I was sitting in my office, looking for partners for an upcoming event on social media, when my Twitter feed started to report the attack on Army Public School in Peshawar. The initial reaction of ‘here we go again’ soon changed to the numbing shock that still hasn’t worn off.
The maximum age of the children targeted was 16 years.
How can anyone do this to children? No doctrine, no cause, nothing can justify this act of brutality.
Animals are capable of showing more mercy than this. Time and again you come across stories of animals caring for the cubs of a different specie and domestic pets are seen opting a protective role towards the children of the house.
No parent should have to bury their child. There is no closure. They carry the scars for the rest of their lives and no words or gesture can even come close to what they are going through. With time other people will move on, like they always do, but the memory of this nightmare will stay fresh forever in the eyes of those who lost their loved ones.
This is not the first time that we have been hit by the extremists. The previous incidents are no less brutal. We are a classic depiction of the quote ‘A single death is a tragedy, a millions deaths is a statistic’. Our constant state of amnesia has not helped the situation any further. After every incident there is an outburst from every quarter for a few days and then it is back to normal until the next carnage that leaves a number of dead bodies and a larger number of living dead.
For how long can the threshold be tested?
The Peshawar attack saw that threshold broken. People who until now have taken these incidents with a straight face broke down. Those who refused to leave this country in their prime and clenched to optimism and hope, talked about looking for a future outside Pakistan.
This feeling of helplessness and anger are leading to despair. The powers to be are as always no help. There is a lot of noise but no actual work. The moratorium on death penalty was lifted and welcomed. However, in the same period known terrorists are given bail and individuals like Shafqat Hussain, arrested at the age of 14 and confessed under torture are being sentenced to death. Meanwhile, the Interior Minister wants the general public to step up and report people who are buying too many rotis at the same time or paying less rent than the going rate.
Where is a substantial National Security Policy?
The only sign of hope if any comes from the likes of Jibran Nasir from the civil society, who have taken a stand against the use of our religion to spread hate speech. Compared to all the reactions, only this one seems to be in the right direction. The impact of this campaign is yet to be seen but in this state of utter helplessness, efforts like these are the only windows of hope. Is it too much to ask that the State provides them the security against threats?
Let us never forget.