Mixed reaction in India over Pakistan school massacre

While Modi expresses condolences, media and Indians say Pakistan’s nurturing of terrorist groups led to the Peshawar massacre by the Taliban.
Indian schoolchildren rally yesterday against the Taliban’s massacre of 148 people at an army-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday. EPA
Indian schoolchildren rally yesterday against the Taliban’s massacre of 148 people at an army-run school in Peshawar on Tuesday. EPA

NEW DELHI // India’s government expressed sorrow and solidarity with Pakistan over the Taliban’s massacre of 148 people at a school this week, but there have also been claims that Pakistan brought the tragedy upon itself.

These opinions grew more strident on Thursday, after former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf as well as Hafiz Saeed, founder of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, accused India of organising the attack.

Soon after the school attack in Peshawar on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the lead in extending India’s sympathies to Pakistan. Late that night, Mr Modi spoke to Nawaz Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, to offer his “deepest condolences”.

“India stands firmly with Pakistan in fight against terror,” Mr Modi said on Twitter. “Told PM Sharif we are ready to provide all assistance during this hour of grief.”

At the urging of Mr Modi’s government, schools and colleges across India observed two minutes of silence on Wednesday to mourn the victims of the Peshawar attack, among them 132 children.

That same day, India’s parliament observed a minute of silence before adopting a resolution expressing “heartfelt condolences” to “the parliament, government, the people of Pakistan, the bereaved families and the injured”.

In Mumbai and New Delhi, citizens assembled for candlelight vigils on Tuesday and Wednesday night. On Twitter, the hashtag #IndiaWithPakistan began to trend rapidly on Tuesday, with users attaching it to their tweets of sympathy. As of Thursday afternoon, the hashtag had been used more than 82,000 times.

“#IndiaWithPakistan The murder of children cannot be glossed over,” Nirupama Rao, a retired Indian diplomat, said on Twitter on Thursday. “Children are without borders. The bell tolls for all of us.”

R Varun, a Bengaluru-based lawyer, said the massacre illustrated the difficulty Pakistan’s government has had in dealing with the Taliban.

“While there have been kneejerk proclamations about drawing a line in the sand, it’s not a group that popped up yesterday,” Mr Varun told The National . “But one can hope that an attack of this magnitude will finally result in zero tolerance, to start with, which may eventually lead to some semblance of a solution.”

But even on the day of the attack, India’s social media was studded with harsher sentiments.

“India can never share Pakistan’s grief & it doesn’t,” a user named Anirban Dasgupta said on Twitter. “Pakistan got what it deserved. Their freedom fighters have come home,” he added, referring to Pakistan-based militants in the disputed Kashmir region.

Editorials in Indian mainstream media commiserated with the victims of the Taliban attack, but also pointed out that Pakistan’s policies of nurturing terrorist groups had reaped these results.

“Only those with blinkers would believe that there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Taliban, that it is all right for the Lashkar-e-Taiba to run free and recruit for jihadi missions in India but it is unacceptable for Taliban to strike inside Pakistan,” The Hindu newspaper said on Thursday.

Criticism of Pakistan’s establishment mounted after Mr Musharraf told the CNN IBN television channel on Wednesday that he suspected the Indian intelligence agency Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) of planning the attack.

Also on Wednesday, Mr Saeed, of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, accused India – and Mr Modi in particular – of being behind the Peshawar attack, and promised reprisals on Indian soil.

Mr Saeed is wanted by India for planning the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, which killed 164 people. Since 2012, the United States has had a $10 million (Dh36.7m) bounty upon his head.


Published: December 18, 2014 04:00 AM


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