March 30, 2009Foreign Affairsjihadismilitary-jihadi complexPakistanSecurityTalibanisationterrorism

Lahore on the road to Peshawar

…and Peshawar on the road to Swat

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

What is incongruent about the terrorist attack at the Manawan police training school outside Lahore is that, in the end, some of the attackers surrendered to the special forces who stormed the facility. Generally, the terrorists who attack targets in Pakistan do not leave a calling card, allowing conspiratorial fingers to be pointed at the pointer’s favourite bogey. In the Pakistani context, not claiming patrimony enhances the psychological aspect of the attack—and terrorism is mainly about the psychological aspect. (This is unlike in India, where they release manifestos and call television stations to claim that it was they, and not Pakistani terrorists, who did it.)

It remains to be seen who the terrorists were and why they allowed themselves to be taken alive. Even after the manner in which terrorists escaped unhurt after the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers, it was unlikely that the attackers could have expected to make it out of the Manawan complex alive.

The choice of a hard’ target like a police academy is understandable when you place it in the context of Pakistan’s Talibanisation. In this phase of the process, the goal is to demonstrate that the apparatus of the state is not only unable to guarantee public security, but is also unable to protect itself. As the New York Times reports, one of the survivors said the attack had destroyed his ambition to be a police officer. I will not join the police, not after this,” he said. I love my life.”” Peshawar is a little further down this road, and Swat is close to the end of it. One attack shouldn’t lead us to this conclusion, you say? Well, it’s the second this month, actually.

Pakistani security forces did a decent job in neutralising the terrorists. If this results in the Pakistani people understanding that the real threat is from the jihadi organisations, then there is some hope yet. Don’t count on it, though, because if it involves the military-jihadi complex, it is unlikely that the real culprits will be identified, less punished.

Tailpiece: Many of you caught the Acorns coverage of the event on Twitter. For those who didn’t, please make a note to keep abreast of the latest at

If you would like to share or comment on this, please discuss it on my GitHub Previous
Unjust conquests
Why do Europeans take a dim view of India’s international role?

© Copyright 2003-2024. Nitin Pai. All Rights Reserved.