Quetta bleeds again. It was struck again where it was struck in 2006. The post-attack narrative reverberated with the same cast like in the past in which some were made heroes, cloaked in the narrative of martyrdom, while some were declared villains instigated by across the border intelligence agencies like Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) or the plethora of no-state actors like Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Islamic State (ISIS) etc., as each of these entities claimed of carrying out the attack, to carry out this heinous attack.
The attack resonated with me with a set of objective and subjective undertones to it. Objectively, it invoked in me, like every concerned citizen, a condemnation for the state’s failure to save lives of innocent citizens in the face of clearly knowing the police academy was vulnerable.
There, subjectively, I could not let it go off my mind after I saw my Facebook timeline. It was filled with photos from my school time in Islamia Collegiate School in Peshawar. My class fellows and some of our seniors at the school had shared photos of theirs with one of the heroes of Quetta attack, Captain Roohullah, who brimming with patriotism, threw himself upon the suicide attacker in the rescue operation at Quetta police academy, and saved many lives. Many of my class fellows were paying tribute to him. I personally had not been close to Rooullah Mohmand during my batch from 2002 to 2008 as I used to live in the school’s hostel, and he used to come from home, but, after knowing that he was one of our seniors in batch 2001 to 2007, a strange type of nostalgia coupled with melancholy engulfed me. I felt as I had lost someone very close. Coverage of his gallantry in repelling the suicide attacker on electronic and social media was something about which I was feeling proud as someone from my school had become a headline and pride for country, but, at the same time, watching his young face amidst knowing this that he was going to marry in few months was making it hard for me not to break down.
In a broader perspective, his martyrdom meant a lot to me, but I could not help introspect this question whether the purity of his sacrifice deserved the follies of our ruling elites whose nonchalance approach towards the security threats in Balochistan in particular and across the country in general have aggravated insecurity in Pakistan. Should the gallantry of our brave soldiers, like Captain Roohullah Mohmand, be consumed by the black sheep among our power corridors who nurture proxy groups, the activities of which backfire when other countries send their proxies for counter-attack? Is the blood of our soldiers so cheap that they are martyred for the delinquency of those in the civilian corridors who cannot improve the governance structure because of which these rogue elements find a space within the system to strike?
Each time, we are nudged from our slumber through a heinous attack which costs us loss of innocent lives of our citizens. Each time, the post-attack narrative starts with condemnation of an invisible enemy from those in power corridors. Each time, the narrative, instead of going to locate delinquency on anyone’s part in the power corridor, is overwhelmingly cloaked in the narrative of imposed martyrdom. I call it imposed with a capital “I” as those who are martyred are not the ones willing to die rather they are left with that choice only because they are unfortunately present in that place at that point in time, and, from there onwards, those in power sell their hollow pledges of how to deal with terrorists with iron hand in future in order to sooth raging resentment among public. The post-attack for its analysis hardly consumes two to three days of prime time talk shows on electronic media and few editorials and op-eds in print media, and then the issue is left undiagnosed waiting to be unfolded by the next gruesome attack.
There is no denying the fact that the Pakistani nation is quite resilient even after getting battered in such a harsh way by terrorist attacks. So far, almost each section of citizens, apart from those few in power, the brunt of whose shenanigans we have been bearing, have paid with their lives. This comprises our brave soldiers, police personnel, minorities, women, children and many other common citizens. This nation is resolved in rooting out terrorism and extremism as is reflective from sacrifice of Captain Roohullah Mohmand, and we will keep on bracing our lives for sacrifice if ever there comes a need, but we need to make something straight here so that the ultimate goal that we want to achieve through our sacrifice, that is peaceful and progressive Pakistan, is not hampered by some within us whose activities are about-face to our goals.
It is high time that we start questioning, through peaceful protest, why in the face of pledges by those in power, we are being targeted by these rogue elements. We need to stand by our soldiers whose purity of sacrifice does not let us attain those goals for which they sacrificed their lives. Soldiers like Captain Roohullah Mohmand are our true assets. Their sacrifice should not be meaningless. We need to stand up for our own security by making those in power accountable for what have been facing. It is high time that we make them accountable because though we may have, at face value, the same aspirations for Pakistan, the difference is that citizens have been paying with lives and they have been paying with hollow promises.