It must be a curse to be born in today's Pakistan.
The fundamentalists do not want infants to be vaccinated against deadly and crippling diseases. The fanatics do not want the girls to be educated. And terrorists are targeting their elite schools and universities to wipe out the brightest and the best in their future generation.
Some years ago, famous poet Mohammad Iqbal had written a shikwa (complaint) to the Almighty, moaning the plight of Muslims. 'Barq girti hai to bechare Musalmanon par (thunderbolt strikes only the hapless Muslims)," Pakistan's national poet had woefully lamented.
Wednesday's terrorist attack on the Bacha Khan university in Charsadda near Peshawar shows Iqbal may have had a lot more to complain about the plight of the country he helped carve out of India.
This is the second big attack on a premier educational institution in northwestern Pakistan. In 2014, terrorists had entered the Army Public School in Pakistan, killing at least 160 children, some less than 10 years old.
Though details of Wednesday's attack are sketchy, reports put the death toll anywhere between 20 and 60, with dozens of students still stuck in the campus with armed terrorists. Intelligence sources told Pakistan's Dawn newspaper that eight to 10 terrorists were inside the school, adding that they were between 18 and 25 years old, were wearing civilian clothes and had their faces covered. So, the damage could be much more.
The cruel irony of the attack would not have been lost on many. The Bacha Khan university is named after Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the doyen of freedom struggle and apostle of non-violence; the man revered as Frontier Gandhi. For his contribution to the freedom struggle and commitment to non-violence, Bacha Khan was anointed with India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1987.
And how his name was sullied in his homeland! When terrorists began their dance of death in the Bacha Khan university, students were reciting poetry in a mushaira to observe the death anniversary of the Gandhian leader.
But, to expect the Tehreek i Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who have claimed credit for the attack to respect their own heroes and their ideals would be insane.
In 2014, when TTP had attacked the Peshawar school, killing their own children to teach their parents a lesson, its jihadis had begun their descent into a bottomless pit of barbarity, with no ethical, moral or emotional barriers to stop them.
Insulting Bacha Khan's memory is just a peccadillo in comparison.
Pakistan, and also other countries, will soon have to find a mechanism to deal with the new template of jihadis, who now have no moral compunctions in attacking schools, educational institutes, youth and children.
According to a report in The Dawn, terrorist attacks on places of learning around the world have risen to alarming levels; higher than any point in more than 40 years. It’s a global phenomenon that is increasing at an exponential rate.
According to the report, based on Global Terrorism Database, Pakistan has the highest number of people killed by country (450) in school attacks attributed, in part, to the Peshawar carnage. Pakistan also has the highest number of attacks (850) on places of learning by country.
Unless it finds a way to quickly address jihadi terror, Pakistan will continue to remain its biggest victim. And the country a curse for its future generations.
First Published On : Jan 21, 2016 07:27 IST