A city that was once considered the classiest winter capital of Afghanistan has now become a hub of deep violence and despair. Suicide bombings, gun violence, and mass killings has become the norm, and yet the brave civilians of Peshawar still manage to carry on and enjoy their lives, while the fear of death lingers all around them.
However, the most recent of the horrid attacks occurred today, Saturday December 15, 2012 at around 9 pm, and that too at the Bacha Khan International Airport, which is located in the heart of Peshawar, approximately 180 km from Islamabad. It is reported that, so far, five people – five innocent civilians – have been killed and over 25 or so injured by the rocket jackets at the airport, as well as the surrounding areas in Khyber-Pashtunkhwa. It appears that not only one or two, but three rockets were fired at the Bacha Khan International Airport. Unfortunately, the location from where they were fired is unknown, but it wouldn’t take a genius to know that the rockets most likely were fired by the Taliban, and that too from within the tribal areas adjoining Peshawar City.
It’s extremely distressing having to wake up to this news on the timeline of my Twitter, for almost every single person, Pashtun or non-Pashtun, tweeted about this tragic incident and expressed their sad thoughts and well wishes for the innocent civilians, who have died and/or are struggling to survive, due to the substantial injuries inflicted upon them. It is even further distressing to know that most of the victims included children, women and senior citizens, where almost all of them suffered bullet injuries; and some of the injured are in critical condition.
This, of course, wasn’t the first of massive attacks by the Taliban and other Islamist militia within the region, for they routinely carry out attacks in Peshawar, most notably against government security forces. And because Peshawar is located on the edge of Pakistan’s tribal region, which is the major sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban militants, it has witnessed many bomb attacks and shootings in recent years. Yet, this attack on the Bacha Khan International Airport was the first of its kind, for many residents admitted it was the first time such a large attack had occurred on the airport.
It’s just so heart-wrenching having to read about this on the news time and time again and not being able to do anything about it. And I hate this feeling of helplessness; this feeling that more and more innocent people will die in the coming days, months, years, and no one will bother to do anything to stop it. And this violence and turmoil is not only within Peshawar City, but all over Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where young girls and women are also shot and killed for going to school, or trying to make a positive difference.
I was having a conversation about this with a close friend yesterday and she told me that in 20 years, everything will get better. Yet, as much as I wish I could be as optimistic as her, I couldn’t bring myself to agree, considering that the scale of violence keeps getting worse, day by day. The fact that one could lose their lives and the lives of their loved ones, at any moment in time, is the most disturbing thing of all.
It’s easy for us to say that we should just pray for the safety of those that are suffering, but to me, that sounds too easy; too simplistic. Some serious action needs to be taken to stop these inhumane atrocities against our people. We really need to stand up for ourselves and stop relying on others – or outside forces – to help us; to save us. But it’s easy to say this, knowing that it will fall upon deaf ears. I guess I’m just tired of constantly being bombarded with people telling me that we should have hope, or that we should pray for those that are suffering, while not bothering to do anything about it ourselves. But, then again, I can’t blame them, for what can they do? The ones that are trying to bring change in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa barely survive anyway; they get shot and murdered as soon as they are discovered.
It seems to me that we, Pashtuns, have too much personal insecurity in that, as of now, our society is too focused on purifying and dictating ways of what they see as the “correct” or “proper” way of life. However, that’s not how it should be, for in order for us to flourish, we need to allow each individual, group or person, a space and freedom to define and provide better alternatives, hence allowing not only one school of thought to flourish, but rather many other school of thoughts. Simply enforcing or allowing only one group to flourish is undermining those that could provide better, more progressive, ideas. And we, as a supposedly homogeneous group, should have the capability to judge for ourselves what is right or wrong, without resorting to violence, killings, or mayhem.
But I can’t help wonder if that’s possible; whether it will ever be possible. Only time will tell.