It is a bitter fact of recent times that the monster of terrorism has crawled and devastated every nook and corner of the sacred land of Pakistan.

Irrespective of direct or indirect involvement, the horrifying act of terror inflicts life-long after-effects upon humanity and environment. These effects could be psychological, physical, financial and social. They appear in the form of universal and unending pain, fear, depression, anger, aggression and sense of loss. That is why, whether it is Al-Qaeda terrorist attack on World Trade Centre of 9/11, or Madrid Train Bombing of March 11, 2004, or the massacre of innocent children of Army Public School, Peshawar, December 16, 2014, the shock, chaos, confusion, sadness, and reactions are all hideous and abominable.

This narrative is about the impact of terrorism on children and adults, particularly women. Almost always, the disaster falls upon the victim so suddenly and so unexpectedly that they fail to find refuge. As a result the family breaks down.

In Invisible Wounds: Impact of War and Terrorism on Children Terri Tanielian and Lisa H. Jaycox write about a child named Sebastian who, with tearful eyes, said, “Sometimes I’m so afraid I stay awake all night until dawn.” Another child named Amjad from Lahore, who had gone to see flag ceremony at Wahga Border on November 2, 2014 was injured due to a bomb blast. He told one of his friends who visited him in the hospital, “When I came to my senses, I felt irritation near the upper part of my foot near fingers and I moved my hand towards the bandaged area, but to my surprise, the foot was no more there. It had been amputated to save my life.”

Imagine a child’s suffering whose father became a victim of a terrorist act and he is no more in this world. Even if he is alive, he is confined to bed, incapacitated. In most cases, the child becomes aggressive and thinks that there is no justice available to him. He has been deprived of the most precious and the closest companion for; none of his fault or his father’s. Aspirations of life, health and education - in short, his upbringing - receives big jolt. His disturbed mind, which keeps reminding him of good old days when he was an apple of everybody’s eyes, and especially of his father’s, becomes an insurmountable obstacle for him to concentrate on the given work, which affects his academic progress and personal growth and development. As long as he lives, he can neither forget this loss, nor the impact of the shocking blow. Exposure to terrorism keeps lurching, forcing him to brood upon ways to take revenge. As evil begets evil, so terrorism begets more hatred and more violence.

The worst hit of the traumatic incident is none other than the woman, in four main roles as mother, sister, wife and daughter of the victim. Whether she is exposed to this terrible blow explicitly or implicitly, a complete metamorphosis occurs in her personality, outlook and behavior. Nostalgia haunts, loneliness depresses, stress and anxiety bring changes in appearance, sense of insecurity cripples, fear ruins her pleasures and her mournful speech accompanies her tears. On account of these factors, the risk of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is higher among women compared to men and children. One young girl died in a recent bomb blast in Islamabad. The mother of the deceased told her colleague who had gone there for condolence “It has been very painful. I avoid watching news on TV. I don’t know what is happening to me: I start weeping without any reason.” A mother of ashaheedboy of Army Public School, Peshawar, was crying and telling an old woman, perhaps her close relative, “I’ve lost my only son. I don’t want to give birth to another for fear of losing him also.” No one knows how long it will take to restore these victims and the related dear and near ones to normal life.

The poignant implication of the situation is that media creates such a mayhem on the screen, that children and women, who mostly stay at home, are the worst tortured. In the lone TV lounge they spend hours in a continuous state of fear and stress which kills Eros and slowly pushes them towards personal vendetta or Thanatos. Even though nothing has happened to any family member, watching TV or reading news and stories about wounded, mutilated or dead persons generates a phantasmagoria of nightmares which brings changes in metabolism, resulting in psychological and physical maladies which disturb sleep and unveil before children and women a world of make-believe, far away from reality.

After 9/11, most of the children, women and men, too, were observed either passing stealthily and over-cautiously or taking to their heels like 100-metre sprinters filled with fear and nervousness lest skyscrapers might not fall on them. Borrowing both thought and terminology from the French existentialist, Jean-Paul Sartre, it can be concluded that as the victims have stopped living freely and gratuitously, their life is only a specimen of “bad faith.” In other words, the terrorist has snatched life from them even when he has not been successful in killing them with his suicidal explosive device. It is, therefore, the moral and humanitarian duty of the media outlets to bring back a hopeful and healthy vision and abstain from too much descriptive and narrative stuff.

James Ferguson’s argument that “negotiation with the enemy might be a better alternative to fighting them” may have been a workable strategy, but in the present context of Pakistan scenario, it has been totally defeated and rejected. After many deliberations, Pakistan has realized that winning argument with terrorist Taliban is an exercise in futility. Elimination of evil of insurgency is the right strategy. If General David Petraeus justifies the presence of US forces sent from more than 10,000 miles to Afghanistan for denying Al-Qaeda use of the country as sanctuary for terrorist elements, how could Pakistan Government and its Army tolerate Taliban proximity with the sacred land of Pakistan?

Total annihilation of terrorism is the only road to peace and tranquility. Pushing “the devil across the bridge” ––– eliminating this wickedness of terrorism ––– is as much responsibility of Pakistan Army, Federal and Provincial Governments as of each one of us ––– the people of Pakistan.