Till the penning of this piece, it has still not been established if the Karachi airport was attacked once or twice. Let me rephrase this sentence since we cannot use the word ‘attack’ any more if the Honourable Colonel of Rangers is to be believed. Till my writing of this piece, it is not clear if the Karachi airport was unpleasantly intruded upon by unwanted elements once or twice. Approved Colonel Sahib? However, the frequency is not important. The numbers game is just that: a game. What is of utmost importance is what was articulated by the Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar formally to the media. In his official statement Nisar declared: “All assets of national importance are safe.” Allah be praised. This is important. What is not of national importance is a waste of energy and space anyways. Twenty citizens were injured. That seven citizens died in a cold storage, and that an additional 13 citizens lost their lives, is also not important. They were and never will be ‘assets’ of any kind of importance for the Pakistani state. A Pakistani citizen, alive or dead, is meaningless and without any value. In fact, far from being productive and an asset, the citizen is more of a burden. For starters, the country is overpopulated, so challenges from food insecurity to unemployment to dearth of energy are the bane of any sitting government. They are sometimes compelled to be seen to be paying lip service to it. So, if there are fewer citizens it works in their favour.
If a citizen is a Shia, she/he is a constant unpleasant reminder of the fact that Pakistan is not a hundred percent Sunni state. If the citizen is an Ahmedi, she/he is a waste of time anyways and best be killed or at the very least ignored as they have been successively for so many elections. If the citizen is a non-Muslim, their assets coefficient is negligible anyways. Clubbed with all of these reasons for being a non-asset to the Pakistani state, there is also the additional classification of gender. If you are a male, you have it better. However, if you are a woman, you are a reminder to the state and its citizens of all that is obscene in the world. If you are a homosexual, it is actually rewarding to kill you and be done with it. Such was not the case a few years back. There was a time when some citizens were considered assets. For instance the armed forces: the army prided itself on the care, protection and welfare that it would provide its jawans (soldiers) and officers. Forget about killing an army person, you could not even threaten him. This image of the army being a key strategic asset was carefully cultivated by the army itself and genuinely believed by other Pakistani citizens. In fact, this was the source of a lot of heartburn for civilians but also the lesser strategic law enforcement agencies like the police, etc. Some differentiation still exists as evident from the one million rupee difference in compensation between the Rangers, army and the cheaper by one million police and Airport Security Force personnel. However, the status of the army personnel being ‘assets’ is clearly finished. How else would one explain that over 18,000 military personnel ranging from jawans to generals have been killed in the war on terror? Yet the Interior Minister persists in declaring that the peace process has to continue and the state of Pakistan has to remain engaged. Militant groups like the Hizbul Tahrir continue to operate within security agencies. The likes of Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jhangvi operate with immunity. In fact, some of these groups actually fall within the coveted group of ‘assets of national importance’ and hence need to be actively protected.
In the aftermath of the Karachi ahem...umm...cough, cough...burp...it has been revealed that the weapons that the people who entered the premises had were all Indian weapons. This is revealing and an important fact. After all as an acclaimed political cartoonist tweeted, “With Pakistan being an arms-free country, where else would they have acquired weapons?” The buggers had to resort to getting weapons from India as in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan all one has as self-defence are prayers. Sunni prayers that is, because judging from the plight and the almost daily killing of Shias, Christians, Hindus and Ahmedis, prayers are not being beamed up from the geographical boundaries of Pakistan. I am going to stop now. Sarcasm is taking its toll on me. I am sick of writing every week of murder, discrimination, injustice and inhumanity. In 2011, when a school van of children from an aman lashkar (peace committee) in Badaber, Peshawar was attacked and four children and an adult were killed, I had asked, “Are they being put to rest? For can their souls and the souls of thousands who have been victims of terrorism, ever forgive us when negotiations with murderess are being held, when they are being legitimised through offices and most importantly the government strategy of organising more civilian militias?
When did human life become so cheap?
I am still searching for the answer. When did human life become so meaningless that planes are considered “assets of national importance” but not humans made of flesh and blood? An off the record quote by a security analyst printed in a newspaper this week pertaining to the Karachi airport attack stated, “They entered our house but could not touch our women. It could have been worse.” When such is the banal mentality of our security personnel, no wonder steel and metal are assets of national importance.
The writer is a development consultant. She tweets at @GulminaBilal and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org