In blogging about events in Hebron yesterday, I overlooked the bigger story –the bombing of All Saints Church on Sunday, in Peshawar, Pakistan by the Taliban. I hadn’t quite assimilated it then. I have now. There’s not much to assimilate. Terrorist attacks come and go, I suppose, and we’re supposed to be used to them by now. This one happens to be the worst one in Pakistan in a very long time.
This piece by Declan Walsh in yesterday’s New York Times tells the story as concisely and eloquently as possible. I couldn’t even figure out how to excerpt it, so I haven’t tried.
This piece, by Nadeem Piracha, a columnist at Pakistan’s Dawn, involves some insider references to Pakistani politics, but it so perfectly articulates my own sentiments about Pakistani politics that I can’t resist linking to it. The guy sounds about as snarky and disillusioned about Pakistani politics as I sound about Objectivism. Maybe it’s a Pakistani thing.
This last link is a video (2:38), in Urdu and Punjabi, of victims’ reactions to the bombing. Ordinarily, it would make no sense for me to link to a video in another language, but I found myself–I don’t know–morally startled by the reactions of the man who speaks, with almost surreal dignity, at 0:41. He says (my translation):
By this hand, my father, one of my brothers, his wife, and my two sisters–by this hand, I have lost five loved ones today. [Pause]. What is one to say? They are now beloved in the eyes of God. We merely make one request of this government: that they stop this. They [the Taliban] are killing the poor. Let the government arrive at some means of redress for the situation.
The woman who appears in the video just after him (1:15) says (my translation):
Please give us some justice, or something. So much of our world has been destroyed.
“They’re killing the poor” is, for most of us, just a rhetorical exaggeration (think of debates on welfare reform), seldom meant literally.* The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has arrived at a situation in which such tropes come spontaneously to its citizens’ discourse, and are meant literally. This is a country in which the poor are killed with impunity, the state watches it happen, and the victims are forced to beg for justice as though it were too much to ask. (Though maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to shower praise on India as though it had all the answers that Pakistan lacks.)
If it weren’t for the dignity of the victims, it might be too evil and depressing to think about at all.
P.S., 11:16 am: Al Jazeera English has a useful story on the same topic–different bombing (two years ago), Muslim victims. And no, as the video makes clear, being a conservative Muslim (with a full burqa) doesn’t immunize you from fundamentalist violence. Why would it?
*I re-wrote this sentence after posting. The first version didn’t make sense.