I open the ‘top stories’ page of The News today and two headlines scream out at me. The first tells me that twelve people, including three women and two children have died in a US drone attack in Orakzai. The second tells me that militants have killed five in an ambush on a police van in Dir. All this while the tears from the carnage at Lahore are not yet dry.Â For what? For whom? Why?
The Americans tell us that they must do what they are doing because they have to stamp out terror. The militants say that they too must do what they are doing because they are fighting the enemies of Islam.
All I know is that it is Pakistanis who continue to do the dying. For what? For whom? Why?
For the life of me I cannot understand how the US thinks it will root out terror by lobbing bombs at Pakistani women and children. Nor how these militants think they are helping Islam or fighting America by killing Muslims and Pakistani, bombing girls schools, or terrorizing civilian populations.
It is obvious that the Americans are not winning their “war on terror” through these tactics. Nor are the militants and extremists making any dent in America or its policies through their terror. Every minute of every day is a reminder of the face that terror has not been “defeated,” nor is Islam any more “safe.” All we know for sure is that innocent Pakistanis are dying. For what? For whom? Why?
The Obama Administration says it will give Pakistan $1.5 billion a year for development. Economists estimate that the war on terror cost Pakistan $6-8 billion last year. I don’t find either number relevant. All I know is that over a thousand Pakistanis died last year in this conflict. For what? For whom? Why?
The newspapers are full of statements and analysis. They offer little solace, and even less insight. They only add to a noise that is now no less deafening than all the bombs themselves. We must speak out and act up against the forces that spread terror in our country. But we cannot remain silent on the deaths of Pakistanis by those who claim to be our friends.
No one seems to care about the death of ordinary Pakistanis. They deaths don’t even merit a statement of condolence, of remorse. Everyone seems to have a ‘great cause’ to fight for. A cause greater than the life of a child, a mother, a father. The Americans have ‘Terror’ to fight. The religious extremists and militants have ‘Islam’ to save. The Pakistan government has no clue who or what they are fighting for, with or against. In the midst of all of this, ordinary Pakistanis become mere ‘collateral.’ For what? For whom? Why?
Today, my words are not the voice of analysis. Today, my voice is the voice of angst. I know that my words will make little difference. I know my voice has neither reach nor influence. But let me say to all and any who may be out there to listen: We are not collateral.
(Note: Pictures above are from funerals of those who died during the terrorist attacks in Lahore).