In tragic times

Peshawar was at the forefront of the US-backed jihad in the 1980s and later of the 'war on terror' in the first two decades of twenty-first century

Whenever there is a disaster, whether natural or man-made, with visible or unseen hands involved, our reaction is predictable. When mysterious attackers bled more than 100 innocent victims at the Peshawar mosque, national apathy was at an all-time high. The official response in Pakistan was inevitable, with both the government and the opposition piling blame on each other.

I was watching a TV show the other day in which rescue professionals described heartbreaking details. One witness claimed to have heard the moans of a police officer trapped beneath the wreckage. When he was rescued, he cried out, “Cut off my leg because the pain is excruciating.” Hearing the cries of an injured person in the mosque of the police line in Peshawar, the rescue workers sought the advice of medics and, after exhausting all options, severed the injured person’s leg.

The rescue workers continued their relief efforts in the mosque near the Peshawar police line for another 26 to 28 hours. One of them worked for 16 hours straight to provide medical attention to the injured and to remove the dead remains.

It was a difficult moment, and he couldn’t recall anything else, neither his parents, his wife, his children, or anyone else.

Peshawar was at the forefront of the US-backed jihad in the 1980s, and later of the ‘war on terror’ in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. During both times, the Pakistani state received tens of billions of dollars in American military aid. As long as the funds flowed, the residents of the city suffered.

Peshawar, as well as other significant border locations such as Chaman, serve as cross-border trading centers for all kinds of goods, including contraband, between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The first responders who arrived after the explosion transferred the injured and bodies to hospitals and assisted the injured.

They were told that there are people under the roof because the mosque’s roof collapsed following the explosion, and there were many worshippers in the mosque at the time.

When there were a significant number of wounded and dead bodies lying beneath the roof and few people could go down there, they tried to encourage the wounded because it was feared that the wounded would not lose heart.

According to these workers, while the injured were receiving drips and injections, other workers would sit with them to talk to and soothe them.

To bolster the spirits of the injured, aid personnel conducted general chats with them about their homes and children.

They began the rescue effort immediately after the bomb because they received the information at 1:20am and arrived promptly, following which they extracted the last injured alive around 4am.

People on the scene questioned the roof’s fall as well, but police officials claim the structure is 50 years old and that the ‘shock waves,’ or waves created by the explosion, caused the building to collapse.

This mosque is divided into two halves. The first section is the old construction, while the second half was built in 2017 by extending this mosque, and this mosque is long.

According to Inspector General of Police Muazzam Jah Ansari, the first half of this mosque had no windows and no door, which caused the roof to fall due to the tremendous waves that erupted when the explosion happened.

Its beam was massive.

Terrorism is always, first and foremost, the result of unhappy people seeking attention in some way. The indifference of a government to political, administrative, and judicial problems of the people/communities is the most important aspect in creating a favourable climate for terrorism.

When a government fails to address common problems, whether due to incompetence and a lack of capacity, or simply because of apathy, society as a whole becomes frustrated. The average man’s lack of access to the relevant authorities, who could but would not or cannot address any of the general grievances, places him in an administrative void, with nowhere to turn and nothing to hope for.