The Si­lenc­ing of Malalas in Pak­istan

Southasia - - The Last Stop - By Anees Jil­lani

Fif­teen-year old Malala Yusufzai is thank­fully on her way to re­cov­ery. One can only hope that she will re­cover fully and that she and her fam­ily will de­cide to re­turn to Pak­istan. The ques­tion, how­ever, is that once they re­turn, will they be safe in the coun­try of their birth?

The In­te­rior Min­is­ter, Rehman Ma­lik, has promised Malala’s fam­ily com­plete se­cu­rity. How­ever, Ma­lik could not even pro­tect his own leader Be­nazir Bhutto in 2007 and sub­se­quently his own col­leagues in the Cab­i­net. The fact is that it would not be an easy task to do so in the cur­rent cir­cum­stances.

We all have heard that can­cer can­not be treated by as­pirin. Sim­i­larly, ter­ror­ism in Pak­istan can­not be treated by cos­metic ges­tures and mere rhetoric. Our pol­icy of `bleed­ing the In­di­ans in Kash­mir’ and `the doc­trine of strate­gic depth in Afghanistan’ is now haunt­ing us day in and day out. Tal­iban­iza­tion is grow­ing and con­sol­i­dat­ing it­self. Pak­istan has trans­formed but not for the bet­ter. In the fifties, my mother could ride her bi­cy­cle in pub­lic but my daugh­ters can­not do it any­more, 60 years down the road when it should have been the other way round.

As so-called lib­er­als, we blame Gen­eral Zia-ul-Haq for the present mess. The Gen­eral died some 24 years ago and ruled di­rectly for eight years and then in­di­rectly for an­other three. He may have in­tro­duced a num­ber of dis­torted poli­cies but what pre­vented the sub­se­quent gov­ern­ments from re­mov­ing the dis­tor­tions from our polity?

I blame our in­com­pe­tency for the mess and not any one ruler. You may blame the Bri­tish, the mil­i­tary, the bu­reau­cracy or par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­u­als but what have we done to ame­lio­rate the sit­u­a­tion. We com­plain of cor­rup­tion but re­frain from paying taxes, whether on our in­come or on our sales and pur­chases. We com­plain of a de­plorable state of ed­u­ca­tion but ve­he­mently op­pose in­tro­duc­tion of a uni­form sys­tem of ed­u­ca­tion and de­fend the ex­is­tence of English and Urdu medium schools; our chil­dren

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of course have to go to English medium ones. Madras­sas are de­fended with­out the re­al­iza­tion that the stan­dard in th­ese so-called schools leaves a lot to be de­sired and the poor chil­dren that at­tend such in­sti­tu­tions have vir­tu­ally no fu­ture in the real world, lack­ing skills to be­come use­ful mem­bers of our comity. We all op­pose Amer­ica but de­sire our chil­dren to study there and it re­mains our fa­vorite hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion. One has to be crazy to miss an op­por­tu­nity to mi­grate to Amer­ica or Canada. The na­tion is united against drone at­tacks but never re­al­izes that Amer­i­cans are not crazy to be car­ry­ing out th­ese ex­pen­sive at­tacks for no rea­son. They must have an ob­jec­tive: for how long can they tol­er­ate their ally whom they have given $18 bil­lion since 9/11 pro­tect­ing the very Haqqa­nis who are at­tack­ing them in Afghanistan.

Our schizophre­nia does not end there. A size­able sec­tion of our pop­u­la­tion gen­uinely be­lieves that the at­tack on Malala was staged by the Amer­i­cans to ma­lign the Tal­iban. The com­ments in the so­cial me­dia go to the ex­tent of claim­ing that the bul­let in Malala’s head was not meant to kill her. In­di­ans were plain lucky that they man­aged to catch Kasab alive as the Pak­ista­nis till then were of the opin­ion that the Bom­bay at­tacks were man­aged by the In­di­ans to ma­lign us in the world.

The world’s at­ten­tion span is short. It lost in­ter­est in Afghanistan af­ter the Soviet with­drawal in the late eight­ies and the phe­nom­e­non may again be re­peated af­ter the Amer­i­cans leave Kabul. We would then be to­tally on our own. The lit­tle aid that we are re­ceiv­ing will dry-up. Con­se­quently, the Tal­iban will be grow­ing in strength and the few Malalas left in Pak­istan, will be at their mercy. Anees Jil­lani is an ad­vo­cate of the Supreme Court and a mem­ber of the Washington, DC Bar. He has been writ­ing for var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions for more than 20 years and has au­thored sev­eral books.

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