Innocent children massacred in their classroom. It should wake up people of any country that their government and institutions have failed them. But, unfortunately, it is not likely to. Pakistan has seen several such massacres. Of Shias, of polio workers, of teachers, of doctors, of Ahmedis, Christians, Hindus….random groups of people who were considered unholy, wajib-ul-qatl….deserving of murder by the mullah brigade. In the past five years, over 800 schools have been bombed and students killed or driven away.
Logic states that clerics and terrorists are not, and can never be, strategic assets. But in ‘Denialistan’, where suicide attacks and drone strikes are almost a daily feature, the establishment has brainwashed the people into believing that that is the norm. That people, including children, falling to bullets for some misplaced cause or the other is nothing extraordinary.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) activists in a rally in Lahore for the victims of the Peshawar school massacre. Al-Qaeda’s regional branch said on Sunday that its hearts were “bursting with pain” over the Taliban’s massacre at a Pakistan school, and urged the militants to target only security forces. Pic/AFP
Even after the massacre of 133 children in a school in Peshawar, the head cleric of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad, Maulana Abdul Aziz, told worshippers that while he “shared the grief” of the victims’ families, he condoned the TTP’s response saying it was understandable. Blaming the army action in North Waziristan for the retributive action by the Taliban he said, “O rulers, O people in power, if you will commit such acts, there will be a reaction.” The Taliban have now threatened to kill family members of politicians if the military crackdown on them continues.
People in Pakistan are gradually coming out of the shock-induced numbness, of grief and horror. They tweeted and hashtagged and landed up bravely at candlelight vigils, some in front of the same Lal Masjid, to condemn the killings and demand immediate action by the army and the Nawaz Sharif government. Their feeble yet significant protest is that killing of children and innocents does not come under the ambit of ‘hub-ul-watani’ or ‘qaum parasti’, which is nationalism as defined by the mullahs from their pulpits during Friday prayers.
While this would seem quite ordinary or natural for most of us, one must not imagine that this is normal in Pakistan, where the people are powerless and live under the tyranny of terror groups who are protected by the establishment. The utter hopelessness and helplessness of the civil society in the wake of such horrific inability of the Pakistani government to reign in terrorists is almost pitiable.
Many members of Pakistan’s miniscule civil society were embarrassed when minutes after the attack, terror ‘experts’ went on TV claiming that this horrendous act was masterminded and executed by India’s intelligence agencies. It suits Pakistan’s Army to keep the India bogey alive, simply because that is the edifice of its existence. They continue to perpetuate the historic myth that India wants to annex Pakistan. The legislature, executive and judiciary in Pakistan derives their cues from the all-powerful Army, which uses the India card for all the draconian steps it takes domestically and internationally. From General Musharraf to Hafiz Saeed to mullahs from pulpits, they blamed India and the US for the Peshawar attack. Some nutjobs even tweeted that the school massacre was revenge for India losing to Pakistan in the hockey match in Odisha a week ago!
Barely had the little bodies in Peshawar been buried and the Pakistani prime minister grandly proclaimed that there would be no distinction between good and bad Taliban, an anti-terror court in Pakistan found it fit to grant bail to Mumbai terror attack master mind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.
Nothing that happens in Pakistan now astounds the world. It is as if the world expects the country to rush down the quicksand of annihilation. Some are already worried that Pakistan could go the way of Syria or other failed nations, with its nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of jehadis who have vowed death and destruction on the western world. An edit in the Boston Globe last week says, “The attack shows the wisdom in Washington’s decision to extend Coalition Support Funds to Pakistan for another year. Even as the US military mission in Afghanistan winds down, the existential security threats that Pakistan faces must not be forgotten.” So, Pakistan doesn’t even need to ask or demand assistance now; it will come its way. They just need to make a Christmas wish list, and Santa will be benevolent.
The Indian empathy and offer of support from its Parliament, Prime Minister’s office and schools for Peshawar’s families and Pakistan government to fight terrorism has been ignored. Pakistan is too broken to accept help offered in good faith.
Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on twitter @smitaprakash