Amar Zafarullah’s column in the Tribune yesterday made me think about a curious statistic from the recent survey titled “Radicalisation in Pakistan”. The survey found that “…only 22 per cent of [respondents] in Fata believed that the Taliban are fighting for a just cause. What is more perplexing is that 45 per cent in Fata did not answer this question.” I cannot help but wonder, is this really so perplexing? And does it tell us something very important about what we need to do to pull our nation out of this mess we are in?
Most people in Pakistan or in any nation, I imagine, are not on a daily basis concerning themselves with matters of global politics and international intrigue. What is foremost on people’s minds is taking care of their families – making sure there is good food, that the children have some education and are learning to be good and responsible people, that sons and daughters alike are safe and have the opportunity to someday have families of their own. The cycle repeats itself.
So when asked by someone if you support the Taliban, most people do not. But more than this, most people do not want to be involved. Most people do not want Taliban or drones or any trouble to be there at all. They just want to be left alone to lead their lives in peace. If you are living in Fata and some stranger asks you if you support Taliban, probably you are going to not answer even if you do not support Taliban because you do not want to be involved.
Unfortunately, we are involved without our own choice.
Amar Zafarullah makes a very good point:
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, Pakistan has suffered heavy financial losses which as per some estimates lie around $35 billion and over 25,000 civilians and 8,000 security personnel have lost their lives. Despite such colossal damages from the heinous acts of terrorism in Pakistan, the apologists dominate the mainstream media. If such explicit or covert support to terrorists was extended in any other civilised country there would be a huge public outrage. The media and former intelligence gurus escape the public backlash despite their incoherent bizarre conspiracy theories that justifies violence, simply because even if “the silent majority” does not endorse and support their viewpoints, it also does not out rightly reject them. As per a new report, sweets were distributed at a local seminary in Gunjranwla after the massacre of Ahamdis in Lahore and Nawaz Sharif, the former premier, came under heavy fire from the clergy when he merely stated that Ahmadis were our brothers and an asset to Pakistan — so much for inter-faith harmony.
As much as we want to be left alone, as much as we want to not be involved and have everything bad just go away, it is not going to happen until we speak out. Taliban can continue to attack, TV anchors can continue to make apologies for them, and politicans can continue to escape the responsibilities for these nightmares. There is only one group that can stop the madness, and it is us.
Will you continue to stay silent, or finally speak out?