On 15th December, the horrific murder of twenty children and six adults at a primary school in the U.S state of Connecticut made news headlines globally; it also reignited a raging debate over implementation of gun control and limiting arms sale to the general public. In the aftermath of the tragedy, an emotional Barack Obama shed tears of grief and vouched for meaningful action against an increasingly deadly menace.
Only a parent knows the true love for his or her child, it is one of the greatest gifts that Almighty Allah bestows upon his creation and there is an accompanying exodus of endless bliss and infinite joy. Every child is precious and deserves to be loved, appreciated, nurtured and provisioned for.
In this context, every conscientious human being shares the limitless grief suffered by the parents of the brutally murdered children in Newtown, Connecticut. Yet, there is an utterly befuddling paradox to tackle. When all children are as delicate as flowers, then why does the world shed tears when one set of them is brutally maimed and keeps criminally silent when another set is ravaged by bombs and drone attacks?
Why can’t Obama shed a single tear for a mutilated child in Gaza, Kabul or North West Pakistan? Is it because it is his hand that presses the missile trigger? Or were these children harboring some kind of a militant and anti-occupation intent?
On the 17th of December, George Monbiot wrote a fabulously though provoking article in the Guardian, entitled “In the U.S, mass child killings are tragedies. In Pakistan, mere bug splats”. The term bug splats according to the author, first appeared in a rolling stone magazine report, and is used by the drone operators to label their victims. He also referred to a meticulously compiled; first hand researched report entitled “living under drones” released by the law schools at Stanford and New York universities.
This report makes for an eye opening and gut wrenching read, “from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, 474-881 civilians including 176 children were killed by drone strikes in Pakistan”. Evidence collected from extensively conducted primary research also reported wide spread hysteria and psychological trauma amongst the civilian populous as a result of twenty four hour hovering of drones. Ironically, in the first three years of the mellow hearted Barack’s presidency, 297-569 civilians including atleast 64 children were killed by drone strikes in Pakistan.
Not even Ban Ki Moon at the U.N shed a single tear of grief for them, perhaps these are children not made of flesh and blood, not made of twinkling eyes and crystalized laughter and boundless energy. Perhaps their parents didn’t wail and cry in utter despair and lost all meaning and hope that constitutes this ultimate gift of life.
Having said that; moaning and lamenting about the world not feeling our pain is a fruitless endeavor, as there are countless people amongst us who defend the collateral damage by arguing that these drone strikes also kill militants. In the process, they conveniently ignore the fact that a disgruntled victim might become the next suicide attacker and kill more innocent civilians in return, thus completing a vicious cycle of death that has no seeming end in sight.
To us the death of someone else’s child is an acceptable exception. We only choose to grieve for the killings that are widely reported and lamented in the media. This is not surprising for a country like Pakistan, where fifty precious lives maybe lost in a day yet hardly a soul sheds a tear or asks a question.
Our leaders non apparent vision may be blinded by their corruption laden, power crazy antics. But how come a U.S president who is a Harvard Law school graduate and seemingly embedded with all the intellect and vision in the world resort to such blatant double standards?
A few tears for our children too Mr. President!