Pakistani troops backed by missile-firing helicopters launched their deadliest-ever attack against suspected militants, killing 80 people and destroying a purported al-Qaeda-linked madrasa. Probably Pervez Musharraf is hard pressed to convince the world in general and the US in particular of his anti – terror stance by staging an onslaught on the a madrasa which was reportedly a shelter for terrorists.

Problems, however, begin when local people in Chingai village, near Bajur’s main town of Khar staged angry protests against what they considered was an ill – adviced action by the Pakistan military to appease the US. Anti – government emotions ran high as locals insisted that it was not the terrorists but innocent civilians, mostly young students, who fell victim to the missile strike. Probably, such a strike was needed to bolster the high octane politics of Musharraf aimed at establishing his legitimacy in the eyes of the West. He wants to be portrayed not as  a military usurper who ousted a democratic government and has long been associated with harbouring terrorists before it became an international issue, but as a responsible partner in the anti – terror drive of the US.

So far so good. But while the Pakistan government claims that the madrassa was used as a front to train militants and the attack was launched after those in charge of the building refused warnings by the military during the past few weeks to close it down, the thousands of enraged locals who attended three mass funerals held one after the other in a field near the madrassa shouted slogans “long live Islam!”. The blast leveled the building, tearing mattresses and scattering Islamic books, including copies of the Quran. The villagers collected mutilated remains of human flesh and blood from among rubbles in an effort to reconstruct the bodies of their loved ones before the burial.

The question here is can terror be an answer to terror? Is terror and violence by government, considered more legitimate than those by terrorirsts going to make the world a better place to live in? Are military actions against civilians of a state by its own military not fatal to the legitimacy of any government? Is this missile attack a solution to a problem or a further complication of an existing problem without any solution in sight? Probably such attacks are only going to foment more hatred and anger and give birth to more terrorists than they can eliminate.

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