My two bits on the muddied narrative in Pakistan on Malala Yousafzai, a favourite for the Nobel Peace Prize being announced on Oct 11: Those who so easily buy conspiracy theories about Malala being a “US agent” or who go against Malala are usually the same people you will find justifying the murderous, criminal acts of the Taliban (who are fasadis not jihadis, in my mind) in some way, absolving them of responsibility by terming it a response to the US invasion of Afghanistan or the drone attacks. These people conveniently forget that the mindset that attacked Malala is the same as the one that was attacking women NGO workers and teachers and girls’ schools in the western border areas BEFORE 9/11. It’s the same mindset that was target killing Ahmadis and Shias since the 1990s. It was not just the Taliban’s bullets that targeted Malala and all that she stands for – it is this mindset that the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia cultivated and developed in the 1980s in order to counter the Soviets in Afghanistan.
After the Soviets and the USA left, the mindset remained and has continued to mutate because it was considered useful in pin pricking India especially in Kashmir. Textbooks, laws, and unofficial official narratives continue to promote it – and there is confusion because on the one hand Pakistan is fighting these fasadis, and on the other we continue in some way or other to propagate their ideology.
But Sindh is Sindh. Another landlord, Mir Masood Talpur, provided some land to bury the body in, and Bhooro Bheel now lies there, says the activist singer Saif Samejo. See the discussion on his public post on his facebook page. Other activist singers like Arieb Azhar and Aftab Ali Saeed of Beghairat Brigade are also firmly on board this fight for a progressive Pakistan.
Meanwhile, it is heartening that young people are speaking out. There have been demonstrations in solidarity with the Christian community, condemning the attack on the church in Peshawar. A new group called Pakistan for All initiated this series of symbolic human chains around churches during Sunday mass, starting with Karachi a couple of weeks ago. The demo in Lahore was held last Sunday and another one is planned in Islamabad on Oct 13. See details at their facebook page. Postscript: It seems that we keep reacting to one horrific incident after another. Human chains, candlelight vigils, signature campaigns, outrage on facebook and twitter, seminars, meetings… This Fasadi menace needs more than that, though we should keep doing all that too. We need to demand that the authorities arrest, charge, try and and punish the perpetrators of any criminal act, even if they are committed in the name of religion.