As I write this, news of a suicide bombing has been confirmed in Lahore. A lone bomber tried to penetrate police lines and apparently failed. Due to reasons yet unknown, the bomber then blew himself outside the gate, killing 8 unsuspecting victims with him.

There has been too much blood recently, too much loss of unsuspecting and harmless individuals. It is impossible to feel the hurt of their loved ones. We can tell them that those gone are now in a better place but that doesn’t bring them back. Nothing will bring them back. The vacuum left will stay there forever, lingering in the shadows of our nostalgic indulgences.

The rest of us however, will continue living our lives just as we have been doing ever since we became victim to the menace of terrorism. What else is there to do? We, us Pakistanis, are different from the rest of the world and may be the circumstances are to be blamed. How can you halt your life and procrastinate if the trigger of tragedy and remorse becomes a norm? We have come to terms with this way of living. ‘Here is another one’, we acknowledge and as the incident becomes a statistic, we continue with our lives. This is certainly no way to live, but is there any other way to live here?

The army has been doing its job and targeting the strongholds of these beasts, but military operations were never really the ultimate solution. This is not the first time our boots have marched on these grounds. As per a calculation done by Ejaz Haider in his essay “Counterinsurgency: The Myth of Sisyphus?”, as many as 403 major and minor military operations were conducted in between 2007-2010 alone. While Rah-e-Nijat sought to clean South Waziristan, Zarb-e-Azab too seeks to do the same with its northern neighbor. The success of either of these operations is anyone’s guess. The militants have now found refuge in our urban cities and have been hitting us where it hurts most. Our interior minister claims of successful yet secret intelligence operations going around in the country while shamelessly refusing to admit to their failures in the tragedies of Peshawar, Shikarpur and hundreds more. ISPR tells us of the hundreds of terrorists carpet bombed and yet these monsters continue to grow in population. As we hang some of these terrorists, throngs come out to shower the ambulances that carry their bodies. Like blows on bop bags, all our military actions seem to be futile.

And there are reasons for that, those that almost all of us acknowledge already. It was never supposed to be an armed pursuit, this war on terror, it was always supposed to be more than that. Terrorism cannot be shot down with a gun for it rises again, like a ghost, only to jeer at us for our attempts. Terrorism is a philosophy that nurtures itself in bigotry and intolerance. In the very clichéd analogy of the causes and the symptoms, the philosophy is the cause; the annihilated terrorist was but a symptom. Our security infrastructure has been consciously pursuing a wild-goose chase and it has been in vain. Our decision makers embellish their careers with crackdowns and yet continue to allow, if not propagate, bigotry amongst the masses. The lone Pakistani, the unsuspecting and harmless individual, alone suffers and is destined to do so unless our decision makers repent.

One need not lose oneself in the madrassa labyrinth to become intolerant. On the contrary, we have been groomed to grow brashly stubborn by many commonplace avenues. Let’s tackle one today: our perceived religious evolution. History books taught in public academic institutions for example, are doing a decent job at making the students apologetic towards these militants who thrive on religious propaganda. The narrative that trends the religious evolution of the Muslim population of the subcontinent is dedicated on reformist personalities. Amongst these reformers, the authors of the aforementioned textbooks also include Syed Ahmed Shaheed Barelvi for his ‘Jihadi movement’. As the narrative goes, the said reformer believed in solely practical steps and his movement though short-lived, contributed significantly to the preservation of Islam. From attacking a sleeping Sikh army to ‘conquering’ Peshawar, Syed Ahmed adopted drastic and violent measures. Once he controlled Peshawar, he enforced the Wahabist interpretation of Islam that saw brutal punishments and forceful religious reforming. One infamous imposition, which was later termed as one of the causes of the eventual overall failure of the ‘jihadi’ movement was making marriage compulsory (ala forceful marriages) for girls and widows. Moreover, everyone under Syed Ahmed’s political control were to renounce all of the ‘ills’ of the past and instead adopt pure sharia as the way of governance. This of course demanded moral brigades, the likes of which were seen during the rule of Taliban in Swat and neighboring Afghanistan. Fed up of these stringent impositions, many locals often rebelled and mutinied against him. After his death, not much time was wasted to revert back to the pre-jihadist ways of life.

Syed Ahmed has been termed as a reformer and his place in our history books continues to be of much importance. His policies, though unapologetically brutal, are termed by our historians as conscious measures towards the reformation and evolution of Islam in the subcontinent. A student hence is made to rationalize the imposition of strict and drastic religious laws as an essential for personal religious reformation. Given that the historical picture of Syed Ahmed’s rule unsettlingly resembles the Talibanic style of governance, it is important to ask what the authors of these books are trying to propagate.

Dr. A.H. Nayyar and K. K. Aziz have dedicated much of their academic brilliance on the study of flaws in our history books. However it has all been in vain. On a recent rechecking of errors pointed out by K. K. Aziz in his ‘Murder of History’, I found that many of them continue to be part of our curriculum. We have been shooting arrows in the sky with our military pursuits when our social system itself is a part of creating our enemy. The political elite need to pay heed to such supposedly ‘trivial’ matters as the content of our academic literature lest it ends up indoctrinating more of our generations in recipes of our own destruction.