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Aniq Zafar
Friday, March 04, 2011
From Print Edition
 
 

 

As I drove down to my office trying to enter Islamabad on Wednesday morning, the traffic crawled unusually slowly. I blamed it on the rain that had poured down the city since that morning. As I reached my office and turned on the TV, I learnt what had happened in the city. I spent rest of the day in a numb condition.

 

I don’t know when I write today, whether I want to condemn, abuse, or just console my inner self. I cannot dare to condemn anyone else, not because I am afraid of the bullets that have riddled the bodies of the so many in the name of the religion, I want to condemn myself because I have kept silent over the abuses that my peaceful religion has suffered. I want to abuse myself no one else because no words can justify my anger against butchery but I can abuse myself because I represent that majority of Pakistanis who have turned immune to what is happening to this beautiful country. I want to console myself because I find no one else who is ready to console me.

 

While this nation continues to debate whether Raymond Davis the US operative in Pakistan, enjoys diplomatic immunity or not, should he be handed over to US or not and why is it necessary for our national pride to hang him? untold violence on the streets of the country continues.

 

Go and ask the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa they are suffering daily from terrorist attacks. But that is not under discussion in the grand narrative of this nation. Why? Because we have turned numb, we do not feel the pain anymore and we are too busy solving the questions of national pride! Only on Tuesday a hand grenade ripped through the building of a girls college. The college, located some 40 kilometers away from Peshawar in a rural area Lundkhor, of course was not a threat to anyone’s life? The college girls had not committed blasphemy. The innocent girls injured there obviously were not spying for a drone attack somewhere.

 

Though no deaths have been reported and most students survived with some minor and major injuries but the scars on their minds would take years to heal, scars on the psyche of the community perhaps a few more, a community that was trying to educate the future mothers of their generations. Any progress that may have been made towards educating women in that part of the province has been seriously set back.

 

As I write these lines another blast in Hangu has taken place and it has taken lives of 10 people. It was reportedly a suicide attack. As is usual for such incidents this suicide bomber perhaps would be a lad in his teens. The attack this time targeted the police. Another attempt to tell the state and its organs that the enemy is too strong and can hit at will.

 

There indeed is a long list of attacks on security forces and innocent civilians over the last couple of months. And of course the apologists would always find one excuse or the other to justify the carnage of the innocent. They can blame it as a consequence of the corruption and inefficiency of the government. They can also tell you that economic hardships are driving people to terrorism. I for one as a liberal (Please read up on liberalism!) agree with them that governments and states are often corrupt or inefficient. But how does killing innocent fellow Pakistanis help achieve the ‘sacred goals’ better governance and better economic conditions, is lost on me.

 

Coming back to the killing of the Federal Minister of Minorities Affairs Shahbaz Bhattai in the capital, one can only say that we as a nation stand badly bruised by this killing. If there are people who still think that this is about blasphemy law they are hugely off the mark. There is no active debate going on in the country right now over the law. The government has already shown that it does not have the will to take up this issue at the most appropriate forum, i.e., the Parliament. Shahbaz Bhatti as someone representing non-Muslims of the country was all within his mandate if he had shared the concerns of his constituency over the blasphemy law. He had not committed any blasphemy and perhaps had even not called it a “black law”, if that justified Governor Salman Taseer’s killing to some. No it definitely is not about blasphemy law.

 

All this extremisms and terrorism is about subjugating this society and removing all intellectual resistance to certain kind of Islam. All those voices that try to present any logic and alternative to the brand of political Islam that is led by al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the Muslim world need to be eliminated. Psychological subjugation through instruments of fear of the mindset of the larger number of Muslims is what is required to perpetuate the politic designs of al-Qaeda and its affiliates like Tehrik-Taliban Punjab or whatever the name.

 

In the while we as a society continue to concede space for healthy argument and a tolerant debate. We are paying the price of the silence and inaction. The price is getting higher with every day while we engage ourselves into useless debates focused on emotion instead of logic. We have to break the silence otherwise the dream of a Pakistan that is pluralistic, modern and progressive is dying very fast. The people of Pakistan and its security forces are paying a heavy price for ensuring peace in the world by fighting extremism.

 

The price of silence however seemingly is getting higher even. I conclude with one question, isn’t the love of the God Almighty and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) supposed to fill your heart with love and compassion? What kind of love makes your heart cruel and hardened?