Monday, October 26, 2009

I admit, we are in the midst of war.

This serene picture is of a portion of Pakistan's best university, LUMS, but this week the campus is vacant for unnatural reasons and the people sitting around me discuss things that no civilian should have to worry about.
I finally admit that our nation is at war, when the war on terror has come to haunt the average Pakistani whose government acceded to the American government’s pressure to go after its own volatile tribesmen- and the fallout is here, as the average Pakistani is now a targeted enemy.

Educational institutions are closed across the country because the 'International Islamic University' was attacked last week in Islamabad, which one no one predicted.

Day after tomorrow, the students will be back. I wait for them, it is unnatural walking a vibrant and renowned university that is empty because of fear.

An ordinary day starts with having my car checked, despite my ID. I feel sorry for the security guards – they are the first under threat, and a serene campus duty is no longer friendly waves
at the gate.Checking our email now brings in security updates and tips - to guard against our cars, phones and selves being hijacked and used by terrorists, and evacuation plans. Lunch hour recently had the sound of sirens being tested as they were installed.
As I practice photography, sparks fly nearby as welders reinforce boundary walls with special measures.
I am a trained volunteer MFR (Medical First Respondent), and my team and I are to get together to practice for the aftermath of a terrorist attack, practice a triage situation - what to do in a mass emergency where there are many patients, where you determine which can be saved, which cannot and therefore you move on. I argued with my instructor the first time I heard this in class, nearly in tears.

This university is thought to be the institution under biggest threat, and one feels sorry for the administration trying to do everything it can to save the innocent lives that roam this campus, wanting only to learn, live and serve their country and provide for their families.

Yet it is strange.
Outside the weather is at its best and when I look out, appreciating the view of a pond and lush green lawns and beautiful sky, I can appreciate it and feel the serenity, even as I know that I am, along with others under threat at any time, but feeling secure in my prayer, and in the now.

Life is still lived, but there is an effort to be vigilant, and a nagging fear, and everyday discussions are influenced.

There is an effort to avoid public places, even stay alert as we walk on university campus, or walk anywhere - for any suspicious package, or person. Alert students have spotted bombs near their school's boundary wall elsewhere in the country, and a policeman riding in a bus noticed a passenger next to him feel unnaturally hard (turned out he was wearing a suicide jacket), and disaster has been averted.
But the fear has been planted in everyone’s mind. Where once the elite were safe, the cities were safe, all are equal for once in this country - in a very distressing way.
Prayer is the only answer. And efforts to establish peace.