16th December – Only Candle Vigils Won’t Do


APS 2Today is one of the saddest days for us all. On this day, we lost East Pakistan back in 1971. We had not come to terms with that loss yet, and then came 16th December 2014 when we lost 144 innocent lives. In addition to that, we have lost another 70,000 lives to terrorism in past 10 or so  years.

We are feeling really sad about all this especially about the the 144 children of Army Public School. Some of us are going to hold candle-lit vigils across the world, while others would be doing Quran recitation sessions. This is all fine, but we need to do a lot more if we really want to make sure we do not have to pick up small yet the heaviest coffins again.

We need to do a lot more. We need to look into the reasons of such tremendous tragedies (I am talking of both the tragedies APS and East Pakistan). We need to ask questions and demand answers – why do we have to face such tragedies again and again? What makes us so vulnerable. We need to look at the bigger picture.

Is this recent tragedy not directly linked to our obsession with ‘strategic depth’ (read strategic death) that we sought in Afghanistan? Has it got nothing to do with the way we wanted to liberate Indian-held Kashmir through proxies? Isn’t it a result of our collective sins to ignore (or even support) the state policies to use terrorist groups for our strategic goals – getting hold of Jammu and Kashmir, and making Afghanistan our 5th province. (Interestingly, we did not bother to make Gilgit-Baltistan or FATA our 5th province.)

We owe it to our children to do some serious introspection, acknowledge our blunders, and make sure we do not repeat them. Over 70,000 deaths should be enough to teach us that nurturing snakes in our backyards with the belief that they would bite only our neighbors is not going to work. We need to learn to govern our own country properly, rather than poke our nose into Afghanistan and India. We need to learn to integrate and govern whatever we have (GB, FATA, PATA, and AJK), rather than create a mess here, and still have expansionist designs against our neighbors.

We need to remember that over 25 million children are out of school in Pakistan, and there are millions of people who do not have access to clean drinking water, and healthcare. We need to set our priorities right. We need to get rid of our obsession with entire Muslim Ummah at the cost of our own people. Nobody bothered to help us, rather so many rich Muslim countries still continue to drag us into actual or proxy wars, and continue to support those groups which are responsible for spreading hatred and extremism in our country. We need to build our institutions, and we need to learn that every institution needs to work efficiently within its own mandate.

If we do not do such serious introspection, if we do not acknowledge our blunders, if we do not change our ways/policies, we are bound to face such tragedies again and again, and we will continue to hold candle lit vigils and Quran recitations in the foreseeable future.

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