I had the privilege, yes privilege, of living in Quetta in the good old days of 2005-2009 when Quetta was known for what it’s actually worth- the serenity, the beauty, the weather, the culture, the people and most importantly the peace.

As I pen down this rant, I do so with tears in my eyes. I loved my time spent in Quetta. I was that “Punjabi” girl who would wear 5 layers of warm clothes to school and still hog the tiny heater in the corner of the classroom while my native classmates made fun of me adorning a single sleeveless sweater. I learnt to drive on the mountainous, sometimes frighteningly narrow, roads of Quetta. I hiked the mountains near Hanna Lake with my friends. I cycled from my house to Ayub Stadium every now and then for my mom’s walk with her friend. I would walk to Bolan Market and then later to Chiltan Market for the amazing and fascinating large naan. I learnt how to ride a horse in Quetta. Oh, how clearly could I see the “sleeping beauty” mountain while I rode my horse every day, it was beautiful! I experienced my first snowfall in Quetta too- it was nothing short of magical. I met people from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures in Quetta and made friends with Baloch, Pathan and Hazara alike. That is how I remember my Quetta, a nostalgic beautifully cherished dream!

Hanna Lake

Yes, I said “my Quetta”. I was born in Karachi, my heritage is Kashmiri and I have lived a larger part of my life in Punjab but I have also lived in Ghalanai (Mohmand Agency) and Quetta. Where am I from then? Where do I belong to? I find these questions offensive. I belong to my country! I am a very proud Pakistani and Quetta is as much mine as it is for the beautiful people who are lucky enough to possess a home there. My Quetta is bleeding! And it hurts! It hurts me sitting very far away.

Ayub Stadium

We will never forget December 16, 2014. The world cannot forget that horrendous tragedy that befell our country. After that day, I saw unity in my countrymen. For the first time in my life of 23 years, I saw my country come together and stand united! I am not comparing one incident to the other; I will not dare be that ignorant. However, after that incident Bacha Khan University was attacked in a similar fashion. In August, an entire generation of lawyers was killed in Quetta – every single senior practicing lawyer and barrister died in a terrorist attack at a hospital, on August 8, 2016. Then two nights ago, cadets at a police training academy in Quetta awoke to the sound of firing and a terrorist attack that killed 61, and injured more than 120. Cadets! Young cadets! They were on their way to play a role in protecting and safeguarding the country and we could not safeguard them. I did not see any hue and cry over the three incidents I mentioned after the incident of the APS Peshawar attack. I will reiterate that I am not comparing, God forbid. I am trying to wake up anyone who reads this. We cannot accept this. The magnanimity of terrorist attacks increases every day and for some reason we keep accepting it. We cannot make this a regular affair. This cannot and should not be just news! My Quetta is bleeding! My heart bleeds for it like it did for APS Peshawar.

Snowfall in Quetta

We cannot become a nation that accepts terrorism as “normal”. Discourse like, “Oh where did a bomb blast today?”, “Yaar it’s normal for us”, scare me and they should scare everyone. We are letting our kids grow up in a country where terrorist attacks are a pacified reality. Why are we complacent to the terror? Why are we okay?

My Quetta is bleeding, and my heart bleeds for her!