This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pakistan's Frankenstein

"I saw a bullet hit him. I saw two militants were firing. I ran inside and then managed to flee by jumping over the back wall."
Bacha Khan University student

"We saw the professor standing there with a gun in his hand. He told us to rush back to our rooms and do not open the door for anyone."
"When the firing stopped, after a while, we came down and saw the professor dead, lying on the ground with the same gun in his hand."
Shahid Malik, 22, geology student

"Nobody in this world could define what kind of bravery that was. In my mind, that teacher and student emerged as the true winners of this battle."
Mohammad Shabeer, student

"I locked myself in a washroom. I jumped out when I saw one of the attackers coming toward me and shooting straight ahead of him."
Mohammad Ishtiaq, botany teacher

"I saw two terrorists standing on the roof ... They were shouting Allahu Akhbar. After that, firing started and I and my friends started running. There were people screaming. We were terrified."
Basit Khan, computer science student
A rescue worker guides students, after they were rescued in a militant attack at Bacha Khan University, in Charsadda, Pakistan, January 20, 2016. Reuters/Fayaz Aziz
Just over a scant year ago terrorists slaughtered 150 students and teachers at a school in northwestern Pakistan. Is was then that authorities began giving weapons training to teachers, and armed them. It was a controversial move among parents and academic officials. If it hadn't been for the fact that assistant chemistry professor, 27-year-old Syed Hamid Husain, had a gun, had been trained in its use, felt responsible for the security and safety of students not much younger than himself, there would have been more dead than the 20 who perished on Wednesday in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The attack began just after the university opened for classes in Charsadda about 35 kilometres outside Peshawa. The attackers had entered the compound housing the university, climbing over back walls and there shooting a security guard, then making their way to the male students' dormitories and the administration building. The teacher, Syed Husain, picked up his weapon, a pistol to fire at two of the attackers closing in on a classroom.

A teacher (L) walks with a pair of crutches following her rescue after a group of militants stormed the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan, January 20, 2016.   Reuters/Fayaz Aziz
The terrorists, armed with assault rifles quickly outmatched the teacher and he was killed. He had managed, however, to divert the attackers long enough for many of the students to make good their escape. He was not the only one who fought back. Another student who happened to be armed as a result of threats against himself and his family, used his weapon as well in the battle against the Taliban attackers, and he too was killed.

Many of the students were shot in the head execution style, according to eyewitnesses.

When police and soldiers responded, rushing into the campus the attackers shot at the troops. Several explosions were heard coming from the area of the university. It can be amazing what trained, armed and motivated attackers, even in seemingly insignificant numbers such as the four that attacked the university, can accomplish in their zeal to destroy and to terrorize, earning themselves a place in the pantheon of Islamist martyrdom.

As it happened, the very same Taliban leader, Khalifa Umar Mansoor, who had engineered the Peshawar school attack where 150 lost their lives, was responsible for this one in Charsada as well. "This is a message to the Pakistani army and civilian leadership, who have executed 130 mujahedeen, our people. We will carry out more attacks to take revenge on them" was the warning from the Pakistani Taliban regional group who noted "We have sent four suicide attackers and they have killed dozens of people."
Medical officers attend to people injured in a militant attack at Bacha Khan University, at a hospital in Charsadda, northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan in this still image taken from a video January 20, 2016.
Reuters/Reuters TV

In the annals of creating Frankensteins, brutally surreal composite beasts who later turn against their masters, it should be remembered that Pakistan aided and assisted the Afghan Taliban to wreak their horrors in that country. Pakistan gave the Afghan Taliban haven when they were pursued by NATO groups. And they gave haven as well to the guests of the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda found the accommodating Pakistani intelligence useful in shielding them from pursuit.

And it was in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had established a family compound, in throwing distance of a Pakistani military officers' compound. Since the government of Pakistan began cracking down on its tribal Islamist groups living outside government civil administration and military reach under their own Sharia fundamentalist law, they have had to cope with the emergence of a violently hostile Pakistani Taliban.

Pakistan's 'war on terror' was never really what they claimed it to be. The physician who was a neighbour of the bin Laden compound and who had collaborated with American intelligence in their effort to ascertain the true identity of those who lived in the compound suspected to be a secure hideaway for Osama bin Laden, was arrested and charged with treason for his part in aiding the CIA, determined to bring him to justice as the architect of 9/11.

The pity is that it is not the government that is suffering loss of life, but young and vulnerable Pakistani students whose university educations will help the country establish a more politically and socially enlightened future; that is the hope, in any event. That Pakistan is essentially a fundamentalist  Islamist society as well as one that has a nuclear arsenal, is of no comfort whatever.

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