The beheading of seven Pakistani soldiers, who had been taken captive and taken to Afghanistan by the raiding Afghan Taliban on Sunday night, is a singularly cruel act that calls for severe condemnation by all exponents of human rights. To recall the incident of the attack: as a sizeable force of well armed militants crossed from Afghanistan’s Kunar province into Pakistan’s Dir, it took our contingent patrolling the area unawares. The ensuing fight claimed the lives of 14 terrorists and six of our soldiers. Besides, 11 of our servicemen had gone missing and now with the news of seven of them having met a tragic fate, four still remain unaccounted for. However, another report emanating from Afghanistan has caused more anguish to the people of Pakistan. It suggests that 17 Pakistan security personnel and two citizens have been killed whose dead bodies are in possession of the Pakistani Taliban, as they themselves have claimed. The Afghan Chargé d’Affaires was called to Foreign Office on Monday and a strong protest was lodged for the absolute failure of Afghan patrol to stop such an attack being launched from their soil onto ours. A similar demarche was made with the Nato forces, responsible for patrolling the area. The protest charged them with failing to eliminate safe havens of militants in Afghanistan, who have been periodically launching raids into Pakistan. On Monday as well, several rockets fired from across the border landed in Lower Dir, though without causing any casualty.

In such a situation, Pakistan is right to wonder whether President Karzai’s government, which is inept at best, is at all interested or capable of exercising control over anything outside its cabinet room walls. Indeed one also wonders how long Pakistan must continue to bear the disadvantage of being neighbour to war-torn Afghanistan, what sort of arrangements the US will leave behind once it leaves and how to contain the Pakistani Taliban who have not just provided assistance to the Afghan Taliban, but are also guilty of direct and deliberate violence against Pakistani citizens.