There were plenty of glimpses into the mindset of the Pakistan’s Taliban insurgents last week. On Tuesday a gang of heavily armed men dressed in police uniforms stormed a police training school in Lahore killing at least 12 and injuring close to another 100.
It was an horrific experience for the young, traumatised cadets who survived the ordeal. They painted a gruesome picture of bloodstained walls and body parts. Beitullah Masud, leader of the umbrella network Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (literally, "The Pakistan Taliban Movement"), was quick to claim responsibility for the atrocities.
That admission was later corroborated by Pakistan intelligence authorities, although Masud’s boast that he was behind a recent shooting spree in New York was quickly refuted by United States authorities.
Nevertheless, the message from the Taliban is fairly clear: they seek to violently capitalise on the everyday insecurities faced by most Pakistanis mired in poverty. Also last week, video footage emerged of a young woman being whipped by members of the Taliban in the Swat valley because she was alleged to have been with a man who was not a relative.
The Taliban gave a revealing set of responses to the footage. At first, Taliban spokesperson for the Swat valley, Muslim Khan, was critical of the press for broadcasting the video. He later claimed that the footage was faked, even though Maulana Fazlullah, the leader of the Taliban in Swat, routinely makes similar threats against women during his now infamous broadcasts over a clandestine radio station, including threatening violence against women seeking an education.
But when I put this to a Taliban commander I met in Swat last year he claimed that "someone else" was behind the violence, which has seen over 200 girls’ schools destroyed, as a way to damage the Taliban’s reputation.