Shot in the Heart

Lahore attack

Two weeks ago, a bus exploded while driving through Peshawar. 15 innocent people were killed in the terrorist bomb attack. If you were not aware of this tragedy, do not feel too guilty. It was barely mentioned by the media. Some government and military leaders gave a short tweet condemning the attack, but mostly the entire nation went on with our busy lives, watching cricket, visiting friends, and complaining about how the Western media only makes a big deal when Westerners are killed. In other words, it could have been any other day. Yesterday, another blast was carried out. This one got our attention. It was a shot right in the heart.

This time it was not a bus in Peshawar, it Gulshan-i-Iqbal park in Lahore. And it wasn’t 15 government employees who were martyred, it was 70 innocent people including women and children. Just how sick the minds of these terrorists are was shown when a suicide bomber detonated himself next to children’s rides to maximise the inhumanity and brutality of his evil deed.

Reaction has been quick and coming from all corners, but the response also includes the common problems that have kept us from successfully defeating the terrorist threat since many years.

The Army has declared an operation against all militants in Punjab, but it is unclear if we are still using the old definition of ‘militant’ that quietly excludes supposedly ‘pro-Pakistan’ militants like Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Jaish-e-Mohammad. These groups have been protected from previous operations because they are seen as no threat to the state, even though there is increasing evidence that by radicalising people they are feeding recruits to Daesh and TTP and other anti-Pakistan groups. Will the Army finally give up its delusions that some jihadi groups are no threat?

Whatever Army does, there is also the problem that military operations alone cannot solve the problem which is rooted in a radicalised public. This was also made clear by the fact that while security forces were responding to the suicide blast in Lahore, they also had to respond to over 25,000 extremists marching on parliament. These were not TTP militants, they were our neighbors. The people we pass in the street every day. And they have been so radicalised that they were taking out a violent march against our own government. By definition, that should make them anti-state militants, but if we accept that fact, then how much of our population must be considered as such? The answer is too terrifying to think about.

Our leaders are giving the same excuses and circular thinking that brought us to this point. Khawaja Asif is denying that the attackers are not Muslims or Pakistanis.

TV anchors are preaching appeasement of terrorists

Or trying to shift the attention away from jihadi terrorists to India

Meanwhile, the rest of us are complaining about whether the Eiffel Tower was lit up green and whether the West is giving us the same respect as Brussels and Paris. At a time when we need to look inwards and heal our own country, instead we are looking outward and wallowing in our victim mentality.

I am going to say this now: Who cares how the West responds? Who cares if London and New York and Paris are showing solidarity with us in our time of grief? They will or they will not. Do you think that the terrorists will be so shocked by a green Eiffel Tower and give up their jihad? Do you think Facebook profile pics or Twitter hashtags will cause extremists to wake up and walk away from their guns and bombs? It is a meaningless waste of time and energy.

We are facing a life and death situation. It is not going to be fixed by Western solidarity, and it is not going to be fixed by Army operations. It is not going to be fixed by appeasement. It is not going to be fixed by blaming India. Our country is going to live or die based on whether you – yes YOU – decide whether you are willing to take your country back from the extremist elements that have hijacked it.

Valuing Some Lives Over Others

Peshawar bus blastAfter the international media highlighted the jihadi attack in Paris last year, many began to ask why the world gave so much attention when Westerners are killed but virtually ignore when non-Westerners are killed. It is a double standard that is to obvious not to notice. However there is another double standard that has been on display today and it is not by Westerners but here at home. I am talking about our own response to 15 innocent people killed in a bomb attack on a bus in Peshawar today.

The attack brought the usual condemnations from politicians, but these were quickly overshadowed by the nation celebrating the T20 victory over Bangladesh. Actually, even before the victory the national attention was completely focused on the match. Obviously this match brought a much needed jolt of confidence and national pride especially after the disappointing Asia Cup failure. Still I must admit my excitement was not at its full level due to the guilt I felt for celebrating while I knew that there were families grieving after another senseless terrorist attack. However many people I wonder if they even aware that we were attacked again and dozens more of our countrymen martyred?

Some people may not be fully aware because the media does appear to be under-reporting the incident possibly due to notifications not to give too much attention to the terrorists. Same excuse cannot be made for others, though. The height of insensitivity had to be when Imran Khan decided to go ahead with a celebration of Tourism Policy KP.

Imran Khan Tourism KPAnother example that Kaptaan is completely out of touch with reality? How can he lead a celebration of KP tourism policy while citizens are suffering and grieving after such an attack? Or is he so out of touch with what is taking place under his nose that he is even unaware when a blast takes place?

I am not denying that Westerners are more sensitive when Westerners are killed. This is something that we must find a way to overcome because defeating the terrorists needs all people to unify against extremism. We must also make sure that we are not also accusing Westerners of doing what we are doing also. Today we suffered another senseless terrorist attack that killed 15 of our brothers and sisters, but for many of us it seems like nothing happened. How can we expect others to appreciate our sacrifice when we do not appreciate it ourselves?

‘Otherising’ Terrorism: Paris to Peshawar

Paris attack

The terrorist attack in Paris was too familiar to many of us. Scenes of panic as people try to figure out what is happening, not knowing if they are safe or if they will be the next target. Reports of well trained gunmen, casually walking through crowded buildings and killing innocents calmly, smiling even as they commit atrocities most of us could not even imagine in our sickest nightmares. Heartfelt grief and support poured out from around the world as we watched helplessly while another tragedy unfolded before our eyes on our TV screens. These sorts of scenes have become too common, and now it does not even take a day before questions and accusations are thrown about.

Almost before the first report of a Syrian passport was broadcast, already there were people claiming the attack was a ‘false flag’ intended to stop the settlement of refugees. I am not going to dignify such idiocy with a proper debunking, but will only point out that no  country, European or anywhere else, needs to murder its own citizens in order to refuse refugees. Actually, it serves the agenda of Daesh much more than it does the West if refugees are refused, which should be enough in itself. Now, this part of Daesh’s plan seems to be coming true. Nations are re-thinking to let refugees in, essentially relegating them to a fate of choosing between joining Daesh or dying. It is the ancient strategy of conversion by the sword.

We have taken great pleasure in pointing out the cold hypocrisy of abandoning war refugees, even while we resent and try to get rid of the millions from Afghanistan that have taken refuge here. But there is a bigger lesson that I think we should not miss.

Western countries want to refuse refugees because they are afraid that some terrorists will sneak in with them and carry out new attacks. The idea is that they will be safe if they seal their borders. But this assumes that the terrorists are someone ‘other’ than European. However except for possibly one person, the attackers appear to be Europeans. This is the important point that is being missed: There are thousands of Europeans joining Daesh. Why would they need to smuggle in refugees?

This is an important warning for Europe, but it is also an important lesson for Pakistan. After every terrorist attack here, we point to someone outside the country. Usually it is India, and even GHQ has taken the unprecedented action of blaming India for terrorism.

A recent survey found that most Pakistanis believe that foreign powers are behind terrorism in the country.

According to the survey, about 55 percent of respondents believe India is involved behind terrorism in Pakistan. Another 29 percent blame the US for sponsoring terrorism in Pakistan. Overall, 79 percent of the respondents see a foreign hand behind terrorism in Pakistan.

This belief is firmly held even though the people caught for committing the terrorist acts are never Indians or Americans but always Pakistanis. Salmaan Taseer killer? Pakistani. Sabeen Mahmud killer? Pakistani. PAF Badaber attackers? Pakistani. APS Peshawar attackers? Pakistani. Wagah bomber? Pakistani. Jacobabad attackers? Pakistani. The list goes on and on and on.

When Europeans place the blame of terrorism on refugees, they are missing the point that the threat of extremism is already spreading within their own societies. Daesh does not have to invade with people because they have already invaded with ideology. They have converted Europeans to their madness and now those Europeans are turning on their own people. Just like the extremist ideology has spread here and it is our own people who are turning on us.

In order to defeat terrorism, we have to stop looking to blame someone else. From Paris to Peshawar, it is the extremist mindset and jihadi ideology that is at the root of these atrocities. We have experienced this for decades and suffered the most from it’s poison. We should be able to warn Europe and correct their mistaken strategy of blaming refugees and an ‘other’ for threatening terrorist attacks. But before we can save anyone else, we will have to save ourselves by admitting that it is the same problem we are facing also.

Disturbing Facts Behind #PeshawarAttack

The most disturbing fact in the 16th December attack on Army Public School Peshawar is the one most often noted: The terrible loss of 141 innocent lives including the unspeakable crime of murder against 132 children. It was a crime that must never be allowed to happen again. In order for that to happen, we must take note of some other disturbing facts that are getting less attention.

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Forgive me Allah but I am losing hope

I do not often find myself at a complete lost for words. But what can be said? What can one say after 131 children are slaughtered in the name of religion? What can one say that has not already been said so many times? In a few short hours I have experienced a full range of emotions. I have been shocked. I have been angry. I have despaired. It is like a nightmare that repeats itself and I cannot wake up.

Today the nation is united in mourning and outrage, but I fear it will not last. Already there are vested interests trying to manipulate the tragedy for their own gain. Already there are those terming it as a ‘false flag’ operation that was actually carried out by ‘Raymond Davis Network’.

False Flag

It is being blamed on Indian RAW.

RAW

ISPR, COAS, and PM have all declared the terrorists as defeated, and yet they continue to carry out their attacks at will. The monsters carrying out these attacks do so in plain daylight, and yet we seem more willing to believe the stupidest conspiracies than what is right before our eyes.

131 children slaughtered.

131 children slaughtered.

131. Children. Slaughtered.

And within hours we are already making excuses for their killers.

Forgive me Allah but I am losing hope.