I am a terrorist

Does the title get your attention? Well, it should. Because you are a terrorist also. We all are, really, aren’t we? Sure, we may not be strapping bombs on our bodies or shooting up hospitals and mosques. But we facilitate these acts by looking the other way, by doing nothing. After all, don’t we have more important issues? Like Facebook? Oh, that’s back now. What is it this week? Ah, yes, the Gaza flotilla. Or perhaps it is the judicial commission to appoint superior court judges that is more important than stopping terrorists. Whatever our excuse, as long as we are paying attention to something else, aren’t we really part of the problem, too?

Naveen Naqvi certainly thinks so. Her brilliant column for Express Tribune should bring shame to all of us.

There are many before me who have written about Friday’s attack on the Ahmadis in Lahore. By the time this piece goes into print, still more will have written — and written better — of the audacious attack on Jinnah Hospital by the terrorists who came back to save their own. However, if I do not write of these attacks, I will become more complicit than I already am, for isn’t it true that every time I renew my passport I am complicit as are you? Every minute that I hold my national identity card, I may as well be holding a gun to the head of any minority in Pakistan.

The power-holders who created and bred these killers were complicit. Those who continue to feed them for strategic reasons are complicit. Whoever is the voice in the recording that did the rounds on the internet before it became a scandal and threatened to be a lawsuit, the one that said Ahmadis were kafirs, he is complicit. Let us also not forget the immediate reaction from the state, which was predictably to not look inward but to blame the ‘foreign hand.’ I could almost see Tariq Aziz, fist raised in the air standing at the stage of his Neelam Ghar, bellowing, ‘Sahee jawab kay liye, Rahber water cooler aap ka hua! Denialistan Zindabad!’

But wait, it’s not over yet. We cannot overlook the judiciary on which we have pinned our hopes, the Supreme Court that set free the greatest hate-monger against religious minorities, Hafiz Saeed. Then there is the government, which indicates a possible military operation against what have now been conveniently coined the Punjabi Taliban while allowing Saeed to embark on the extremist version of a rock tour.

One thinks there is hope yet. There is the activist community. A few members of Karachi’s civil society collected at the Press Club to agitate against the assault on the Ahmadis. They could only assemble for half an hour, and had to cut their protest short. Why? Because, reminiscent of a “Monty Python” skit, next in line was the anti-Israel protest. Of course, this was the real crowd-puller. They easily managed to nudge and jostle their way in. ‘Well, it’s our turn now, innit?’ The liberals, having been threatened by a bunch of murderous thugs just a week before over the Facebook fiasco, complied and withdrew.

Much as I disagree with Israel’s actions, I was ashamed to read in the papers the following day that in Islamabad alone a thousand people came out to protest within minutes of the attack on the flotilla.

No matter what I write, and how I may protest or apologise, it does not change the fact that I am complicit.

I am terrorist and so are you.

How can we complain about the US doing nothing to stop Israel from attacking unarmed civilians carrying humanitarian aid – standing by idly and watching it happen – when we ourselves stand by and watch unarmed civilians praying or at hospital get gunned down in their own country.

I have to admit, when I first read about the Israeli attack, I was furious. But I must admit also that a part of me was relieved. Here is something that I can be furious about, but I don’t really have to do anything. I can be outraged without having any responsibility. Already when I write on this blog about jihadis, people post a comment or send me an email that says, “I don’t think you are a TRUE Muslim” or “Why do write about these things that make Pakistan look bad.” If only writing some words gets this response, how can I face the response in the street?

Sometimes I think I should just write about cricket or music. These are safe topics. But my life is already safe. Already I am not involved. Even as I write these words, what am I doing? Rehman Malik says the government has intelligence that the Taliban is planning a major attack on us. If this happens, what will I have done to stop it? Will I sit idly by and watch it happen, then write some article about how sad I am?

I have spent the past weeks thinking about Facebook, Israel, Supreme Court dramas. Everything but the growing army of killers that slaughters our citizens in the street. I do nothing to stop it. I am their best ally.

And so are you.

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