The Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan in a video issued as proof, claimed responsibility for the beheading of 12 Pakistani soldiers thought to have gone missing following a surprise raid by the supporters of Maulana Fazlullah.  Mullah Fazlullah made the Kunar province of Afghanistan his base to launch attacks across the border on Pakistan, after he managed to escape during the army operation in Swat, his ancestral abode. Apparently, it was a well-organised raid carried out on Tuesday by a fairly large contingent of the terrorists, who took control of the Batwar village of the Bajaur district and the clashes that ensued with our armed forces found these security personnel missing in the aftermath. The TTP spokesman Sirajud Din who made the disclosure and released the video has claimed, “...12 of them as you see have been beheaded.....and more heads are on the way.”

The war in which Pakistan has sacrificed thousands, has claimed twelve more. Let there be no doubt in anyone’s mind, the people of Pakistan will stand by their troops in a time of war. And whether we chose it or not, whether we are forced into it or are willing accomplices, this is a time of war. The Army Chief’s words from the speech on 14 August bear repeating, “... No state can afford a parallel system or a militant force…the fight against extremism and terrorism is our own war and we are right in fighting it. Let there be no doubt about it, otherwise we’ll be divided and taken towards civil war.”

In our battle to reclaim sovereignty and control of our territories, drones do more harm than good; allowing further emotional recruitment and facilitating turning the narrative against the Pakistani state as a helpless pawn manipulated by the US.  The impunity with which the fugitive cleric Fazlullah operates in Kunar is a further concern.

However, ultimately this act of aggression is not the first announcement of open war against the state of Pakistan by the Tehreek-e-Taliban. If they wish to negotiate, the condition must be to first lay down arms. Our thoughts and prayers are with all our brave soliders and their families. May they be kept safe from harm and may they succeed in their aim to restore peace.