IN OTHER WORDS: Fanaticism

That there was no loss of life is perhaps the only redeeming feature of the Taliban’s attack on three schools in Peshawar on Monday. There were no casualties because there were no students. Maybe this was just a coincidence. Otherwise, given the Taliban frame of mind, the brutality that has characterised their movement and “mission”, they couldn’t have cared less whether the attacks killed any students.

Pakistan was not created by and for bigots. The men who dreamed of it and the men who gave practical shape to it were liberal in their philosophy and dedicated to what is one of Islam’s cardinal principles - tolerance. That such a country should be under attack from semi-literate bigots, some of them men without character and fighting as mercenaries for the highest bidder, is one of Pakistan’s tragedies. And that at one point they were dancing to the tune of Pakistan’s security services is clearly a nightmare for the government today.

The subcontinent has produced some great religious divines and scholars but none of them advocated war on innocent civilians to establish an Islamic

order. The Taliban cannot be crushed by force alone. Society and all its liberal sections should stand up to the militants and save Pakistan from becoming what Afghanistan was under the Taliban.