Pakistan is in the headlines once again. A NATO convoy carrying fuel for troops in Afghanistan was attacked in four different locations, including Islamabad, the capital city of the country.
Almost 30 tankers were destroyed, seven people killed and many injured. The question is not simply how many may have been killed, as thousands have already been killed in past terror attacks. The question is also not about who was behind series of this ruthless attack, as the Taliban has already claimed responsibility. The true question is when will the violence end? How long will Pakistan take to come out of this uncertain condition?
This recent attack was not new for Pakistan. In the 63-year-old history of my country, the issues and lessons of the past have always been overshadowed by the struggle and violence of the present. Pakistan has experienced the separation of one of its provinces, brutal assassinations of its leaders (Benazir Bhutto, being the most recent one), unsolved attacks on foreign sport teams, everyday suicide attacks and massacres of thousands of its people in the name of religion, sect and race. As if this weren’t enough, the country was recently hit by a terrible flood that has affected nearly 20 million people. Some parts of the country are still underwater, and the already weak economic condition of the country is compounding these problems.
In the shadow of this uncertain past, the recent attack on a NATO convoy unfortunately seems to be a minor issue. This attack will be a new topic for the people of Pakistan to discuss with their friends and family but will quickly be replaced by something else. It is hard to care about an attack on a NATO convoy carrying fuel when the country itself is facing a fuel crisis. For the people of Pakistan, the rise in gas prices is more important.
Though violence may be a part of everyday life in Pakistan, the attacks on the NATO convoy have gained the attention of the West. After all, the fuel trucks were heading to Afghanistan, carrying supplies for NATO soldiers. The international media gave full coverage to the event, more so than the incident when three Pakistani soldiers were accidently killed by a NATO helicopter. Some believe that this media attention will help the Pakistani government to seek more international help, as the attacks clearly indicate that more action must be taken against militants. On the flip side however, it has also opened the doors for the Pakistani opposition to criticize the government for a lack of security. In short, everyone is going to use this event for their own advantage. As far as people are concerned, they are already too stressed nowadays to even think about this issue; they are fine as long as they are not hurt by the attacks themselves.
The violence is a part of their life and they are used to it.
Pakistan has been in this condition from more than half a century and it is not something new for us to hear bad news from that part of the world. The Pakistani people often look more like a crowd than a nation. No one seems to be serious about solving the issues. Everyone furthers their own interests and throws the ball to the opponent’s court instead of owning the problems. Unfortunately, the many foreign involvements in Pakistan’s history have always worsened the issues rather than improved them, but it is not enough to simply blame foreigners when locals have not been sincere in their efforts towards peace and justice either. For Pakistan to have a future, we desperately need someone to come forward and take responsibility so that Pakistan can become a secure, stable and secular country.
Shuja Safavi is a second year faculty of arts student at the University of Manitoba and hopes for peace for the country of his birth.