Tuesday December 18, 2018
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Peshawar school attack ‘Martyrs’: Failures pawned for legitimacy

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By Rajesh Ghosh

Last year, speaking at the sad occasion of the Peshawar attack Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, vowed justice for the Shaheeds (martyrs) of the attack. It was a dastardly act, no doubt, that compelled Pakistan to fight terrorism with renewed seriousness. But were the school-going victims martyrs?

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Ordinarily, a martyr is one who chooses (in full consciousness) to sacrifice his or her life, fighting for a higher purpose. The children, who were remorselessly gunned down, were neither fighting for a higher purpose nor were they knowingly in the line of fire. Rather, the students were pursuing their duty of learning when they were struck. They were not in a battlefield for they were not supposed to be in one.

But for the victims to be labeled as martyrs purports to an acceptance by Pakistan that the entire country is a virtual battlefield. The government and the all-powerful military are incapable of providing security to its own citizens and, therefore, all must be prepared to fight the scourge of terrorism. Consequently, any life lost as a result of terrorism is not a failure of the government or the security forces but only a minor loss in a larger war.

The government has very skillfully changed the narrative of growing concerns, from national and international quarters, of its capability and willingness to fight terrorism to one where it portrays itself as being in the front line of an otherwise protracted battle. It is unwilling to acknowledge its own failures and erroneous policies of breeding and nurturing so-called ‘non-state actors’.

Following the attack, the government renewed its support for the ongoing Zarb-e-Azb, a military mission in the restive region of North Waziristan where the TTP has a stronghold. Immediate claims of success were made by the military, with the Peshawar attack still fresh in the minds of the people. The government and the military succeeded in creating a superficial sense of security in the minds of its people.

It was superficial because terrorism is deeply embedded in Pakistan and in many sections institutionalized. Generations of Pakistanis have been radicalized and the nature of extremism has only hardened over time. They cannot be expunged from society in a short period of time. Moreover, they should not only wage war against terrorists but also against terrorism.

For terrorism is an ideology borne out of the complex interplay of many facets, not the least of which is state patronage. Pakistan has for long followed a policy of breeding so-called good terrorists to use them against India and Afghanistan. This policy has had unintended consequences as, like Frankenstein’s monster, it has lost its effectiveness in control.

Therefore, the Peshawar attack was an unaccepted failure of a doomed military policy. Those, innocent children who lost their lives were not heroes but victims. They should not have had to lose their lives to acquire that honorific. They should have been alive and been heroes. (image courtesy: ibtimes, thedailystar.net)

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In Pakistan, Hindus don’t get even a ‘Crematorium:’ Will you believe that?

There are a lot of Hindu family residing all over Pakistan and still, there are very few cremation grounds where their last rites can be performed in that area

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Not having a crematorium in Peshawar is just one of the woes that the minority communities are facing since long. Wikimedia Commons
Not having a crematorium in Peshawar is just one of the woes that the minority communities are facing since long. Wikimedia Commons
  • Due to the lack of cremation grounds, some Hindus and Sikhs travel hundreds of kilometres just to perform the last rites as per their religious practices
  • As per reports, there were about 12 cremation grounds before Independence
  • Unfortunately, Hindu’s and Sikh’s have to face the same problem in the neighbouring state as well, that is Afghanistan

Death is said to be a great leveller. But the tragedy struck to some section of society in Muslim-dominated Pakistan is altogether different.

Due to the lack of cremation grounds, some Hindus and Sikhs travel hundreds of kilometres just to perform the last rites as per their religious practices. People who can’t even afford to travel, they have no option but to bury the mortal remains of their near and dear ones.

As per reports, there were about 12 cremation grounds before Independence. But with the passage of time, they vanished in the thin air of the terror-torn nation. Even in areas lying in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where about 35,000 Hindus and Sikhs live, the cremation grounds are also rare.

Also Read: Today’s Social Issues and their Answers to Children

The law of the land is non-existent for the minorities communities like Hindu’s and Sikh’s. Without taking no-objection certificate, people from these communities can’t move an inch even. The grief-stricken families have to wait for the clearances, as they are left with no other option.

People are forced to travel long distances to cremate their relatives from the areas like Swat Bannu, Kohat, Malakand etc. The cost to travel such long distances ranges from Rs 40,000 to Rs 70,000 and on the top of it, the fear of robbery during these travels cannot be ruled out. Not all the Hindu families can afford to perform the last rites in the manner they want.

Unfortunately, Hindu’s and Sikh’s have to face the same problem in the neighbouring state as well, that is Afghanistan. The minority communities are compelled to bury the dead because cremation grounds are vanishing fast in Pakistan.

Although, Pakistan boats that the minority communities enjoy equal rights in their country, the ground reality seems to be completely different. Wikimedia Commons
Although, Pakistan boats that the minority communities enjoy equal rights in their country, the ground reality seems to be completely different. Wikimedia Commons

Although, the administration of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has allowed the minorities communities to perform cremation near temples. But most of the temples are built on the agricultural lands and commercial areas, which have already been encroached upon by land mafia.

There are a lot of Hindu family residing in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and still, there are very few cremation grounds where their last rites can be performed in that area.

Although, Pakistan boats that the minority communities enjoy equal rights in their country, the ground reality seems to be completely different. Not having a crematorium in Peshawar is just one of the woes that the minority communities are facing since long.


After much of the protests, finally, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has started building the facility from the chief minister’s fund, as per some government sources.

There are almost 50,000 Sikhs and Hindus in Peshawar. And unfortunately, due to lack of proper facilities, people over there are also facing the same situation what others are facing in areas like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Also Read: 7 new-age social issues in India that need a check

To expect some kind of generosity from the war-torn state like Pakistan is out of the way. Instead of spending extravagantly on the military expansion, Pakistan should come forward and full-fill the basic amenities for the citizen of its country. It’s the people who make the country and not the other way round.