Pakistan school attack: PM Nawaz Sharif vows to crush Taliban insurgents

A soldier stands guard inside the school that was attacked.

Delhi: As funerals began for the 148 victims of the Pakistani Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed to crush the insurgents and lifted a moratorium on the death penalty.

With Pakistan reeling from the attack that left 132 students dead, Mr Sharif said all political parties had agreed to draft within a week a national action plan to combat the Taliban, which would be acted on immediately.

"We announce that there will be no differentiation between 'good' and 'bad' Taliban and have resolved to continue the war against terrorism till the last terrorist is eliminated," he said.A mother with her son, who was injured in the attack.Opposition leader Imran Khan said: "We are all together.   Our differences aside, terrorism is a national issue. We are standing with the federal government."

The Taliban  threatened to follow Tuesday's murderous attack on the army-run school with more violence against the army and security forces.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), accused the government of killing Taliban fighters in prison and detaining their family members and demanded that the Pakistani army halt its offensive into North Waziristan. The TTP said on Wednesday it was forced to take the extreme step to target the school where children of army officers and soldiers were studying, adding unless demands were met it would be forced to target every institution affiliated with the army or security forces nationwide.Pakistani students light lamps for the victims of an attack by Taliban gunmen.

With the Pakistani military long accused of not being tough enough on the Taliban, senior figures quickly pointed the finger at Afghanistan, saying the Afghan government need to do more to crack down on the Taliban.

Pakistan's army chief General Raheel Sharif visited the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday to discuss efforts to crack down on the Taliban.

A Pakistani source said the army chief had asked the Afghans to help catch and hand over Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who is hiding in the mountains on the Afghan side of the frontier.Pakistani children at a vigil for the victims of the attack.

"It has been our longstanding demand," the senior military official said. "And if Afghanistan does not help us then we have other options, including the option of hot pursuit."

General Sharif  went to Kabul with "incontrovertible evidence" that the attack was masterminded in Afghanistan, the source said.

"For example, we have intercepted calls to the suicide bombers in the school, instructions given using Afghan cellphone SIMs."

One official from Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it was ironic that Afghanistan was now a sanctuary for terrorists.

"Australia sent how many troops to Afghanistan for how many years? All of it with the aim of preventing Afghanistan from becoming a sanctuary for terrorists," the official said. "Yet at the end of all that collective effort, that's exactly what Afghanistan has become, a sanctuary for terrorists, who have brought Pakistan to the brink of collapse."

People across Pakistan lit candles and staged vigils as parents bade final farewells to their children during mass funerals in and around Peshawar, the volatile city on the edge of northern Pakistan's lawless tribal belt where the massacre occurred.

Anger mixed with the grief as people looked to the authorities to act decisively.  At a vigil in the capital Islamabad, Fatimah Khan, 38, said she was devastated by the atrocity.

"I don't have words for my pain and anger," she said. "They slaughtered those children like animals."

Naba Mehdi, 16, who attends the army school in the nearby garrison city of Rawalpindi, had a message of defiance for the Taliban.

"We're not scared of you," she said. "We will still study and fight for our freedom. This is our war."

When asked what the government should do, her mother interrupted: "Hang them. Hang them all without mercy."

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