The horrific events of this bloody Tuesday(‘Murder most foul’), which has finally succeeded in rousing the nation from its decades old stupor, contained elements of unimagined brutality and unbelievable valour. It was arguably for the first time in recent memory that such a large scale massacre of innocent schoolchildren was orchestrated without any political objective in mind. On the other end of the spectrum are tales of unparalleled valour: the Principal going back into the school after being rescued in solidarity with her wards and of an intrepid young teacher who formed a human shield between the brutes and her students. Such should be our true heroes rather than those mindless animals who behead our soldiers and play football with their heads. Mind-boggling as to how many of us still can’t distinguish between the two.
Bitterly mournful words like these encapsulate the tragedy that has befallen us:
Suna hai bohat sasta hai khoon wahan ka
Ek basti jissay log Pakistan kehtay hain
Phool dekhay thay janazon pay hamesha
Kal pehli baar phoolon ka janazah dekha
While the formulation and execution of a National Action Plan to deal with this menace should indeed be accorded the highest priority, it may be useful not to lose sight of where we faltered in the past. How did we miss all the warning signs: markets, shrines, graveyards, churches, Mosques, schools, airports, defence installations, all being extensively bombed, the Gilgitis, the Turis, the Ahmedis and Sunni Sufis all being extensively targeted on a massive scale. Even Eid-Milad-un-Nabi gatherings were not spared and what is being perpetuated on the beleaguered Hazara community is nothing short of genocide.
Many apologists continue to argue that all this was the result of our collaboration with the US post 9/11. Most label it a proxy war: if it is, it is certainly a one-sided one. Most of us gobbled up this narrative without bothering to question why the retaliation had to be inflicted on women, children, schools, markets, shrines, churches, mosques, minorities, none of whom have much to do with either the US or with our national level decision. Anyone remember the sponsored Lashkar from Afghanistan, which as far back as 1986, unhindered and perhaps assisted, went on to wreak havoc on the unarmed, innocent and hapless citizens of Gilgit.
Our foreign(conspiracy)-obsessed minds blinded us to internal dangers and kept allowing our own people to be repeatedly thrown before the wolves at the altar of pragmatism without any feelings of compunction or remorse. While our clerics kept dishing out mouthfuls on who is a Martyr and who is not, the hard liners were united on a single platform: our valiant soldiers fighting for a national cause were not. The State chose to remain on the defensive over this, thereby sowing confusion in the minds of the unfortunate souls sacrificing their lives for their country.
Deep introspection, at least amongst the educated, can only save our souls and serve us well. A scathing indictment by an eminent writer Mohammed Hanif nails it and is worth pondering over(and over again):
“Pakistan ki siyasi aur Askari kiadat sey darkhawast hai keh woh inn bachon ki akharat kay baray mein pareshaan na hoan; Aur jab dua kay liay haath uthayen tau apni maghfirat kay liye dua mangain; Aur dua kay liye inn hathon ko ghaur sey dekhain, key inn par khoon key dhabbay tau nahin.”
Perhaps we can still regain our moorings.