Courage, brother!

Drastic security measures have only contributed to destroying our comfort zones

Courage, brother!

Freedom has been taken away from me and many other Pakistani students. Or, how do you see it when the carefree laughter, busy playgrounds and noisy classrooms transform into their exact opposite?

The Dec 16 2014 horrific attack on a children’s school in Peshawar has not only morally affected the populace like every other attack in our history has done, it has also significantly affected the youth of the country.

The majority has isolated itself from the society at large and allowed itself to be surrounded with fear. There are only some who have taken ‘inspiration’ from the deadly incident and risen up to defend the nation.

Amid the measures taken by the government, we see the security of educational institutions throughout the country being beefed up. Boundary walls have been raised, and army personnel deployed around the campuses.

However, in the middle of it, much of the student population has chosen to give greater priority to security instead of trying to overcome the fear and trepidation which the terrorists have successfully inspired in us.

When I entered the Aitchison College gate on January 12, I saw a completely different place. Guards were stationed at every nook and corner, cameras had been set up and security warnings posted at every location. But the most significant change I saw was the fear-stricken faces of many of my college fellows as well as teachers.

It surprises me to find, over two months later, such drastic security measures have only contributed to destroying our comfort zones. Every day, you are kind of ‘reminded’ of the horrors of an ‘impending’ terrorist attack. No wonder, a small rumour -- which may only be a rumour; that’s it -- spreads like wildfire and forces most students to stay back home. The next day, there are only five students in my class.

I have finally come to the conclusion that no matter how ‘secure’ a place becomes, the people cannot feel at ease unless the world around them is free of metal detectors and walkthroughs, CCTVs and guards watching over you.

As school events continue to be cancelled -- or minimised -- and assemblies stopped, are we any safer than before? I wonder.

Will the myriad security measures (in place now) deter the terrorists from carrying out another attack? I wonder.

It saddens me to have to hear from my six-year-old brother, currently in the junior school, that he is not allowed to go outside of the class during recess. He also complains of the sports events being cancelled.

And, I wonder how my brother and so many other children his age, are going to enjoy their childhood in this situation? How long will this continue? This is their time to enjoy, play, and lead a carefree life.

I would like to quote the example of the ill-fated Army Public School which has reopened. Of course, now it is heavily guarded but is it secure?

I must salute the grit and the attitude of the brave young students -- and also their parents -- who are back to the school which is still haunted by the Dec 16 horrific incident. These people have decided to stand firm and recommence their activities, and continue with their education. They are not protected by the high amount of security but in fact by themselves -- their determination and staying power. Such is the kind of attitude we, in this part of the country, should adopt, not just to survive but also to thrive.

Courage, brother!