On Dec. 16, humanity witnessed Black Day, leaving the world pained with the awareness that grievances in the modern world still run rampant, and that hate, depravity and sheer wretchedness have come to define them.
The most vile terror attack became a harrowing reality when Pakistan’s Taliban attacked an Army Public School in Peshawar, indiscriminately killing 145 innocent people, including 132 fragile, starry-eyed school children with decades of life ahead that deserved to be lived.
News of the Peshawar attack carved a gaping hole in my heart and in the hearts of many others worldwide. On that day, we saw another stain mark Pakistan’s already tainted reputation, we witnessed another example of the perversion of Islam, and we were painfully reminded, yet again, that evil does exist in the world.
With a heavy heart, I am left questioning Pakistani society. When will the terrorism be erased from the national narrative? When will Pakistan achieve full humanity?
To paraphrase Noam Chomsky: the only effective way to eliminate terrorism is to stop participating in it. Homegrown militancy in Pakistan must end, but the end will not come by way of intensifying defense and military operations. There is no use in bombing Taliban operated areas, or even in lifting the death penalty ban for terrorists to be executed.
The lust for terrorist blood will not give us back our children. It will not help mothers accept the fact that their children’s lives were instantly politicized when they were made martyrs of sectarian violence and byproducts of governmental dysfunction. It will do nothing productive. Indeed, intensifying the war after each terrorist attack will only add fuel to the fire of a war against militancy.
Remember, hate mongers and fundamentalists exist not exclusively as stone-hearted militants and terrorists; they do not always come dressed in traditional garb, shouting sacred phrases and intimidating en masse. Rather, they come also as insensitive politicians — the same politicians responsible for promoting impunity with hatred.
To honor the fallen, the government must work to instead reverse the discrimination embedded in Pakistan’s common society. It must see an end to prejudice against Pakistani minorities: Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus and women. It must ban textbooks that carry God-like tones, teaching impressionable students religious intolerance. It must repeal all blasphemy laws that elevate a certain belief. It must abolish the religious monopoly currently plaguing the society, and it must acknowledge that intolerance begets terrorism.
Once the society reflects progressiveness and eliminates bigotry from its norms, then perhaps the dream of a safe and stable Pakistan can be made a reality. Each occurrence of terrorism, until that day, will serve only as a reminder of the failure to do so.
“Any creative encounter with evil requires that we not distance ourselves from it by simply demonizing those who commit evil. When it comes to coping with evil, ignorance is our worst enemy.” – Kathleen Norris
I envision a Pakistan that can achieve full humanity, but only when the weeds of fanaticism are uprooted from a garden of potential peace, and when nutrients are instead fed to the soil before poison spoils the possibility of growth.
The Poly Post, Vol. 30