The return of terror

By Asim Sajjad Akhtar

After each ‘terrorist’ attack, they tell us they are going to go after ‘them’. But there is always another attack to follow. Token condemnations by government officials aside, the gruesome attack on a Shi’a masjid in Peshawar that has to date taken 62 lives appears to have triggered more worry about the economy and/or the visiting Australian cricket team than the human devastation itself. Yet again we are told this is a ‘conspiracy’ against the country. But no mention of the domestic and foreign policy of weaponizing religion. No mention of an unaccountable militarised state apparatus. No mention of the systematic enabling of the Taliban, TLP and plethora of sectarian militants. It has barely been six months since establishment ideologues were celebrating the reconquest of Afghanistan by the Afghan Taliban. And every day in this country we hear of lynch mobs attacking men, women and children who are dead before anyone can prove blasphemy allegations again them to be true. Today it is innocent Shi’a worshippers that suffer, yesterday it was another religious community, tomorrow it will be another ethnic periphery that burns. 

‘Terrorism’ remains a bogey for military-industrial-media establishments in this country and around the world. The claim that they are fighting terrorism has been recycled again and again and again. All while more lose their lives at the altar of bloody strategic games, fed lie after lie about the ‘terrorists’ being brought to justice.

So it is that the burden to establish a lasting peace is ours alone. They can only be expected to continue peddling the politics of hate. Those who have lost loved ones – and someone very dear to me just has in Peshawar – will have to generate the strength to keep struggling for a future where innocent worshippers are not butchered in broad daylight. There will be a reckoning, and unlike them, we do not seek vengeance. We seek only peace, bread, freedom, and dignity for all.

The writer is a progressive intellectual. He teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.

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