Peshawar. December 16th 2014.
More than 130 children dead.
How will we ever forget this tragedy?
Or maybe it will pass… maybe it will be forgotten, just like all the others.
I’m trying to recall the most recent ones, but they seem to have slowly abandoned my memory. I vaguely remember the Wagah Border attack that killed more than 60 cheerful and patriotic Pakistanis. Maybe I remember it because it only happened last month. We cry, we discuss and we move on. Such is the pretense of our minds.
But not today. Not this time. I will not forget the way you mercilessly slaughtered innocent children; children whose eyes were full of dreams and who knew no war. I will not forget the way you ripped their half-grown bodies apart with bullets. I will not forget the way you transformed their lighthearted whispers into frightful screams. Classrooms and corridors that should have been filled with the noise of happy children were instead covered in blood and flesh. Bodies of our children were piled on top of each other: some in lying position, some still crouched. Most of the children took multiple bullets; many were shot directly in the head. I cannot describe the sadness anger (or a mix of both) that I feel when I see images of bags, books, shoes and broken pairs of glasses scattered in the school auditorium, where students from 8th, 9th and 10th grades had gathered a little while ago, just like anywhere else in the world. This is the same auditorium where they were either shot or bombed, and their bodies ruthlessly thrown outside the school boundary, one-by-one.
Many of those who have lived to tell their story are being asked to repeatedly recount the trauma of losing their closest friends right before their eyes. They are being asked to describe the bloodshed and bodies they witnessed. Some even witnessed the live burning of their teacher. Unbelievably insensitive media associates listen and report, and even dare to ask, “Beta, how do you feel about the incident?” Stop. Provide them with psychological assistance; don’t make them relive hell for the sake of your channel’s ratings.
For those who are behind this attack, you know no humanity. You are not human, let alone Muslim. You are not even an animal. You are a different creature: one that’s made out of pure evil. I don’t know what paradise you’re in search of, but I am sure you will rot in the worst form of hell. I hope for a similar fate for those who still refuse to condemn terrorist groups, or believe, even slightly, in negotiating with these monsters.
The fear on every parent’s mind today is that this could happen to anyone, regardless of what city you live in, or what school your child goes to. Attack after attack, we remain more vulnerable than ever. But, how much more? How much longer? How many more young souls do we have to sacrifice to this senselessness? How many more bright futures will we cut short?
I hope we make a conscious effort to keep this tragedy in our mind and to really bring change. It’s time that our authorities do something instead of wasting our valuable resources on their own recreation. The sacrifices of those children and their parents should not go in vain. We’ve had enough. It’s time to unite and say NO to terrorism.
As the motto of the ill-fated school goes, “I will rise and shine”.
Anonymity gives strength. You could probably trace me, but i would request not to.
After reading your heart-wrenching article, i felt the pain once again. And to make matter more worse, i read this news:
Let’s try to think rationally and avoid generalization, why there’s so much heinous act; what inspires them? There must be some ideology which inspires them. While we keep digressing, it’s important to understand the mentality of such bestiality. What is it that gives them the fuel to be beasts? Every political ideology tries to justify itself on some grounds. Even Chenchan rebals apologized after their attack in one Beslan school, Russia in early 2000s while TTP boldly owns it and even goes a stop further to justifiy their abhorrent act.
The day we stop digressing, and start calling a spade a spade, most of the solution to the problem would be straight. While i congratulate Pakistan Army for conducting the operations against TTP, i also request the Pakistani political class that there’s no such thing as “good terrorist” and “bad terrorist”. Hilary Clinton said, “you can’t have snakes in your backyard and expect it to bite only the neighbor”. Trust me, i am not pro-indian or anti-pakistan. I try to look the ideas with apathetic notion. Even though a fringe element have started blaming India, RAW, US, Jews and what not.. a bit of introspection is needed.
Martin Niemöller, a fierily bold anti-nazi pastor, who was against Hitler, and spent 7 years in concentration camp, wrote a poem, “First they came for the Socialists…” you can google it easily. I don’t claim the originality but a bit of modification in context of Pakistan’s policy:
First they came for the Hindoos, i did not speak out-
Because i was not a Hindoo..
Then they came for Christians, i did not speak out-
Because i was not a Christians..
Then they came for Ahmidyas, i did not speak out-
Because i was not a Ahmidya..
Then they came for Hazara, i did not speak out-
Because i was not a Hazara..
When they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me..
This poem speaks a volume about selective heart-wrenching and cherry-picking of incidents by the middle-class Pakistani diaspora, also points out how we remain silent when villages, marriage processions are droned by US in Pakistan.. while when kids, that we can relate to in cities, how our heart cries out for them.. I apologize if i have been rather categorical, if not rude.
One more sane Pakistani friend put this more boldly, devoid of emotions and in a nuanced manner:
“One of the most tragic days in Pakistan has passed. The pain is beyond words. But I would like to ask all those in my country who are mourning and making their DP’s black that where were they when in Lahore hundreds of people were gunned down in a “Qadiyani/Ahmadi” mosque including children in a similar way? I recall that many of the “well educated” engineers in UET that day celebrated that incident in a passive way as a victory over the blasphemous lot and one more step in wiping out the Qadiyanis from Pakistan once and for all. How many of us #tagged the abduction of Hindu girls also aged hardly 16 in sindh and then forced conversion to Islam and the subsequent forced marriage or death. Where were our sympathies when a pregnant christian woman along with her husband was baked to death where people bake bricks? Did our prime minister order immediate executions of the culprits who burned alive innocent “Ahmadi Children” in Gujranwala? Joseph colony? the list goes on. Were they not our children? Just because they belong to the other religion? Are they not Pakistani ? We as a nation have brought this to our selves. On one side we say that we would never forget this day but our Interior minister Ch Nisar asks the Bangladeshi govt to forgive and forget the massacre of millions of Bangladeshi civilians and the genocidal rape of hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi women by the west Pakistan army. have we apologized to their government? Do we teach our kids of our crimes? Do we even admit to all of this? Do we mourn the deaths of minorities including their children in a similar fashion and do we pressurize our govt and military in a similar way to carry out operation against those culprits? True justice does not discriminate between religion, ethnicity, and color. If we as a nation do not confront our criminal silence over the griefs of others and do not admit to our dark past our younger generations would have to suffer. And this is exactly what has happened here. I pray for those who have lost their loved ones and the grief and pain for the children is beyond words and emotions. But more than that I pray that my nation and people open their eyes and have the decency to see humans and humans beyond color, beyond ethnicity, and beyond religion.”
You are an intelligent girl, please continue writing with more nuanced world-view, we are living in.