Sleeping with the enemy

Published: June 10, 2014
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Yesterday, our flag used to flutter in the midst of an independent Pakistan. Today, it is used to cover the bodies of our dead citizens. And we’re okay with it.

Today, on June 10, 2014, Pakistan has officially become the biggest joke in the world. This is the second attack to have taken place, one at and one near the largest airports in the country.

It came after an emotional morning in which the world was informed that bodies of seven people, remnants of the first attack, who were stuck inside the cold storage area, were retrieved. This, of course, only happened when the media boxed the eardrums of every politician it could reach. Before that… well before that we were asleep.

We did wake up though. For a few hours during the first attack and called it a day as soon as we thought the situation was under control. A furious battle took place on the runway, terrorists were killed and then we scanned the area, ‘to our satisfaction’; comfortable with our accomplishments, we settled down into our regular routine again.

I mean, who thinks about survivors after the incident takes place, right?

After a terrorist attack of this magnitude, where we came out the obvious ‘winners’, why would we need to check every nook and corner of the airport to make sure no sneaky little terrorist was left behind. Since we didn’t do that, we obviously would not think we’ve left survivors, our own citizens, those who worked AT the airport, behind. What an insult. Please. Pakistan knows how to do a clean sweep.

Anyhow, after hours and hours of the victims calling family members, them pleading with the authorities and finally the ‘rescue efforts’, we were able to get the bodies out. Unfortunately, and predictably, by this time, they were burnt beyond recognition. Hope died. Some stated that the victims had bullet wounds and may have died due to those. That’s good enough. Yup. We can settle for that. So what if they took over 24hours to start trying to get them out? The fact that there were bullet wounds means they were probably dead anyway, right? Phew, that’s a load of our conscience. We might as well settle for something that will help us sleep better at night.

Funnily enough, the one thing we are taught in school, when preparing for the real world is not to settle. Don’t become comfortable, they would say. Success comes to those who never believe they have done enough; they strive for more, for bigger and better. Isn’t that why nations prosper? They don’t become comfortable with the level of success or development or progress they have achieved; the wheels of hard work and determination keep moving. Don’t set a goal for yourself, but don’t stop yourself from touching the sky. The sky’s the limit.

But in Pakistan – we settle. We settle for the poverty thrust upon on us. We settle for honour killings. We settle for child marriages. We settle for corrupt politicians. We settle for incompetent security forces. We settle for Pakistani Christians being persecuted. We settle for forceful conversion of Pakistani Hindus. We settle for Shia pilgrims being brutally murdered and we settle for terrorism thriving in our airports and backyards. Yes, we settle.

We squirm, plead and cry but we settle. We give in. We don’t forgive, but we forget.

Sunday night, our airport was attacked; the biggest airport in the country. You know why? Because we settled for an airport like Jinnah International Karachi. You think it’s the fault of the security forces present there? No. It’s not. They did their job. They secured the area. They settled for mediocre ammunition, no bullet proof jackets and crappy salary because you and I settled for that airport.

We settled for the second rate security measures because we believe we have done enough. We settled for the fake bomb-detecting device that wasn’t able to detect the rocket launchers that were used last night. Obviously, they had been covered in an invisibility cloak, because we hadn’t managed to see it until much later either. We settled for security forces reaching the site of attack an hour later because they were busy performing protocol duties with the so-called VIPs of this nation. We settled for 12 hours of war at our airport.

That same night Shia pilgrims were targeted. Did we act up? Did you get off that couch of yours and demand resignations? Did you take to the streets? Of course not. That’s not convenient. That’s not comfortable. We sat back, whispered a few words of condolences, shock and anger, and then we settled our backsides back in that warm spot we had somehow managed to jump out of for a few seconds.

Are you surprised that this attack took place? Think about it. Close your eyes and visualise that airport. Visualise how many times you have seen tiny little security lapses. Did you report that lapse? Of course not. It’s not your responsibility. Why would you? Why should you have to get out of your comfort zone and demand the security be heightened?

It doesn’t affect you anyway, it’s not like you travel that much, right? It doesn’t affect you anyway because you aren’t Shia, right? It doesn’t affect you because you pay the security forces to go out there, without bulletproof jackets and mediocre ammunition to protect you, right? It’s not like you are in the line of fire. You are personally affected by nothing.

We settled for negotiations and look what that brought us? We settled for this government and look what that brought us? We settled for embarrassing security measures and today, yet again, we were attacked. Whether it was one person or an army of 300, the question is why they had the guts to do that. Why did they have the courage to stand up to security personnel yet again? Why did we allow Pakistan to become to laid-back? Why?

Yesterday, our flag used to flutter in the midst of an independent Pakistan. Today, it is used to cover the bodies of our dead citizens. And we’re okay with it.

Yesterday, we did not ask any questions. We, the citizens of Pakistan, did nothing but wait for media updates. We didn’t take to the streets, we didn’t protest, we didn’t demand resignations and we didn’t demand justice.

So why ask now?

Don’t demand change, Pakistan.

You don’t know what it means.

You don’t know how to achieve change.

You don’t know how to value human life.

You don’t know how to value independence.

Today, once more, let’s just settle.

Today, we slept with the enemy – failure.

We settled, yet again and NOTHING is going to change!

erum.shaikh

Erum Shaikh

The writer is a News Editor at The Express Tribune and has an Undergraduate Degree in Law from the University of London. She tweets @shaikherum (twitter.com/shaikherum)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.