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جمعرات، 18 اکتوبر، 2012

Malala and anti-Malala Pakistan



 Let there be no doubt that Malala and her friends are not child soldiers. They are youth icons. They did not wield guns or bombs but pen and microphone.
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In Pakistan, an apparent national consensus followed the heinous attack on the three young girls Malala Yousafzai, Kainat and Shazia. It lasted for less than two days perhaps. What should have transformed into a national resolve to fight the Taliban terrorists degenerated quickly into a Malala and anti-Malala, or more accurately perhaps, a pro- and anti-Taliban Pakistan.T he pro-Taliban forces could not keep up a pro-Malala pretence for too long. They went from a qualified denunciation of the dastardly act to oblique compliments to the cild hicon to a vicious campaign to undermine her standing, ultimately to unabashed apologetics for the Taliban terrorists.

The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan, as is customary now, was leading the pro-Taliban pack and spent no time in muddying the waters by declaring the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan as (a perceived) jihad. That he made the comments right after visiting Malala, fighting for her life, was particularly callous. He could not bring himself to denounce squarely the Taliban for being the savages that they are, and of course, not by name. Not to be outdone by Mr Khan and his Internet ruffians, who act more and more like the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and its student wing, the original JI jumped into the fray as virtually the information wing of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The former JI ameer, Qazi Hussain Ahmed and his daughter, the ex-MNA Dr Samia Raheel Qazi, have unleashed an exceptionally morbid effort to malign Malala and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai. The jihadist cheerleaders in the media spent no time in projecting the Qazis and their drivel into every living room.

The Qazis have alleged that Malala was groomed by her father as a virtual tool of the US policy in the region. In tandem with their tirade, the Internet was flooded with pictures of Malala and her family with the late US envoy Richard Holbrooke to suggest that the affected family was on some sort of subversive mission. A false dilemma was created to project Malala as a child soldier somehow comparable with the young suicide bombers deployed by the jihadists. In a most unfortunate manner, Malala’s father was first blamed for doctoring her diaries and then for putting the child in harm’s way. A whisper campaign has accompanied this vitriol about how is it possible for a young child of nine or 10 to actually display such maturity in her writings. One anchor took the campaign of drawing false binaries a step further in his show, ostensibly about journalistic ethics. A senior newspaper editor cut that anchor to size but framing the false narratives goes on in full swing.

Let there be no doubt that Malala and her friends are not child soldiers. They are youth icons. They did not wield guns or bombs but pen and microphone. They did not stand for violence and barbarism but for peace, education and enlightenment. There is absolutely no comparison between the Taliban — and the JI — using Pakistani youth as jihadist cannon fodder and an upright Ziauddin Yousafzai bringing up his bright young daughter in the best traditions of nonviolence. Malala did not advocate or participate in war. She stood witness to the worst atrocities that the JI’s cohorts perpetrated in Malakand. And unlike those who cannot even admire a gifted child except in a backhanded manner, she did so honestly.

There simply cannot be a comparison between forces as dark as the Taliban and children as bright as Malala. There have been nine-year-olds before Malala who were ahead of their age group and there will be more. But Malala, may Lord bless her and her friends with a speedy and full recovery, will stand head and shoulders above not just her peers but those pygmies of men and women that pass for leaders in Pakistan. She stands tall for her simple, clear message that contrasts with that of the prevaricating, vacillating, forked-tongue adults who have yet to condemn the Taliban unequivocally for at least this particular attack on a child who was not an enemy combatant.

Little surprise then if the convoluted logic and line taken by Qazi Hussain Ahmed and Imran Khan is the same as the TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan. In a message sent to media via email and text, the TTP man has accepted responsibility for the attack. He has attempted to justify the attack on a girl child by invoking allegorical verses from the Holy Quran and obscure traditions from the Hadith. The reference to the Quranic tradition of al-Khizr and Moses is so over-the-top that even Qazi Hussain Ahmed might not be able to justify it. But such are the pitfalls of political expediency and, more importantly, of relying on divine texts in temporal matters. Anyone who pleads for making peace with the Taliban must read the 493-word TTP statement. It is not just the TTP’s ultra-orthodox religious position but also tortuous reasoning, backed by its use of terror, that is the basis for the failed peace agreements that now number in double digits. Yet the apologists continue to call for making peace with Malala’s assailants. Interestingly, these Taliban advocates also claim that the attack on the children was carried out at the behest of ‘US-Indo-Zionist’ handlers.

Are they then calling for a truce with the so-called foreign hand? The answer is that they are merely muddying the waters around a clear issue. Just as the talk of decisive military action against the Taliban and their foreign terrorist allies started, assorted smokescreens also started going up. The forked-tongue politicians and media persons have created an artificial fork in the road, which could have otherwise been a straight path out of the abyss.

General Ashfaq Kayani, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain, several Awami National Party leaders and the Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari have spoken clearly enough to clear the fog created by the Taliban defenders. It remains to be seen whether this talk translates into action or the division into a Malala and anti-Malala Pakistan leads this country into missing yet another opportunity to rally against terrorism and the putrid thought that breeds and protects it.

P.S The TTP has now also released a detailed statement in Urdu justifying their attack on the girl child. Their drivel is as shameless as their actions.
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 By Dr. Mohammad Taqi

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com. He tweets at http://twitter.com/mazdaki

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