In the wake of the cross-border Nato attack in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in Salala, the whole country was up in arms against the aggression of the allied forces. From the political parties to lawyers associations, from banned militant outfits to student organisations, from the head of the armed forces to the aunties in drawing room; everyone thought it fitting to lambast the US — especially since most people cannot really distinguish between the US and Nato — for attacking Pakistan’s sovereignty, its land and its people.
A few weeks later, 15 Frontier Constabulary personnel who were captured in Tank on December 23 were taken to Waziristan by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and killed after some time. Unlike the deaths in Salala, no one is mourning the loss of lives of these 15 men because we do not cry at the atrocities committed by our so-called ‘strategic assets’, who not only claim these deaths with impunity, but justify it as an act of revenge. We only lament, or maybe we are pushed into lamenting for those who are killed by foreigners, be it individuals (victims of Raymond Davis) or troops (victims of the Salala raid in November) to get maximum political and material leverage out of it. It’s a slur on our national integrity if soldiers die in cross-border skirmishes, but if our strategic assets — or more likely strategic liabilities — murder a group of soldiers in cold blood, it only merits a brief press release with no mention of the names of those who died.
The victims of Waziristan will also not be grieved because there were no officers and gentlemen amongst them. They were ordinary soldiers, and we do not mourn the deaths of mere soldiers who are killed in the line of duty by their compatriots.
Did any political party call for a protest against this act of barbarism? No.
Has footage of the flag-covered coffins been shown on television channels to invoke public anger and resentment against the TTP? No.
Have our religious parties offered funeral prayers for the soldiers who were kidnapped and killed by the TTP? No.
Did people hold rallies vowing to avenge the deaths of these soldiers at the hand of the Taliban? No.
Did our lawyers boycott their activities and call for action against the TTP? No. In fact, for them, it was business as usual.
Were distressed family members, wailing mothers and fathers with slumped shoulders interviewed to fan public outrage against this barbaric act? No.
Did anyone ask the TTP to pay qisas to the families of the 15 victims? No.
Were there any TV anchors frothing at the mouth, dishing out sermons dripping with moral outrage calling people to stand up against the effrontery of the TTP? No. The debate on television was about memogate and the several contempt of court notices issued by the superior judiciary to members of the PPP leadership.
Why bother, when there is no financial compensation to be had, where no effigy-burning rallies can be organised, and no foreign nation is to be blame. It is known that some animals are more equal than others in the animal farm called Pakistan, but what is now being learned is that some animals are more equal in death as well.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2012.