See More on Facebook

Opinion, Politics

Children of war

An entire generation of Syrian children faces psychological damage, ever-increasing danger and death.


Written by

Updated: June 25, 2018

Casually skimming through various news websites on my phone last week, I stopped at a news item about a young Syrian boy who had fallen unconscious after a bomb attack. When he woke up in a hospital, he had become blind. The boy must have been six or seven years old. The news also carried a video in which the boy was screaming in terror, as his father held him to his chest trying his best to console him.

Can you imagine the terror of waking up blind? Can you imagine this happening to an innocent young child? The boy was almost my nephew’s age, whom I am very close to. I tried to flush the images out of my system. I had to. I was about to make a presentation.

I am not a very emotionally demonstrative man. But that day when I went back home, I instinctively found myself sitting quietly in a secluded corner. And then I wept. Forlorn, I lay on my bed and closed my eyes for a nap. After about half an hour or so, I suddenly woke up, gasping. I could see my surroundings to assure myself that I had woken up from a bad dream. But that child, he woke up to complete darkness.

These are terrible times for children. They are being raped, tortured and killed as if society, as we know it, has declared war against them — a mad war against the very future of the human race. Being mutilated by mentally ill perverts, maimed by vicious dictators, slaughtered by those who want to “bring democracy” to faraway lands, and butchered by men who do so in the name of faith.

Each of these sadists may have different ideologies and views, but inherently, they all carry a perverse existentialist streak which is apocalyptic. It makes them believe that there is no tomorrow, just a lonesome today. Some want to gluttonise life as much as they can from this today, while others want to destroy it because they think there’s something better waiting for them in the hereafter.

They feel threatened by children because they remind them of a future — a continuation of life and the human race. By killing and maiming children they think they are halting this continuity. Some are doing it because they are deranged (yet respectable, pious members of the sane society). Some are doing it because of those grand sounding “geopolitical” reasons, in which supposedly a devastating war would end a dictatorship and herald a utopian democracy. Some are doing it because they don’t want to let go of power. They are scared of a different future; a future without them at the helm. Some are doing it because they believe the Almighty has sanctioned them to go on killing sprees so that their places in paradise are confirmed.

The day after I watched that tragic video, I saw on my Twitter timeline, a journalist colleague exhibiting a lot of patience and tact while trying to engage with a Twitter handle that claimed to exhibit a deep love for Pakistan’s armed forces.

He (or she) was suggesting that it was wrong of the government and military of Pakistan to have gone to war with the extremists because the extremists were not anti-Pakistan.

Emotionally ravaged by the video that I had seen — and still remembering stories about how during a suicide bombing at Lahore’s Moon Market some years ago, children holding their parents’ hands and infants in their mothers’ arms were simply blown to pieces — I wanted to snap at the person tweeting such convoluted claptrap.

I wanted to tell that person that it was narratives such as these that not only tried to justify the tragic, gruesome demise of thousands of Pakistanis at the hands of extremists, but eventually led to the extremists attacking and slaughtering over 140 schoolchildren in Peshawar in December 2014.

Had this ridiculously imprudent person who claimed to be a lover of Pakistan military already forgotten about that attack? Or about how the extremists played football with the heads of executed Pakistani soldiers?

In 2013, when a prominent extremist was killed in a US drone attack in North Waziristan, then interior minister Chaudhry Nisar actually held a press conference condemning the attack. Opposition leader Imran Khan was not far behind, calling the attack “an attempt to derail peace talks between the state and the extremists.”

Even though hundreds of children had already been killed in suicide bombings, and hundreds more had lost a parent, and, in some cases, both the parents, between 2004 and 2013, yet these two gentlemen and scores of others who were regulars on rabid TV talk shows, just couldn’t stop themselves from gazing at their navels and brazenly concocting reasons in their bid to hold back the military from launching an all-out operation against extremist groups. But Gen Raheel had had enough.

This nation of mine only managed to get the spell of the apologists over it broken by the tragedy of 140-plus students mercilessly killed by extremists in Peshawar. Just imagine, it had to take a tragedy of this proportion for many of us to finally realise how all that convoluted and conspiratorial nonsense barefacedly spouted by the apologists was a sham. By the way, many still hold on to such hogwash.

On the other end, tragic images of children suffering the most terrible effects of war in Syria and Yemen often get overshadowed by the drawing-room and social media debates about “geopolitics”. As if these wars were board games played by men who wanted you to believe that they were the most rational, yet okay about a few thousand children being mutilated by bombs and starvation. Collateral damage. Happens in wars, you know.

A friend of mine who has been gathering data for a book about the number of children killed in extremist terrorist attacks in Pakistan between 2004 and 2014, told me that so far his findings suggest that out of approximately 30,000 people killed in these attacks (civilians and soldiers) over 6,000 were children aged between one and 15. This is a stunning figure in a country which was not officially at war.

When children die, so does humanity. Those killing them know this. And they are doing this because they are not human anymore. They justify their murderous lust through a plethora of convoluted political and theological ideologies. But nothing will stop history from remembering them as nothing more than madmen who wanted to prolong their psychotic presence by killing, maiming and starving innocent children.

Written by Nadeem Paracha 



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Dawn
About the Author: Dawn is Pakistan's oldest and most widely read English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Opinion, Politics

Modi defends citizenship decision

PM Modi says it has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, that unity in diversity is integral to India while addressing ‘Aabhar Rally’ at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan today to kick start Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Assembly Elections campaign slated for early next year, amid protests in Delhi and all over the country against the contentious Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizenship(NRC). Modi raised slogan of ‘vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta’ (Unity in diversity is India’s speciality). PM Modi while giving his party and government’s view on CAA and NRC said, “Muslims being misled, I have always ensured that documents will never come in way of development schemes and their beneficiaries.” Citizenship law and NRC have nothing to do with Indian Muslims or with Indian citizens, he clarified. “We have never asked


By The Statesman
December 23, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Rallies rage on in India over citizenship law

Thousands of students flood streets of Delhi; Assam state sees five protesters shot dead. Thousands of university students flooded the streets of India’s capital yesterday, while a southern state government led a march and demonstrators held a silent protest in the north-east, to protest against a new law giving citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India illegally to flee religious persecution in several neighbouring countries. The protests in New Delhi followed a night of violent clashes between the police and demonstrators at Jamia Millia Islamia University. People who student organisers said were not students set three buses on fire and the police stormed the university library, firing tear gas at students crouched under desks. Members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said opposition parties were using th


By The Straits Times
December 17, 2019

Opinion, Politics

The Chinese version

Muhammad Amir Rana asks what is the Chinese version of Islam.  TENSIONS between China and the US have escalated after the House of Representative’s Uighur Human Rights Policy Act, 2019. The move is of a piece with the allegations of many international media and human rights organisations that China is persecuting the Uighur community and violating their rights — allegations that Beijing has denied. Calling the US action a political move aimed at damaging its international image, China says it is running a deradicalisation programme to mainstream its communities. Read: Amid global outcry, China defends internment camps of minorities in Xinjiang The Chinese claim has not been verified by independent sources and mystery shrouds its deradicalisation or re-education programme. China needs to demonstra


By Dawn
December 16, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Japan: Koizumi offers no concrete plan on coal

The new environment minister needs to offer better ways to tackle climate change.  During a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday, Shinjiro Koizumi, the Environment Minister did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation, for which construction of new plants is currently underway in Japan, during a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday. “I am afraid I cannot share new development on our coal policy today,” Koizumi said at the ongoing 25th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate


By The Japan News
December 13, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Power transition after Apec summit

Mahathir open to stepping down after APEC summit. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the world’s oldest prime minister, has promised to hand over power to anointed successor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in spite of new sexual assault allegations against him. Dr Mahathir, 94, said he would not hand over before a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries that Malaysia is to host in November 2020, but could be ready after that. “I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that I thought that a change immediately before the Apec summit would be disruptive. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him (Anwar). If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise… irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise, ” he said in an interview w


By The Star
December 11, 2019

Opinion, Politics

Communist Party of China calls for efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up

Political Bureau stresses importance of winning three critical battles in 2020. The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee called on Friday for solid efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up, amid tensions in the external environment, to ensure that the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be attained next year. The general trend of China’s economy in maintaining stable and long-term positive operation remains unchanged, according to a statement released after the bureau’s meeting, presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. China will keep its economic growth within a reasonable range in 2020, with more “forwarding-looking, targeted and effective” policies, the statement said. The nation will pursue a policy framework that allows macro policies to be stable, micro policies


By China Daily
December 9, 2019