Novelist Bapsi Sidhwa recalls the events of the past and looks for answers to our present dilemmas in The Deccan Herald:
One cannot look in upon events in 2008 without reflecting on the fateful moments that held Pakistan hostage to a horrendous roller-coaster ride through 2007. The turmoil that spilled over from Afghanistan into the lawless maze of mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan intensified, and suicide bombers, not on our radars before, exploded like grotesque fire-crackers in the northern areas and in major cities, including Lahore, killing thousands. The radicalisation of the peaceful Swat Valley by the Taliban and their dire edicts was another development: “If any ‘nai’ shaves or trims a beard, his shop will be blown up!” What could the poor barbers do but obey?
A new girl’s school built by DIL, a voluntary organisation for the development of literacy, was burnt down in the Valley.
On the heels of this turmoil came waves of protest by lawyers and politicians demanding General Pervaiz Musharraf’s resignation and calling for the reinstatement of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. The Supreme Court Justice was ousted by the general for challenging the validity of a case that would have permitted him to remain in power after elections. Like his predecessors who had come to power with some popular support, General Musharraf continued to overstay his welcome.
The processions and their acts of minor vandalism — burning buses and tires on streets — though disruptive, ironically brought respite from suicide bombing.