More often than not, the true nature of a situation is distorted in order to fit preconceptions. The American media tends to follow such behavior by sometimes slanting the truth, whether accidentally or intentionally, so that real events act as a vehicle of promotion in favor of a certain viewpoint. The attack on the Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar on December 16, 2014 by the Taliban was a heartbreaking, gruesome incident that ended in the death of around 140 people, the majority being young children who had gone to school that morning like it was any ordinary day. They had not expected to die or see their friends die in front of them. They had not expected to see their teacher burned to death or watch as their beloved school was destroyed by the gun shots and violence of terrorists.
Indeed, it was a day of mourning for not only the Pakistani families that suffered losses, but also for the rest of the world that was beyond shocked to witness such cruelty. Peshawar deserved nothing but prayers, yet instead some people and institutions decided to assert their ignorant opinions about the matter. A prime example is CNN, who reported that the children were murdered by the terrorists for going to school. The truth is that the children in the Peshawar school had fathers who were part of the armed forces – the same forces that are currently fighting the Taliban. Essentially, the children were targets of such a brutal attack because they were blood-related to the Taliban’s enemies. It’s factual reasoning, yet CNN found it a lot easier to blame it on an imaginary, anti-education belief in Pakistan. Why? Going to school and wanting to learn is not always castigated in Pakistan; in reality, the students of Army Public School and Degree College were encouraged by their scholarly environment to explore and grow, and the terrorists only took their lives because of who they were related to.
CNN also reported the Peshawar tragedy with the term “Pakistani Taliban” in the headline. In the letter that Pakistan addressed to CNN when the news was reported, the misnomer of a “Pakistani Taliban” was called out. Indeed, the main Taliban leaders live in Afghanistan, and hence, the Taliban is based in Afghanistan. By calling the Taliban “Pakistani,” CNN seems to be giving off the negative impression that Pakistanis are killing their own people. That is not at all the case; the Taliban is a radical terrorist organization that has no ties to the majority of peace-loving Pakistani residents. The Peshawar school shooting was a blatant act of terrorism, not an indication of civil war.
At the time of the tragedy, there were many ignorant comments being thrown around about “Muslims” and Pakistan in general. But, it’s important to know that an entire race of people cannot be defined by the actions of one radical group. The people who were killed and the people that had to deal with tremendous loss in the wake of the disaster were simply human beings. Instead of exacerbating the incident, we should recognize the difference between an entire nation and a terrorist organization of the same religion, but a completely different interpretation of it. And instead of offering criticism, we should remember the innocent souls that were lost on that tragic night in Peshawar.