It’s only been a month in to the new year but if the number of terrorist attacks are anything to go by of what’s in store, 30 in 24 days and continuing, then I so wish I could skip it and somehow go directly in to 2015. It’s raining suicide bombers in all our major cities and it is heart-breaking to see the helplessness of devastated and traumatized fellow citizens who become the unsuspecting victims. There is no retaliatory strategy in place. The strongest word that is used by each and every one of our great leaders for this open attack on us is muzamat. As Almas Bobby put it so succinctly, ‘ab murramat ki bari hai, muzamat ko chor dain’!

The ferocity of the faceless enemy of this country, its single-mindedness and its objectives are all laid bare. There is no longer any room for dithering or doubt. That there is a whole motley collection of jihadis from different countries of the world using Waziristan as a base to destroy and demoralize Pakistan is no longer a secret. They are definitely not the sort with whom one sits down for dinner and tries to bring about a change in their mindset through reasoning. So that option is out of the window and buried. We should now consider talking to them only when they are ready on our terms. I think mincing of words is no longer an option. The entire leadership of the country must come together if they have even an iota of respect for the opinions of the citizens and make such attacks impossible by incapacitating the brazen TTP, who flaunts and accepts responsibility for their acts against Pakistan with such aplomb. Ever since our inception we have sacrificed vital interests of the people in order to have, train and maintain an ace army.

The army itself is targeted along with other security personnel and I’m sure is also chafing at the bit to put its training in to use. But the fact remains that military action is supposed to be only one part of a total strategy in place to defeat terrorism. It is the responsibility of the civilian government to see that the media, the madrassas and the neglected educational system stop playing a role in developing the terrorist mindset. Countries have overcome impossible issues, the example of China making it against the law to have more than one child per couple to control population comes to mind, the effort has to be total and concerted. We have to stop confusing the issue of religion with what the TTP is doing. The media must cooperate in projecting the Pakistan that the people want, that of being completely free of foreign funding for various sects. Military action by itself is not going to be able to wipe out the threats that the country is experiencing.

In the ultimate analysis these are our problems and it is up to us to overcome them. Consciously preserving and promoting our indigenous art and culture is one such way too. As the planned Sindh Festival gets in to gear for February 1, the extensive promotional campaign for it has gotten underway. We see the visual of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on our TV screens constantly addressing the people in a prime ministerial setting – black sherwani Jinnah portrait, national flag, the works – asking people to help him in preserving our heritage. Whoever dreamed up the campaign, has to be an ad agency, must have sold the idea based on the concept that this would subliminally impact all viewers. The image would seep into our sub-conscious and we would be ready to see him assume this actual prime ministerial role some years down the line. Well, I have a disappointment for them. It is not working. In fact, the superman logo look-alike for the Sindh Festival is creating ripples of amusement. The logo should have been inspired instead by something traditional from the richness of Sindhi arts and crafts and the overdose of BBZ playing prime minister is childish to say the least. However, one wishes for the festival to go well and for it to become an annual feature. The Sindh Festival logo does remind us, though, that a Superman to lead us through our crises is the crying need of the hour and that the land seems so barren when we try and look for one.

Post Script: There has been, of late, a spate of stories in the media of underage children tortured badly by their employers. Poverty and lack of legal protection sees so many children working as labour in homes of people who treat them cruelly. These stories surface only when the really serious abuse, sometimes even resulting in death, is noticed. These children are unaware of their rights and have no recourse or protection from the tortuous behavior of their employers. Currently, a professor, whose 15 year old maid was tortured and died as a result in Lahore, is under arrest. Will there be any justice? Probably not. After some days it will blow over and be forgotten and the professor will continue as before.

I wish I could do something to protect all Pakistani children from cruel behavior and give them a chance. Because wherever given an opportunity children like Aitzaz and Malala have shown what good they can do. (Even though they deserved protection and a normal, happy childhood instead of the extraordinary demands that were made on them). A Superman is needed here too to keep all our children safe from cruelty, abuse, exploitation and poisonous indoctrination. The ones being used as suicide bombers need to be rescued as well as do the little ones being deprived of polio drops.

The writer is a public relations and  event management professional  based in Islamabad.

Email:tallatazim@yahoo.com

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