A week or so ago when I was writing about the terrorist attacks in Brussels I had no idea I would be picking up my pen again to write about another horrific terrorist attack, this time in my beloved city of Lahore, in my homeland, Pakistan. The pain and sense of loss was too strong and mind numbing for me to write something immediately. Only now have I found the strength.
" Lahore Lahore ay" is an old saying in punjabi which literally means Lahore is Lahore. There is no place like Lahore and there is something about this city which makes you fall in love with it. A historic city, the heart of the Mughal empire, a cultural hub and a heaven for foodies, there are so many ways you can describe Lahore but you still won't be able to do justice to it. Attacking Lahore is like attacking the heart of Pakistan and it's people. And Pakistan's heart was left bleeding on the 27th of March. The people's agony and pain was evident from their tweets, trying to express their grief in 144 characters, if only it was possible to do so. People were crowding the hospitals wanting to give blood for the wounded. Taxis were offering to drive them for free. As if the people of Pakistan were desperately trying to undo the most deplorable and barbaric act imaginable. What kind of human being kills innocent children in a park? Someone asked. One not worthy of being called a human I would say, let alone a Muslim.
We live in a dangerous world. We have seen terrorist attacks in Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Australasia. But unfortunately my birth country tops the charts for the most unthinkable and disgusting attacks. First Peshawar now Lahore. What kind of sick mind targets children? But the Lahore attack is even more poignant because the main target was the Christian community, which is one of the poorest and most discriminated against communities in the country. In no terms are they treated like true citizens of Pakistan. Most of them live in slums completely cut off from the rest of society. The majority of them provide cleaning and domestic services. Generation after generation goes through the same cycle with no prospect or opportunity for their children to gain education and better themselves as a result. By itself this is massive discrimination against the second largest minority religion in the country, but on top of this they are targeted using the blasphemy law by every Tom, Dick and Harry. Anyone and everyone can say that a Christian has disrespected the Holy Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or the Quran and a mob will attack and burn their homes knowing they will get impunity for this. Then this, the mass killing of our Christian brothers and sisters in a terrorist attacks.
What did they do to anyone to deserve this?
Going to a park is always exciting for children. Add to this the festive celebration of Easter where groups from the Christian community gather together and celebrate in a park. The simplicity of this activity is in itself a proof of their simple joys. All day I kept thinking of the excitement on the children's faces near the big merry go round or the flying pirate ship ride. Who can fall so low as to target families with children celebrating their religious festival? Well the answer is the same inhuman beings who attack or blow up Muslims offering prayers in a mosque just because they don't consider their sect to be Muslim!
These terrorists, or their puppet masters, do not deserve to claim to follow my beloved Prophet. The Prophet I follow was full of compassion and mercy for mankind. There are many narrations from his life; one reports that a woman used to throw garbage on his head every day when he passed her house and one day when she didn't he became concerned and went to check on her only to find out that she was unwell. He offered to care for her and she was so moved by the fact that despite treating him so badly for that many days he had no anger but only compassion for her that she became a Muslim. In another narration a Christian tribe from Najran came to visit him and the time came for their prayers he said there was no need to leave and they could offer their prayers in the mosque. Another narration relates that after years of persecution and barbaric treatment by the Meccans when the time came when he could have sought justified revenge from them he forgave them all, even the man who had killed his own pregnant daughter.
The mullahs (religious clerics) of Pakistan, the puppet masters of the terrorists, the hate preachers, demand the execution of Asiya Bibi (a Christian accused of blasphemy) or the exile of Ahmadis from Pakistan, with their mouths frothing with anger claiming to do it all in the name of my Beloved Master. How can all this hate attract anyone to Islam and its teachings? It only has the opposite effect.
If the government of Pakistan really cared about its people, and was serious about fixing this cancer that is spreading fast in the country, they would look back in time and try and identify the root cause of all this hate. Perhaps they would consider rewriting the discriminatory laws and hate-filled textbooks, maybe then there is some hope for Pakistan, for Jinnah's secular Pakistan. As beautifully expressed by an old frail Pakistani man while he was out on the streets of Pakistan defending the Punjab government's women's rights bill which the Mullahs were opposing "Wretched are these mullahs! Why don't they leave Pakistan?! This is not their Pakistan! This is my daughters' Pakistan!"
This is the Christian's Pakistan.
This is our Pakistan.
Long live Pakistan.