Protesters demonstrate in Islamabad against the lack of security provided to residents of Parachinar on June 27. PHOTO: REUTERS

Be it Parachinar or Quetta, when blood starts flowing like rain water down our drains, it is time to reflect

The time has come for us to unshackle ourselves from this endless blame game of sect, class and political affiliation.

Fifi Ahmed July 01, 2017
He could smell burning flesh. He looked down in horror to see deep lacerations on his legs. Ears ringing, he struggled to get up. The piercing pain in his legs made him scream and he slipped back onto the pavement. There was chaos all around him. He looked around scouting for a familiar face but the air was thick with smoke. He tried shouting for help but nothing came out.

He felt something cold trickling down his side. Surprised, he looked down at his abdomen. With the warm gushes of blood, there flowed a steady stream of green chutney, leaking from the plastic bag of samosas still clutched in his hand. He had forgotten about those. Motionless in a puddle of red and green, he kept shouting out for help. So he lay there in an unfortunate street in Parachinar, unable to move.

He was not only in Parachinar though. A while ago, he bled in the streets of Quetta and on the same day, he screamed in agony from a gunshot wound in some street of Karachi. He was also at Lal Shahbaz in February this year. He was everywhere. He bled everywhere. Who is he? He is not a Punjabi or Pakhtun or Sindhi or Balochi or Kashmiri. Neither is he a Shia or Sunni or Barelvi or etc.

Then who exactly is he?

He is us. He is all of us. He is Pakistan.

On June 23, 2017, a series of terrorist attacks took place in Pakistan, resulting in at least 90 dead and over 200 wounded. They included a suicide bombing in Quetta targeting policemen, followed by two blasts at a market in Parachinar, and the targeted killing of four policemen in Karachi. After this, the print, electronic and social media swarmed with reports and analyses regarding reactions of leaders and prominent public leaders, criticising those who didn’t rush to speak out. While we debate whether someone protested or condemned the attacks in Quetta and Parachinar more or less than the unfortunate incident in Bahawalpur, Pakistan suffers.

Quetta and Parachinar have been victims of atrocious terror attacks in the past as well which have been looked at in a sectarian hue, as the major numbers of casualties have been members of the Shia community. Thus, it has become normal to label this as sectarianism. Zaid Hamid, a self-established ‘defence and security analyst’ passed the following remarks after the attack:

While the responsibility for these heinous attacks has been accepted by Jamaatul Ahrar and the Islamic State (IS), it is time for us to stay united in face of the disparities that plague our national integrity.

The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Qamar Javed Bajwa has pledged that the enemy will not be allowed to create and spread sectarianism. He has urged the media to promote harmony and not divisions among the various factions of the society. But is it enough? Does it absolve me or you or any common citizen of the country from the responsibility that such terrible incidents put on our heads? Our young soldiers are laying their lives on the line in this fight against terrorism. The government, which admittedly can still do more, stands behind the army as it ventures forth to defeat this menace.

The National Action Plan (NAP), while harbouring gaping holes in its structure and affectability, is also in place. All these measures by the security agencies and the government are often criticised and rightly so, but have we also reviewed our own sense of responsibility lately?

By pitting one incident against the other on social media, people are both knowingly and unknowingly fuelling the fire of division among an already tattered society. This is not to cast aspersions on anyone’s motives while they are rightly condemning such attacks. But they must also ponder upon the probability that such allegations are counterproductive and breed intolerance. These days under the slogan of calling a spade a spade, there are elements which are ruefully ignoring the wide ranging impacts of their words upon the plain sensibilities of masses which are already dissatisfied and heartbroken.

This tendency of comparing one tragedy with the other, scaling one suffering against the other and inciting people to mindlessly question each other’s loyalties are extremely hazardous to our national fabric. The thread that these elements are tugging at is a loose one. It barely holds together different sects and ethnicities. If tugged at too hard, it shall unravel. The plethora of separatism that shall tumble upon our heads would then be too wild to handle. This is precisely what the enemy exploits. The time has come for us to unshackle ourselves from this never-ending blame game of sect, class and political affiliation. It is time to reflect upon this.

It is time to reflect. When blood starts flowing like rain water down our drains, it is time to reflect. When the air becomes thick with gunpowder, it is time to reflect. When cities become marked with terror claims, it is time to reflect. When explosions do not startle children anymore, when casualties mount and we listen to the number, unflinching and unfeeling, it is time to reflect. When our Eid prayers turn to Fatiha and Janazah (burial), it is time to reflect.

Let us stop gauging and comparing then. Let us stop infuriating those who are already seething over the loss of their loved ones. Let us join them in their mourning and share their burden, as a nation of equals.

Be it Parachinar or Quetta, let us reflect on keeping us all united. Let us reflect.
Fifi Ahmed The author aspires to become an accomplished writer someday.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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Juan | 3 years ago | Reply | Recommend Zaid one twisted individual. Just another form of anti-Shia and other sorts of bigotry and extremism. So many things wrong in his remarks. 'Sincere friend'? There's not going to be much reflection, and those who call for it generally are trying to sanitize the problem without wanting to identify the ideological culprit. The country's masses and institutions can't admit it's got a Sunni Islamist extremism problem, and in many cases, have encouraged it. Asking for sectarian unity while disingenuously deflecting blame and making conspiracy theories of 'foreign hands' is just so insincere.
Juan | 3 years ago Not sure why there's protection being extended to Zaid Hamid by censoring terms such as 'low-life' or 'damn snake' from the comment when his opinions are so obviously offensive and poisonous, and the terms themselves are rather benign compared to other type of comments that get posted here.
Patwari | 3 years ago | Reply | Recommend Good article. But same old same old. Every time there is a Shia massacre, this same article is dusted, cleaned, a few new word added and brought out. [By different people/authors/bloggers.] Nothing new. Nothing concrete. No solutions. Just "we must do this and we must do that" and the Shia killings keep going on. Sanctioned by those in power. There is an ongoing Shia Genocide in the Land of the Pure. Introspection has been going on for last 15 years. Nothing is done OR will be done. After all, see, they are just Shias. Like Ahmadis, Hindus, Christians, Ismailis, Bohras, Zikris, Khojas,.... The Sunnis mumble a few words of condemnation then look the other way and go back to eating their nihari and 'chapattis'.
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