Reaction to my blog ‘Extremely Concerning News from Waziristan’

The reaction to my post about the “Extremely concerning news from North Waziristan” by a number of people was heartening. I am glad that we are still a sensitive nation with people who feel for the innocent lives being lost in our tribal areas. I am also happy to know that we have such ardent supporters of our armed forces in our midst. Just to make my point of view a little clearer,

1. I do not believe that our armed forces are evil monsters. We have one of the best and most professional armies in the world and no words can describe how much this country owes to them. We all are and should be proud of them. I support the army.

2. What I do not support is unnecessary loss of lives. Incidents of civilians being killed in our tribal areas are not a new phenomenon. I have been hearing about them for a decade now, but I did not comment on them precisely because I wasn’t sure what the true story was. I did not know if the civilians killed were actually innocent or criminals who were hiding terrorists.

3. This particular incident occurred in the village to which a good friend of mine belongs. A number of his relatives and friends were killed or injured and none of them were hiding terrorists. If any of you had seen the devastation, bewilderment and frustration on his face yesterday, you would have realized that when someone loses close friends and family in an instant, he doesn’t care about the reasons for the attack or what misinformation led to the brutality.

4. I am saddened by the loss of these innocent lives. And I am also saddened by the loss of life and limb that our brothers in uniform have suffered over the past few years.

So, what I ask is simply this. Is it justified to attack and fire bullets at houses in a village on the pretext that someone is hiding a terrorist there? Have a heart, these people living in FATA are not aliens. They are our brothers and sisters. To believe that every single one of them is harboring terrorists in their homes and deserves to die is as silly and ridiculous as the beliefs of all those terrorists who think that killing innocent people would lead them straight to heaven and the arms of beautiful virgins.

By such acts of violence, we are only alienating those people further. They are the worst victims of terrorism. Not only do they have terrorists all around them threatening their life and property, they are also under threat from US drones and Pak Army. They live in constant fear. They are always afraid that they’ll be killed by the Taliban or the armies trying to kill the Taliban.

I just want my friends to realize these things. If terrorists take a group of people hostage, you don’t start indiscriminate firing in which the terrorists and the hostages are all killed. I hope we can find a better and more civilized way out. I hope someone engages people from FATA to help resolve this issue. Yes, we have a huge problem in that area, but please, don’t cut the arm off because the finger is infected.

We have to unite as a nation to fight this menace. We have to stop labeling our brothers and sisters as terrorists or kafirs or collateral damage. We have to stop killing each other. If Pakistan continues to be at war with Pakistan, whatever the result Pakistan will lose.

Just imagine! What if the security forces got information that a house on street X in Islamabad was hiding a terrorist! Would it make sense to attack the whole street and kill people living there and then calling it collateral damage? I understand the frustration and plight of the army who are clearly in a state of war and more so in a fix since their enemy is unclear.

But please remember. We, with our beautiful houses and cozy drawing rooms and hot cups of coffee, are living in a state of fear because of these terrorists; so much fear that we feel any and all actions intended to get rid of the militants are justified even if they kill other civilians. Spare a thought for those who are living in the midst of the war zones. Imagine their fear! Do they deserve the added risk of becoming ‘collateral damage’? If any of you think this is justified;

I don’t know what to say. I just don’t know.

Extremely concerning news from North Waziristan

While the whole nation is engrossed in the drama being performed in Blue Area and how all and sundry are reacting to the show, something more serious and disgraceful is going on in our beloved country. As I have repeatedly said, I do not watch much TV. So I don’t know what the channels are saying about what happened this morning in North Waziristan or if it even qualifies as something worthy of being reported in the media. I know this because it involves the family of a close friend.

At around 8.30 a.m. this morning a Pakistan Army gunship helicopter appeared in the skies above Hassukhel, a small village in Tehsil Mir Ali, North Waziristan. The helicopter descended above a house and started firing indiscriminately. According to reports by the locals there at least twenty five people were killed comprising predominantly women and children. My friend’s aunt lived in the said village. As she saw the helicopter open fire, she instantly worried about her buffalo, her main source of income. So she ran towards the animal and tried to lead it inside. Unfortunately she could not get inside in time. The fire from the helicopter shot her and the buffalo. When her kids, both under ten years of age, saw their beloved mother writhe in pain beside the dead animal, they ran towards her in panic. The gunship helicopter continued to fire killing the two kids on the spot.

I don’t know what the media will say about this. Probably something like 25 militants killed by Pakistan army in a battle where our soldiers fought gallantly. I just want to set the record straight for all those who are willing to listen, who are willing to see and accept the truth. The simple village-dwelling woman was not a militant. The little kids were not terrorists. The buffalo was not armed. Similar catastrophes occurred in the neighboring houses. Why?

One local explained that they are not worried about drone attacks as much as they are about their own uniformed defenders. ‘Drones strike with a lot of precision,’ he explained, ‘they mostly kill the terrorists, and we are happy with that. It’s our army that fires indiscriminately. What was the crime of these children and their mother? Who are they defending? What are they doing?’ he asked before cursing the people responsible.

I don’t know what to say about this. I just don’t know.

Reasons for not working efficiently

Here are some excuses I have heard in the last couple of years for why it is so hard for Pakistanis to work with any degree of efficiency

1. It’s too hot in Pakistan. And heat hinders efficiency. Can’t you see that all the developed countries in the world have moderate to cold climates?

2. It’s too cold in winter. How can one work when one can’t even feel his hands and feet?

3. No one works here. What difference would it make if I am the only one making all the effort?

4. Everyone else is working. What difference would it make if only one person relaxes a little? It’s not as if the country’s functioning depends on me.

5. I don’t get enough money for my hard work. It kills motivation. First give me more, and then I will think about doing something to earn it.

6. I make enough money without hard work. It kills motivation. When I am getting less, maybe I will think about doing something to earn it.

7. My work doesn’t matter. God will take care of everything. Even if I do nothing, God has promised to provide.

8. My work doesn’t count. Fate is against me. Even if I do more work than anyone else, fate makes sure I don’t succeed.

9. I have worked so much all my life that I am fed up now. Nothing changes.

10. I have never worked in my life and it didn’t hurt me. Why start now?

All these people do have a point. Nahi?