And We (Allah) have sent thee (Muhammad) not but as a mercy for all peoples. (Al Quran 21:108)
Written for The Muslims Times by Dr. Abdul Alim, Editor for Islam
A nation that murders its own children has no right to mourn them. What happened in Peshawar on 16th December 2014 with hundreds of children dying at the hands of extremists is a terrible tragedy and a brutal reminder of this nation’s bigoted attitude but also a natural consequence of its own actions. The killers were one of us or were at least hosted by us. How did we end up here where we have become a nation that murders its own? It’s important to reflect on it while thousands mourn the innocent deaths and burial prayers are being offered.
Let me elaborate.
On 16 December 1971, culminated another, perhaps the saddest event in the history of this country when it was split into two. Hundreds of thousands of Bengalis lost their lives to the violence that resulted from an undemocratic decision of denying the Awami Leauge, the right to rule the country. An inquiry into the real causes of this in the form of Hamood-ur-Rahman Commission Report never saw the light of day. No burial prayers were offered for those who had died including women and children. Were Bengalis not humans? No tears were shed by people living in West Pakistan at the loss of those who were fellow citizens. No candles were lighted and till today there is no recognition of this cruel attitude that one part of Pakistan perpetrated against its own people.
Perhaps someone can say that we did not have as much media coverage as we do today so the extent of true grief could not have been known. Really, let us then turn to another tragic event much closer to our memories than 1971 which shows that if anything our bigotry as a nation has continued to grow to an appalling level.
On 28th May 2010, 86 Ahmadiyya Muslims citizens of Pakistan were massacred in Lahore by terrorists. This event unfolded over many hours. No Special Forces were deployed by the state or the provincial administration. The only reason why the massacre came to an end was because the terrorist had either ran out of ammunition or were caught by some brave members of the Ahmadiyya community. In fact when the injured were admitted to a hospital this information was again leaked to terrorists so even the injured were not safe in those hospitals. Until today no clear action has been taken against the offenders four years after the event.
Lest we forget, we need to recall whose Frankenstein product is Taliban? The same actors who claim to be now our saviours.
What is sad about these events is not how many have died and continue to die. The real tragedy of Pakistan is that its people have failed to learn, realize and to rise above their own bigotry. For a nation that prides itself on following a Prophet who is known to have stood up in respect at the passing casket of a Jew and to have led the burial prayers of those who ridiculed him (even though condemned in revelations), this level of bigotry is absolutely unfathomable. In fact what to say of respecting the dead, against all human decency, even burials of Ahmadiyya community members have been denied and their graves desecrated.
In Pakistan just as the living, all dead are not equal. Some are more equal than others. Whether alive or dead, a Christian, a Parsi, a Hindu or an Ahmadi Muslim, all are treated as less than humans. Those children who were killed were killed by ourselves and not by someone else. It is a consequence of our extreme bigotry and superficial piety that has led to the fragmentation of this nation and made us enemies of each other.
If Pakistan wants to be sad and to mourn its dead with some sense of integrity, it must first treat all of its citizens equally irrespective of their beliefs or political views. A wholesome sadness should start from accepting what was done to Bengalis and what is being done to minorities today across the country. We need to perform burials and prayers from the very beginning of our bigotry when we started down the path of dividing people on the basis of their beliefs and denying their humanity. Unless this happens the deaths of 132 children on 16 December will become a subject of another Commission report and the nation will continue on the path of self-destruction.
We have and continue to kill our own humanity systematically. These children are one more episode in this gradual loss and it cannot be reversed by mere burials, candle light vigils, political statements and all party’s conferences.