In the rest of the world when a terrorist attack happens, the leaders do their best to empathize with the people of their countries. Their condemnation is always targeted toward those who have perpetrated the attack and they always ensure that the value of human life takes precedence. In Pakistan, the situation is always different. The most favourite of the establishment’s bogeyman is – no points for guessing – India and its Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Even though we know without a shadow of a doubt that an act has been perpetrated by a local Islamist terrorist, our leaders still try to point out external forces that are behind it.
Monday’s attack in Quetta took over 70 lives and injured many others; almost all of them the top echelon of lawyers in Balochistan. They had collected together at a hospital to mourn the killing of the Balochistan Bar Association President, when a suicide blast took their lives. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA) a splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan took responsibility, as did the Islamic State, for both. The JA spokesman clearly stated that such attacks will continue “until the imposition of an Islamic system in Pakistan”.
Condemnation of this act by the government and the establishment was quick to appear. As always, this was followed by the race between the PM, COAS and others to reach the site as soon as possible to ensure that photo ops were timely. They saw the carnage and the wounded and then they both decided that the best way of explaining away this huge loss of a whole generation of Balochistan lawyers, was to tell the people of Pakistan that the attack was targeted at the CPEC, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Both the PM Nawaz Sharif and the COAS Raheel Sharif said exactly the same thing, giving precedence to a road over human lives.
It is as if they are trying to drum into the heads of the Pakistani people that their lives are being lost because the “external forces” are jealous of the heaven that this country is and the mega-heaven it will become once the CPEC is operational.
How dare you talk to us in this condescending manner? How dare you tell us that the promises you made under the guise of the National Action Plan (NAP), where you were supposed to get rid of these terrorist activities, have been fulfilled and these attacks now happen because people are actually jealous of the wonder that is this country? How dare you say this to people who lose their family members on a daily basis and expect them to join in your jingoism? We do not want our loved ones to be “shaheed”. That is not our job or our desire. We do not want to send our children out and spend the day in fear that they may not come back. We do not want to be parents of “shaheeds” nor do we want to be their children. We ourselves do not want to be “shaheed”.
This kind of jingoistic rhetoric is useless and dangerous. All that has done for 68 years is lead us to this point. Nothing has been done to expunge the ideal of jihad and Islamism from the minds of our generations. The idea that you planted. And now, on the one hand you allow various supposedly banned organizations to hold rallies all over the country, sporting flags with Raheel Sharif’s picture on them and on the other hand tell us that your road is the reason why 70 people were killed? How dare you?
It is like you have so little regard for our intelligence that you think this rhetoric will still work. No, it won’t. We do not want you to rally us around with your hyper patriotic flag waving and your sponsoring of propaganda songs and movies. We want you to do your jobs; which is to protect the citizens of this country.
I for one do not believe that the enemy has been weakened. And I take offence at the statements that these latest spree of attacks are “soft targets”. How are countless human lives soft targets? The people who lost their lives in Quetta were as important to this country and their families as any soldier. And they were certainly more important than a road or an army barrack.
So stop pouring salt on our wounds by being so devoid of humanity that you compare our lives to infrastructure. Do your job. If it is RAW go after it, if it is TTP go after it. Don’t expect us to nod along with you when you make stupendously pathetic statements. Do your job and stop acting like our lives do not matter. We are sick of it.
Published in The Nation.