“Faraz, turn the car and head towards home quickly!”
“But why, mom? We are about to reach Zamzama Boulevard!”
“We shouldn’t. I’m getting messages about the blast that hashappened only several minutes ago outside Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s Mazaar.”
“Oh, no! Not again!”
The sudden out-burst of my grief expressed over such incidents was not uncommon. It has looked like, since the past four years, asif it has been usual for the bombs to be blasted in the biggest cosmopolitancity of Pakistan as whenever the number of causalities rise, people only bother seeing each other and utter, “tch!”.Those trapped in the city, lucky enough to have found them selves to be alive,would just rush towards wherever they would find a safe temporary abode – their babies in their arms, their faces shrugged with fear, their forehead filledwith perspiration and their heart beat running faster than ever. While driving my car back to home, I pondered whether they will be killed in the moments to come? If they survived, how long are they going to survive? If they die, who will take care of their babies – too little to feed themselves and too needy for the parents’ love and care! And then there are many questions that daunt them and which makes them to run, as fast as they could.
The magnitude of violence that has become prevalent in Pakistan today canbest be grasped from basic arithmetic. Between 2003 and 2010, a total of 13,063(and rising) casualties have been reported (http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/) .Although the number of attacks had reduced each year, the number of people whohave become victim to those attacks have increased proportionately. No wonder,the people becoming victims of such attacks, either directly or indirectly,would find themselves to be emotionally and mentally affected. Even those who would just watch a reporter on television briefing a local bomb blast, would start holding pessimist views about the progress of the country and its power incurbing violence. This makes people more vulnerable to their environment and whatever they do is associated with a common fear of being hurt.
The teenage group in the country is the one that has been affected cognitively from the violence the most. These very teenagers, due tofear of being bombed or hit by a bullet, remain confined to their houses. The result is that they do not get enough exposure to their surroundings and travelless. This limits their creativity and thinking capacity, and puts them at an unfavorable position than the children in the peaceful parts of the world arein. More importantly, in the face of growing religious fanatics and extremists who use various tactics to persuade youngsters from less well-off and uneducated backgrounds to suicide in the name of God (by, in fact, killing hundreds of innocents), we see youngsters becoming emotionally twisted and used. Their thoughts divert from books and libraries to guns and Jihadi-training centres. They become brain-washed and are trained in a way that their morals degenerate constantly (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUICJlRjYeQ&feature=fvst– from 1:55). When such age group starts using violence as a means to pursue their targets, it becomes hard for a nation to curb violence.
The people aged between 20 and 45 also tend to be affected emotionally by violence in Pakistan.They are the one belonging to various professions; from a wage-earning farmer in Charsadda to a high salary-earning CEO of a company in Lahore. When violence in a region becomes wide-spread,they find it difficult to work properly and their frequent absenteeism resultsin increased loss of productivity, output and profits. Frequent bombings and sounds of bullets being fired across the region not only adds to tension and depression amongst people but can also be a cause of the demolition of their habitats and work-places. They would often ask themselves of the crime theyhave committed for the high price they are paying.
Waheed, a driver of my cousin, says from his personal encounter, “Violence is like a flood. It washes away your home and loved ones in a flash.”And then there are many instances to be cited which reflect how growing violence in the society have deteriorated people’s perceptions and intellect. But the best part will be to discuss the ways in which violence,something that has taken deep roots in Pakistan today, can becounter-acted and fought.
Foremost, the law-enforcement agencies and government of Pakistan should come to realize their dutiful roles in curbing terrorism and violence. Althoughnot a piece of cake, but an array of solid counter-violence policies can pavethe way for society to prosper. This would include making all bureaucrats and politicians who work against the interests of people to be held accountable, ensuring that wrong-doers are brought to justice, increasing the size and presence of police-force in different areas of Pakistan,severing punishment for those who violate law etc. With such policies formulated properly and implemented, we will only be a step away towards apeaceful co-existence.
Secondly, the media, which is amongst the very few institutions functioning properly in Pakistan, should be moderate when reporting incidents of violence. Although freedom of expression is honored, the reporting of incidents which may seed dissidence and turmoil amongst the masses must be discouraged. It is sometimes furious to see media reporting one-sidedwhen in fact, on a broader level, the role of the media should be to show people the news without being partial and inspire them to take an action. Talkshows must be held on regular basis, with guests being students and members of common public, unaffiliated with any political party, where ways to combat violence should be discussed.
Lastly, it is we who actually can make a difference inshaping the way our country thrives. Rather than talking chunks about how violence and terrorism has ripped the country off in our comfy TV Lounge’ssofa, we should get out of the house and practically do what it would take fora person to do his/her part to curb violence. People should not be afraid oforganizing rallies, demonstrations and protests; as they are a way ofregistering our concern in promoting peace and curbing violence in the society.Moreover, we should endeavor to approach our local MNA/MPA or other political officer and raise our concerns and voices against violence to him. Repeated pressureon such political officers from different areas of Pakistan will ultimately take the issue to higher authorities and an action that will prove to be in the best interests of people wanting to promote peace will be inevitable.
It is high time that solutions to combat violence and terrorism be planned, framed and implemented immediately; as even giving an inch of space to terrorists in the land will be most unfortunate ! by Faraz Ahmed