About 20 students gathered on the Diag Tuesday for a vigil held by student group Michigan Pakistanis in response to an attack on a police training college in Quetta, Pakistan on Oct. 25 that left 61 people dead and 120 injured.
The assault was carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi — the same terrorist group that attacked Quetta in August 2016. On Tuesday, LSA senior Eman Hijab, president of Michigan Pakistanis, urged the crowd to continue to foster awareness about the events despite their recurrence and what she characterized as the media’s focus on Europe and the U.S.
“A lot of the times it feels like Western media doesn’t cover a lot of things that happen in Pakistan,” Hijab said. “But we wanted to send a message of hope because senseless acts of violence occur pretty much on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean we should become desensitized to it.”
Hijab added that even though those in attendance may seem distanced from the events in Pakistan due to geography, unity and recognition are imperative.
“All of us are connected by a sense of loss, because even if it wasn’t our aunt or uncle, our sister or brother, or mother or father, or our friend who were taken from us; it was our fellow Pakistanis who lost their innocent lives all too soon,” she said.
For Dentistry senior Ahsen Malik, the tragedy was very personal. Malik’s grade-school friend has a classmate who died after responding to the attack and pinning down the bombers.
“Don’t just look at this from a numerical perspective,” Malik said. “Every life is precious even if the region has a lot of problems. They are humans over there, too: They have feelings and families.”
LSA junior Muneeb Shaikh, echoed Malik’s sentiment, saying the numbers don’t fully capture the significance of the incident.
“Sixty-one people is a large number,” Shaikh said. “It is half a lecture hall here at U of M. It is your entire extended family and more. It is more people than there are weeks in a year. Sixty-one people is so huge that you can’t even name 61 friends. It is so easy to forget that death tolls are much more than a number.”
To show support, signs reading “Pray for Pakistan” were available for the crowd to sign. Students from different ethnicities left messages of solidarity alongside the messages of hope and prayer.
Moving forward, Hijab said she hoped students will continue to speak out against terrorism and for change.
“I found a corner of my heart which still believes that all of this terrorism can stop in our country someday,” she said. “I have tried to share it with you, and I urge all of you to do the same beyond this Diag, and above all, always remember to have hope.”