The Problem We All Live With in Pakistan
Many things have changed in Pakistan since the American-led war started in Afghanistan in October 2001. In today’s Pakistan, everything is uncertain. Every dream we have can be snatched away in a second. All the familiar faces we need at worrying times could vanish into thin air. In a matter of moment, all your goals and plans could go down the drain. Security situation has deteriorated to the point that people have had to set up a nightly patrol of their neighbourhood in cities close to the Afghan border.
Perhaps this is the reason why a third of Pakistanis want to leave the country, as per the Gallup Poll survey. When our former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani was asked to comment on this during an interview with the CNN, his response was: “And why don’t they leave then?” The interviewer was obviously puzzled by the response. “Who’s stopping them?”, our very own Gillani added. The smile on his face was as disturbing as his statement.
In response to the massacre of students in an army-run school in Peshawar, our civil and military authorities vowed to bring an end to all terror groups in Pakistan. While flags were lowered to half-mast at Pakistani embassies across the world, army launched fresh airstrikes on militant strongholds in the tribal belt. The elected government in our capital decided to lift a ban on the death penalty for terrorist crimes to convey a message that the establishment is able to inflict real damage.
The head of the Pakistani Taliban group who had ordered the Peshawar attack quickly released a 10 minute video message in Pashto to ‘justify’ the massacre. Speaking from an unknown location in the Kunar province of Afghanistan that borders the Mohmand tribal area of Pakistan, his viciously dysfunctional mind called the Peshawar attack an understandable reaction to the military operations against the group. “It wasn’t a school. It was an army camp. If it was a school, what was a Brigadier doing there? What was a Colonel doing there?”, he asked. “Our aim is to target the kids of [army] officers in such camps. 18 to 20 years old. Wherever we find them, [even] in markets”, the corrupted, bestial voice said. While defending the group’s heinously criminal approach, he claimed that the attack was necessary so that those kids don’t “fight us tomorrow” by joining the army.
The terrorist group has threatened a number of institutions in and around the city of Peshawar since the video came out. Edwardes College, Islamia College, Khyber Medical College, and many others have received hand written warning messages from the group to remain shut. The University of Peshawar, despite having received threatening letters, resumed classes last month. My brother is currently studying for his Bachelor’s degree at the university. He mentioned that some of his fellow course mates are taking a year off. “The Director of our department told us that he has asked the administration to give guns and licenses to the lecturers. So now our professor will be holding a marker in one hand and a pistol in another”, he told me. “Was he joking?”, I asked. “He seemed very serious. In fact he said that the request has been approved by the administration”, he replied.
“What annoys me the most is that terrorists are able to travel all around Pakistan with their massive guns but somehow those thousands of security checkpoints are not enough to stop them”, a taxi driver told me. I was going to the airport, and after fifteen minutes or so he decided to turn off the music and talk about this very pressing issue. “What are you trying to say?”, I asked. He smiled before slowing down a bit, and said, “Look. I have been driving this car for more than 30 years. I know every corner of this city. When entering Hayatabad, you need to go through 5 security checkpoints. When entering Warsak road, you have to go through 3 checkpoints. When entering Fort Road and Sadar, you have to go through at least 5 checkpoints. I didn’t have my ID card once, and they stopped me and won’t let me go. So unless these terrorists are using helicopters, I don’t believe that they are able to carry out such attacks”. I needed some time to answer that or ask another question but he stopped just outside the airport gate and said “Don’t think about it. Terrorism is something that we have to live with in Pakistan. I didn’t even ask where you are going but I hope that you return home with a happy heart”. When I finally found words, all I could say was ‘thank you’.