Tuesday, the 16th of April was an extraordinary day in Pakistan. The sun rose to bring into view a brutal attack on the convoy of PML-N leader, Sannullah Zehri in Khuzdar, Balochistan.
Though Zehri survived the assault, unfortunately three members of his family lost their lives.
Police pointed the finger at the Baloch insurgent group, the Balochistan Liberation Front (BLF) that has already threatened to thwart the election in Balochistan.
But the tragic episode rudely brought home a stinging realisation to the PML-N: Keeping mum about armed militant threats may give it space to hold rallies and corner meetings in the Punjab, elsewhere it is as venerable to the psychotic rage of extremists as are secular parties like the ANP, MQM and the PPP.
The PML-N has to realise that by remaining awkwardly vague about its stand on the threat faced by secular parties from those who slaughter indiscriminately in the name God, it cannot remain unharmed in a country now overflowing with mad men of all shapes, sizes, hue and colour.
If those who mercilessly cut down Zehri’s family members belonged to an outfit that evokes hatred in the name of Baloch nationalism, the same Tuesday witnessed yet another bloody attack on the ANP by those who consider themselves to be the only true Muslims in this country.
Ever since the TTP threatened to attack leaders and rallies of the ANP, MQM and PPP, it has planted a bomb in front of almost every little step that the ANP has taken.
On that eventful, gory Tuesday, the extremists were at it again blowing up a small ANP rally in Peshawar that was also being attended by veteran ANP leader, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour. His younger brother, Bashir Bilour, had already been killed by the extremists.
Bilour only barely managed to escape the onslaught, but the attack put to death 17 people, including eight children.
It is perfectly reasonable to ask exactly how killing innocent men, women and children pleases the Almighty and benefit the faith that He bestowed upon us Muslims through his last Messenger?
Equally rational is to question the sanity of men who slaughter unarmed civilians in the most sneaky and cowardly manner and then claim that their faith and God ordains it?
But even more pressing should be the question seeking an enquiry into the state of mind of those who, despite the ever-increasing episode of mindless bloodshed that our TV screens are usually splattered with, still manage to actually end up blaming the victims.
And here I am not only talking about the confused urban middle-class kids who move to and fro from their Xbox consoles to their laptops, bashing out ill-informed and knee-jerk gibberish on Twitter and Facebook — reactionary nonsense that sounds as foul as their fast-food burps.
They are simply mimicking all those noble men and women who appear on TV with the sole aim to obfuscate the obvious truth about the sheer brutality of the madmen.
They do this with reactive rhetorical arguments studded with pointy terms like geo-political situation, Islamophobia, drone attacks and corruption, etc.
If they can’t get themselves to forgive the ‘last five years of record-breaking corruption,’ of ANP, MQM and PPP leaders who have so far been killed by the extremists; and, in a way, see the killings as God’s retribution against these awful, awful politicians, what about the men, women and children who had absolutely nothing to do with what the satanic politicians were up to?
How is the mass murders justified? In this case, of course, expect the drone argument to sprout like a wild flower, and angry laments about how we are fighting someone else’s war to kick in.
So about 49,000 Pakistani civilians, politicians, cops and soldiers have been massacred by those who kill indiscriminately just because drones chase them and we are fighting an alien war?
Ah, if it was all that simple. TV channels showed the heartbreaking scene of a nine-year-old child weeping and beating himself at the site where our anti-imperialist heroes tried to blow up an aged leader of the ANP.
No one knows if the kid was doing so because he had lost a relative or a friend in the attack, or was he in shock, but imagine a son, brother, nephew or close relative of yours as young as that unfortunate boy going through a similar episode.
The extremists are what they are and they take pride in their madness. That’s why to me more disturbing are apparently sane men and women who seem to muster their sadness, outrage and tears only if a tragedy comes with the words drone, America and Karachi gangs. As if all other acts of murder and violence are justified and not worth outraging about.
The lives of the loved ones of the 49,000 Pakistanis killed since 2002 have been shaken. On Tuesday, everyone else (especially in Karachi) was shaken by an earthquake (about 5.9 on the Richter Scale).
Amazing how well Karachi managed to survive the quake, with all those tall buildings and congested apartment blocks.
On the night of the earthquake, a famous TV anchor did us all a great favor by talking to a seismologist. But, alas, since for some strange reason any talk about science on local TV channels requires to be balanced out by the musings of a religionist, the anchor then promptly called in a cleric to give that inevitable religious twist to the topic.
His mighty insight: The Almighty creates earthquakes in societies that listen to music and have become obscene.
How conveniently we trivialise the glory of the Almighty and how quickly we reduce science to mean nothing but a heap of secular, Western nonsense.
So remember, the next time you switch on your Ipod, you might be inviting an earthquake. Meanwhile nothing of the sort happens when men slaughter women and children in the name of God.
Of course, nothing obscene about that, no?
Nadeem F. Paracha is a cultural critic and senior columnist for Dawn Newspaper and Dawn.com
He tweets @NadeemfParacha
The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.