Be it Parachinar or Quetta, when blood starts flowing like rain water down our drains, it is time to reflect
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:
If Shias in Pak are sincere in their demands, then they should first stage a protest against Iran for supporting Yadav & Hazara slaughter..— Zaid Hamid (@ZaidZamanHamid) June 27, 2017
If you ignore the advice of your sincere friend, then perhaps your worst enemies will hurt you then...— Zaid Hamid (@ZaidZamanHamid) June 27, 2017
whats wrong in this sincere warning? pic.twitter.com/LBcBXDOvVu
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.