For the sake of our children

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The TTP did not spin itself out of thin air

 

 

It is not easy to so completely devastate a time and circumstance hardened nation like ours but the Taliban have dealt a blow that has us doubled over in crippling, blinding pain. They went for the jugular, our children.

There was a brief lull in the cacophonous political landscape of our country as a profoundly shocked nation processed its grief. But even before the candles at vigils around the country had fully burnt to the ground, the air was full of familiar toxic whispers.

The apologists, the conspiracy theorists, and the inexplicable supporters directing blame away from the Taliban even as the TTP claimed responsibility, publicised pictures of the attackers, and put out a bio of the mastermind.

But this time the anger will not be so easily misdirected to convenient less local culprits, the sorrow will not be obfuscated with conspiracy theories. This time people are like a wounded animal ready to lash back.

But this time the anger will not be so easily misdirected, the sorrow will not be obfuscated with conspiracy theories. This time the people are like a wounded animal ready to lash back

As a funeral procession came out of almost every major part of Peshawar, a new level of vengeance hangs thick in the air. The extent of this tragedy has brought Pakistan to its own “you are either with us or with the terrorists” moment. People are demanding one treatment for Taliban fighters in custody. “Kill ‘em hard and hang ‘em high.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, riding the wave of popular sentiment, lifted the six-year moratorium on executions and while six people have been executed, hundreds more on death row awaiting their fate.

It is understandable that in this time of intense pain we seek to soothe our wounds with the balm of vengeance but it is important to ask exactly what this will accomplish.

Will these executions ensure that no more Taliban come for our children? Will the death penalty strike fear in the hearts of men who launch attacks in suicide jackets?

Even as a small and valiant civil movement forced a reluctant apology out of Maulana Abdul Aziz, a larger crowd attended the funeral of Arshad Mehmood, one of the convicts executed first after the lifting of the moratorium.

Already schools and universities in Punjab are being put on high alert because of security concerns. Is this the future of our children? Is this the best we can do for them?

There is no magic bullet to fix this problem, which has been decades in the making.The journey to this dastardly place, where our children are gunned down in school by terrorists, is long and full of rotten policies.

It is these policies, which include constitutional amendments for political gain and dangerous “strategic assets” for whom we have selective use, that need to change.

It is understandable that in this time of intense pain we seek to soothe our wounds with the balm of vengeance but it is important to ask exactly what this will accomplish

The TTP did not spin itself out of thin air. This is a complex beast born out of regional and imperial power grabbing and fed on a steady diet of vested interest. It is time to hold our leaders accountable for their role in creating these ideologically motivated killers, nurturing them, and never foreseeing that the day would come when they would have their guns pointed right back at us.

It is time to reflect on how we alienated an entire part of our population which made the situation ripe for opportunists to infiltrate them, brainwash them, hand them guns, and give them a sense of purpose so strong they would die for it.

It is time to think about our social structure that divides us so completely in different classes and cultures that we are unable to come together for any kind of common good.

It is time to ask ourselves if we lamented enough the many innocent lives lost in the tribal belt as American drones hunted for a specific target. And then after that, did we do enough as these beleaguered people fled for their lives from the military operation and sat in refugee camps because of a conflict they have little or no influence over?

It is time to hold ourselves accountable for creating a public space where declaring someone wajibul qatal on national television is acceptable, for making quality education off limits to folks who then send their children to unregulated madrassas where their easily influenced minds are filled with hate, for allowing fronts for banned organisations to hold massive rallies and openly propagate their extremist views, to look the other way in indifference as minorities are lynched over and over again.

We must at least talk about the cause of our chronic disease even as we ready the noose to stamp out its deadly and recurring symptoms. A disease that just dealt us a near fatal blow by so cruelly snatching away our most precious possession, our children.