Many Pakistani bloggers I read are only writing about this right now and I can understand. In grief there is another sort of coming together. If what is happening to my country affects me so much psychologically from so far away, I cannot even imagine how much it affects the people who are there. The affect that this must have in not only fearing for yourself and everyone you love but also grieving for the sufferers and the chaos that we seem to be in.
Some people have written very well about it and I am going to go ahead and refer to Cyril Almeida’s article on the leadership needing to take a stance. I agree with him completely, the people of Pakistan are yearning to be called together, united against this barbarism. One would think that it is an easy thing to do for a politician, to give encouraging words and condolences to a people so hungry for them.
I am also wondering if other people are wondering how could it ever have come to this? How could we have let it happen? And finally, if we are really introspective, we could ask our individual selves, how could I be part of such monstrosity? I know there are newspaper articles asking why Peshawar? Why us? But to the outside world, it looks like Pakistanis are inflicting this upon themselves.
I am wondering if this will move and mobilize us to newer heights? I can’t help it, I’m always looking for a way out of bad situations. I am wondering if we will learn some crucial lessons here, like other countries did after they went through extremely trying times. The ones I would know of are France and Germany; both, in the aftermath of WWII had to come to terms with their identities, the crimes their own citizens had committed and those that had been committed on their territories by foreigners. They had to redefine nationalism and the French most certainly had had enough of fighting on their own soil. In French schools today we learn about the devastating consequences of war, of the death and sadness, of totalitarian regimes, and of the aftermath of war. We also learn how a healthy democracy, free speech and tolerance is meant to guard against future Hitlers.
So I wonder how the Pakistanis will learn to guard against future Taliban? I wonder if there will be more who move away from the extreme right and stop blaming their problems on Israel, India, or some other secret conspiracy? Questioning religion in all its aspects could be allowed in mosques and at the home. Maybe we won’t look the other way when extremist groups emerge. We could stop repeating stupid stories about other Muslim sects and maybe just ask our friends what they believe in. And once that is done, we could recognise that we are free to choose what we believe in and go home satisfied.
We could try harder to find better rulers and not base our vote along ethnic lines. We may take a more active interest in civic society and demand better distribution of wealth and power into each of the provinces. We now know that depriving a whole people consistently only makes them rebel. (Examples, Bangladesh, Baluchistan and now NWFP). We could go ahead and integrate ethnically into the rest of the country, hell, we are so damn racist amongst ourselves, how can we possibly point to the outside world for discriminating against us?
I know we don’t want to think about these things whilst we are being attacked, when we are thinking of survival. But survive we will in some form, and inshAllah soon enough, we will have to start picking up the pieces to put them together again. We could do a better job of it this time.