You are either with us or with the terrorists

Published: December 18, 2014
SHARES
Email
The writer is Executive Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain 
fahd.husain@tribune.com.pk

The writer is Executive Director News, Express News. He tweets @fahdhusain [email protected]

There is no language on this planet — and perhaps beyond — that can put into words the apocalyptic tragedy of the Peshawar school attack. There is no deeper grief, no greater shock, no bigger trauma than this. And there can be no greater loathing, no greater revulsion, and absolutely no greater hunger for vengeance than what unfolded in that school on 16.12.14.

We shall never forget. We shall never forgive. Ever.

Is this then the defining moment? And is the moment finally upon us? Is this the point where nations take a definitive turn; where they shed all confusion, hesitation, ambiguity and discover the clarity of their calling? Is this the time — the shock — that will bury our doubts forever?

Some brutal questions will now need to be asked. For a nation desensitised to violence and torn asunder by doubt, can the inhuman massacre of 130 children be a wake-up call? And if not, do we then deserve to call ourselves a nation? Apologists for the terrorists float around us like a bad odour. They sow in our minds poisonous seeds of doubt and confusion. They legitimise everything that is illegitimate.  And by doing so, they weaken our resolve, dampen our fury, fracture our unity.

But after 16.12.14? Even now? Can someone on this God’s earth justify the absolute, inhuman brutality in Peshawar? And if someone does — which they will — what should be their fate beyond shaming? Anyone who can find justifications for the massacre of children has to be either sick in the mind, or dehumanised beyond redemption. Yet, such people exist, and they must be dealt with by us in a manner befitting their sickness.

But the real sickness lies somewhere else. It is the deadly virus that resides in dark and dingy power corridors, breeding surreptitiously on expediency with a generous sprinkling of cowardice. It is a sickness that gnaws away the power-wielder’s spine, and bites off its grit. It is a vile, terrible and evil sickness that amputates the government’s courage, and shreds away its resolve.

This sickness has strengthened the terror monster, and brought the nation to its knees. If any sickness needs a cure, it is this one.

For three and a half decades our governments have been busy creating monsters that are now eating our children. Now all the APCs in the world cannot slay them, and all the operations in the world cannot annihilate them. If the barbaric slaughter in Peshawar is indeed the final terrible shock that we needed to get into action, then this action cannot just be confined to pulling triggers. For the final battle, we will have to look deep inside ourselves, and recognise the monster in the mirror.

Hatred, bigotry, intolerance and orchestrated blindness have seeped so deep within our fabric that uprooting them will take more than an operation here and an announcement there. You want to recognise the problem? Just look at the faces gathered at the Governor’s House in Peshawar on Wednesday. Many of them sitting around the Prime Minister are the problem. These are the people who wield power, authority and influence. They are the ones who inject this influence into policy. They have been in an out of power for decades, and have had their fingers deep into statecraft. Yes, the same statecraft that has sanctified Frankenstein’s monsters who decapitate men, women and children. These men sitting around in the Governor’s House exude duplicity. They are masters of mouthing nothings and doing even less. They indulge in this crime because that’s what keeps them in business. And even today, even after the unimaginable in Peshawar, these men will utter polite nothings . Even today they will spew forth big words that will evaporate in the grief-laden air of Peshawar.

The moment for decisive action is upon us. The nation is ready. Emotions are sky high. Grief unites. So does rage. The state and the government are supposed to reflect the will of the people. There’s not much we as Pakistanis agree on. But here today, after what they did to our beautiful children, we all agree on one thing:

Vengeance.

Yes kill ‘em hard and hang ‘em high. But beyond this lies the harder part of vengeance: cleansing this poisonous influence from society. Cut their funding, reform the madrassahs, review the entire curriculum in every province, legislate against hate speech, wash away the filth from the constitution, stop using proxies for foreign adventures, ruthlessly crush all militant groups within the country, severe all political ties with extremists and their ideological cousins, ban and then enforce the ban on all hate literature. That’s a start.

There was a time for building consensus and doing nothing in the absence of this consensus. That time is long past. This country has to barrel ahead and bury militancy forever. Whoever jumps aboard this agenda is welcome, but those who do not must be pushed aside. If the government of the day cannot muster the courage for this, then it has absolutely no right to stay in power. We are looking at an existential challenge, and any leader who refuses to recognise this challenge for what it is must step aside, or be pushed aside.

The massacre in Peshawar shall not be forgotten. It shall not be forgiven. Now you are either with us or with the terrorists. The time for sitting on the fence is over. If the gathering of political leaders in Peshawar cannot sense this anger and resolve of the nation; if they cannot feel the deep wound inflicted on us on Tuesday; and if they cannot recognise the enormity of this moment, then they will pay dearly for their ignorance.

No more press releases and sanitised statements, no more meaningless promises and hollow commitments, no more craven behavior and cowardly demeanour – no more hypocrisy. We cannot live down the ghastliness of the crime committed.

The monster in the mirror is staring back at us, daring us to slay it.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th,  2014.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (31)

  • MSS
    Dec 18, 2014 - 2:00AM

    Fahd, agree with every single word that you have written. Your advice has fallen on deaf ears for more than 2years now. However, you are optimistic that people will not forget ever. A bigger event, if not prevented by a whole hearted effort at the national level, will make this sad and inhumane event look trivial and you will find yourself repeating the same piece. Pakistan government and politicians need to come out of the denial mode and for once, accept the cause of this sick mindset and prioritise efforts and resources.

    Recommend

  • Rex Minor
    Dec 18, 2014 - 3:10AM

    The monster in the mirror is staring back at us, daring us to slay it.
    your article Sir does not require any comments; the devil is in complete control and the ceremony of death dance will commence at midnight. You have crossed over to the darker side of the sun and I pray that may the creator forgive the people of Pakistan from the dreadful days yet to come.

    Rex Minor

    Recommend

  • Napier Mole
    Dec 18, 2014 - 3:21AM

    This was the moment when the PM should have come up with a bold statement: hands off Pakistan. This should have been meant for Saudi Arabia and its petrodollar rich minions as well as for Iran: a set of countries who have flooded our promising country with their paid for bigotries, ideologies and hatreds and got us caught up in a whirlpool of mayhem which finally resulted in the apocalypse of 16 December. Why dont we ever hear of sectarian and religion based clashes in any of the Persian Gulf littoral countries while Pakistan is being made to implode to serve their ideologies and centuries old religious and historical conflicts.

    This is time for a paradigm, nay, cataclysmic shift in our civil and military psyche.If not, then the sound of shrieks will continue to haunt our souls at mind numbing intervals.

    Recommend

  • Ranjha
    Dec 18, 2014 - 3:21AM

    There is no language on this planet — and perhaps beyond — that can put into words the apocalyptic tragedy of the Peshawar school attack

    Actually there is: it is called the horrible, stinking fruit of years of political Muk Mukka!

    Recommend

  • Afghan Maihan
    Dec 18, 2014 - 4:31AM

    Calling a spade a spade, is the noblest characteristic in a man. If more men like Mr. Fahd Husain lived in Pakistan it would not have suffered through this most tragic and horrible incident.

    Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Dec 18, 2014 - 5:59AM

    First of all, everyone in the armed forces, police, para military forces, government employees and elected representatives should take a fresh oath that they are only loyal to Pakistan and its constitution. Anyone who has supported these criminals must apologize and regret his behaviour and seek pardon from the nation. If his (or her) support has done any harm to the country and nation, he should present himself for accountability and punishment. Those who refuse, should be court martialed and imprisoned for rest of their lives. Without eliminating these people from armed forces, government and elected houses. any victory over extremists is impossible.

    Recommend

  • Tousif_Latif
    Dec 18, 2014 - 7:45AM

    Retaliating to this brutality in the style of George Bush is no solution.This will further aggravate the situation.We have reached to this point because the vested interest of the deep state blinded them of the consequences.Now we should shift our focus to social realities of Pakistan and make this land a land of opportunities for each and every citizen of the state.Inequality of the levels that exist in Pakistan is horrible .Why some government jobs in Pakistan are known for the life style that comes with the job ?Why teaching is not a profession of choice in this country?Why our teachers are are not trained properly to equip them with modern tools of teaching .Why million of our children are not enrolled in any school?Address these issues .Recommend

  • Ahmed Saeed
    Dec 18, 2014 - 8:35AM

    We will never forget. At least I won’t. This has to end once and for all. Great article.

    Recommend

  • Tariq Asghar
    Dec 18, 2014 - 8:40AM

    Too many grasping and greedy hands in mosques are all too eager to get hold of Arab money and sell their soul to the devil in the process, aren’t they; too many corrupt imams growing fat on the riches from the KSA. And truly depressing how sheep-like congregants throughout Pakistan have been, allowing Saudi influence to grow and spread.

    Recommend

  • ibrahim
    Dec 18, 2014 - 9:00AM

    Agreed. Time is upon us to uproot them once and for all. I, hereby also must reiterate the importance of creating the atmosphere of patience and the ability of listening others views. Our electronic and print media can play a huge huge role in this regard. Furthermore it is the duty of each and every one of us to lay stress on the importance of patience and regard in our own localities and places of work.

    Recommend

  • raider
    Dec 18, 2014 - 11:40AM

    yes we are with pakistan and imarn khan

    Recommend

  • Salma
    Dec 18, 2014 - 12:57PM

    For heaven’s sake, for the sake of the country called Pakistan, for the sake of the children here and everywhere, let us not forget that not YOU but WE are either with humanity or the terrorists. Unless we have the courage to call the bluff of the rabid preacher, unless we have the courage to condemn the lumpen mob that lynches minorities, unless we have the vision not to lay blame on some “foreign hand” we will end up paying a much higher price, God forbid.

    Recommend

  • Altaf
    Dec 18, 2014 - 1:39PM

    Still in grief, i asked my self again and again ” will the establishment give up the assets it has so painfully and meticulously nurtured for decades just because it now and then hit back its own master? and the answer to me is no. The nation should brace itself for another 50,000 civilians deaths and then a turning point arrives.Maybe.

    Recommend

  • yasmin
    Dec 18, 2014 - 2:36PM

    we have to forget all financial aid/ loans etc coming from anywhere; we have to ready to depend on our resources and decide to get rid of terrorism

    Recommend

  • Muhammad Atif
    Dec 18, 2014 - 4:06PM

    Horrific attack in Peshawar which must be condemned but so much for the rule of law in Pakistan and the rights espoused by democrats. Looks like we just got George W. Bush reincarnated in Pakistan. But please while you threaten fire and brimstone on everyone who doesn’t agree with you, lets also consider the other elephant in the room which is the US and its role in Pakistan. Do you have the stomach for that so that we can get to the root of the problem?

    Recommend

  • Ahmad
    Dec 18, 2014 - 4:06PM

    Absolutely shocked and stunned! That’s at least 200 families destroyed and devastated. And probably 150 million more people will be traumatised, the rest will be forever in denial, no matter what happens – or until tragically they come for them too. Living in Scotland, I remember the shock that we all went through when 12 children were killed in a school in Dunblane. its unbelievable to think that this is at least ten times worse. May we come to our senses, otherwise we will go down in history, literally, and for the wrong reasons. As for foreign hands, we don’t need enemies outwith when we have enemies like these within. The only expressions I saw from around the world
    was of deep sorrow and sympathy. Pictures of Indian children with hands clasped in Anjali gestures was most touching. And they are supposed to be our worst enemies. And then there were also pictures of another seven so called humans preparing to go and do the unthinkable. Taliban didn’t say they were RAW, Mossad or CIA. They said it was them. God help us all.

    Recommend

  • Dr. Boodhun
    Dec 18, 2014 - 5:03PM

    Mr Husain, I have read this type of emotions before when other massacres were committed.

    When you use the word “us”, you leave the impression that only the Talibans are the monsters and the rest of the population is “innocent”. There is a Taliban ideology in all those who pretend to be sorry. After the Peshawar tragedy the whole nation should commit collective suicide for their failures.

    I agree with you that they have all become desensitized to fundamental human values and massacres. The government and its opposition have utterly failed. One baby but important step is for the Government (including Imran Khan) to become religion neutral and that should be reflected in the constitution.

    Short of that I am afraid that another worse tragedy is in the pipeline.

    Recommend

  • Feroz
    Dec 18, 2014 - 5:41PM

    I sincerely hope that this terrible incident will finally awaken sleeping citizens along with sleeping conscience and bring them onto the streets in protests. The country cannot simply keep producing terrorists and then spend precious resources countering them. The narrative as well as mindset that produces terrorists needs to be attacked without which solutions will prove elusive. Take UN sanctioned terrorists off the streets, else the fight against terrorism will be lost before it has begun.

    Recommend

  • Ahmad Malik
    Dec 18, 2014 - 9:08PM

    All of the mullahs preaching hatred should be hanged, and madrahs (breeding grounds for bigots and animals) need to be closed!

    Recommend

  • Ayaz Korejo
    Dec 18, 2014 - 9:58PM

    Fahd you have expressed my sentiments exactly. Now we as a nation, and our army well financed and trained by our sacrifices, need to wage war against these monsters and their sympathisers.

    Recommend

  • Ranjan
    Dec 19, 2014 - 12:00AM

    “You want to recognise the problem? Just look at the faces gathered at the Governor’s House in Peshawar on Wednesday. Many of them sitting around the Prime Minister are the problem. These are the people who wield power, authority and influence. They are the ones who inject this influence into policy. They have been in an out of power for decades, and have had their fingers deep into statecraft. Yes, the same statecraft that has sanctified Frankenstein’s monsters who decapitate men, women and children. These men sitting around in the Governor’s House exude duplicity. They are masters of mouthing nothings and doing even less. They indulge in this crime because that’s what keeps them in business. And even today, even after the unimaginable in Peshawar, these men will utter polite nothings.”

    Firstly, I’m sad for the loss of innocents – the children and their teachers. Now, can someone pray tell me if the judge who let Mr. Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi free is one of those people? Can someone pray tell me if the loss of lives of the Jewish children in the Chabad in Mumbai, innocents (Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Parsis, Indians, Americans, others) in the Taj Hotel and Leopold Cafe is justified? Can someone pray tell me if Hafeez Saeed is one of those faces at the Governor’s House? Can someone pray tell me if this is really The Moment, or if Pakistan will just forget it after a few weeks and move on until ….? Can someone pray with any sincerity and passion for all human life?

    Recommend

  • Ranjan
    Dec 19, 2014 - 12:19AM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:
    I don’t think you get it. Mr. Husain is clearly saying a tactical and operational response won’t make a difference; that is what has been happening for decades. What he proposes is a strategic mind-shift, an actual organic paradigm shift (sorry about that cliche` but I hope you’ll agree it is appropriate here). That INCLUDES changing the constitution and its misogynistic treatise on blasphemy and the very source of the confusion – the wrong interpretation of a religious faith. I also I think the problem is often not with Islam (or any other religion) or its interpretation but religiosity, the lack of spirituality, and the dilution of intellectual discourse. While most developing societies have this common problem, some are unfortunately too far divorced from it. Whether Mr. Husain’s thoughtful and incisive proposal (as also Ms. Siddiqua’s in today’s paper) is right or wrong, the ideas need to be discussed, debated, and followed up on in drawing rooms, schools, offices, buses, parks, mosques…. I hope for the sake of Pakistan’s living children and future generations, adults will take to this great intellectual challenge most urgently. If Pakistani adults cannot debate the existential challenges and opportunities openly and honestly without shouting out all opinions, it doesn’t take the supposedly evil Hindus, Jews, Americans, Mossad, RAW, CIA or the supposedly benign Saudi petro cash, Wahhabism, OIS, Islamiyat to destroy or save it. It’s all in your hands and heads.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Dec 19, 2014 - 1:00AM

    Nicely said……but its time that the powerful media names names and does not hold back.

    Recommend

  • QURATULAINKHAN
    Dec 19, 2014 - 2:23AM

    RESPECT Sir!
    You’ve dug deep into our patriotic, aching hearts. It’s time and We are ready!

    Recommend

  • Angry Pakistani
    Dec 19, 2014 - 3:58AM

    The first thing we need to do is crack down on leaders that don’t openly denounce the taliban.Arrest and execute Maulana abdul aziz!!

    Recommend

  • cautious
    Dec 19, 2014 - 4:41AM

    @Tousif_Latif:

    Retaliating to this brutality in the
    style of George Bush is no
    solution.This will further aggravate
    the situation

    How many terrorist attacks have been launched on America after 911? Bush may have gotten a number of things wrong but forming a committee wasn’t one of them.

    Recommend

  • JA
    Dec 19, 2014 - 9:15AM

    Your words truly represent our feelings

    Recommend

  • Billy
    Dec 19, 2014 - 12:48PM

    Ah, the headline is the classic motto of fascism. Isn’t it ironic that this is the same statement that Bush used that started all this? How’d that work out for his country?

    Recommend

  • US CENTCOM
    Dec 19, 2014 - 8:03PM

    The need of the hour is to put all differences aside and stand united against those who threaten the safety of our nations.

    Ali Khan
    Digital Engagement Team, USCENTCOM

    Recommend

  • Mansoor
    Dec 20, 2014 - 5:34PM

    Good article. It is unfortunate that often extreme tragedies have to take place in order to shake the inner conscience into action; such is the grim reality of a nation that has sold its soul to the devil that is mullah ism. If the Peshawar attack really is the last straw, the leadership in Pakistan must put its money where it’s mouth is. And this must start at the top by changing the blasphemy laws that condone this type of behavior. Every day some Christian, Hindu, Ahmadi (child in some cases) is killed by these mullahs because they he/she committed a “blasphemy” and the public and law enforcement both look the other way. Now the same monster has hit home. Let this be a real wak-up call to action and let this action start from the top by eradicating the inhuman laws that tolerate persecution, inequality, and injustice. Talk is cheap.

    Recommend

  • Raging Inferno
    Dec 20, 2014 - 11:59PM

    @Napier Mole:
    Couldn’t agree with you more! It’s time to really bid farewell to our supposed friend, Saudi Arabia & its crazy Wahhabi ideology. Saudi is the root cause of death and destruction in the Islamic world and desecration of Islam as a religion in the World. Down with the Saudi monarchy but we have their agent as PM so where do we go from here?

    Recommend

More in Opinion