While Pakistan and far too many Pakistanis continue to fight over the country’s stupid blasphemy law and waste their time and energies talking about other useless things–and while the Pakistani government continues to ban Youtube (this will always be a relevant remark, okay!)–the Taliban continue to destroy humanity. (No, America and colonialist-minded Americans and Westerners; this isn’t an invitation to America to come save poor Pakistanis from the Taliban! Up yours if you think America/its politics is the solution!)
Peshawar is yet again in the news for a heartbreaking reason: the Taliban’s deadliest attack in Pakistan—in Peshawar—that caused the murder of 146 people (and counting – there’s a live coverage of it on this website), 132 of them children between the ages of 10 and 18. Seven Taliban, all of whom now reportedly killed by the Pakistani army, were sent to the school to kill off innocent humans in retaliation against the army’s killings of—get this—“families and females,” according to a Taliban Spokesperson. He goes, “We just wanted to show the government what the pain is like.” dafuk!! What do you think YOU just did there?! Heal the pain of the families whose children and loved ones you just killed?! These killers killed individuals one by one, walking up to students asking them who among them belonged to a family affiliated with the Pakistani army. The children raising their hands, most probably with pride in their eyes and voices, were then shot dead … one by one.
Before the attack, the Taliban conducted a suicide attack so that the school guards would focus their attention on the bomb blast instead of the school, leaving the Taliban room and time to enter the school and go on a shooting rampage.
My heart goes out to the victims and their families. May God bless you all with the strength to cope with your losses. I have no comforting words to share with you, and I’m not going to pretend I understand your pain. No amount of condolences and no amount of solidarity with you all can bring your children—and their teachers and principals—back, but know that today, all of humanity stands with you. Today, everyone around the world has come to hear that your kids were plucked out of your lives, and everyone is praying for you and sending you positive vibes. For most of us, that’s all we can do, and it breaks our hearts, too, that there’s not much else we can do. God be with you all.
I’m impressed with social media’s response to the whole thing – basically, *everyone* is talking about it. That doesn’t happen often much. Normally, hardly anyone, or only Pakistanis and sometimes only Pashtuns, talk about the murders of people in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (northweestern Pakistan). The whole world is bleeding because Peshawar is bleeding because more than 140 children met their death today in one sitting. The murder of children points to the complete lack of respect for a community’s, a nation’s, a people’s future, and that’s why children’s deaths hit us this hard. With the child’s life, a future is stolen from humanity.
But as those of us who are not directly affected by these killings reflect over this tragedy, discussing it with friends and others, let us remember the following facts in addition to avoiding certain ways of talking about this incident.
how not to talk about the incident
1. Saying things like “those barbaric people did this!” isn’t helping the situation at all. Declaring the Taliban and other threatening humans and human forces “barbaric” is practically dismissing the problem altogether. It’s like saying, “Man, that’s in their blood; they’re a barbaric folk, and you can only expect barbarity from them, so there’s nothing to talk about.” No, goddamnit, there’s everything to talk about, and dismissing this as a barbaric, uncivilized act is NOT a part of the solution at all.
2. Don’t claim these children as “our own” because they’re not your own. That claim is coming from a privileged position of most probably living in the West or some luxurious parts of Pakistan where you’re never compelled to feel the pain of the people living under threat daily. These children belong to their parents, and no one but they will feel their loss most deeply. Besides, YOUR children aren’t living the same way those children did. (I know this is an assumption, and I don’t care. Just stop saying shit like “our children were killed today.”)
3. Stop referring to these killers, or any killers, as cowards. I get it, and I understand – I think they’re cowards, too, because they don’t have the strength to make their points in a non-violet way or without killing humans. But frankly, our calling them cowards means absolutely nothing, certainly not to them. Besides, I wonder if this is really cowardice … is killing another human, let alone hundreds of them, really such a cowardly act? I’m sure they don’t see it as cowardice.
4. Please don’t post pictures of the dead children. That’s disrespectful to them and their families, and, besides, do you ever post pics of dead children when they’re from the West, like when children are killed in the almost weekly/monthly attacks by white men in America?
5. Please stop saying, “This isn’t Islam” and “The Taliban aren’t Muslims”; just like declaring them cowards doesn’t help, so are these statements completely useless. Because a major, terrifying part of the problem is that these people ARE Muslim, and you and I don’t get a say in who’s Muslim and who’s not. Yes, violence in the name of God/religion/Islam isn’t from any religion at all and it’s all politics, but simply dismissing them as non-Muslim doesn’t help anyone understand this problem of violence looming over our heads. I know that no one actually means “it’s okay if they did this since they’re not Muslim,” but, actually, that’s exactly what we’re saying when we claim “they’re not Muslim!”/”This isn’t Islam!”
6. And importantly, don’t abuse this opportunity as a moment to attack Islam, all Pakistanis, or all Muslims everywhere. That’s just not fair. I don’t care WHO does what in the name of Islam or God, but killing humans–and even committing genocides–in the name of religion isn’t something new or something that only Muslims have control over. No, just because others do it and have always done it, too, doesn’t mean we don’t have to condemn when Muslims do it, but my point is that let’s not respond by saying, “See?! This is further proof that all Muslims are barbaric and want to kill people.” Remember that the people who were killed today were also Muslim, at least 95% of them, I’m sure. The Taliban, in addition to those white male killers in the U.S. who go on shooting sprees every now and then at children’s schools and theaters and neighborhoods and basically everywhere else, are our common enemy as one humanity. When you condemn all Muslims because of a group of violent humans who happen to be Muslims with the intention of standing up for the victims, you’re actually doing a disservice to the victims.
Facts about the incident
1. The Taliban attacked the school *because*, they said, they wanted to take revenge for all those times the Pakistani army has killed their own (militants, the Taliban, and, always, always, innocent lives in spaces where the Taliban are supposedly found – but I suspect the Taliban don’t give a cow’s dung about those lives). What did the Pakistani army do in response? They “carried out several raids including 10 airstrikes in Khyber Agency today” in response to this specific incident–and we are not hearing any reports about how many innocent lives were stolen in the army’s attacks. This is how the cycle of murder works. The Taliban say they’re taking revenge, and the army takes revenge in return, and the Taliban respond with the same thing and the army responds with the exact same violence. I’ll let you guess who suffers most in all of this (hint: it’s not the killers, whether from the army or from the Taliban).
2. This was merely ONE of the possibly a thousand attacks on schools in Pakistan during the last 2 years alone because: “The total number of reported militant attacks on schools in 2009-2012 was at least 838 and could be as high as 919,” 505 of them in 2009 alone (remember when the Taliban were reigning over Swat and banned female schools in 2009?).
3. These attacks will continue to happen, not just in schools but everywhere else as well. Today alone isn’t a “Black Day” in Pakistan – for so many Pakistanis, especially Pashtuns, every single day is a black day there, a day of mourning and losses and tears and blood.
4. Perhaps most importantly, this incident points to the complete lack of respect for human life by the killers. I can’t say more than this … this should tell us plenty about the value of human existence, of a beautiful future, of children, of children’s laughter and cries and fightings and yellings in the neighborhoods … Why are these killers so afraid to let people live?
Those are, in my opinion, the most important facts to remember about today. Other than the fact that 132 (and counting) children have been killed so far and over 10 innocent adults. Children are always innocent, so no need to describe these ones as “innocent children,” no?
Rest in peace …
What I’d like to know is, how does Pakistan and everyone else have access to these Taliban spokespeople and their leaders, who are still alive and making orders? As long as these people are alive, I will never believe any official claims from Pakistan that “X amount of Taliban killed” – because you’re not doing shit.
Also, this song … my God … so apt for literally every single day.
Starts off with:
“You were a city of a blooming flowers
A city of wounded hearts and of pain
Our Khushal [a Pashto poet] is weeping, as is Qalandar [another Pashto poet]
How can I not cry when Peshawar itself is crying”
Then goes on to say that every part, every corner, including the mountains and rivers and streets, of Peshawar are crying in pain.