As the death toll rose to 148 from Tuesday’s massacre at a military-funded high school, the crisis sent Pakistani leaders rushing to Kabul on Wednesday to make a rare request for Afghanistan’s help in fighting Islamist terrorism on both sides of their volatile border.
After years of mistrust and enmity, it was a moment of truth for the neighboring Muslim countries, both facing new bouts of terrorism that threaten to reinforce their mutual suspicions and ignite more violence as Western forces finalize their withdrawal from Afghanistan. Yet the moment also offered an opportunity to replace finger pointing with something closer to common cause.
In Pakistan, officials hinted that the Taliban militants who attacked the school in the border city of Peshawar had been based in the Afghan tribal belt. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on a visit to Peshawar, vowed to pursue militants beyond Pakistan’s borders and said his government “will not rest until every terrorist is killed.”
The prime minister, facing public pressure to take tough measures after the school attack, also approved a committee’s decision to lift Pakistan’s 2008 moratorium on the death penalty, officials said. Pakistan has about 9,000 prisoners on death row, including about 900 convicted on terror-related charges.