Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders

Pakistan's civilian leaders are terrified of the country's real power brokers

Pakistan massacre
(Image credit: (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi))

If there is anything approaching a silver lining in the horrific slaughter of 132 school children in Peshawar, it is the united outrage in Pakistan against Tehreek-e-Taliban (or the Pakistan Taliban) that perpetrated this gruesome attack. Virtually every newspaper in the country — left, right, and center — demanded that the Pakistani establishment declare a "zero tolerance" policy toward all Islamist terrorists, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Pakistan's largest English-language newspaper, The News, asked Pakistanis to think about what support for Islamist extremists has done to them. "Nothing matters more than ending the militancy and brutality it has brought to our society." Dawn, Pakistan's oldest newspaper, editorialized that military and counterterrorism operations will amount to "little more than firefighting unless there's an attempt to attack the ideological roots of militancy and societal reach of militants." The liberal Daily Times demanded a "chapter-turning decision" that brings a "final end to this terror."

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Shikha Dalmia

Shikha Dalmia is a visiting fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University studying the rise of populist authoritarianism.  She is a Bloomberg View contributor and a columnist at the Washington Examiner, and she also writes regularly for The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous other publications. She considers herself to be a progressive libertarian and an agnostic with Buddhist longings and a Sufi soul.