By Ashraf Ali, Special to Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Peshawar, Pakistan–The seventy five year old Peshawar Khan was yet not ready to die. He wanted to live long. But he felt no justification to continue living after he saw the dead bodies of nine members of his family, who perished in a US-led coalition forces raid on the Datta Khel area in North Waziristan on June 24th last month.
This was the third consecutive attack by the coalition forces on the civilian population during five days period which took the lives of sixty six people in total leaving scores more injured. â€˜After the death of all my family members, my life is now meaninglessâ€™. These were the last words of Peshawar Khan before he said good bye to this world. Thanks to him, since he killed only himself and no others in his suicide attack.
But who can say a word with authority about what his grandson will feel towards the Goras (whites), when he grows up? That grandson is the only survivor of the family.
Peshawar Khanâ€™s grandson is not the only example. He represents thousands of those who lost those near and dear to them in similar attacks on civilians along the Pak-Afghan border.
Said Wali is one of the three survivors of another madrasa (religious seminary) attack in Bajur, in the tribal areas of Pakistan, which left eighty people dead and three injured. With the dream of becoming a religious scholar still unseen, he may have regretted his decision of joining the madrasa when his leg and six fingers of his both hands were blown up in an Arial attack in Bajur on 10/30.
â€œI joined the madrasa just two days ago–on Saturday, and two days after the madrasa was attackedâ€, said the 15 year-old Wali, who is still fighting against his wounds in a local private hospital in Peshawar.
Mr. Wali, who, after having gone through a four-year course at another madrasa in the Swabi district to become a Hafiz-e-Quran, had got migrated only to get his education at a local madrasa in his village to be in easy access to his family. â€œI knew nothing. Whom the madrasa was affiliated to and why was it attacked. I was concerned only with my studiesâ€, said Mr. Wali.
Abu Bakar 20, who has got his ear drum damaged alongside having got his right hand fractured and facial burns, is another survivor of the same incident. With a heavy heart for Americans, Abu Bakar said, â€˜What wrong have we done to Americans. Are we so bad. Do we deserve to be killedâ€.
I remember the cries of a grieved mother with the blood tainted clothes of his deceased son who had lost him in the Bajaur Madrasa attack. â€˜God destroy America who destroyed our sonsâ€™. The attack was widely reported to have been carried out by American unmanned drones. Immediately after the incident took place, Maulana Faqir Muhammad, a fire brand speaker who is wanted by the Pakistani government for supporting Al Qaeda and hosting Osama Bin Ladinâ€™s top aide Aiman Al Zawahiri, while making an appearance in the public after a long time in his hideout, asked a gathering of more than ten thousand people to shoot all those suspected of working for the US on the spot. He added that â€œthe death of 80 Taliban have given birth to 80000 more Taliban.â€
The reaction was so quick. Hardly a week after, on November 9, a suicide bomb attack on a Pakistan army base killed 42 young recruits in the most devastating strike by militants against the pro-US government.
The rising hatred against America has gone to the extent that today, drawing a line between a talib and an Al-Qaeda member, a mullah and a mujahid (holy warrior), a common man and an extremist would really be hard– as extremism and violence as an attitude has well penetrated into the social values of this part of the world. A turbaned and bearded man, taught at a madrasa, may not necessarily be an extremist, however an enlightened and well educated, clean shaven and well dressed man could in fact be a suicide bomber, if he is convinced that by following this path he could cause damage to the â€˜enemies of Islamâ€™.
A psychiatrist, Dr Mian Iftikhar Hussain says, â€œviolence, extremism and anti-Americanism has now become part of our social life.â€
In parts of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the clerics have banned polio teams from entering the area with a drive to vaccinate children, and have asked the people not to get their kids vaccinated as the polio drive is an American conspiracy aimed at cutting the fertility of the next generation.
A local cleric in the north of the country, Maulana Fazlullah, through his FM radio channel, has been telling the audiences that the vaccination drive was a conspiracy of the Jews and Christians to stunt the population growth of Muslims. Agency surgeon Dr Abdul Ghani along with his four companions were killed in the Bajaur area a couple of months ago, after inaugurating a polio drive in the area.
On June 21st, in a recent attack on the civilian population of the Greshik district in Afghanistan, 25 persons including three children and nine women were killed. During the last couple of weeks more than 90 people have been killed in the coalition forces bombing on the civilian populations. The Afghan President Hamid Karzai, during a press conference in Kabul, while strongly condemning this kind of â€˜carelessâ€™ acts of the coalition forces, warned that this might turn the majority of the Afghan population against those countries whose forces are contributing to the war against terror.
The political observers are of the view that the killings of civilians by coalition forces have drawn down the morale of its partners in the war on terror–Gen. Musharraf and Hamid Karzai.
Their credibility within their respective countries is in question. Taking a solo fight on the terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan by the US-led coalition forces will weaken the authority of Mr Karzai and General Musharraf even more within their respective countries, which may result in their loosing their grip on the terrorists on both sides of the border.