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.

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