By: Agha Haider Raza
Yet again Pakistani’s find themselves, lined up, shoulder to shoulder offering prayers for the departed. The brazen attack during Friday namaaz has clearly shown the audacity and ability of the militants present within Pakistan. On the one side, the suicidal mission that was led out is a direct signal to the Pakistan Army (the attack was taken out in the officers residential colony in Parade Lane, Rawalpindi Saddar) for retreating its forces in the tribal region, while also visibly proving that these militants are not Muslims. The issue for me however is, why have our top brass only been visible at the namaaz-e-jinaza when one of their own has lost their life? Poor Peshawar has been witnessing non-stop death and bombs. It surely has been a while since I saw or read the Prime Minister being in this troubled city of Peshawar, rubbing shoulders with us and praying for those who have lost their lives due to actions taken by the state.
A member of the armed forces has my highest respect, for there is no greater sacrifice than offering your complete services for the protection of your country. But at a time when our country is striving for national unity, is it really the best way forward when people in Baluchistan and the Frontier province are made to feel isolated? Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand that our Army Generals, Federal and Cabinet Ministers have a daunting schedule – due to the current state of affairs – and it would be rather difficult driving up to Peshawar everyday in order to attend a funeral, but do they not realize the importance of uniting a fragmented Pakistan? We have all concluded that the warfare we are currently engaged in will never be won militarily. Why not have a two-pronged approach; military and the instillation of national pride. This would allow for a greater amount of public support for the current military operation, while planting the seeds for a more peaceful and secure future.
Implanting a sense of nationalism in all Pakistani’s the only way forward from here on end. Baluchistan would not feel isolated, while the ‘tribal region’ would finally be able to trust the Federal government. Politicians would no longer be able to play the ‘Sindh card’, while Punjabi’s would not simply assume they are the political elite. I know it sounds a bit like the three musketeers, “All for one and one for all”, but that is exactly what we require. To be honest, I would even recommend mandatory military service for a year. Not only would it allow for us to pay a small token of respect to our country, but it might even bring down the defense budget and allow for an increase in educational spending.
With our short memory, we constantly forget that it was only due to the united effort of millions and secular leaders that granted us Pakistan and independence from the colonizer. Without such “Unity, Faith and Discipline” we surely would have been a lost minority. The time is ripe for our democratically elected leaders to take charge and fulfill the duties they subscribed to. Pakistan truly is at a cross-way right now, and it is high time we charge forward with our heads held high.
We have seen enough death for anyone to tell us to do more, and we realize our shortcomings. We have heard plenty of mothers crying and observed too many fathers burying their sons for us to wait and see what happens next. Tomorrow is another day, another start; it is up to us what we make of it. Those who threaten the very essence of our survival do not have the control over our decisions. Now is not the time to settle our political or religious differences, but rather the time to work and make Pakistan a better place. For it will guarantee you the peace, security, freedom and accountability we all long for!