Just a day went by and the sectarian terrorists struck again — this time in Quetta. An Al Quds rally in a busy thoroughfare of the city was targeted on Friday by a suicide bomber and till last reports the English television channel Express 24/7 was quoting 41 dead and over 100 injured. The rally is organised every year by the local Shia community to express solidarity with the Palestinians. Following the incident, the usual happened: ministers and clerics began parroting the line that this could not be the work of Muslims and that religion did not allow anyone to kill another Muslim (and this circular fallacy is in fact used to assert that the attackers must be either financed by RAW and/or Mossad). In fact, it may be fair to say that this kind of response to such a tragedy is perhaps as disturbing and worrisome as the act itself because it tells us that even in this time of crisis and when we as a nation are under attack, we are still unable to see that the threat comes very much from within us.
Regrettably, this view — that outsiders have something to do with these attacks or that the attackers cannot be Muslims — is perpetuated in large part by sections of the media and this plays right into the hands of the terrorists. In fact, this perpetuation is so prevalent in society in general that one sometimes wonders whether there is some real sympathy for the terrorists among ordinary Pakistanis. And then when one begins to see the latent dislike or hatred if you will of America among many Pakistanis — for the right or wrong reasons — things begin to make sense. Even the attack on an Ahmadi place of worship in Mardan, also on Friday, which killed two worshippers, can be ‘rationalised’ under this paradigm because the people being targeted are deemed ‘kafirs’ and hence ‘wajibul qatl’. This is exactly how the sectarian outfits such as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi or Sipah-e-Sahaba justify the murder of Shias in this country, and unless we stand up to it and challenge their hegemony the terrorists will not even begin to be defeated.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2010.