1st January 2010 brought death to Shah Hasan Khel (SHK). It is a small village in district Lakki Marwat in the North Western Frontier Province of Pakistan, recently re-named as Pakhtunkhwah. A car loaded with amunition rammed into hundreds of spectators in a play ground where they had gathered to watch a volley ball match. The driver of the car was identified before he blew himself up. He was abondoned son of a citizen of the same village who had joined the militants after they were forced out of SHK sorroundings by the tribal elders. Three of his first degree relatives were also killed in the incident. According to news reports, the blast was so powerful that roofs of almost all houses of the village were damaged. 106 people lost their lives while 100 others were injured. But the story remained in the news for a couple of days and then taken off the papers and screens because there are more important things to publish and discuss than the dying poor.
A local version of volleyball is very famous in this part of the country. The rules and regulations are different from the one which is played internationally. The love for the said version of the game goes as far as the central and eastern Punjab including the districts of Khushab, Mianwali, Sargodha, Hafizabad, Chiniot, Faisalabad, Jhang and Multan. It is a purely local game. There are no stadiums anywhere. Plain ground is selected for the match. Just outside and around the pitch, there are people sitting on ground in three to four rows, then some rows of chairs, encircled by some whorles of standing spectators who in turn are encircled by parked tractors and trolleys filled with people. If the contest involves some kind of rivalry, the last circle is formed by the parked buses and coaches which are hired by fans to reach the place of contest from far off places. I made this description to explain the thick and unescapable pattern of the crowd. I have been in such crowds myself watching the same version of the volley ball. Since 1st January I have been feeling like I was a part of the crowd. I feel injured, shattered and torn with the innocent people in the crowed. I share their losses, grief and tears. I can see the havoc when I close my eyes. When number of casualities approach number of injuries or cross them, it means that attack was severe and there was np way to escape for many, in this case 106 killed, 100 injured. The figures reminded me of Jalianwala Bagh massacre in India by the British Army in 1919 and massacre of Oradour-sur-Glane in France in 1944 by German Army. In both the incidences casualities outnumbered those who were injured. 1400 rounds of bullets killed 1526 people, resulting stampede added to the misery of those who were demonstrating against the British rule in India. In France, 642 people were killed and only less than ten people survived by running away.
Many things in this SHK tragedy witness our apathy towards our nationhood.
First, we did to our own people what occupying forces did to those whom they ruled or captured. In addition, we did it in the name of God.
Second, the story behind the incident makes it difficult for likes of Munawwar Hassan and his party to prove that it was the work of american contractors. The JI have tried their best to keep us in the dream world, in the unquestionable denial that there are terrorists among ourselves.
Third, that when the poor are killed, we forget very quickly. However, when the damage involves the rich (even if it is only the belongings that are damaged, for instance the Bolton Market Karachi) we are driven crazy, both the management and their critics.
Fourth, someone must have been representative of people of SHK in every parliment since 1947, yet the plight of the streets and houses makes the onlooker crazy. No one ever cared to provide them with their basic rights, health, education, water, roads, communication, safety, NOTHING. Absolutely nothing. Only a tragedy has came to let them be discovered.
Fifth; I wonder whether the additional years of government and the legitimacy that Pervez Musharraf earned by letting the americans in the country unchecked for years and starting drone attacks, killing 10 times more civillians than the terrorists, have been worth the situation that we face today? If this was bound to happen, why didn't we refuse to be a part of this war of terror in 2001? At least we would have had a bit of respect left in us. We helped them kill Afghan women and children and now our own house is set on fire.
Sixth, we are bowing what we sowed in the decade of 80's. We transformed innocent people into fighters and now we are suffering its consequences. I wonder if anyone is out there thinking to intiate, at least initiate its reversal, although it will take a lot of time, perhaps more than the time that it took to come to this stage.
My heart cries for the poor of SHK, not only for the tragedy that has already happened but the fate that is yet to come upon them. I heard someone saying in a television report that there is no one left to take care of those who survived. Taliban are now even more free to come and slaughter the survivors of the destroyed SHK. Our ruling and opposition elite are more concerned about their foreign accounts and power politics. Who will care for SHK and other such people in the future? How long shall we continue killing people in the name of God? I heard that there is a limit of the blood and torture. What limit they want to show us? When would it stop??????