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The Best Pictures of the Week: Dec. 12 – Dec. 19

TIME selects the best pictures of the week

From the restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba to the Pakistan school massacre and the Sydney cafe siege to Russia’s economic crisis, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

 

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: December 18

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. By breaking with the Cuba lobby, President Obama could massively disrupt American interest group politics.

By Noah Feldman in the Salt Lake Tribune

2. Sony can take a stand against the hackers whose threats have forced them to pull “The Interview” by giving the movie away online.

By Bryan Bishop in the Verge

3. Could the West help save the ruble without throwing Putin a lifeline?

By Juliet Johnson in the Globe and Mail

4. By tracking rising global temperatures, satellites can predict cholera risk.

By Dr. Kiki Sanford in BoingBoing

5. After the Taliban’s shocking attack on a school in Pakistan, the military there understands “the Frankenstein that it helped to create must now be killed.”

By Peter Bergen at CNN

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME foreign affairs

Pakistan’s ‘War on Terror’ Only Encourages Jihadists

Funeral ceremony for the victims of the school attack in Pakistan
Pakistani people carry the coffins of the victims of a Taliban attack at an army-run school, prior to their burial, in Peshawar, Pakistan on December 17, 2014. Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

Maajid Nawaz is Co-Founder and Chairman of Quilliam, a think tank focusing on matters of integration, citizenship & identity, religious freedom, extremism, and immigration.

The attack on a school in Peshawar was an act of revenge for the state's militarism

International media coverage of the school attack that shook Peshawar this week, carried out at the hands of the Pakistani terrorist group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has been, for all intents and purposes, commendable. The news has resisted the urge to breeze over this abhorrent event as “just another terrorist attack in South Asia,” nor has it spared the world from the horrors of what took place that day. The barbarism, the sheer brutality, of those seven TTP terrorists has been well reflected.

However, as a British Muslim of Pakistani origin who has a deep connection to my ancestral roots, there’s a missed opportunity. Without shedding light on the ideology and context of these atrocious events, it is impossible for the rest of the world to begin to truly understand the unique cocktail of instability that is Pakistan today.

Let us address ideology first. It is a bitter pill to swallow, but the fact of the matter is that the seven terrorists responsible for killing more than 100 children on Tuesday were not madmen. They were not sociopaths, or psychotic. What they were is a victim of the most rejectionist, poisonous, and virulent of extremist ideologies – jihadism – something that they were likely exposed to from a young age.

Each child they shot and killed, these terrorists believed, was a righteous death. And, as they prepared to push to the button that would blow them up, they will have done so thinking that paradise was where they were headed.

At this heart of their unwavering belief that they were “doing the right thing” is the ideology that consumed them. That will not come as a surprise. However, what probably will is the fact that this same ideology is not as alien as we in the West might like to think it is. Similarly, nor is the ideology of a very different jihadist group, Islamic State, so distant.

What these two groups share is a desire to implement their form of Islam over society through the establishment of what they deem to be a “caliphate” that implements their interpretation of sharia as law. This desire is something that all Islamists share – whether they are “non-violent” or “terrorist,” a motivation that permeates across all Islamist movements. It is something that will always present a problem as once someone is convinced that they have a divine right to assert their belief system over that of others, they must exclude basic rights like the fundamental human freedoms of religion and speech. This is why undemocratic ideological beliefs need to be challenged head on, no matter which religion they claim to speak on behalf of.

But what could make such an appalling ideology alluring? There is no question that the TTP are one of the worst manifestations of violent fundamentalism. No one doubts the fact that they are ruthless and merciless, the perpetrators of countless unforgivable killings. However, this most recent attack did not just spring from their irrational hatred and rejectionism, nor was it driven simply by ideology.

Rather, what caused it, as much as anything else, was a desire for vengeance. Ideology just rendered the crimes permissible.

The TTP has made no effort to hide the fact that the massacre was, in a sense, blowback from the Pakistani Armed Forces’ military operations in the tribal lands. Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which translates roughly as “Sharp and Cutting Strike,” began over the summer around the same time as the Israeli operation in Gaza. While there was massive international outcry over Gaza, though, there was a near media blackout on Pakistan.

Therefore, the military was able to act with relative impunity, a level of ruthlessness even greater than Israel and more in line with the Sri Lankan state’s operation to wipe out the Tamil Tigers.

That operation was not the first of its kind. Indeed, it is symptomatic of a more deeply rooted problem for the Pakistani state, its militarism. Coupled with a dreadful human rights culture, the Pakistani establishment’s almost exclusively military approach to countering the violent extremist forces that run riot in the country renders the jihadist ideology embodied in groups like the TTP all the more persuasive and increasingly pervasive.

As the “War on Terror” has so clearly shown, what with the abject anarchy that is rocking the countries in which the U.S. sought to wage this “war,” a military approach will not work on its own. On the contrary, it will only make things worse. Bombs and bullets are not enough; Pakistan, just like most other countries too, is in need of complimentary, civil society-led, anti-extremism measures that champion the protection of human rights of all citizens. This means crossing a bridge that there is very little appetite for right now, and entertaining some uncomfortable conversations about the role of religion in public life.

It is not sufficient for us to merely condemn the TTP’s school attack and consider ourselves somehow absolved. No one deserves thanks for condemning the brutal murder of children. How low could our expectations have possibly sunk? Moderation is entirely relative to where others around us are on a scale. If the entire scale is so skewered towards the Islamist ideology that the Afghan Taliban appear “moderate” in their condemnation of this attack, or al-Qaeda appear “moderate” in comparison to ISIL in Syria, then we are a long way off from peace.

How could such a situation emerge where the “moderate” alternatives to such brutality seem only to be other jihadist terrorists? The entire framework of debate for those populations surrounded by jihadist groups is currently occurring within the Islamist context. Without a long-term approach to uprooting the Islamist ideology itself, through civil society activism, there’s not much hope of stemming such atrocities. At the same time, the Pakistani government must recognize that it cannot, and must not, simply bomb its way out of this quagmire.

Maajid Nawaz is Co-Founder and Chairman of Quilliam, a think tank focusing on matters of integration, citizenship & identity, religious freedom, extremism, and immigration. His work is informed by years spent in his youth as a leadership member of a global Islamist group, and his gradual transformation towards liberal democratic values. His autobiographical account of his life story, Radical, has been released in the UK and U.S.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Pakistan

Pakistani Court Grants Bail To Mumbai Terror Attack Suspect

Zaki-ur-Rehman, Syed Salahuddin
An alleged plotter of Mumbai attacks Pakistani Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, center, prays with Syed Salahuddin, right, chief of Hezbul Mujahideen or United Jehad Council, at a rally on June 28, 2008 in Muzaffarabad, capital of Pakistani Kashmir. Roshan Mughal—AP

The move was likely to infuriate India, days after a brief show of solidarity in the wake of the deadly school attack in Peshawar.

Ties between India and Pakistan were set to further sour after a Pakistani court granted bail on Thursday to man allegedly behind the 2008 attack on Mumbai.

The suspect, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, was arrested in 2009 in Pakistan after the sole surviving gunman in the rampage that left 166 people dead identified him as the mastermind. On Thursday, his defense lawyer confirmed to Reuters that he was issued bail and would be out of prison by early next week.

The Mumbai attack, during which ten militants linked to the Pakistani group Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorized the city for three days, damaged relations between the two countries.

The move to grant bail comes days after a terror attack at a school in Peshawar prompted a brief reprieve in the country’s long-standing rivalry and united Pakistan against militants within its borders.

[Reuters]

TIME Pakistan

Peshawar Survivors and Bereaved Tell of the Massacre’s Horror

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN - DECEMBER 17: A view of the debris of the army-run school that was attacked by Taliban on Tuesday, in northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 17, 2014. Taliban attack on an army-run school in Pakistan on Tuesday has left at least 141 people dead, most of whom are students. (Photo by Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A view of the debris of the army-run school that was attacked by Taliban on Tuesday, in northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistan, on December 17, 2014. Anadolu Agency—2014 Anadolu Agency

"There were seven- and eight-year-olds who had been shot in the chest, face and head"

With the death toll from Peshawar school massacre rising to 148 — at least 132 of them children — residents of this strife-torn Pakistani city, and survivors, are struggling to come to terms with Tuesday’s horror.

Ibad, a Year 10 student at Peshawar’s Army Public School, said that he and his friend were attending first aid training in the school auditorium when five Taliban militants entered the hall and began firing indiscriminately. Ibad escaped severe injury, but his was struck in the leg by a bullet and saw the first aid trainer instantly killed in front of him. He also cradled his friend while his friend lay dying.

About 100 of the 150 children in the hall at the time were killed.

Sharukh Khan, a Year 10 student who was hit in the legs and back, was also in the hall when the gunmen entered.

“When they opened fire, our principal, Miss Tahira Qazi, asked them to shoot her instead of the kids,” he told TIME. “So they shot her. Then they threw flammable explosives on her body and torched her” he said, adding they were forced to watch.

On Wednesday, the school buildings were opened to local and international media, who were greeted by a horrific scene of dried blood and bullet casings. School bags and notebooks were poignantly strewn on the ground.

“Seven militants were killed during the operation; three blew themselves up inside the school building” said military spokesman Asim Bajwa.

Dr Zahir Shah was among the team providing emergency response at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital.

“The students who were rushed here mostly had bullet wounds,” he told TIME. “There were seven- and eight-year-olds who had been shot in the chest, face and head. Each one had around four or five bullet wounds.”

He mentioned that some families still were visiting local hospitals as they couldn’t find their children.

Syed Tahir Shah, a resident of the area surrounding Peshawar’s historic Cunningham Cock Tower, lost his son, who was a Year 6 student. Shah found him at Lady Reading, enclosed in a coffin.

“My son took a bullet to the brain,” he sobbed. “The hospital administration has asked me to take his body for burial but what am I supposed to say to his mother and other relatives about why he has been killed?”

For the families of Peshawar, there is, of course, nothing that can be said to alleviate the pain caused by the incomprehensible slaughter of so many young lives.

Read next: School Massacre Unites Pakistan Against the Taliban

TIME Pakistan

Pakistani Military Strikes Back at Taliban Following Peshawar Massacre

An army soldier stands guard inside the Army Public School, which was attacked by Taliban gunmen, in Peshawar
An army soldier stands guard inside the Army Public School, which was attacked by Taliban gunmen earlier this week, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Dec. 17, 2014 Zohra Bensemra—Reuters

Spokesperson says more than a dozen operations have been carried out since Tuesday

The Pakistani military claims to have struck back hard against Taliban militants days after the group launched one the deadliest single-day attacks in their seven-year insurgency against the state.

In the two days since Taliban forces indiscriminately murdered more than 140 people, including 132 children, at a school in Peshawar, Pakistani security forces have launched 20 air strikes, killing an estimated 57 terrorists in the process, according to a tweet from military spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa.

The armed forces’ representative added that operations are ongoing. Pakistan is currently in its second day of official mourning for the massacre, which sent shock waves through the country and brought renewed scrutiny to the military’s past dealings with militants within the country’s borders.

TIME Pakistan

School Massacre Unites Pakistan Against the Taliban

Shoes lie in blood on the auditorium floor at the Army Public School, which was attacked by Taliban gunmen, in Peshawar, Dec. 17, 2014.
Shoes lie in blood on the auditorium floor at the Army Public School, which was attacked by Taliban gunmen, in Peshawar, Dec. 17, 2014. Fayaz Aziz—Reuters

As the 141 children and teachers who were killed in Pakistan’s deadliest terrorist attack at a school in Peshawar were buried by their bereft parents and relatives on Wednesday, the deep sadness and grief that has affected everyone in Pakistan gave way to outrage against the Pakistani Taliban militants who took responsibility for the attack.

In a rare show of unity, Pakistan’s political leaders came together to declare that they were setting aside their rivalries to unite behind a joint plan to eliminate terrorism. The country’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, said all militants were now targets, which marked a significant break from Pakistan’s history of backing militants such as the Afghan Taliban while attacking the Pakistan Taliban, what many in the West have criticized as Pakistan’s “double game.”

The mood in Peshawar was somber after the funerals. Pakistanis from all over the country traveled to the city to offer their condolences. Small crowds chanted slogans in protest, while others quietly sat with grieving families. In Pakistan’s other cities, people gathered to hold solemn candlelight vigils, bearing placards that mourned the dead and demanded action against their killers.

Ali Sajid, 34, a painter in Peshawar, said that the entire city is consumed by sadness and anger. He had seen several terrorist attacks before but this time the militants targeted children. “This will definitely change things,” says Sajid. “I think this city has bled enough, and rendered many sacrifices.” Now, he added, “the government and the security forces should launch an offensive against the militants and force them to perish.”

“There will be no distinction between ‘good’ or ‘bad’ Taliban,” Sharif said at a press conference after meeting with leaders of rival political parties.

“Everyone is in tears,” says Daniyal Aziz, a lawmaker from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party. “This is a defining moment for Pakistan. The sadness has turned into anger very quickly.”

Sharif won the support of such inveterate opponents as former cricketer Imran Khan, who has spent the past six months leading street protests aimed at pushing the Prime Minister out of power. At the height of those protests, Khan even challenged Sharif to a public duel. On Wednesday, they were sitting side by side at Wednesday’s political conference in Peshawar and referring to each other in respectful tones. Khan later abandoned his party’s nationwide protests against the government in a demonstration of national unity.

The fallout from the Peshawar massacre shows just how far Pakistan has come over the past 18 months. Back then, both Sharif and Khan had been trying to court the Taliban to get them to sign a peace agreement. Now, like the secular politicians they once criticized, they have resolved that there can be no reconciling with the murderers of children. “There are moments, like this tragedy, when it becomes incumbent on everyone to come together,” Khan told journalists at the press conference.

The Pakistan military, which ran the school that was attacked, launched airstrikes on militant targets in the tribal areas along the Afghan border on Tuesday night. Gen. Raheel Sharif, the army chief, flew to Kabul with his intelligence chief to demand that Mullah Fazlullah, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban who is believed to be hiding in eastern Afghanistan, be handed over. There is greater cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S. now, too, with drone strikes targeting Pakistani Taliban bases in Afghanistan on Tuesday night.

Some observers are wary. There have been many false dawns before when Pakistanis first thought that large-scale terrorist tragedies would mark a turning point before the political resolve dissipated. But many are confident that the massacre in Peshawar has changed Pakistan forever. “We hope that this is the case,” says Sherry Rehman, an opposition politician and former ambassador to Washington. “It’s the only thing that can be done.”

But if the deaths of so many children at school cannot change Pakistan, then nothing will. “This is now make or break,” Rehman said. “It’s really a point of no return.”

In defiance of the anger from Peshawar, Mohammad Khurasani, the Taliban spokesman, warned Pakistan to expect more attacks on military targets: “We are still able to carry out major attacks. This was just the trailer,” he said on Wednesday. Pakistan’s resolve remains strong but it will likely suffer many more deaths before it achieves peace.

Read next: Peshawar Survivors and Bereaved Tell of the Massacre’s Horror

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: December 17

Capitol
The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Mark Wilson—Getty Images

Terror Threat Nixes The Interview

Some cinema chains are pulling Sony’s film The Interview from their lineups after hackers threatened a 9/11-style attack against theaters who screen the upcoming movie. Sony said it is going forward with plans to release the film, but would support theaters’ decisions

Starbucks CEO Talks Racism

Howard Schultz outlined his concern about the effects of racism and increasing social polarization in America in a letter to all Starbucks employees

Putin’s Influence Wanes

Russia’s worst economic crash since 1998 may force the Russian President to rethink his adventures abroad

Jeb Bush Eyes Run for Presidency

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced Tuesday that he will “actively explore” running for president in 2016. “I think we need to have candidates lift our spirits,” he said, one day before announcing his formal intention to explore a campaign

U.S. Will Bid to Host the Summer Olympics in 2024

The United States Olympics Committee (USOC) unanimously approved on Tuesday a U.S. bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games. One of Boston,

Washington D.C., San Francisco and Los Angeles will be picked for the bid in 2015

Pakistan Mourns After Peshawar School Massacre

Pakistanis mourned collectively and individually on Wednesday after a brutal attack on a school in Peshawar by Taliban militants that claimed more than 140 lives, including 132 children. But questions remain over the military’s relationship with extremist groups

Angelina Jolie Hires Experts to Protect Her Kids Online

Angelina Jolie and her husband Brad Pitt, who don’t use social media, have hired a cyber-security team to monitor their children’s Internet usage and exposure. “We wouldn’t even know what to look for,” she said

Australia’s PM Demands Answers After Sydney Siege

Tony Abbott has said that everything from the nation’s gun laws to its national security policies are up for serious review after a troubled Iranian migrant on bail was able to evade watch lists, buy a firearm and take over a Sydney café, leading to three deaths

Clifford the Big Red Dog Creator Norman Bridwell Dies at 86

Author and illustrator Norman Bridwell died on Friday, Dec. 12, in Martha’s Vineyard at age 86. His publisher, Scholastic, announced the news Tuesday, but did not give a cause of death. Bridwell was best known for creating the Clifford the Big Red Dog book series

Bill Cosby Won’t Be Charged Over L.A. Molestation Claim

Los Angeles prosecutors on Tuesday declined to file any charges against Bill Cosby after a woman recently claimed the comedian molested her around 1974. The rejection of a child sexual abuse charge by prosecutors came roughly 10 days after Judy Huth met city police

NHL Teams Postpone Seasonal Hospital Visits

Several NHL teams are postponing their annual holiday visits to hospitals, amid a mumps outbreak within the league. At least 15 NHL players have so far come down in the outbreak, including for the Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers

Poll: 57% of Americans Say Race Relations in U.S. Are Bad

A majority of Americans now say that race relations in the United States are bad, according to a new poll, which showed the most pessimistic assessment of racial issues in almost two decades

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TIME Pakistan

Pakistan Begins 3 Days of Mourning After Peshawar Massacre

But persistent questions remain over the military’s relationship with extremist groups

Pakistanis were in mourning Wednesday after a brutal attack on an army-run school in Peshawar by Taliban militants claimed more than 140 lives, 132 of them children.

Islamabad announced the commencement of a three-day mourning period. Vigils were held across the country as the nation struggled to come to terms with the brutality exhibited in one of the deadliest single-day attacks in the country since the Pakistani Taliban launched its insurgency seven years ago.

In Peshawar, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called on officials from all parties to attend a multiparty conference this week, where they hope to present a unified front against terrorism.

Opposition stalwart Imran Khan, who has previously sought reconciliation with the Taliban, joined the litany of voices on Tuesday condemning the indiscriminate slaughter.

“Fight with men, not innocent children,” said the former cricket star, according to the New York Times.

The deliberate targeting of children appears to have affected even some of the Pakistani Taliban’s most steadfast supporters.

“The intentional killing of innocent people, children and women are against the basics of Islam and this criteria has to be considered by every Islamic party and government,” Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban, said in a statement, according to Reuters.

But as the nation grieves, tough questions have begun to resurface regarding the Pakistani military’s track record of incubating militancy within the country’s borders.

During an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Asif rejected the notion that the country’s security establishment maintained relations with extremist groups.

“[These] terrorists are the biggest threat to the peace in this region, to peace in Pakistan, to the existence of Pakistan,” said Asif. “We do not classify between different groups of Taliban — that there are good Taliban or bad Taliban. They are all bad.”

However, analysts contend that factions within the security services continue to see militant groups inside Pakistan as valuable proxies in the battle for influence in neighboring Afghanistan and Kashmir.

“It seems to me that there are elements within the military establishment who are willing to sustain or willing to endure civilian causalities and even military casualties as long as some broader strategic objective is met,” Hassan Javid, associate professor of political science at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, tells TIME.

But as Javid argues, the country’s brutal experience with insurgency has long demonstrated that these groups can never be controlled.

“Given the ideologies that motivate these groups, and given the links they have to other such groups, I think its inevitable that they will turn their guns on Pakistan,” says Javid. “Even if they’re working with them today, there’s always the possibility they will turn around and bite the hand that’s been feeding them a few years down the line.”

Following the attacks, a spokesperson with the Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, said the assault on the school was retaliation against the ongoing offensive in the country’s tribal belt.

“We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani. “We want them to feel the pain.”

In June, the Pakistani military launched a full-scale assault on Taliban sanctuaries in North Waziristan, days after militants allied with the group overran a terminal at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport in the heart of the country’s commercial capital

The ongoing military operation in North Warziristan is believed to have been largely successful in uprooting a majority of the militant forces based there, but experts say these extremists are now dispersed throughout the country.

“Over time this militancy has spread into the cities and these kinds of people are hiding and have melted into society,” says Hasan Askari Rizvi, a prominent Pakistani defense analyst. “The military operations can only take place in places like the tribal areas, but not necessarily in urban centers.”

TIME Pakistan

Taliban Attack in Pakistan Prompts Cross-Border Solidarity From India

INDIA-PAKISTAN-UNREST-ATTACKS
Schoolchildren pray during morning assembly at their school in Shimla, India, on Dec. 17, 2014, as they pay tribute to slain students and staff after an attack on an army school in Peshawar, Pakistan STRDEL—AFP/Getty Images

Indian schools join lawmakers in observing two minutes of silence after #IndiaWithPakistan trends on Twitter

Amid the horrific massacre at an army-run school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday that resulted in over 140 deaths, mostly of children under the age of 16, the overwhelming support from regional rival India was a silver lining that has briefly lifted spirits.

The two countries generally don’t see eye to eye and have had a bilateral relationship that can be described as fractious at best. But in the aftermath of the Pakistani Taliban’s brutal attack, military posturing and border skirmishes were briefly set aside as India mourned with its neighbor.

Indian news channel NDTV reported that schools across India observed a two-minute silence on Wednesday, expressing solidarity with the victims of the attack. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who condemned the attack on Twitter soon after the news broke and later telephoned his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, also led the Indian Parliament in marking the incident.

The outpouring of shared grief began on Tuesday while the attack was still ongoing, with several Indians posting their sadness and outrage on Twitter as the hashtag #IndiWithPakistan began trending:

Several Pakistanis responded with gratitude, as both nations grasped each other’s outstretched virtual hands.

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