Today our nation is celebrating the victory of Pakistan’s cricket team over Ireland. Sarfaraz Ahmed emerged as a hero by winning a Man of Match award and scoring the team’s first century for the International World Cup 2015 series. Considering our nation’s love for cricket, celebrations for this victorious day were supposed to be wild. But the black winds of terrorism engulfed the joy of this day as well.
Two consecutive blasts in a Lahore Church created 15 martyrs and 80 seriously injured. Has the blood of our people become so worthless that we will let it spill over our sacred country’s land to quench the thirst of extremist? Was the attack planned against the Christian community of Pakistan or against Pakistan herself?
Within my memory, I remember in October 2007 a bomb attack killed 139 people in Karachi upon the return of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was later killed in another attack on December 27. In 2008, we lost 60 people in a suicide attack on Marriott Hotel in Islamabad. In 2009, a blast in Peshawar market killed 125 people. In 2010, a suicide attack on Ahmadi Communities mosque in Lahore killed 82 people. A suicide bomber killed 68 people during Friday prayers in the Northwest Darra Adam Khel area. In 2011, suicide attacks at a Sufi shrine and police training center killed 50 and 98 people respectively. In 2013, suicide attackers targeted Shiite Hazaras and Muslims, market places, a Church, and even a police officer’s funeral. In 2014, we lost 141 souls of children who were the future of our nation in an attack on an Army School. And we welcomed year 2015 by receiving a terrorist attack on an imambargah at shikarpur that killed over 60 people.
We have lost our beloved ones in blasts at public processions, markets, mosques, imambarghahs, churches, temples, Sufi shrines, schools, airports, police lines, military bases. Where are we safe in Pakistan? Who is safe in Pakistan? Until when will we tolerate this aggression against our nation? It’s time to raise a collective voice against this oppression before its flames wrap all over our nation. In fact, this fire has already wrapped us and its just a matter of time before it will engulf our country if we do nothing.
My conscience is not satisfied with mere words that I condemn the Lahore Church blast. How can I possibly feel the anguish that my people are going through in this tough, rainy, dark, sorrowful night? I remember last year I happened to travel with a lady on Daewoo. She was a single mom and she told me that she dreads to send her son out alone for she is never sure that he will come back alive or not. I distinctly remember the darkest expressions reflected from her face when she was talking to me about her fears. Her expressions rip my soul out of my body.
As Martin Luther King said, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Our first and foremost step should be to end this silence and end fashionable protests that start with hype and then fade away. We need to understand that it’s not only about Hazaras, Sunnis, Shias, Christians or Hindus – it’s about all of us. Every single attack made on a human being in any part of our country is an attack on our nation, an attack on Pakistan. It challenges her sovereignty. Our bare minimum survival and progress depends on how strong and united we can stand as a whole nation. For this we need to put forth a sincere effort to eliminate the isolation of our fellow countrymen, whom we often categorize in minority groups, by standing with them at every hour of need.
Today let’s promise that we will stand side-by-side with the people of Baluchistan for their fight of equal rights. We will not tolerate any propaganda that inflicts religious hatred among our people. We will not accept any laws that violate the rights of religious minorities. We will question government for its failure to provide basic rights to the people. We will play the role of responsible and active citizens of Pakistan in our daily lives. Last but not least, together we will celebrate our joys and conquer our sorrows.