The road back

I cannot use a mobile phone to make calls from home anymore. Its been the same case for about 6 months now ever since we got the news that there are several V.I.P prisnors residing in the central jail close to our house and thus mobile jammers are being put in place to make sure no attack can be made to rescue them by the long haired posse. Along with the un repayable favour of mobile jammers we also have in our area roads blocked going towards the central jail from midnight till dawn by rangers keeping an unforgiving eye on things. So thats how life is here for us as a family in Karachi and yesterday on eid as I was sitting and thinking about how inconvenient things are, it struck me.

Here I am complaining and cribbing about my phones not working whilst there are a million people living out of their homes due to the operation against the long haired posse in Bannu. A million people, think about that… let it sink in for a bit until you realise the enormity of this situation. They have been forced to leave their homes and run to either their relatives in and around the area or to the camps set up by the army. In this heat, in the month of ramzan sitting there without any news of what has happened to their homes or what will be left to gather when they go back to them. I just spoke to someone who has come here from the U.S to help these help our fellow Pakistanis through this inexplicably difficult time for them and he was telling me that the bannu mission which in his case is a  mobile hospital is going to go on for at least 3 to 4 months. Imagine sitting far away from home having been given the notice of in some cases a few hours before you had to get up and run and not knowing when it will end.

It is when one realises these things that it occurs to the mind just how much has changed in Pakistan due to this militancy and our war against it. Yes I do know some people in Pakistan still believe this is not our war but I think they need to go meet the million I spoke of above when they say that because they have made the ultimate in most cases sacrifice for something we are so callous to be dispassionate about.  One also realizes that the proverbial tunnel and the light at the end of it we kept speaking of a year or so ago is much longer than we thought. Its longer not because we don’t have the capability to battle the militancy but its become longer because the militancy is not clearly defined in our population no more. The TTP and its allies have been influencing our thought process as a society for some time and the hooks have sunk into many a vacuum left by the government. In fact everytime there is a crises in this country, militant organizations get a golden chance to not just display their good graces to the surrounding population by helping them through the crises but are becoming deeper and deeper embedded in the displaced communities of IDP’s because whilst we may sit in the cities and gather food to throw at the throng they are there among them, living with them suffering with them and assuring them that they will still be there when the trucks of rations and the khakis go away.

That is an impact we haven’t done much to combat during the duration of this war and one which is coming back to haunt us slowly and surely. The psychological fallout of our war against terror has been a lot more damaging than even the 50,000 deaths or more we have suffered as a nation. As those that have died are gone but those left behind, and those displaced, those crippled, those who have lost, those who are uprooted measure in much greater numbers and they bring with them a mentality of hopelessness wherever they go. Their future is uncertain their dreams trash and their egos destroyed by having to stand in lines and wait for help. I have seen it in the floods and in the crisis following it in the field with my own eyes what hollow depths eyes hold when pride takes a fall.

It is very convenient of us to speak of the IDP’s as a group, very easy to refer to them as a throng but what we fail to realize is that not many of the IDP’s were people of meager means. However now that they have been put through the collective wringer of war, injustice and the mob mentality facing them daily as they forage for basics of life their mental state will be very prone to suggestion. It is at this very moment that they need counselling for trauma, for stress and a gradual program of rehabilitation back into mainstream society. Whether it is to the small hamlets they may have come from or from towns they need a way back and they need us to hold their hands as they gingerly step back into their lives. The longer we allow them to stay in this helpless state the more the chances of them becoming cannon fodder to the hands of the evil that lurks and lives among them even now.

War does not determine who is right – only who is left

Bertrand Russel