One of the sad realities of living in today’s world is how inured we have become to incidents of terrorism.
Do we know anyone who died today? Naah we don’t. So let’s hashtag, share update on FB, and move on. Which of course raises the bar for terrorists, obligating them perversely to be more “spectacular” to catch people’s attention.
Like bringing down two of the world’s tallest buildings on a busy office day.
Like storming 5-star hotels and butchering people in cold blood.
Like shooting dead close to one hundred fifty school-kids.
As a parent, it is difficult not to feel a deep bond of empathy for those that have lost a child, for it is the most frightening thing that can happen to a human being. I would not have said this a few years ago but now that I am a father, I truly mean it.
But alas in this world, I cannot just be a father. I am an Indian. I am a Hindu.
Which in Pakistan, means I am the Devil.
Which means I did it.
Not surprisingly, the Pakistani political establishment has chosen to blame “Indian intelligence agencies” (RAW) for the barbarity at Peshawar. There is Hafiz Saeed, an extremely influential voice in Pakistani politics, no matter what we would like to hope is not the case. There is General Musharaff, and I hope our Indian media organizations invite him over in one of their thought-fests to tell us more about why Indians/Hindus did it. There is, as NDTV points out, “not one single condemnation from mainsteam political parties on Hafiz Saeed’s statement”. Imran Khan has, last heard, refused to name Tehrik i Taliban because, hey, he should not be jumping to conclusions even though the TITs did say they did it but then again, what’s important is, who they are allied with and we all know who that is.
For many, it is TIT-for-tat (yes now you know why I did not write Tehreek-e-Taliban, just for that) if India can blame Pakistan for 26/11 why not India for this? It does not matter than the terrorists of 26/11 actually came from Pakistan, were Pakistani citizens, called Pakistan on their satellite phones, and had Pakistan-issued stuff and the involvement of Pakistan is corroborated by multiple sources, like US intelligence. It does not matter that Tehrik i Taliban is a radical Islamic organization that really does not like kafirs and only in a very warped alternate multiverse, would be allied with India. It does not matter that there is no proof except a photo going around social media of some men, supposedly the terrorists (though no one knows even if that is true), with the dark-skinned men being circled as “Indian” (I sincerely hope that’s someone’s idea of a sick joke, because it is even sicker to think that someone would actually take that seriously).
Nothing matters. India did it. That’s the story and they are sticking to it.
In a bizarre way this makes sense. For a country that is founded on the basis of a “safe homeland for Muslims” it is fundamentally disruptive to accept that Muslims, that too those that consider themselves extremely observant, are themselves killing Muslim children. This, by definition of the country, cannot happen. And so rather than look in the mirror, the easiest thing is to blame someone that is external, the historically designated demon.
From “Dawn”, [link]
“Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful,” the report said.
”Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam whose culture and society is based on injustice and cruelty, while Islam delivers a message of peace and brotherhood, concepts portrayed as alien to the Hindu.”
The researchers also found that the books foster a sense that Pakistan’s Islamic identity is under constant threat.
”The anti-Islamic forces are always trying to finish the Islamic domination of the world,” read one passage from social studies text being taught to Grade 4 students in Punjab province, the country’s most populated.
Isn’t it natural, given that this is what is taught to students in Grade 4, in the way of Pythagoras theorem, that then becomes the truth itself, the straight line between any two points?
But forget books for a while. Let us look at a clip of Veena Malik, who since this appeared has been sentenced for blasphemy for something totally different. Structured as a dial-in show with a maulvi and with the redoubtable Ms. Malik as a host, this would be comic gold if it was not also so hateful. As a lady calls in, she is possessed by a demon (I am not kidding, watch the video if you have not seen it), and the maulvi asks the demon if he is Hindu or Muslim. Because of course, even demons have religions. And voila, the demon, in the best exorcist voice says, “Main Musalman naheen hoon” (I am not a Muslim). The maulvi, who makes up for Veena Malik’s over-acting with equally bad under-acting replies “Tum Na-Musalman Hindu hoke kaise is Musalman behen ke andar aa gaye” (How did you, a non-Muslim Hindu get into the body of a Muslim sister?)
Therein lies the problem. Any act that is demonic, any act that cannot be coped with or understood, be it making a chaste woman behave strangely or have an Islamic Jihadi turn his gun on innocent Pakistani children, is by definition a possession by the sinister “Hindu”/Indian evil entity. If such a transference cannot be accomplished in the national conversation, then the fundamental purity of the nation of the pure, the raison d’etre of its existence, is shaken to its foundation.
And that’s too much of self-doubt for a nation to put up with.