By: Riaz Ali Toori
What a painful week it has been for the residents of Parachinar. Across the country, as people were getting ready for a happy Eid, so many of us here were buying shrouds to bury our loved ones, candles and incense to place on their graves. There was no Eid or chaand raat for us in Parachinar.
As I was penning my sentiments, I could see on TV the scenes of jubilation as the Shawwal moon was sighted. My cellphone was ringing with messages of Eid Mubarak.
I felt disappointed, frustrated and hurt. My heart burnt in anguish thinking of the lives lost, children made orphans and wives made widows after the merciless attack in my hometown that killed more than 70 and injured hundreds more.
I feel like a stranger in my own country. The apathy of my fellow Pakistanis and the media hurts me more than the actual bombings. It is incomprehensible as to why a day of mourning was not declared in the country and why the national flag was not flown at half-mast.
The silence and negligence of our leaders in face of our tragedy is of criminal proportions.
I want to know as to why I am being treated as practically a non-citizen of this country. Where is the hue and cry in the media over the mass killing of people of my area?
I want to know why has there been no high-level meeting to urgently discuss what happened in Parachinar. Why didn’t any politician, high official or anyone of note attend the funerals?
TV channels across the board were broadcasting Eid-related shows; how many minutes were dedicated to the families who had gathered outside the offices of the Political Agent demanding justice, attention and words of sympathy?
I feel dejected and cannot help but think that we are being ignored simply due to our sect, our ethnicity and the area to which we belong.
People had to transport dead bodies and the injured in handcarts because we don’t have enough ambulances. Many of the injured would have been saved had we had adequate emergency facilities.
The indifference of the federal government is there for all to see; the state of neglect only become more apparent when incidents like these take place. Even small towns like Sahiwal and Gujranwala have the basic amenities that Parachinar desperately lacks.
Why did the prime minister not cut short his holiday in London and come straight here after the mayhem?
Homes that were full of life and light not long ago have turned into places of mourning. I met a distraught sister: “My beloved brother, I had just stitched new clothes so that you look like a groom on Eid.” I saw an inconsolable mother at the grave of her 12 year-old child: “O my son, sleep well, your mother will remember your wounds till the last breath of her life.”
Heartbroken at what was happening around me, I went to see my mother. She was down on her knees, head bowed, thinking about her brother whose body was blown to a million pieces in a similar attack previously. My mother’s brother is now joined by her cousin Kamil Hussain who lost his life last week. Kamil was killed in the second explosion; he had rushed to the site to help after the first blast went off.
“My God! Where should I go?” asked my wife. Her father was shot to death on his way home from an Imam Bargah a few years ago. “All I see around me is either the mutilated bodies of the victims, or Pakistanis celebrating Eid in the rest of the country.”
The prime minister visited Bahawalpur and announced compensation for the fire victims there, but we are hurt that he has so far ignored Parachinar. A visit here would have sent a strong message to terrorists; silence is not a way to fight terrorism.
As the rest of the country ignores us, we are trying our best to help ourselves and survive on our own. Maybe our wounds will heal and tears will dry out, but the silence and the indifference to our ordeal will never be forgotten.