“If we find her again, then we shall definitely try to kill her. We will feel proud upon her death.”
That was Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid, in an interview to AP last week, responding to the possibility of Malala Yousufzai returning to Pakistan. The Taliban’s brief flirtation with a show of remorse over her September 2012 shooting, is history.
Elsewhere in Pakistan, as time has gone by, Malala appears to have been abandoned. Schools in the Swat valley have torn down banners that had her name on them, terrified of the resurgent Taliban. Her own institution, which had renamed itself ‘Malala Yousufzai Girls High School’, has reverted back to its original name, out of fear. Those chants that world heard, rising from the impassioned lips of every Pakistani schoolgirl, ‘I am Malala! I am Malala! I am Malala!’ have been muted.
While fear has gripped those (mainly women) who still hold her in awe, a majority (mainly men) in Pakistan have gone in the opposite direction. They have started hating the way they claim she has ‘grabbed’ all the attention and been turned into a demi-goddess. ‘Malala Drama-zai’ they have begun calling her in derision.
The virulence with which ordinary Pakistanis (read: ordinary Pakistani males) have turned against her is shocking, given that she is just a kid, not a politician or a soldier or even a police officer. Some have even begun wondering aloud if the circumstances surrounding the attempt on her life were actually not an American strategy, planned to discredit Pakistan. There are even others who express doubt that the attack ever happened.
In everything now, the hidden hand of ‘umreeka’ is seen by Pakistanis. Even well-meaning, educated, moderate Pakistanis. Yeah, the term ‘moderate’ does have to crop up whenever one discusses Muslims. It is sad that they have to be a separate demographic, of a terrorized minority, cowering in terror from their own.
A Pakistani Facebook friend has voiced concern that, in the coming weeks, all social media sites are expected to be blocked inside Pakistan. He fears that the ban will be permanent. He has sought contact details from all of us, his friends on Facebook, so he can stay in touch. A sad state of affairs indeed. I feel sorry that I can live free while he, in chains.
The Pakistani government of Mian Nawaz Sharif has just released a top Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, from prison, thereby signalling a desire for ‘dialogue’. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, is right now on a roll. With the Americans leaving Afghanistan in a short while, he clearly feels that the Taliban now have the upper hand. Sharif’s gesture (and a similar one made by the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai) at this juncture is being seen as a desperate panicky attempt to mollify the Taliban.
Mehsud is cocky. He has two demands that are non-negotiable. The first, the departure of all American and Western personnel from Pakistan and the immediate halt to all drone strikes. The second, the institution of a 7th century justice system in Pakistan. Only after these two conditions are met will this child killer stop his murderous rampage.
I am trying to imagine what Pakistan will look like if this goon’s demands are met. An immediate total transfer of power from the Pakistani government to the Taliban in the Swat / Khyber Pakhtunkhwa / Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan. The covert birth of a nation within a nation, completely dedicated to terror.
The newly created rogue will have no seat at the UN. It has no desire for one. Neither does it have any need for a diplomatic corps, any trade, tourism, export, import, anything at all that is normal to any nation. The rogue will be a dark blotch on the world map. It will be the house at the end of the street that everyone tip-toes past.
Across the border, in India, two top functionaries, Yasin Bhatkal and Abdul Karim Tunda, of the banned terrorist organization, Lashkar-e-Toiba, have been nabbed. Their eventual deaths should be made as prolonged and as painful as possible. They should be given regular blood transfusions, if necessary, to keep them alive while their bones are broken and limbs detached. I’m being bloodthirsty? You bet I am. I have no time for that ‘due process’ crap with these guys.
As to Malala, it remains to be seen if eventually she will let all the adulation get to her head. As she ages, she will be tempted to degenerate into another paranoid delusional Mamata Bannerjee. She won’t of course. Let’s hope that the world will let Malala be and not make so many demands of her that she burns herself out at by the time she is in her 20s, trying to do too many things at the same time. It is reassuring that she has a strong foundation in her father and mother, who I have heard are exemplary parents.
They say she is a front-runner for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize which is expected to be announced this Friday. The doctor who Malala says saved her life, Fiona Reynolds of the Birmingham Childrens’ Hospital, certainly thinks so. Given its long history of selecting completely undeserving winners, the Peace Prize is a caricature of an award, most times.
But Malala has it in her to win every recognition there is. She is built a winner, with an enormous strength of resolve and a maturity beyond her years. Her voice still sounds like a dreamy 16 year old’s, filled with shining ideals, sounding like she is competing in a high school elocution contest.
Perhaps she is the one the world has been waiting to look up to. Who knows? Messiahs have been known to appear in all shapes and sizes. Why not a tiny 16 year old? Sometimes a fresh young mind can achieve what an Anna Hazare can’t.
Way to go, Malala!