By Aarzoo Naeem Chaudhry
“Remember, we are in a state of war,” my father keeps telling me whenever I get emotional over the terror attacks in Pakistan. Even though it is hard to believe, what he says to me because it does not feel like a war in the real sense, but that is just what it is. We are living in the constant terror of bomb blasts and attacks. Living in Lahore, I have heard bombs go off and even though I have not been an eyewitness, the proximity of the blasts is terrifying.
Our Citizens, a symbol of true Pakistan Destroyed
There has been a sharp rise in violence since 2007, during which Benazir Bhutto, an eminent politician and former Prime Minister was also murdered. Hundreds of innocent people dead, more injured and the whole country in a state of absolute fear. It just makes you wonder who these people are; young, brainwashed minds blowing themselves up, murdering innocent people because they will find themselves a place in heaven assured by the devil himself. These terrorists plan, kill and murder in the most brutal way and that too in the name of God! They’re definitely not Muslims. They are pathetic excuse for human beings who traffic in children, using them to destroy innocent human beings; they are weak, despicable creatures and cowards.
Our Masajid and religious leaders, a symbol of our Faith Destroyed
It is infuriating to hear terrorism associated with Islam or Pakistan! These terrorists have no identity, they have no religion. Let’s leave Pakistan and Islam out of it. Islam is a religion of peace and Pakistan is not about terror, blood, and war. Pakistan has become the target of terrorism and it is our people who have been dying on the streets, in their homes, in the mosques for this ‘war on terror;’ a war that is not even ours, a war that we never wanted, a war that we had nothing to do with. However, the main issue here is that even though Pakistan may have become a dangerous place to live in, we have a lot to be proud of and one by one, every piece of our pride and identity has been targeted and systematically destroyed.
Targeting mosques is again symbolic of the cowardly state of mind of those who murder innocent children and adults. Those clerics and Islamic scholars who are pro-Pakistan and anti-terrorism have been martyred. A young student from my university was killed in the Jamia Naeemia bomb blast recently and when I saw his pictures on display on the bulletin boards, it made me shiver. This was someone I had seen, alive and well a few days ago, who had now been viciously blown up for no purpose.
Swat Valley, our symbol of Tourism Destroyed
Since the Lal Masjid episode, terror attacks have penetrated more and more into other parts of Pakistan. The beautiful northern areas famous for scenic beauty and hospitality have become battlegrounds. Hotels like PC and Marriott have become a favorite target, making Pakistan an inhospitable and dangerous place especially for foreigners.
Security forces (Police, FIA, ISI), our symbol of Security Destroyed
They have gone all bonkers on the police especially and the ISI and FIA have been targeted repeatedly. The security forces represent a sense of safety and protection for the citizens of any country and by targeting them they try to shake the sense of security amongst the people. If those who protect us are not safe from bomb blasts and such, doesn’t Pakistan automatically become the most dangerous place on earth in most minds?
Team sports – Cricket, a popular symbol of our national pride destroyed
Even cricket was targeted –this is truly mind boggling for me. Why would these terrorists attack a cricket team?! What does it mean to them? Obviously a tarnished image of Pakistan and of course, because cricket is something every Pakistani takes a lot of pride in and identifies with. Right, after the attack people started murmuring that cricket in Pakistan was dead and we did in fact face drastic consequences (the ICC not allowing matches to take place in Pakistan). Even though we have proved the world wrong by winning the Twenty20 World Cup, the future of playing international cricket on Pakistani soil is still not certain.
Schools, a symbol of hope for the next generation destroyed
So what’s with the destruction of academic institutions? Why are they bent on destroying schools and colleges? Bomb threats have become the norm. Apparently, girl schools were a favorite target in the recent past. Most school bombings were in the NWFP and adjoining Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) after midnight. There were no casualties according to news reports, however, the publicity they generated from destroying this symbol obviously planted and reinforced the idea in most minds that our faith and society is gender biased and therefore unfair, primitive and backward.
Performing Arts, a symbol of art and culture destroyed
Bomb blasts rocked Rafi Peer Performing Arts Festival in Lahore (November 2008), it was another hit at our national identity. Rafi Peer PAF has become a trademark of the arts and culture segment of our society as they put up the largest international performing arts festival in Pakistan, where they thoroughly promote the Pakistani culture through music, film, drama and puppetry. Another target was the Al-Falah theatre complex, where they claimed that ‘immoral’ activities took place.
Tombs of revered dead, a symbol of our past and rich history destroyed
What was behind the destruction of a tomb though? On March 5, 2009, the mausoleum of a 17th century Sufi poet revered in both Pakistan and Afghanistan for his mystical verse was destroyed, apparently because women visited the shrine. The tomb was of Abdul Rehman, commonly known as Rehman Baba. The structure of the shrine was badly damaged but there were no casualties as reported by Dawn.
Have they killed Pakistan’s national identity yet?
There is never any purpose in madness except to propagate madness. What we are going through is bizarre and it’s as crazy as it gets. But, this too will pass and we will build a better Pakistan, reconstruct our lives because no matter what happens Pakistan is our land, it is the land our ancestors fought for, died for and we will not let their sacrifices go to the dogs.
Remember, we are in a state of war –
‘Not the first murder nor the last
Again and again a repetition of the past
Since the very first day same story
Young ones, old ones, some glory
How can it be, has the whole world turned blind?
Or is it just ’cause it’s only affecting my kind!
If these walls could speak,
Imagine what would they say
For me in this path that I walk on
There’s only one way
Bullets may kill, bones may break
Still I throw stones like David before me and I say
You, you’re not aware
That we’re aware
Of your despair
Your nightmares will end
This I promise, I promise
lyrics: Isam Bachiri, Waqas Qadri, R. Lenny Martinez, Sami Yusuf, Bara Kherigi
This article was originally published in the print edition of Valuemag, August 2009, issue 13.