Imagine a bright sunny day, a normal working day. You get to your assembly hall to listen to today’s lecture on biochemistry (A relatable ambiance). The lecturer is stopped short by an unexpected gunshot in the adjacent room. A response of bewilderment, not panic, shrouds the room; panic takes time to instill. Then, all of a sudden, the door slams open and standing in front of you is not your principal, but a masked man with an AK-47 pointed right towards the space between your eyes. The rest is history.
There is no need to dwell into the grotesque statistics; you’ve probably seen them, simply put, everywhere. What’s most unfathomable is not the magnitude of the attack, but it is the death of young innocent victims who lost their lives entangled in this morbid shootout. Say it out loud, 132 children, 132 dreams, 132 childhoods; all crushed within minutes of a brutal conquest. The pictures you see don’t speak a thousand words, they speak one; fear. I fear not what happened, but what happens next.
I for one am not a big fan of generalizing, but after seeing how a seemingly peaceful school and its occupants were brought down by a group of 7 armed men, I find vulnerability to be a mutual concept in Pakistan and other Taliban infested countries. The media hype surrounding what diplomat celebrities say is undeserved in light of what’s happening. Nawaz Sharif can express sympathy all he wants, Ban Ki Moon can, for the millionth time, claim this to be a threat against international peace, but my baby brother can do the same. What this toddler cannot do is make firm changes to policy.
But what can Pakistan do that it is already not doing? I might not be the biggest follower of politics in Pakistan, but it doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to notice the lack of political will concerning the issue. Yes, granted, the Pakistani government has taken certain steps, such as lifting the moratorium on the death penalty, in response. But I am still not 100% convinced this is a zero-tolerance policy, and I’m sure Taliban recognizes the same. Pakistan needs to realize how heavenly it is for terrorists, like McDonalds is to fat people. Lax laws coupled with unguarded victims, no doubt, serve as breeding grounds for this misguided group.
But then again, strict military action against the Taliban also comes with its own scroll of consequences (And the complexity continues…). The Taliban is strong enough to retaliate. In fact, this massacre, as stated by many a think tank, was a vindictive response by the Taliban. As the Taliban spokesperson put it, since “the army targets our families, we want them to feel our pain.” The children were victim because their parents were involved in suppressing the Taliban. So you can imagine, further punitive attacks from both sides will only infuriate more wars. Then fancy finding a middle ground? Absolutely not. Negotiation with a group that believes in immoral ideologies better not be on our list of possible solutions. I’d rather engage in a fist fight than negotiate with a serial killer.
I hate playing the waiting game, but we can only hope the recent unison between Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan proves to be a fruitful one. Political unison is more effective in combating terrorism than an internally conflicted political framework. My heart rests with the families of the unfortunate victims. Of course, monetary compensation will never be enough, but the government should make sure the same is provided. I remain cautiously optimistic, not because I truly believe the future is bright, but because I see a stronger opposition burgeoning against the Taliban. Here’s hoping for the fall of this barbaric group and it’s aimless supporters.