By Minahil K.
“Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” It is hope that seduced the nation into believing that the Peshawar tragedy will be a watershed moment, a game changer, the beginning of a long hard battle against extremism and militancy. As time passes by and life returns to normal, the ache begins to dull. Burdened by the conscience, however, we vow to #NeverForget (with the Shikarpur Blast, we have more to remember now). We ‘hope’ in all our naiveté that a military offensive against the Taliban is the be-all and end-all of combating terrorism– the fact that our curricula especially up north still reek of religious intolerance, that our society condones killing in the name of ‘protecting’ the honor of the Prophet (PBUH), that our clergymen and political elite still struggle to call out those who use religion as a shield to gain legitimacy to their nefarious motives for their hypocrisy should be enough to wake us up.
What good is the resilience narrative that is hammered into our brains from childhood? That we are citizens of a country that was resilient in the face of relentless victimization by the powerful? The country that was cut into two because of foreign involvement but still lived to tell the tale? The country that is plagued by terrorism and corruption but where the people still celebrate life’s little joys? The country that almost went bankrupt, but robbed Peter to pay Paul just in time? The country that repeats this cycle each time and still somehow manages to evade ultimate doom? We exist because we do– a nation that bases its existence on this circular logic, is perhaps bound to both confuse and pollute the very meaning of resilience. While resilience is the ability to remain tough in the face of adversity or an illness, the country’s social and political decline in wake of the multiple security, economic, environmental challenges that it faces shoot down all claims of supposed buoyancy.
When political leaders talk in support of those who have made life miserable for millions of Muslims throughout the world, who have done irreparable damage to the image of Islam and go far enough to even offer money to kill the owner of Charlie Hebdo, we can be sure that we have hit rock-bottom. Can such a country depend solely on a military solution to the problem? Where there is still significant thought put into banning militant outfits against which the state has visible proof of violence and terrorism, is it not fair to demand from the political leadership to deny terrorist sympathizers the privilege of a career in politics? What does the political leadership have to fear except inaction in the face of multifarious challenges? Can it be expected to spring into action any time soon or is it a hostage to its own incapability?
The point remains that while our armed forces might be able to take terrorists down, it is the civilian leadership that must lead in the end. It is far more important to fight the pervasive ideology that emboldens TTP and the like to take on the state in the first place. Military action, thus, should be viewed as a complementary measure to help fight terrorism– by stretching our armed forces too thin and not holding the government culpable for its ineffectiveness and inadequacies, we cannot hope to win this war. Hope, as Pakistan’s history has shown, doesn’t take us very far.