Violent Thougts: Assassination Attempt on Musharraf? And the Violence Within Us.

Posted on December 19, 2008
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice
41 Comments
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Adil Najam

I blog from Islamabad airport.

My flight to Karachi has been delayed, which means that my first meeting of the day will have to be canceled. But that is not what weighs heavy on my mind. What worries me today is all the talk of violence of one kind or another that seems to be all I have been hearing around me. My blood pressure seems to always sit on edge, but all the more so when all anyone can seem to talk about is violence.

The latest, of course, is the carefully leaked story about the attempted assassination plot of Gen. Musharraf by Sheikh Omar, the killer of journalist Daniel Pearl. Beyond relief that the plot was a failure, I do not wish to comment on this story. I have no reason to believe that the story is false, but it smells – no, stinks – so much of a planted leak that I would rather not give much more satisfaction to the “planters” than I already have.

Much more than that I worry about all the jingoism and and chest-beating I have been dished out on the “war clouds” with India.

Was is a horrible thing. And war with India would be very horrible, indeed. But I worry less about that because I do not think there will be war. This hype seems manufactured by TV talk show hosts on both sides of the border who seem to be having great fun (yes, I use the word advisedly) with their chest beating and naara baazi. What does worry me, however, is the fact that we are all so worked up about a war that is not happening and unlikely to happen, but so very content with the wars that are real, ongoing and killing Pakistanis every day. Everyone seems ready to thump their chests in hollow patriotism about the the tensions with India on the Eastern front, while the drones continue to pound our Western flank. Even more than that the Taliban’s war against Pakistan rages strong as ever. Nearly 2000 Pakistanis have been killed in in real war against Paksitan already, andonly this year. Why, I wonder why, are the real deaths of real Pakistanis ignored while foretold threats of the future amuse our sensibilities?

But this, too, has become routine. Denial it may be, but we can learn to tune out the noise.

What I cannot tune out right now is the noise around me earlier today as I entered the airport here in Islamabad. Its Hajj season so the place was teeming with people as the ‘welcoming delegations’ descended on the airport along with the returning Hajis. As I rushed in, a person a few feet from me brushed into another. Before one knew what had happened, they were exchanging punches. Not only them, but now three others were involved in what seemed to be a growing fistfight over nothing with most of the punches hitting the bystanders.

Naive that I am, I tried to break the fighting parties apart and ask for calm. In the process I got a few punches on myself, but more importantly I realized that everyone – including the growing throng of spectators – was now more mad at me for trying to break up the fight than at any of the fighters! And I thought that such reaction to those talking of peace happens only on blogs!

As I picked up by bags (and now aching shoulder) I wondered if maybe this ‘small’ and ‘individual’ violence in society is therapeutic. Maybe it is a way to deal with the larger insecurities and institutional violence around us. Or, maybe just maybe, it is systemic – an emblem of the larger violence within all of us. I certainly hope it is not the later. My faith in the goodness of ordinary people remains firm. But I wonder what all the violence and talk of violence around us is doing to us!

And, so, I sit here at the departure lounge. They just announced that my plane that had earlier been delayed two hours, is now delayed another two hours. The guy next to me announces that he is fried! So are the meetings that I was going to Karachi for. But that is not what gives me heartache right now. Yes, my shoulder still hurts from the punches I got. But what hurts much more and much more deeply in my head as well as my heart is the reminder that the violence we live with is not just in the headlines. The violence is all around us. Maybe, even within us.

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41 responses to “Violent Thougts: Assassination Attempt on Musharraf? And the Violence Within Us.”

  1. Kamal says:

    This feeling that people have that they have to justify violence and violent solutions is eating at the whole nation. Just look around us and at all our problems. How much more violent can we become. You have pointed out the right problem, but is there a solution?

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