Peshawar school massacre

Pakistani women and an Indo-Pakistan peace deal can end terrorism

Get the moms on board and then pray …;

As a quick default response to the massacre of 132 schoolchildren and 13 adults in Peshawar, Pakistan on 16 December 2014, the Pakistan government has lifted the moratorium on convicts awaiting the death penalty. As retribution, it implies that these convicts had been the puppet masters of the atrocity. As dissuasion, it infers that they are in league with militants: by definition, convicted criminals are not enemy combatants and come under the protection of the penal code. The measure will allow the next attack to be prepared while it makes good press, and then dutifully slides under the carpet to resurface in different garb when required. In the meantime, the Pakistan army is steadily conducting its operation in North Waziristan.

Pakistan’s professional army recruits from hereditary Kshatriya warrior clans converted to Islam. The combination results in its high combat performance. But in this case the army is out of its depth. Like the US Navy SEALS who got Bin Laden, the Pakistan Army needs precise addresses and secure transport. It apparently has neither, only a vague geographical sector where it advertised its arrival, like its American step-cousin, losing the element of surprise and allowing targets to move house.

If reports are to be believed, elements within Pakistan’s security establishment have these addresses, but need the occupants as their delivery system for asymmetric mischief with India over a hemorrhaging property dispute.

In the likelihood that the addresses are surrendered and adequate transport is available, the targets will be efficiently dealt with.

But that only postpones the problem.

The mothers, paternal aunts and paternal grandmothers embedded in the joint family system will then swing into action. The targets’ surviving sons will be reared as vengeance machines, and in another few years, regardless of right or wrong, will seek to avenge their fathers. They might repeat their fathers’ acts, or attack senior officers involved in the operation, or assassinate their children.

The generals know this.

So once the Pakistan government is through with this hanging business and mob blood lust abates, they should go after the addresses. The intelligence officers who have them (if they do), are neither former United States’ Cold War mercenaries nor corrupt. They are Pakistan Military Academy graduates imbued with professional integrity. They have been conducting their operations with the conviction that they are best serving their nation’s interest in this way. Be that as may, that is how it stands. So grabbing a few and water boarding them is another dead end.

First, these officers need to be convinced that surrendering addresses is in the highest interest of their nation— an indispensable success cog.

Second, they and their families will need to go into a witness protection program— a tall order for a country renowned for its level of corruption.

Third, and most difficult, is peace with India, which would deprive these officers and their younger protégés of any motive to make and nurture such contacts.

Parallel with this measure is the mobilization of women, crucial to long-term success.

Only other women can suborn the mothers, paternal aunts and paternal grandmothers of the targets from a tradition practiced for thousands of years. They call it badal— exchange, a two-syllable, short word for a process that is propelled by dynamics indefinable in western terms.

So, unless a concentrated action to get these wives, mothers and sisters to condemn their kin, reject this custom and decentralize the joint family system is not launched, finding and punishing the latest perpetrators will only postpone further massacres by a decade or so.

Pakistan’s hello jee fashion parade ladies now need to justify their university education and drawing room hai jee patriotism by organizing women’s study groups on this subject. Their husbands are decision makers. These women need to brainstorm the issue, refine their ideas, play devil’s advocate with each other, and present the distilled results to their husbands with stern ultimata.

Mothers of victims and potential victims can convince other women that their husbands, sons and brothers were in the wrong.

Then it will end.