How many more of God’s children will die in the name of God?
Aaj kay naam, aur aaj kay gham kay naam
Aaj ka gham kay hay zindagi kay bharay Gulistan say khafa
Zard paaton ka band jo mera des hay
Dard kee anjuman jo mera des hay
Un dukhi maon kay naam
(To, this day and to its sorrows,
To the day’s sorrows, cross with life’s overflowing garden,
The thicket of yellowing leaves,
This thicket of dying leaves that is my land,
This assembly of anguish that is my land.)
(Intisaab by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, translation by Mustansir Dalvi)
The first time a person strapped on a bomb and stood in the middle of a public place and blew themselves up, the explosion must have been so deafening that the country has been unable to hear anything since then.
Unable to hear the cries of wallowing mothers,
Unable to hear the sighs of despairing fathers,
A teenager without a purpose,
A child without a family,
A girl burdened with honour,
A woman painted green, black and blue,
A boy made obsessed with duty,
Unity, faith, discipline, family, nation, religion,
Words upon words or an identity?
Do we hear the boy who was told to blow himself up because celebrating Easter was a threat to his country and religion?
Do we hear the boy who was told to eulogise a killer, because his crimes were in the name of a man he loves too?
Four boys crowding against a single microphone vowing to take revenge.
A song no less. A lullaby, a jingle. A nursery rhyme full of hate, vitriol and duty.
Murdered in the name of duty, bombed in the name of love, sacrificed in the name of God,
How many more of God’s children will die in the name of God?
Now is the time of mourning. Now is not the time for introspection; for criticising past mistakes and poor policies but as we mourn, we must not forget why we mourn. We mourn the burden of duty that we carry with us each day. A groundhog day of tragedy this nation is obliged to repeat.
We said #NeverAgain after Peshawar, but did everything to make sure it happens again. And it did happen again, and it will happen again.
There is a very small minority of people in Pakistan who have hijacked the narrative of the nation through violence, fear and terror. We have allowed this as we were afraid to stand up to the monsters in our closet.
We are afraid to look under our own bed; it is easier to blame all our ills on foreign agencies and global conspiracies.
When the first bomb went off in a market place, it was claimed that Pakistan was simply paying the price for supporting the US in the war against terror. This was not our problem. Have we forgotten that the country was torn in half due to internal civil strife in 1971?
When the first mosque was attacked by a suicide bomber, we claimed a Muslim could never target a mosque. Have we forgotten that the first mosque was burned in Rawalpindi in 1953?
When a child was shot in the face, it had to be a global conspiracy because a mujahideen would never target a small girl. Have we forgotten every child who died in Kashmir, Balochistan, Bangladesh, FATA and Waziristan?
Peshawar attack was meant to be the water shed moment for this country, when we stood up and said no more.
Having said that, then why was a park full of children celebrating Easter blown up?
If we cannot personally do much to stop terrorism, we should at least hold the courage to call it that. The bomb blast killing several on Easter was not a coincidence. Muslim extremists in Pakistan have taken it upon themselves to commit religious cleansing in the country, and Muslim moderates are too afraid to speak up against them because they identify with the same religion.
Instead, people tend to get offended when certain terrorists are labelled as Muslim. If anything, it is the duty of Muslims worldwide to cleanse our religion from these terrorists who tarnish the name of our religion. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are committing crimes against humanity in the name of the God we worship and our religious leaders do not even have the courage to distance themselves from these terrorists.
When several people can gather from all over the country for the funeral of a murderer, when a group of people can beat up a man at the airport brazenly, when most people are silent when minorities are targeted, when government agencies seek to cleanse the capital of Christian abadis, when a handful of people determine who is a Muslim, are we really surprised that this war against terrorism has not ended?
The answer does not lie in bombing a few villages and alienating an ethnicity. The hard truth is that our home grown monsters are only a result of what we have sown. Our nation’s complacency towards violence, war and sacrifice has led to an entire generation of children being radicalised.
When you create mujahideens, you can never be sure what side they will fight on. At this stage the guns have been firmly turned against us and either we can let them pick us one by one, or we can get together to stop letting them hijack Pakistan.
Pakistan is not a terrorist nation. We should not be burying our children every year. Even God has promised not to burden his creation with more than it can take. There has to be a breaking point for this country where the people rise up as one and say no more.
No more do we believe in wars, violence and terrorism. We are all united under our flag. Let us hear what is happening in our own communities, our own neighbourhoods, our own country. Let us hear the laments of the oppressed and the marginalised. Just because they are different from us, doesn’t mean this country does not belong to them as much as it belongs to us. There is only so long we can live with hate till we start tearing each other apart.
If you do not speak out now, there will be nobody left to speak out for you when the war is at your door step.
To paraphrase Martin Niemoller’s quote,
“First they came for the Hindus, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Hindu,
Then they came for the Ahmadis, and I did not speak out – Because I was not an Ahmadi,
Then they came for the Bengalis, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Bengali,
Then they came for the Baloch, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Baloch,
Then they came for the Pakhtun, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Pakhtun,
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”