CPEC and terrorism: The new victimhood narrative of the state

Martyrdom will now be divided into two levels: one pre-Quetta and the other post-Quetta

Quetta happened. The TV screens were all inundated with hollow condemnations and impotent resolves to fight terrorism and high-flying tributes to the fallen ones. It would all have gone well. The repeated violence and perfunctory statements have desensitized us as a nation to the acts of bestiality and utter inhumanity. It has also left us soulless. The energy to criticize has been drained and commitment to serious movement to fight the callousness of our rulers has been transformed into vague sense of frustration and exasperating anger.

This could have been a tragedy without a twist. But maybe, just may be, the powers that be were bored or they had sensed that martyrdom for ‘mulk o qaum ki baqaa’ is losing its charm and rallying power. As quickly as the tragedy happened, the spin-doctors spun another narrative. “It is RAW and they are targeting CPEC.” No questions asked. No eyebrows rose except of the few ‘miscreants’ on social media. And the state owned the narrative. It is now official that instead of fighting and dying for the integrity of the country, now hapless victims in the slaughterhouse will be dying for a road network at hands of the eternal enemy. And that the state has no power whatsoever and no iota of responsibility to either safeguard the lives of its citizens or to apprehend the perpetrators of the massacre is another revelation.

The powers that be have always justified lion’s share of budget for defense in the name of India is coming to get us. We were always the victims. Victimhood was the only cornerstone of our policy. Victimhood and a sense of defiant pride to say it aptly. It has been 18 years now and all is quiet on the eastern front. The trend is now drumming about the geopolitical importance and the envy of the eastern neighbor to nullify our geostrategic advantage. The fight against terrorism is over now. Their backbones have been broken. The man has done it. Saying that we need to fight the terrorists will affect his standing. Enter CPEC and the shenanigans of the regional powers to sabotage CPEC.

Meanwhile, songs to the martyrs will be released. Their forced martyrdoms will be held as blood tribute to the survival of the country. Their lives will be forgotten but their martyrdom will add prettily to the sum-total of statistics, which will make the case of the state stronger. Their victimization narrative more plausible. Questions are profane to the memory of the martyred ones. But using their deaths as a number for reinforcing the narrative of state is sacrosanct. Forget about asking whose responsibility it was to protect their lives from arbitrary massacre. They have given an answer even before initial investigation and that is enough. The resolve to fight terrorism which is controlled from India-managed Afghan soil should be enough to heal the wounds. And the fact that though unwilling but the ‘martyrs’ in Quetta blast laid down their lives for success of CPEC should be consoling to the bereaved families.

The intersection of economics, development, regional power and terrorism makes the human life a trivial thing. People die in accidents. People die of hunger and of poverty. But there are lucky ones who die as martyrs. And martyrs for a larger cause. Well, the cause now is not that bigger.

The martyrdom – the major cause of death for Pakistan, bigger even than a single deadly disease, cancer, malaria, diabetes —will now be divided into two levels. One pre-Quetta and the other post-Quetta. The pre-Quetta died for the integrity of Pakistan. The post-Quetta will die for roads. Both of them died in vain. Both of them were slaughtered. But years from now one group will be more glorious, the other not so much. Who likes to die for a road? But they are made and will be made unwilling martyrs by the state to enforce its victimhood, while the utter helplessness of theirs and no semblance of choice to them will be shrouded by slogans of patriotism and the fact that they were just expendables like cannon fodder will be conveniently overlooked.

Hurmat Ali Shah is a freelance writer interested in intersection of culture, politics and society. He can be reached at hurmata.shah@gmail.com. Follow him on Facebook