By Kamal Siddiqi
September 29, 2013
On Sunday, 38 people lost their lives in the Qissa Khwani Bazar in Peshawar. Of this, 18 belonged to the same family. This attack comes exactly one week after the attack on the All Saints Church and two days after an attack on a bus that killed 20. We have lost count of the number of innocent people being killed by terrorists at will.
For all practical purposes, the peace talks are all but abandoned. Our prime minister has conceded defeat on this issue after the attack on the church and the killing of a senior military commander. His heart to heart talk while in the UK and the US suggest that the military option may now be the way forward. Does that mean we can never reach a peaceful solution for any problem?
Imran Khan insists that the attacks are being carried out by those who want the talks to fail. Given the history of such things, this may well be true. But we cannot wage a war with several factions while talking peace with the central command.
It is a catch-22 situation. The TTP wants to talk peace, but on its own conditions. Many of which cannot be fulfilled by the government. On the other hand, there are several factions of the TTP who don’t want peace. If we talk peace to one, we are talking war to the other. And given that the TTP insists that it does not have control over rebel factions, no one side can ensure a ceasefire.
Our army has assured us that it is fully capable on taking on the militants. The military solution is also being considered. But would that lead to peace? Again, the course will be a bloody one.
As things stand, we are under attack. Morale is low. Our people are dying daily. Amongst ourselves we cannot decide on a course of action.
We are being pushed in different directions. There are those who justify the attacks and side with the murderers. There are others who see no justification in talking peace. The government has decided to wait and watch.
Generally we are a confused nation. The biggest hypocrites are our educated and moneyed classes who are have supported, funded and endorsed our country’s extremist mentality. They give shelter to them and pursued an extremist ideology.
One doesn’t have to go as far as the tribal areas to be meet such people. They are in our midst. And the others are now scared to speak their minds. People woke up to this realization with the murder of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer. The country is no more divided. The extremist mindset has gained the upper hand. Those who talk about minority rights and the disadvantaged sections of our society are outnumbered.
The only problem here is that while the world is going in one direction, our country is going in another. On the world stage we make all the right noises, at home we do the exact opposite.
We have turned heroes into villains. Malala Yousafzai, whose only agenda has been education for girls, is seen as a threat not just by the TTP. Talk to any so-called enlightened Pakistani. And you will be told that she is part of a Western conspiracy against Pakistan and Islam.
Those who are reluctant to condemn the rapes that our country has been witnessing are willing to shut down cities to protest drone attacks. On Sunday, six died in drone attacks in North Waziristan. One only needs to see which party condemned what to understand our predicament. These persons are now the new Pakistanis who are willing to bring a change with a new Pakistan. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The question is, now what? With the reluctance we are seeing on part of the political leadership to move ahead, the chances are of a military solution against the TTP and other militant outfits. But this is again a half hearted attempt. Many Pakistanis, despite the high number of casualties, will not own the war. For them, the enemy remains India and the US. In some ways, we are now caught up in our own trap. This discourse suited us for decades. Now the chickens have come home to roost.
Kamal Siddiq is Editor of The Express Tribune