By Zara Maqbool
I am scared! As a mother, the primary emotion I am feeling these days is fear. Scared for my children’s safety in this country, which is our home and where we are considered to be first-rate citizens. I feel scared when I receive messages regarding security threat right in the sector where my elder two children’s school is. I feel that fear as I drop them at the school gate and wait on egg shells till they come back, all the time while I try to push away the faces of so many innocent children whose lives were taken before their time by acts of terrorism.
I feel the same emotion of anxiety and trepidation when I pick my 5 years old from her school. Her beautiful innocent face and the total lack of any worry that shows on her face hits me like a punch in the gut as the reality of being her protector hits me. I try to read the expression on the school guards faces. Are they showing extra interest in my child? Is the young one with the beard a little suspicious looking or am I over reacting from a place of my own apprehension?
I have stopped taking my kids out to parks or public places limiting their exposure as much as I can. I feel the imminent threat of someone maligning their purity, someone stopping their carefree stride in mid step. My family and friends have criticized me for this paranoia. I have been told that luckily coming from a privileged background I have nothing to worry about. But I am not convinced. Yes I am over reacting! Yes I am getting distrustful but can anyone blame me? Yes I don’t live in a small town where my children have to go from one place to another on their own at times because I might be busy with the other children at home or busy cleaning and cooking for my home. Does that make this society less threatening for me?
Everyday I am hearing reports of innocent children abused and killed by men who can’t even be called animals. Does the logic that all these children are from the under privileged areas make it any less threatening? Because its not about where I live but who I live with. These animals that go around untamed and unpunished are all around us. Will I be able to read their intention behind the masks they have put on?
I fear for my children, as they will grow up in this motherland. Will I have to hold my breath till my son comes back from a late night out? Yesterday, I saw a report on Samaa TV about two young boys Karachi that were shot dead in a police encounter. Should I feel safe in a country where a random bullet can take my child’s life away?
A place where the police who is meant for our protection can start an encounter anytime anywhere. The Anti Car Lifting Cell officials shot eighteen bullets at Intezar, 19, while he was in his car late night. I cannot shake away the faces of the helpless parents as they cry for their only son and cry more with the knowledge that their innocent son will not get justice.
The value of human life in Pakistan is simple valueless. I have said it before and I will say it again. Its not that I expect us to be a crime free society but it’s the accountability that is simply not there and my fear is that it never will. Media plays a pivotal role in bringing such stories to us but where it creates awareness it also adds to my fear for the safety of my children. I am scared and can only pray for divine intervention that will keep my children safe in a place – we call our home!
Story first published: 26th January 2018