THE beheading of seven security men by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan must send shock waves across the nation and make all sane minds wonder why civil society has chosen to keep silent on such acts of barbarism. The security personnel were kidnapped on Thursday in Laddah, South Waziristan, and a TTP spokesman on Friday not only proclaimed the beheading, he also said the Taliban would display the severed heads to the media. This is not the first time that the Taliban have murdered their prisoners in utter violation of the fundamental principles of warfare. They have done so several times and invited the media to see and broadcast their perverted philosophy to the world. Shocking as all this is, a greater source of shame is the deafening silence which large sections of the political world, the media, the legal community and the ulema have maintained on actions where the enormity of the crime isn’t adequately conveyed by such terms as ‘war crimes’ or ‘human rights violations’.

The murder of the soldiers occurred in South Waziristan, which the army chief recently visited. In fact, photographs showed him being received by tribal elders. If the idea was to prove that the army has pacified South Waziristan, then the capture and murder of the soldiers belie this claim. Much remains to be done in Pakistan’s own interests, regardless of the country’s difference on tactics and strategy with Nato and Kabul. Similar atrocities in adjoining tribal areas show that the supply lines and organisational structure of the militants, whatever group they belong to, remain intact. The pity is that their cruelty and the threat they pose to the very fabric of our society seem to get lost in the din of Pakistan’s recurring political crises. The nation’s interest in the recent media and political controversies stands in stark contrast to its indifference to the religious extremism that is eating into Pakistan’s vitals. The media too has failed to adequately inform the nation about the Taliban’s savagery. This must change if the public is to recognise the harsh reality of militancy in the country.

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