Tags: MidPoint | Steven Emerson | Pakistan | Taliban

Terror Expert: School Massacre Could Unite Pakistan Against Taliban

By    |   Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 04:32 PM

The horrific attack on a Peshawar school filled with children of the country's military establishment could finally unite Pakistan's armed forces, intelligence apparatus, government and populace against the Taliban, who claimed credit for the massacre, terrorism expert Steven Emerson tells Newsmax TV.

It also provides the U.S. an opportunity to shore up relations with Pakistan and aid that embattled country's sporadic, ineffective efforts to rid itself of the Taliban, Emerson, executive director at the Investigative Project on Terrorism, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Thursday.

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While factions within Pakistan's military and intelligence operatives are known to back the Taliban, an attack that killed 148 people — most of them children — may drain away that support, said Emerson.

"This horrific massacre — and it's really just beyond the pale — may really unify the … intelligence and military services in dramatically revising their strategy, in terms of totally clamping down and destroying the Taliban in Pakistan," said Emerson.

Even in Pakistan, where hatred of the West and enmity with India are powerful forces that lead some to tacit alliances with terrorists, a devastating event like the school attack can provide clarity that cuts through the country's conflicting internal tribal, religious and political agendas, said Emerson.

But Emerson acknowledged that there is also "a long history … contrary to this logic," and that tolerance of the Taliban has survived past attacks on the Pakistani people — such as the deadly Karachi airport assault in June.

"We can only hope" for a sea change in attitude that trumps other hostilities, said Emerson.

"As you know, the resentment against the U.S. for killing [Osama] bin Laden in Abbottabad still has not gone down," he said.

Emerson said that ideally the school attack will prompt "a new strategy" toward the Taliban "which is comprehensive, sustained, irrevocable, and does not let up."

"Because in the past we have seen episodic efforts to wipe out the Taliban" by the Pakistani government, "but it's been episodic and we know that ISI [Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency] has been partially supportive of the Taliban. There's been safe haven [for the Taliban] in Pakistan."

The Taliban have said the school attack was retaliation for recent military and bombing campaigns carried out by Pakistani forces — an effort that hasn't produced clear-cut victories, said Emerson, but is nevertheless "extraordinary" and "unprecedented" for how sustained it has been compared to previous anti-Taliban campaigns.

"So the reality is there already is a precedent for the Pakistani military to crack down," he said. "The only question is whether it's going to be comprehensive, whether they're going to get the support of the ISI, and whether in fact it's going to be effective. Because so far it really has not been that effective."

The U.S. can help in that regard, said Emerson, by offering more military and intelligence support to a Pakistani government that may now be more willing to accept it. 

"Covert American boots," he added. "These would be intelligence people guiding the Pakistan military. It could not be known."

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The horrific attack on a Peshawar school filled with children of the country's military establishment could finally unite Pakistan against the Taliban, who claimed credit for the massacre, terrorism expert Steven Emerson tells Newsmax TV.
Steven Emerson, Pakistan, Taliban
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2014-32-18
Thursday, 18 Dec 2014 04:32 PM
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