Seven Pakistani Children

Reading Corriere della Sera yesterday, I came across an article about the Pakistani army and its attempts to root out the Taliban from the Swat valley. The details are, so far, not promising from the perspective of “human rights.” You might find similar stories in your local paper.

The point is that there are many civilians involved in the bombing operations. The Corriere notes that the “harsh conflict” on the perifery of Mingora (with over 200,000 inhabitants) “shows little respect for the Geneva Convention.” In the village of Puchar, captured Talebanis are hanged from trees. Elsewhere cadavers wrapped in plastic are dropped from helicopters on Taleban-controlled zones. Artillery and aviation shoot the moment they discover an enemy hideout. Often, the price is civilian casualties, and damage to public buildings and farmland. (I loosely translated this, but you get the picture).

“This time it’s serious. It’s a fight to the last man. The amount of collateral damage is unknown, but there was probably no alternative.”

These are the words of Syed Talat Hussein, a reporter for Hajj TV in Islamabad.

I’m just pointing out the asymmetry whenever the media report a conflict between Israel and it’s neighbors. You would never read an article like this one about Israel. There is no worry over the refugees, no tear shed for the “collateral damage.” It’s just good guys chasing bad guys.

Most people, of course, would agree that it is a shame to have to bomb civilians in order to root out terrorists. But most people will not speak out against the Pakistani army, or the Pakistani government, or “reconsider” Pakistan’s right to national existence. They will not call for boycotts of Pakistani goods and universities. That Pakistan is increasingly considered the most dangerous country on earth at the moment is of no issue. Stop the Taleban! is the only cry that matters.

Where are all the humanitarian voices of concern when Pakistani civilians are being mowed down in the midst of brutal conflict? Where are the condemnations? Will Caryl Churchill write a play next month, Seven Pakistani Children?

This is inconceivable. We only hear these concerned citizens’ voices when there are victims of Israeli aggression. The rule is that when civilians die in war the world is silent. Israel, as usual, is the exception (as long as the dead are not themselves Israeli).

Their silence now is loud and clear.

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