Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan are targeting children of the elite

Tuesday's attack on a military-run school in Peshawar is Pakistan's bloodiest terror incident in several years. Last week saw a similar attack on a much smaller scale in Kabul.  

Mohammad Sajjad/AP
A plainclothes security officer escorts students evacuated from a school as Taliban fighters attack another school nearby, killing more than 100 people, mostly children, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014.

In two particularly shocking attacks in less than a week, Taliban factions have attacked school children in order to try to undermine the powerbrokers in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The attacks come just days after Pakistani education champion Malala Yusafzai received her Nobel Peace Prize, and some commentators have suggested the Taliban are making an anti-Malala statement. However, analysts would be wise to leave Malala out of this. That’s not the fight at hand: These attacks in Kabul and Peshawar targeted the children of the powerful, not poor girls defying community strictures.

In Tuesday’s attack in Peshawar, the target was the Pakistani military, which almost exclusively sets the nation’s security and foreign policies. The military is a state unto itself, and its members’ children are served by a separate school system that tends to be better run and equipped than civilian schools, particularly in scruffy outposts like PeshawarIt was one of these [Army] schools that militants attacked, killing at least 132 students and nine staff. Many of the school's teachers and students are the wives and children of officers with military housing adjacent to the school.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan last Thursday, a teen-aged suicide bomber blew himself up at a French high school musical performance in Kabul, killing one German and unsettling the community of Afghans and foreigners who are trying to shore up Afghanistan’s shaky government. Ten Afghans were also wounded in the attack at a French cultural center.

In the days to come, talk will turn to the use of proxies in the conflict still tearing through the Pashtun regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the US has waged war since 2001 in a bid to degrade the Taliban and Al Qaeda’s core leadership. In the case of the latter, the campaign has scored notable victories. But the Taliban is another story. 

 The attack in Kabul was claimed by the Afghan Taliban, a group that has received support from the Pakistani intelligence services and still enjoys some popular Pakistani support as the “good Taliban,” as opposed to the "bad Taliban" who presumably attacked the school in Peshawar. A Pakistan Taliban spokesman claimed that Tuesday's attack was revenge for Army strikes against its members and their families in the tribal belt. 

If today's attack spurs a debate in Pakistan about militant proxies, defenders of the security establishment can be relied on to trot out accusations that Kabul is providing havens for the Pakistani Taliban. It may also be put about that the Afghan government is a proxy of Washington or New Delhi. 

But today, it’s worth dwelling on the fact that all these Taliban groups are cowardly using children as a proxy for fighting their enemies on the battlefield. That is a proxy war that most of humanity can agree needs to end. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan are targeting children of the elite
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today