Noise on the Connecticut shooting, but deafening silence at home

Published: December 18, 2012

It is this immunity towards such issues of mass violence that such incidents occur in the first place. PHOTO: IQBAL MAMOUND/EXPRESS

Shootings at Sandy Hook happened a day before the bombings in Peshawar. There was an outcry for justice and amendment in the United States gun control laws, worldwide. Pakistanis in the US and abroad, also expressed their deepest condolences towards the people who had died in this tragic incident. President Obama addressed the nation with immense grief. His teary-eyed, sombre voice sent a shiver down my spine.

Several news publications and scholastic journals published detailed reports and academic discourses of the incident within 24 hours of the shooting. And the average person in the United States, is still reminiscing over the innocent deaths and the immense damage caused to the young survivors of this shooting.

A day later, six rockets were launched from an unknown location targeting University Road in Peshawar. Following that, fire arms and explosives were continually used inside the Peshawar airport. The news channels reported for over an hour that, “the rescue team is on its way.”

Five people died and 25 were injured in this incident; property damage and the terror that surrounded the city is another story.

“I am safe though I witnessed rockets from my car in the air. My room is destroyed and there is noise of perpetual firing. My little brother is insanely terrified,” said Hassan Saeed.

He witnessed the attacks up-close. At that time, I could only feel sorry for the poor kid and say a silent prayer for all the families and travellers that were in danger due to these attacks.

However, what really strikes me about this incident is the reaction of Pakistanis. Most of my acquaintances were not even familiar with the attack and even after knowing the details, there really wasn’t any such reaction from them.

At the most, “I hope nobody you know has been hurt.”

So, if anyone we are not related to is hurt, is it okay?

This apathy is part of a larger picture that society has neglected. We have accepted such actions of violence as a part of our daily lives. They only make us pause for a minute and look around for possible damage done to our belongings and relations, before we move on with our daily concerns.

It is this immunity towards such issues of mass violence that such incidents occur in the first place.

As a nation, we have lost the value of the life of our own people. Shootings in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, United States appalled us. It made the Pakistani social media activists and other influential groups advocate for stricter US gun laws, but the frequent numerous casualties of our own people cease to bring out the much needed compassion.

Just because we know we can blame our corrupt government and ineffective leadership of the country, we feel that our part in the situation is done.

I am not suggesting any solutions here; honestly, I personally do not know how our collective sensitivity can be revived. But this void in the equation should not translate into continued indifference towards the plight of our country – our people.

There are questions that all of us must ask ourselves today.

What are our priorities?

How do we approach such widespread problems of terrorism and separate them from our cultural and religious biases?

Have we demeaned the value of our lives?

Whose responsibility is it to counterbalance the harm caused to young minds and the culture of country?

Whose liability is it to maintain peace in the country and fight against terrorism?

Is it only the leadership that is to be held accountable for the lack of importance given to this issue?

Have we done our part in advocating for a safer Pakistan for ourselves and our future generations?

Answer these questions for yourselves before your dear one engulfs in the fire of a bomb blast, before it is the wail of your mother that haunts you, and before it is you lying across a pavement with a bullet in your chest, wishing you had done something differently.

Read more by Komal here or follow her on Twitter @komalali92


Komal Ali

Komal Ali

Born and raised in Pakistan, Komal Ali is an International Relations major and Law and Public Policy nexus minor at Mount Holyoke College. She is currently doing a Pre-Law certificate at University of Amsterdam. She tweets at @komalali92 (

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