Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Eid Mubarak; Please Don't Forget Terror Victims

Thousands have died in terror attacks around the world since last Eid-ul-Fitr. They are no longer with us. Tens of thousands have been orphaned, widowed or left disabled with serious bodily or brain injuries. In countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, almost everyone knows someone whose life has been devastated by extreme violence.

Focusing specifically on Pakistan, about 4000 people have died in terror attacks so far this year, according to South Asia Terrorism Portal. Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi are among the worst affected cities in Pakistan. Minorities, particularly Shias, have been singled out by Taliban's sectarian allies for the most vicious attacks in Quetta and elsewhere.

These figures do not include tens of thousands who have been injured, orphaned or widowed. Many families have lost all their possessions, homes and breadwinners. 

Pakistani security personnel, including soldiers and policemen, have paid with their lives in the line of duty for their fellow citizens. They are the unsung heroes of Pakistan who have received little recognition by the Pakistani leaders and the national media. An exception is a recent Associated Press news story which features several Pakistani soldiers who have lost their limbs or suffered brain injuries in fighting the Taliban.  Here are a few excerpts from it: 

Captain Qasim Abbas had finished a six-month stint fighting the Taliban close to the Afghan border and was heading home to get engaged when the militants struck, ambushing his convoy, pitching his vehicle off a 90-foot cliff and leaving him with brain injuries that make speaking and walking a daily battle. Abbas and the other soldiers recovering at Pakistan's only military rehabilitation hospital are a testament to the human toll from Pakistan's fight against Islamist militants. Their plight receives little attention from Pakistani politicians, possibly because they are afraid of associating themselves with an unpopular fight that many citizens see as driven by the United States. "Fight, fight, keep fighting," Abbas said slowly but with purpose when asked if he had a message for his colleagues still battling the Taliban. He raised his fist in the air to drive home his point.

Captain Kaleem Nasar was part of an operation elsewhere in the northwest in January of this year when he stepped on a bomb. The explosion blew off one of his legs, and the other had to be amputated below the knee. He visited the rehab hospital recently so doctors could work on his artificial limbs. Despite his injuries, he does not regret going to war against the Taliban and hopes he can return to active duty. "I am satisfied I have done something for my country," said the 27-year-old soldier. "If I can go back to that area and serve my country, God willing I will." 

But Waheed, the head of the hospital, is worried that Pakistani troops wounded in battle don't receive enough recognition in the country. None of Pakistan's civilian leaders or other politicians have visited the hospital in the five years he has been running it, he said. 'They need much more recognition because they have done so much sacrifice for the cause,' said Waheed. Waheed contrasted the lack of political attention in Pakistan with a visit he made to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the U.S. in April. He was there for only five days but saw a stream of officials and reporters come to the facility to meet with U.S. soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said. 

Unfortunately, Pakistani news media have failed to shine the spotlight on individual human beings who have suffered terribly from the savagery visited upon them by the Taliban and their sectarian allies. The journalists  have reported on incidents of terrorism and the statistics of violence with little follow up on its consequences for victims' lives. They are failing to do their duty, as are the politicians who are refusing to own up the responsibility of protecting Pakistani citizens from the terrorists.  Pakistani religious leaders, too, are failing to remind the people of the huqooq-ul-ibad, their responsibilities for the well-being of their fellow human beings, especially during the month of Ramadan. 

As Pakistanis celebrate Eid this year, it's time for them to focus on the victims of terrorism. They should keep the victims of terror in their thoughts and prayers. More importantly, they should forcefully demand that the country's leadership discharges its fundamental responsibility of providing security to all of the citizens of the country regardless of sect, religion, political affiliation or ethnicity.  

Related Links:

The Prophet I Know

Is Ramadan Just a Break From Work?

Does Nawaz Sharif Have a Counter Terrorism Strategy?

Obama Hosts Iftar Dinner at White House

American Muslim Reality TV Breaks Stereotypes


Hopewins said...

Is this becoming a PATTERN?


"Nearly half the top police commanders in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province were killed Thursday when insurgents shot and killed a police inspector, then bombed his funeral hours later, where most of the province’s police commanders had gathered."

"The attack was similar to one June 15 in which a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi suicide bomber targeted a bus full of female university students in Quetta and other Lashkar-e-Jhangvi fighters then besieged the hospital where survivors had been taken for treatment"

So what is the lesson here?

If you see people lying wounded from a terrorist attack, you should not help them, else you will become the next target. If people get killed in a terrorist attack, you should not attend their funerals, else you will become the next target.

Where does this end? Will all people just abandon the wounded, the dying, the dead and the survivors? Will all people just run away to save themselves?

What are your thoughts?

Riaz Haq said...

Gallup Pakistan finds 59% of Pakistanis have positive view of Musharraf....31% favorable and 28% satisfactory.


Riaz Haq said...

Malala inspires girls school enrollment surge in KP, reports Bloomberg:

MINGORA, Pakistan — The Pakistani Taliban's attempts to deter girls from seeking an education, epitomized by the shooting of 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai in the face last year, are backfiring as school enrollments surge in her home region.

While Yousafzai missed out last week on the Nobel Peace Prize, her plight is helping change attitudes in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which lies at the center of a Taliban insurgency. The four-month-old provincial government boosted education spending by about 30 percent and began an enrollment drive that has added 200,000 children, including 75,000 girls.

Yousafzai's story "is certainly helping us to promote education in the tribal belt," Muhammad Atif Khan, the province's education minister, said by phone. "Education is a matter of death and life. We can't solve terrorism issues without educating people."

Taliban militants targeted Yousafzai in retaliation over her campaign for girls to be given equal rights to schooling in a country where only 40 percent of adult women can read and write. Though the Nobel award went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Yousafzai was showered with accolades in a week in which she published her memoir: she won the European Union's top human rights prize and met President Barack Obama at the Oval Office.

The shooting occurred a year ago as Yousafzai traveled home on a school bus in Mingora, a trading hub of 1.8 million people where a majority of women still cover their faces and girls aren't comfortable answering questions from reporters. The bullet struck above her left eye, grazing her brain. She was flown for emergency surgery to Britain, where she lives today.

The increased media attention on Swat since the shooting is pressuring government officials to improve educational standards and encouraging locals to send their kids to school.

Three days ago in Mingora, as local channels flashed the news that Yousafzai didn't win the peace prize, high school student Shehzad Qamar credited her for prompting the government to build more institutions of higher learning.

"She has done what we couldn't have achieved in 100 years," Qamar said. "She gave this town an identity."..
"Taliban wanted to silence me," Yousafzai said in an interview with the BBC last week. "Malala was heard only in Pakistan, but now she is heard at the every corner of the world."

Sadiqa Ameen, a 15-year-old school girl in Swat, said she wanted to read Yousafzai's book, titled "I am Malala." The Pakistani Taliban, or Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, has threatened to kill Yousafzai and target shops selling her book, the Dawn newspaper reported, citing spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.

"This is probably the first ever book written by a Swati girl," said Ameen, who lives near Yousafzai's school. "I am sure her story will be something we all know and have gone through during the Taliban rule."

Musfira Khan Karim, 11, prayed for Yousafzai's success in the Nobel competition with her 400 schoolmates in Mingora.

"I want her back here among us," Karim said in her school's playground. "I want to know more about her. I want to meet her."