Rage is all I have felt for days. Sadness I don't feel, shock one will be a fool to feel at this after so much that has happened. That they butchered innocent souls in the broad daylight is not what causes this rage. They are savages, I knew it. So no rage over that, no shock. That I and most likely we all knew this is coming is what causes rage. But what causes even more rage is the fact that the butchers have done what they intended to do, and even then we may still not put our act together.
We had this coming and my fear is we still will not get it.
I say to you, the common man, woman, young, old of Pakistan, in whose heart is Pakistan. The solider who feels the love of the country in his heart and fights with valor for its honor. The officers of security forces who feel the pain for the country and love it every bit. Urbans, rurals, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, Sunnis, Shias, Barelvis, Deobandis, Ismailis, all of you who have the gentle hearts. I say to you that the pain and suffering you are going through, the sorrow that you feel, the anger that you have will all be in vain if you do not get it right. The tragedy, the massacre, the blood of many innocent souls has provided you with, probably one last, opportunity to get it right or else there will be unending regret and misery. It is time that you get the perspective right and use it to have the right narrative to fight the monster that you face.
I do not know whether you have known these things and were conveniently ignoring them or you have been unaware till now but somethings cannot be ignored or left unattended any more.
"You cannot keep snakes in your backyard and expect they will only bite your neighbors" has been said time and again. Earlier your standard response was to shoot anyone down who utters such thoughts as liberal fascist, CIA agent, RAW agent etc. When I stress on them again, I risk being labelled the same. But let me tell you a few more things, which may, just may, help you in finding the right perspective. I am not a peace-quack who would suggest offering your left cheek if you have been hit on the right on the premise that the inherent goodness will lead to regional peace. I am very mindful of the security challenges Pakistan faces in the region. I am also mindful that India and Pakistan is effectively a zero-sum game and thus unless and until some miraculous statesmanship emerges in the region, the conflicts are not going away. I am mindful that Pakistan needs a stable, friendly regime in Afghanistan that will not let it turn into sanctuaries for destabilization in Baluchistan and KP. I am also mindful that Pakistan has a broader political, economic, and humanitarian stake in Kashmir. But then, above all, I am mindful that this militias strategy which was envisaged by the Zia and ilk has been a complete disaster. Yes countries keep their proxies for diplomatic and regional gains but none, and I repeat none, harbors them on one's own soil. This is precisely why when we unleashed them, their impact was hard on those on whom we intended to launch them on. And when it subsided, we are being blown apart piece by piece by the sheer intensity of them. The snakes we harbored have come to bite us. And it is time that we indiscriminately act against them. No Taliban, no Lashkar, no Sipah, no Jaish should be allowed to operate on Pakistani soil. We are a smart nation and if we put our minds to it, we can devise power plans that can protect our interest in India, Afghanistan and beyond. But if state does not restore its monopoly on violence, we are months away from a complete blow up where we will destroy all we have, to protect our interests and depths in Afghanistan and India.
You - you need to be also mindful of another thing. Mixing religion with state is a slippery slope. When the state starts deciding who is a Muslim and who is not, the next thing that comes is which Islam? So make Islam state religion and next will come the pressure to decide the fate of Ahmadis. Do that and the next question will be Islam of which fiqah. If State acts on these demands, it will alienate many throwing them to fanaticism in the name of religion, if it does not it will alienate many others to the same course. So let us make it a point to separate state from religion. You can choose to hold onto any faith. You can opt to think of anyone as heretic but state should have no business in it. And the moment your belief takes you onto a violent route, the state intervenes and ensures swift punishment.
Also, you, stop saying you think terrorism is Pakistan's no. 1 problem if you vote for Taliban apologists in the name of anti-corruption of development. You did not believe in the intensity of the problem. No - I do not want to blame you for voting PTI or PML-N, but I do want to blame you for letting your leadership off the hook when they openly sided with these butchers, when they advocated their cases, and when they advocated inaction against them for years. Do vote for PTI or PML-N or whosoever, but if you believe terrorism is a serious issue, your test is how much you hold your leadership accountable on its record on terrorism.
You - you should have seen what pressure on Lal Masjid did in recent days. So make it a point to name and shame any apologists of these savages. Make it a point to hold anyone and everyone accountable who spreads hate and calls for violence in the name of religion or sect. It is time to reclaim our country for our state, a state accountable to us. It is time to ensure no one is allowed to spill blood on our streets in the name of any ideology or cause.
And last thing that you need to realize is that every drop of blood and every life is as precious as the life of the children who died in APS. We all have the same red-colored blood. All our lives come as a gift from the same Grace, the same Mercy, the same Benevolence. So, your response has to be the same if the blood is spilled at a volley ball match in Lakki Marwat or at Data Darbar in Lahore or of Ahmadis in Lahore or at Karsaz in Karachi. Let your political, sectarian, ethnic, religious differences not blind you of the sanctity of human life. Respect life if you want the life to nurture on these lands. As one small starting gesture, hang terrorists (and terrorists alone) but do not cheer their hanging, in respect for sanctity of life.
I am enraged more by yours and mine follies, by us letting happen this death foretold. But let this be a moment for us to rise and say enough is enough. Let us reclaim the society and state that is ours, with the ultimate focus on sanctity of human life.
You - the last thing I have to tell you is the scariest. You know what, whether you act or not, the ills that I have highlighted have to go. Your choice of action or inaction will only ensure how painful this will be for you. Rise and embark on changing them yourselves and you will control the transition making it less painful. Stay still and universe will find its way to eliminate the wrongs I have highlighted above. You, of course, will pay a very heavy price for it with pain and suffering. The choice is yours and mine; and from where I see it, it has never been easier. And yet my rage stems from my apprehension that we may still make the wrong choice, the decades gone by have made me fearful. Please prove me wrong here....