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CERAS statement on Peshawar massacre

18 December 2014

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Montreal 18 December 2014

CERAS (Centre sur l’asie du sud) condemns in unequivocal and categorical terms the murder of over 150 people, mostly children, in the attack on the school in Peshawar by the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, Pakistani Taliban, on Tuesday, 16th December. That a school should be targeted shows the moral bankruptcy of the Pakistani Taliban. And that other militant groups have chosen to condone this attack shows that they share this depraved logic.

CERAS sends its heartfelt condolences and extends its solidarity to all those families who have been affected by this terrible event, who have lost loved ones and beloved children.

This tragedy is the logical outcome of Pakistan’s view of militant groups as “strategic assets” to be used and abused by her intelligence services. CERAS therefore welcomes Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement that “We announce that there will be no differentiation between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban”. It is also recognition that the problem cannot be tackled and a solution found without the cooperation of Afghanistan, which would require the withdrawal of Pakistan’s implicit support for the Afghani Taliban. CERAS therefore welcomes Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s statement that “The time has arrived for Afghanistan and Pakistan to act together against terrorism and extremism with honesty and effectiveness.”

For Afghanistan and Pakistan to work together, cooperate and build mutual trust requires the immediate cessation of USA’s drone attacks on NWFP (Northwest Frontier Province) and Waziristan. There were at least 15 drone attacks this year, ostensibly targeting militants, but killing hundreds of civilians. These attacks undermine the legitimacy of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan and provide a fertile ground for Taliban recruiters.

Finally, this benighted region of the world has always attracted foreign interference – British, Russians and at this point in history, Americans — which it has vehemently resisted. If Afghanistan and Pakistan have to work successfully together to contain extremism, then other regional powers – China, India, and Iran – must not seek to establish spheres of influence in the wake of a retreating USA. It might then allow for a political solution to create conditions to marginalise all varieties of extremism and allow the fiercely independent people of this region to live in peace and with some modicum of autonomy.

CERAS would like to emphasise that military strategies do not yield solutions because violence inevitably breeds more violence. And equally importantly, it then reduces the space for a lasting negotiated political settlement.

As CERAS condoles all those affected by this terrible tragedy, it also hopes that Afghanistan and Pakistan are successful in cooperating with each other and peace returns to Waziristan and the NWFP; that from this charnel house something good might come – a sliver of silver lining from this awful tragedy.

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