The renowned journalist and presenter Mohammad Malik says that Taliban are not acceptable and must be dealt with harshly. We wish many more of our TV anchors could speak so openly against extremists and terrorism. Like the rest of the world, Pakistani viewers also deserve the chance to hear the truth in their own living room rather than having to discover it first hand in bomb blasts outside.
To simply say that bombings and killings are terrible crimes does nothing to stop the spiral of terrorism and all too often leaves us sounding like we have something to apologize for. Enough is enough. Unless we all speak up and act now, we will have no one but ourselves to blame for the surrender of Pakistan to hate and violence.
It is not just the Taliban and their cohorts like the LeJ or their supporters in the guise of religious political columns stuffed by the likes of Jamaat e Islami. It is also not just the Taliban apologists like Imran Khan. It is the tens of millions of moderate enablers who, through either cunning or cowardice, refuse to openly decry the Taliban and the extremists. By pretending ignorance they actually sow it among their viewers.
Many others hole up in a state of denial, blurting meaningless babble, such as insisting that no Muslim can do this to other Muslims. They see foreign hands as solely responsible for the terror being inflicted upon us and the Taliban merely as a cover-up of some sort. What they sell are stories of crises and tragedy mapped around conspiracies and not the schemes of what must be done to rid the country of this monster of terrorism. For them the need to placate the extremists overshadows the suffering of millions of Pakistanis.
All these described above are not religious extremists per se but together form a dangerous minority of Pakistanis who air views and theories that become the distorting prism through which most Pakistanis understand the Taliban and the terror that stalks their land. If the local media, on which most Pakistanis rely solely for news and views both, does not report the unmistakable condemnation, indictment, and identity of the terrorists, then we are bound to continue rowing up the shit-creek we are navigating as a nation. The media’s failure to provide lucid coverage is thus compounding the problem. We need many more like Mohammad Malik to speak up and come out.
If we Pakistanis know and understand that terror only kills innocent people, and destroys more Pakistanis around the country than any other ever has. If we know that these killing machines are giving our faith and Pakistan a bad name. If some Pakistanis can even say people should be killed because they have said or written things not liked by the extremists or because they were born in or practice wrong sect and faith. Then why can’t the media more collectively speak up to denounce terror and to clearly identify the perpetrators and the victims? Why don’t we declare jihad on these cultic gangs like animals of TTP, LeJ, and the SSP, which thrive in blowing up innocent people and whose actions are anything but Islam?
It’s time our media stood up and spoke out – about what the extremism is doing to our nation, economy, and future. And it is time – here and now- for all Pakistanis - whatever their individual background, whatever their ethnicity, whatever their personal beliefs - to stand up and shoulder the responsibility of rooting out the extremism, violence, and terrorism from our society. If we don’t do it now there will be no other time. There is no time left, indeed.
Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Today, in our country, that simple truth has brought us to our present state and is now obvious for all to see. We know there is a price for speaking up but the collective price to be paid for silence in the face of violence; for apathy in the face of terror; and for indifference in the face of suffering is far greater. Our silence and inaction are letting Pakistan die in our arms.