The Silencing of Malalas in Pakistan
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
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.