As I write these words, the news is still pouring in of the murder of over 100 children by the Taliban who attacked an Army Public School in Peshawar yesterday. Even though I am trying to capture my feelings in words, I know, deep in my heart, that there is no language for this. At a certain point, we all feel this way when language fails us and we grasp for something that can somehow convey the anguish, the anger, the revulsion we feel at certain acts. This is that moment for me. So, what I am about to write will never really capture what I feel and I can certainly not grasp the degree of pain and hurt being felt by the parents who lost their children in this atrocious attack. This is not just another act of Taliban violence: This is a declaration of war on our hearts and on our national future.
There is not much I can do, for all I have are words and words cannot bring back the lives taken by these monsters. But words I will use to witness and to account for all the acts committed by these murderers, these so-called warriors, these cowards who think killing children is just. Yes words only, for that is all I have. I know, so many of Pakistanis probably feel the same way. “What can we do” is probably the question they are asking of themselves. Yes, what can one person or a nation do against those who take life so easily and justify it in the name of God. How do you stop this kind of violence? There are, I am afraid, no simple answers.
Six men crossed a wall and entered a school. What brought them to this point? What indoctrination, what ideology, what religion, what grievances brought them to a point where, for them, killing children became a nobel act? What did they want to prove? Maybe, in their eyes, the message is more important than the act itself. What is this message? Is it simply, “if you do not kneel down to us, we will kill your children?” And if that is the message, how do we take it as a nation.
All wars, at one point or another, enter a point of no return, a point beyond which logic fails and reason goes on a long hiatus. This is that point in this hideous war. The Taliban have declared war on our children. They had done this previously as well, but we enabled them with our conspiracy theories, our rationalizations, our bizarre explanations of their actions. Some of us have even argued and still do that a certain young girl staged her own assassination as if taking a bullet in the head could be staged!
The murder of these children has laid bare the true intentions of Taliban. This is a message to us as a nation: “Bow down to us or we will destroy your children, your future!” There is no other message here, no hope for a better and just society! No, we know what they are capable of. We have seem then in Afghanistan, in FATA where they created only a world full of death and destruction. These are no warriors of Islam. For if they were warriors, they would fight the very soldiers who are out there in the field within their reach. No, these cowards can only fight children and kick around defenseless people. Now that the fight has reached them, they are all on a run and finding, yet again, the defenseless people to fight against. The purpose is to break our will, to hold us hostage by threatening the very fabric of our society, by targeting our future.
For us as a nation, this is the time to come together. We must send a message, strong and clear, to all these murderers: We shall not bow down; we do not agree with your interpretation of the sacred! we do not believe in your vision of the future! we condemn your actions in the name of all things holy and sacred! Yes, we must speak in whatever way we can against this politics of hate and murder!
Yes, let us gather in our muahallas, in our mosques, churches, schools, markets, roads and write the text of the future with our bodies, with our presence, a text of hope, solidarity, and resilience. Let us all come together in our individual frailties and weaknesses and convert them into a collective edifice of strength, for time has come for us as a nation to declare unequivocally that the Taliban monstrosity needs to be wiped out from the face of this earth!