Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Peshawar school massacre: A game changer for Pakistan?

Devendra Kothari PhD
Population and Development Analyst
Forum for Population Action

Now that Taliban & ISIS have shown the extent of their endless perversion, will all the Muslim countries join together to ruthlessly eliminate them?

2014 saw a number of uplifting stories, but unfortunately, we also saw the dark side of humanity rearing its ugly head too many times. The dastardly attack by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTK) on a school in Peshawar was most gruesome terror attacks on schools through the years. The Pakistani Taliban brutally slaughtered around 141 people, out of which 132 of them were school children on December 16, 2014. The scale of what has happened in Pakistan simply defies belief. Some of the disturbing pictures of the school massacre by Taliban have been circulated on WhatsApp.

The Taliban ruthlessly gunned down dozens of children. It has also been reported that most of the kids were shot in their head and many of their bodies were mutilated. 

The gruesome attack on innocent children has shaken up something in each one of us. If not, there is something inherently wrong with us. And that's precisely the point noted lyricist Prasoon Joshi, so beautifully drives home in his heart-breaking poem, which was published in one of India’s leading newspapers: Hindustan Times.    Original poem is in the Hindi which is being translated into English.[1]I am reproducing below few stanzas of the poem.
 Jab bachpan tumhari godh mein aaney se katrane lage
Jab maa ki kokh se jhankti zindagi bahar aaney se ghabrane lage 
Samjho kuch ghalat hai

(When your childhood refuses to climb onto your lap
When a fetus in a mother's womb fears stepping out into the world
Know that something is wrong)

Jab kilkariyan sahem jayein
Jab totli boliyan khamosh ho jayein
Samjho kuch ghalat hai 

(When giggles subside
When baby-talk is replaced with silence
Know that something is wrong)

Kuch nahin bahut kuch ghalat hai
Kyonki zor se barish honi chahiye thi
Poori duniya mein 

(Not something, quit a lot is wrong
There should be torrential rains
All over the world

Har jagah tapakne chahiye the aansoo
Rona chahiye tha upar wale ko aasman se
phoot phoot kar 

(The rains should wash us over
The one above should cry, from the sky
Over and over again)

Sharm se jhukni chahiye thi insaani sabhyata ki gardanein
Shok nahin soch ka waqt hai
Matam nahin sawalon ka waqt hai

(Humanity should hang its head in shame
This isn't the time to grieve, it is the time to think
This isn't the time to mourn, it is the time to question)

Agar iske baad bhi sar utha kar khada ho sakta hai insaan
Samjho ki kuch ghalat hai"

(If humankind can still stand straight with its head held high
Know that something is wrong.)

People often demand freedom of expression, but when the testing time comes, very few have the courage to stand up tall and speak against the evil. Thank you Prasoon Joshi for speaking out loud and clear thru poem. He is emphasizing that let’s not let this black day in the history of humankind melt into oblivion. Let's not be resilient as always. “It’s the time of thoughts, not mourning. It’s the time of questions, not gloom”. So what can be done? What poem is conveying that all good hearted people in the world should unite to fight this evil?

Terrorism in Pakistan has become a major and highly destructive phenomenon in recent years.  Former President Zardri, along with other top leaders has admitted that terrorist outfits were "deliberately created and nurtured" by past governments "as a policy to achieve some short-term tactical objectives". The trend began with Zia-ul-Haq’s controversial "Islamization” policies of the 1980s. His tenure as the president saw Pakistan's involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War, which led to a greater influx of ideologically driven Muslims (Mujahideen) to the western front and increased availability of guns and drugs. Most of the mujahideen were never disarmed after the war ended in Afghanistan and some of these groups were later activated at the behest of Pakistan and its ISI (Inter-service Intelligence) in the form of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan among others. These groups are now taking on the State itself, making the biggest threat to it and the people of Pakistan. These terrorist groups have progressively increased their hold on Pakistan which has led the country to total anarchy.

Whether the Peshawar massacre will be a game changer for Pakistan? The Post-Peshawar Pakistan appears a different country. Never before has the consensus against the militants and their apologists — among the politicians, judiciary, media, and within the military — been so pronounced.  Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said after the attack that there is a "changed Pakistan" since the tragedy and that there would be "no place for terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and intolerance."  For now, Pakistanis are united in their revulsion for the Taliban and other terrorist groups. But there is a fear that once the anger abates, and it will, this grim milestone will be forgotten. 

It is argued that the Pakistani DNA cannot be changed. In fact, most US analysts too held out bleak prospects of Pakistan revisiting its 'good terrorists, bad terrorists' policy. There are people in Pakistan who directly and indirectly supported such incident. People like Imran Khan may shout Go Nawaz Go, but don't even want to say anything about Taliban. Imam Abdul Aziz of the Red Mosque refused to condemn the massacre of school children. He said that the authorities should focus on arresting people accused of “more serious crimes”. Earlier this year, a school run by this cleric renamed its library in honour of the former al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden.

At least for the souls of these 132 innocent, youthful, fun-loving and energetic kids, I appeal all my Pakistani brothers and sisters to unite and teach the government a lesson, and say to them they are servants of people. Compel your government to clean up the seed of jihad that was sown a generation ago. Ensure that Pak is a place for sensible people and you can flourish. I don't want to name the good, the bad and the ugly terrorists. They are terrorists because they kill people. Start a revolution which is like a freedom struggle and make your place a heaven. People like me want to see Swat, want to climb K2, and want to visit Muzaffarabad. But we can't do with these rogues around. If you don’t awake, the State machinery will enslave you for generations to be mute and helpless spectators. The Pakistan must decide whether to be under the heel of criminals and Islamic fascists or not.

There are lots of Indians who want peace between both the countries. But there are few guys at both the sides who are not letting the thing happen. One has to recognize that the Pakistani duplicity formula is a failure and they have paid the price. The policy makers have miss-identified who the real enemy is, not India, but the Taliban like terrorists within. If Pakistani government is really serious, hang people who attacked anyone even Indians but surprisingly, they want to bail to one of the person (Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi) who was in Karachi room and was directing terrorists of Mumbai attack, instructing them to kill as many as possible. Hafiz Saeed, one of the world's most-wanted men, who has a $10 million US bounty on his head since 2012, appears openly at rallies in Pakistan, and frequently denounces India as a terrorist state. Earlier this month, special trains were organized to ferry his supporters from Islamabad to Lahore, a clear signal of his clout within the establishment. Pakistani politicians tout him as the head of an Islamic charity which enjoys popular support for its humanitarian work. What about Pakistan’s guest Dawood Ibrahim and many others so called khalistanis? It is comical to hear the PM of Pakistan talk of good and bad Taliban. Here one must take seriously the advice given by the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:  "You can't keep snakes in your backyard and expect them to only bite your neighbors”.

If Pakistan wants to survive and develop itself as a progressive and developed nation, it must do some thing what Lyrist Joshi noted: “Shok nahin soch ka waqt hai, Matam nahin sawalon ka waqt hai”. What he is saying that this isn't the time to grieve, it is the time to think; this isn't the time to mourn, it is the time to questions and action. Pakistanis must recognize and declared that the real threat to their country comes from within not from India. It comes from the organizations like TTP, Al-QAEDA, LASHKAR-E-TAIBA, etc and dishonest politicians and some army personnel who are dependably undependable about their resolve against terrorists.

I appeal all my Pakistani brothers and sisters that all of you unite, teach the government a lesson, and say to them they are servants of people. Compel your government and Army to clean up the seed of jihad that was sown a generation ago. Ensure that Pak is a place for sensible people and you can flourish. I don't want to name the good, the bad and the ugly terrorists. They are terrorists because they kill people. Start a revolution which is like a freedom struggle and make your place a heaven. One has to recognize terrorists do not represent Islam - a religion of peace, tolerance and mercy. However, due to their actions Islam is  in danger. My Muslim car mechanic who lives in a crowded lower middle class locality in Jaipur   told me “I am not shy in saying that I am better off living with (so called) non Muslims than these barbaric (so called) Muslims. Anti-Muslim protests or racism and xenophobia are steadily growing in Europe and elsewhere. Further, the Pakistani intellectuals have to work closely with the Muslim leaders to condemn those efforts to radicalise individuals, and to be clear about what the tenets of Islam actually are. Recently, Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi  opened the new year with a call for a "revolution'' in Islam to reform interpretations of the faith entrenched for hundreds of years, which he said have made the Muslim world a source of "destruction'' and pitted it against the rest of the world.

A Turning point has to come in the life of every nation! It has come to Pakistan through the attack on the Army School & the senseless killing of 132 children! I hope the Taliban baby killers have their answer soon. Pakistan must surely, surely rise up now and have a totally new and ruthless strategy to eliminate these terrorist organizations. And that would perhaps be the best New Year gift for the entire world including the citizens of Pakistan and India.

[1] The staff writer at  ScoopWhoop  has translated the poem in English for wider circulation. See at :