The indignation, fury and righteous anger have already been expressed. Not just in Pakistan, but also in India, where members of the Lok Sabha bowed their heads in silence and the prime minister offered his deepest sympathy. The massacre has been condemned by almost all world leaders — China, America, France, Italy, Turkey, Australia and even the Afghan Taliban. Tony Abbott of Australia was the most vocal. “It is simply impossible to put into words the mixture of grief and fury that must be felt by people in Pakistan, and indeed around the world, at this latest terrorist atrocity; and I hope that somewhere in the hearts of people who might otherwise be attracted to this, there is a realisation that it is never, ever right to kill innocent people. And that’s what we’ve seen on a mass scale in Pakistan overnight.” Narendra Modi referred to the act as cowardly and senseless as the Taliban unleashed unspeakable horror. What is particularly galling is that after owning up to the carnage, the Taliban proudly posted pictures of the team that carried out the infantile execution.
Militancy has now been recognised as the global enemy. Not the odd agitator who still wears the hammer and sickle on his T-shirt. Or the odd anarchist who is like a character nicked from the old French and Italian films where everybody is a nihilist of sorts and displays a cynical philistine artiness. Even at the height of the Cold War neither the Soviet Union and its satellites nor the United States and its allies went around deliberately targeting children and blowing up schools. They just did the adults in and one is supposed to sit back and say well, that’s all right, mate. The intelligence agencies in both camps committed outrageous atrocities and we were led to believe that their actions were motivated by ideology. A critic who didn’t approve of my preference for Barack Obama over other US presidents was quick to point out that the drones the Americans send into Waziristan also kill children. Of course they do. But next to the Taliban and their rivals the IS, the other terrorists look like boy scouts. The point is, as Chris Cork pointed out in his hard-hitting piece published in this paper on December 18, no government in Pakistan had recognised just what had been happening in the country, and even if they had, they just ignored it or turned a deaf ear to the gradual fomentation of aggressive radicalism that was taking place and eating into the populace like cancer.
All communities are equally vulnerable. The silent majority has become the silent minority and did on occasion express the view that things might have been different if General Kayani had sprung into action when he was the head of the army. The commercial class, when it comes to chipping in to arrest a rapidly deteriorating trend, develops the pulse of a hibernating frog. The politicians carry on with their little games in parliament, do their share of posing and table thumping, and mutter under their breath that catching the suicide bombers is the job of the army… not the politicians. The newspapers, staffed mostly by left wingers, are baying for action. The only force that is hitting back against the internal enemy is the military, and the military cannot do it alone. Unless we, as a people, unify down to the last man as the Vietnamese did when fighting a superpower, we will continue to be at the mercy of an enemy without a conscience, without scruples and without a country. And that, my dear Horatio, is a tall order.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2014.
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