, General Sharif, is in any case more resolved than was his predecessor to deal firmly with the extremists.

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