If ever they were human, one can no longer tell.
The murderers who perpetrated the horrific attack on innocent refugees in Kohat on Saturday cannot possibly be described as anything other than vicious barbarians. No normal human being can fathom the all-encompassing insanity that the masterminds of this attack no doubt embody. But one thing is absolutely certain: the Taliban’s claim to be fighting for Islam is laughable at best and aggravatingly insulting at worst to the those who do not believe that faith requires the murder of the defenceless.
The refugees had been fleeing the fighting in the Orakzai tribal agency, part of the government’s war against the Taliban. These are ordinary people who only want to live in peace, lives that have been violently disrupted by both the Taliban and the military. Unlike the military, however – which ultimately seeks to restore order and is taking at least some measures to ease their suffering in the interim period – the Taliban seem to feel that a fiveyear- old child who is not fighting alongside them or waiting to become collateral damage of the war is some sort of collaborator who deserves to be put to death.
Anyone who still feels that there may be some merit to this band of murders is either blind or mentally ill. There can be legitimate debate about how to tackle the problem of militancy and one can even respect those who feel that war is not the right answer. But about this there can be no more debate: the Taliban must be eliminated and the government should do all in its power to do so. These people do not represent any interpretation of Islam that the people of Pakistan are familiar with or would want to live under.
People like having the choice of whether or not men can shave. We like being engaged with the modern world. And we do not believe that piety requires us to give up any of those choices. Above all, the constitution of this republic guarantees us the right to interpret our religions – whether they be Islam, Christianity, Hinduism or any other faith – as we see fit. And we stand united in rejecting the Taliban’s madness.