Death, contrary to Dylan Thomas, seems to have dominion over us all like never before. The moratorium on the death penalty has been lifted in almost all of its entirety, and so between the government and the military, then can get rid of whomever they like by calling them a terrorist or a threat to the state. In the meantime, outfits like the TTP are blowing up churches during Mass and claiming responsibility. This claiming, it makes my blood boil. I detest this cocky admission of being savage, bloodthirsty and completely unchecked. They have a press conference and say yes, we did it, we killed Pakistanis. They can claim responsibility because they know nobody is going to get them. They aren’t afraid of anyone. And why would they be? This government is just a mess of weak-kneed buffoons who can’t even keep someone like Zaki ur Rahman Lakhvi behind bars permanently. They are good for extracting confessions from terrified teenagers, of course, and putting them on death row, but Mumtaz Qadri is still ruling his little roost in jail. Why on earth would the TTP, killers of innocents and slaughterers of children, care?

Youhanabad, where the church blasts happened, is home to about 100, 000 Christians. That is a lot of people. We seem to have money to spend on senseless roadworks, but we don’t have any to increase security in high-risk areas. We don’t have the resources to invest in training more police officers, equipping them with skills and weapons, paying them better to motivate them, but we have plenty of money to spend on expressways. Habib Jalib, whose death anniversary it was last week, wrote in his much-loved, much-quoted “Main Nahin Maanta” (I Will not Accept), that “Aisay dastoor ko, subh-e-be-noor ko/main nahin manta, main nahin jaanta”: I will not accept and I do not recognize this way of life, this lightless dawn. Those are fighting words, those are words to live by. I will not go gentle. I will not accept. I am not resigned. But the pity of it all is that we haven’t got a Jalib. We haven’t got anyone who will go out into the streets and sing their defiance. Don’t think it’s because things were better in the sixties or the seventies. Don’t think that it was safer, that you couldn’t get locked away or shot mysteriously then either.

What is wrong with us? What is so deeply dead inside of us that we can’t muster the rage to be a force of change? Why is there only Jibran Nasir speaking up as the voice of our conscience? Why aren’t there more of us out there, making things happen? Most of us mean well. Most of us have the right instincts or the right response to oppression, but what good is that to anyone when the bigots and the thieves are the ones who have grabbed the reins? Gone are the days of civility, gone is the time of the educated response. It’s time to get dirty now. It’s time to make things uncomfortable for the people whose job it is to serve us, not the other way around. The blood of these Pakistanis killed this Sunday is on the hands of the Punjab government. It’s on us all. We are “in blood/ Stepp’d so far that, should I wade no more/ Returning were as tedious as go o’er”. That is from Macbeth, and it means we are so deep now in our trouble that the only way out is to go through, not turn back. Death has dominion over us all because it is wielded by people who seek to have dominion over us. We are fearful because we fear death, and that is valid, and human, and real. But that must not mean that we live in perpetual fear of it. It is the ultimate psychological weapon. But it’s already the worst thing that could have happened to far too many families, far too many Pakistanis whose only crime was to continue to live here, like we all do, and hope that tragedy won’t strike their homes. How long can we survive on prayers? God helps those who help themselves, and it’s high time we started.