Shirts soaked in blood - plumes of smoke touching the sky - burned bodies lying under wreckage - screams for help resounding ceaselessly - breaths of helplessness and despair in the wind. This is only a little description of what an exploded place looks like. What it actually feels like is indescribable. You look up to God, and you see smoke. You look around in despair, and you get more despair. Just what the survivors and the deceased feel every time after an attack. Just what they must have felt after the double suicide bomb attack in northwest Pakistan.
On Sunday, 22nd September, around 500 worshippers attended the mass at the All Saints Church in Peshawar, an important town in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. After the service, the worshippers were about to receive a free meal of rice outside when an explosion hit the congregation followed by a more powerful one. A twin suicide attack that left the walls pockmarked of ball bearings that were used as shrapnel to maximize the damage. What remains of the historic and harmonic symbol of faith is a haunting mix of destructed walls and blood. More than 85 have been declared dead and more than 140 are injured, some in a critical condition in Lady Reading Hospital.
Bodies piled in the hospital while the Jundullah wing of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) took responsibility of the attack, claiming it was act of retaliation for US drone strikes. The danger looms large at their vow to kill Non-Muslims till the US cancels its drone attacks. Imran Khan, the opposition politician whose party controls the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, stands strong on his solution to militancy with the magic word ‘negotiation’.
Although, an attack in Pakistan is, sadly, not uncommon – seeing that the Shias have been the target of brutal bombings in the past – but this has served as a major blow to the Christian community in the Muslim-dominated Pakistan. It raises questions on the government’s inadequacy of safety measures for the minorities. It is said to be an unusual assault on the Christians, considering they haven’t been targeted in the past, which makes this the deadliest ever attack against the countries’ Christians, who are a politically weak minority in the country and are subjected to mob violence and prejudices time and again.
The attacks have sparked nation-wide protests by Muslims and Non-Muslims alike. The angry crowd took to the streets condemning the government’s failure to protect the minorities and its steadfast approach to do soft talks with the fundamentalists. Peace talk with these perpetrators of extreme violence is a sure shot failure when they consider Pakistan’s constitution as un-Islamic. Their idea of religion is not humanity. Burning in the hot, relentless flames and taking several innocents in the same griddle of death does not need courage; it needs ignorance, and on so many different levels.
The country that was formed as a secular state, with Islam as its main religion, has lost its tolerance under the influence of the extremists it breeds. While we express shock and grief, some demons in the guise of humans laugh at the terror unleashed and the mission accomplished, in a parallel universe. Unhe faqr hai!
Also published in Youth ki Awaaz