So, what can one say of a country where children bring violent death even as people are at prayer? What can one say of a land where places of worship are repeatedly stained by blood and the pieces of flesh torn from the bodies of people who were doing nothing more than offering Friday prayers when they were attacked? Many adjectives have been used: tragedy, mayhem, anarchy, brutality, evil and others too. All of these of course apply to the bombing at the Mandokhel Masjid in the Jamrud area of Khyber Agency, where dozens of people died and many more were injured after a suicide bomber detonated a vest filled also with pellets in the main hall of the building as prayers were coming to an end. The assailant is reported to have been around 15 or 16 years old, like those he killed a victim himself of the militant violence that has torn or country apart.
It is of course ironic that those who speak in the name of religion should carry out such attacks within mosques during the holiest month on the Islamic calendar. It is clear of course that these armies of death can have nothing to do with religion and all that it truly means. But this knowledge does not of course change the fact that we have more death in our midst, inflicted on people — including the elderly and children — in the most terrible way. It is clear too that the claims that have come from the military of success over the Taliban have only the most limited basis. There can be no victory when the Taliban and other forces which back them remain capable of carrying out such well-planned acts of mass murder. The bombings and the aftermath they bring in the form of grieving families and shattered lives has turned our nation into a land of death. There has been too much suffering; too much violence. When will it all end? We do not know for sure but surely it will not once the Americans leave the region, as many among us mistakenly seem to believe. Either way, we can answer this question ourselves, provided we have the courage, the sense and the wisdom to be able to understand that we ourselves our to blame for society’s descent into a whirlpool of extremism and militancy — and that we alone can stop it.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2011.