The Pakistani Taliban’s brutal attack on the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Tuesday killed more than 140 people — 132 of them children — and stunned the country.
It turned public opinion roundly against Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack as retribution for military operations against the group.
As parents in Peshawar bury their children, the nation is taking action. Pakistani jets and ground forces killed up to 70 militants in the northwestern tribal areas, the army said on Friday.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose government has worked with some armed groups under the TTP umbrella, has vowed that there will be no distinction between “good Taliban and bad Taliban” and that the deaths of the children will not have been in vain. “We ... have resolved to continue the war against terrorism till the last terrorist is eliminated,” he said.
He has lifted the ban on the death penalty for terrorism cases.
The attack, the worst in Pakistan’s history, highlights the internal and external challenges facing the country.
Relations with its nuclear neighbor India remain tense. Those tensions only grew when a Pakistani anti-terrorism court granted bail to Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, the accused mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks. With India’s criticism over the bail decision and the timing — Friday — Pakistan reversed course and rearrested him.
As the U.S. prepares to leave neighboring Afghanistan, Islamabad is reaching out to Kabul for help in cracking down on the Pakistani Taliban, which, although separate from the Afghan group, operates along the border with Afghanistan.
What will the U.S. withdrawal mean for Pakistan?
It has received billions of dollars in U.S. aid since the 9/11 attacks, all the while fending off U.S. criticism that it harbors militants and terrorists like Osama bin Laden, and Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who has long been believed to be living in Quetta, Pakistan, with the knowledge of Pakistan’s intelligence service.
As Pakistan copes with this tragedy, it’s unclear how willing the country is to eradicate violent groups that call Pakistan home.
Is the balancing act at the top of the Pakistani government, with elements of state security and the armed forces said to be sympathetic to the Taliban, finally over?
What's next for Pakistan, with the U.S. and NATO ending combat operations in Afghanistan and a popular new leader confidently strolling the international stage in India?
We consulted our on-air panel of experts for the Inside Story.