Mohammed Hanif: Not All Attacks Are Created Equal

Mohammed Hanif in the New York Times:

10hanif1-inyt-master768There is a sickeningly familiar routine to terrorist attacks in Pakistan. If one happens in your city, you get a text message or a phone call asking if you are O.K. What happened? you ask. From that, the caller concludes that you are O.K.. Then you turn on the TV and watch the screen zoom in on a Google map or an animated blast before cameras reach the scene and start beaming images of bloodied slippers.

Last Saturday, I went through the same routine during a stay in London. It was a friend in Pakistan who alerted me by text message about the attacks here. As I looked for the TV remote, I got another message from him. “Did you ever think you’d hear about London from Pakistan?”

I found the observation slightly upsetting. I wanted to write back: “You are sitting peacefully in your home in Islamabad. This is not the time to be ironic. There is no irony in carnage.” I didn’t reply, and instead got busy trying to track down my son, who happened to be in the area near where the attack happened. Last year, I sent him off to university in London, calculating this was a safer place than home in Karachi.

After I found out that my son was all right, I had time for ironic reflection.

In the weeks during which a concert in Manchester and a lively neighborhood of London were struck by terrorists, a dozen people were killed at two sites in Tehran, an ice cream parlor was blown up in Baghdad, a single bombing killed some 90 people in Kabul, then more Afghans died during protests about that attack and then still more Afghans died in another attack at a funeral for people killed during the protests.

More here.