Malala’s shooting: Why are you being so cowardly, Pakistan?

Published: October 11, 2012
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Strangely, bizarrely enough, in the face of these monstrosities our nation, the Pakistani people, have as always chosen the cowards way- to remain silent, to do nothing. PHOTO: REUTERS

In memoriam:

Soon they will forget you,

They will forget the sadness, the horror,

Of what you had to bear-

Most do not know,

Do not care-

But I will always remember you,

You were another girl,

I could not save.

Feminism to most people seems to mean an aggressive, narrow minded, anti-men approach to life that encourages individuals to campaign for female supremacy. Moreover, most people consider it a waste of time in this day and age. But I feel that every Pakistani woman should be a feminist- a feminist in the sense of the word that one should campaign for the rights of women and children in this sordid world we live in and that one should cease to be indifferent to the atrocities and suffering around us.

What makes me a feminist?

Three things, the Mukhtaran Mai case, the case of an unknown girl in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and now the Malala Yousafzai shooting incident.

I remember the first time I heard about Mukhtaran Mai; I was ten-years-old, and I was sitting in a drawing room. There were some ladies sitting nearby discussing, what was then, the most shocking and horrifying incident of the time.

I did not know what was meant by ‘rape’ at that time, but my impression was that whatever this woman had undergone was so terrible that there were no right words to describe her suffering. What sticks in my head is what one of the ladies said,

“It’s so horrible, how could they do such a thing? People say that she begged them to spare her, she said ‘For God’s sake let me go, I teach your children the Quran!’”

Yet, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa case that I read about this September was far, far more haunting and appalling. A girl of no more than eight was abducted from outside her school by three men. They raped her, offered her money, and when she would not stop crying, they beat her to death and dumped her body near her home so that ‘it would be easy for the family to find the body’.

And now, a young girl, Malala Yousafzai, a symbol of hope, perseverance and courage was brutally, nearly fatally, shot by some barbarian who claimed that she was a ‘westernised’ girl who deserved to be gunned down.

And strangely, bizarrely enough, in the face of these monstrosities our nation, the Pakistani people, have as always chosen the cowards’ way ─ to remain silent, to do nothing.

At the most, some apathetic consciences may be stirred to armchair, drawing room or Facebook activism.

But what use is it condemning these crimes and doing nothing effective?

Sure, you may be horrified and disgusted by what has happened, but what of it?

Will this disgust and horror save another potential victim from experiencing these terrible crimes?

No it will not.

I don’t know whether the law enforcement authorities think that we as a people are stupid or blind. The women’s protection bill- at the time of its induction, lauded by feminists like myself-is nothing but a sham to appease foreign organisations and ease the pressure from establishments like the UN to do something about the sickening violations of basic human rights. The bill passed recently, for safeguarding women against acid attacks is likewise a deception.

If these bills were genuine, would not the rapists of Mukhtaran Mai be sentenced to death?

Would not the innumerable acid throwers be dealt with appropriately?

Would not all the depraved monsters of our nation cease to be free and run rampant?

As a nation we decry blasphemy and are ready to lay down our lives to protect our faith. We are ready to take up arms and protest against a blasphemous film— a film that can in no real way affect the station of our beloved Prophet (pbuh).

Is it not blasphemy to silently and indifferently watch God’s creation attacked, humiliated or defiled?

Where are the protests now?

Where are the emotionally charged tirades against the perpetrators of these crimes?

Let me give you one good reason to care; with these mad monsters running wild and free to do as they please, you or your children, God forbid, could be next.

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Leila.Rage

Leila Rage

An aspiring writer and human rights activist who lives in Lahore.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Irfan Rathore

    The religious fanatics condemn the act,but not the groups involved in these terrorist attacks.Whether its terrorism directed towards non-muslims or against secularists and liberals,ppl issue an automated condemnation but don’t go beyond that,they don’t have to name the taliban or other terrorist groups.It’s not just fear that makes them omit the names.
    Most of the right wing parties are forced to issue condemnations due to public image issue,but from their hearts they agree with the actions of the religious terrorists.They make excuses,justifications,’magar,agar’ type of statements,anything to divert attention away from the terrorists.Recommend

  • Yasir

    I believe you are very much right! The country in which we are living is so now dominated by so called Islamic extremist, I believe my Islam and my religion was never like this in the PAST. Islam spreads peace and right for everyone to live peacefully. The recent incident of Malala Yousafzai is an eye-opener for everyone, but its very sad that there was no protest by so called Muslims and Mullahs with long beards and angry faces which I saw against US few weeks back. This clearly shows that the culture of Taliban is prevailing in Pakistan as they said before that one day whole Pakistan would be Taliban is very much becoming right. I would just say one thing that Pakistan is a country where a 14-year old girl is braver than Pakistan Army’s Chief. Recommend

  • Arsalan malik

    The Muslim apologists are the biggest enablers of the Taliban and their kind.The constant excuse making for the religious fanatics,constant portrayal of the terrorists as some sort of ‘islamic heroes’ has led our society to its present disastrous state.It’s time to name the poison.Recommend

  • Sirat Ullah Shah

    There is nothing in the whole incident that would ever point to bravery, need for feminism and religious bigotry. She is not the only victim of the circumstances already prevailing in the area which unfortunately falls in the area which has become battle ground of a number of forces. Given the precarious situation and let me say mysterious one, anybody becoming target of a bullet is never surprising. While the sensible voice should have been a loud wail for every innocent being blown to bits in the Tribal agencies of Pakistan in particular and the other areas of the country in general, your article is expression of indifference towards all others except a few cases where females have been victims. This is height of ignorance. Tell all those outsiders to go back to their homes and there WILL be peace everywhere, i m sure. And let me also tell you this, far more heinous crimes are committed in the west and all over the globe but there is no such global outcry. Think over it.Recommend

  • De

    Why not the same reaction and anger when our kids and their families die in drone attacks? Aren’t they also innocent like Malala Yousufzai? What makes people write so many articles, makes the govt send helicopters etc for Malala but not for the innocent children who are killed by drone strikes?When people like u support drone strikes, what’s the difference between u and those who don’t do anything against the Taleban ? Eventhough the Afghan Taleban are not the Pakistani Taleban and the religious parties are supportive of the Afghan Taleban, not the latter.
    However, just because Malala spoke against the Taleban, she should be cared for, but others who are killed by foreign forces, why shouldn’t they be cared for?
    Malala is as innocent and precious like the other children in the Tribal Areas! But what about the others?! Isn’t this hypocrisy?!!Recommend

  • Jamshed

    get out of this war and then fight against them .. don’t be hypocrite u cant win war against taliban when after every operation u send bill to USA and ask for reimbursement .. Recommend

  • http://salmanzq.blogspot.com salman

    @Sirat Ullah Shah: There is nothing mysterious. These people are cowards and barbarians. Wake up and smell the coffee or lassi or whatever it is that will make you use your brains again. Not bravery to stand up and write against these morons? You sicken me.
    To the Author: what do you want us to do? Go out on the streets and cause the same havoc as the mobs did a few weeks ago? The reason there’s no angry thrashing on the roads and burning of tyres is because sane people don’t see how that would help the situation. There is a remarkable outcry from people in the country and our leaders have spoken against it and are providing what they can to our hero. What else can one do? Go out and shoot these bearded monsters? And become monsters ourselves? We have the keyboard and we are typing against it. If you think there is something specific we should be doing, please do state it.Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    Okay, we are quick to ban YouTube and destroy the country over a film, but we remain silent over Malala’s shooting. Let us hope she survives.Recommend

  • Ali

    It is common technique used by bloggers and online marketers to use disparaging and curiosity driven headlines simply to attract readers. I for one didn’t even bother to read the content in the article.

    What a shame!Recommend

  • Jordan

    @Author

    And yet your blog is published in a liberal leaning newspaper where you are very likely to receive favourable replies. Send it to the hard-right publications, the religious-conservative type publications and then have a go at your fellow countrymen, sorry country-people, for not doing enough to protest these outrages. Lead from the front!Recommend

  • Jab

    u r gonna get a job at Fox news!Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    @Jordan: Please take a look at Sirat Ullah Shah’s reply. I did send the same article in Urdu to an Urdu magazine but they didn’t publish it. Is censorship my fault?

    @Ali: the heading was written by the tribune blog editors. this was not my heading.

    @Jamshed: I have nothing to do with the USA. And by writing about such issues I AM TAKING ACTION. People reading this will hopefully start thinking about these issues instead of ignoring them. I am writing to Urdu newspapers too, but they have not printed anything as yet.

    @Sirat ullah Shah: I do not deny that heinous crimes are committed everywhere in the world. There is crime and cruelty in every place.

    But this does not mean that as Pakistanis we should act like ‘Oh it happens everywhere, lets just shut up and sit around.’ Why should I, as a Pakistani, be bothered about crimes in the USA? I don’t live there, I live in Pakistan. And as a Pakistani it is my right and responsibility to try and speak out against injustice in my country.
    And NOWHERE in this piece do I deny that there are crimes and injustices against men as well. I only focused on the female aspect because of the shocking events recently.

    Here I am saying that we should DO something- or at least start thinking of what to do and how to go about it to stop crime and injustice—that includes women, MEN, children, old people, minorities, the handicapped, animals and plants and anyone/thing affected by this violence and injustice–everyone!!!

    De: How is this hypocrisy? I feel the same way. People and children killed by drones is also injustice- it is just as heinous and wrong. I wrote a number of articles on that topic as well but the papers I sent them to didn’t print them. That does not mean that I am a hypocrite. If I speak up against one form injustice, I naturally feel opposed to all injustice.

    Getting rid of monsters such as the taliban will help us stop the stupid american government from killing our innocent people too.Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    @Salman:

    No Salman i am not saying ‘go wreak havoc’. I am saying don’t remain silent.

    Spread awareness to those around you, to the masses. Pass around flyers in urdu and english telling people that killing children is NOT the way of God, and that these men are liars, not saviours.

    Create the right sentiments so that even the most vulnerable in the masses know the truth and know how to reject these false guardians of Islam. If these people lose their following/support, they will be useless.

    Send in articles to papers in urdu and english- don’t let the word die down!

    Send petition after petition to the government to negotiate the end of drone attacks on our people so that innocent lives are saved and the taliban have no justification. Never give up. Get others involved too. Push the government till they have no choice but to do something good for a change.

    Send in messages to be telecast on the radio in Urdu.

    Become teachers in madrassa or mosques and deliver God’s message of truth and justice so that people cannot be brainwashed into killing.

    Introduce awareness and tolerance in schools.

    If we stand united as a nation in God’s way, we will surely defeat the evils of injustice.Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Brothers and sisters, before we bandy around such West-touted orientalist labels as ‘religious fanatics’ here please consider that Islam does NOT preach extremism. Islam is the very essence of moderation and rationalism. The greater fanatism is to describe the criminal acts of a handful as ‘religious’ or ‘Islam-inspired’ acts. We should more properly be looking at economic and other socio-historical factors. Also keep in mind that South Asian culture is generally regressive, intolerant, extremist, and violent. In absolutely no way has any of this anything to do with ‘religion’ here.

    It would be very sad if our Muslim brothers and sisters bought this unIslamic propaganda over one incident which has not been fully investigated and understood yet.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    Pakistanis did not feel anything when they supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, who ended up doing similar things there to Afghan women. Why should they care now?

    Are you saying Afghan women don’t matter but Pakistani ones do? Isn’t that hypocrisy? How can you address this problem when you ignore the realities which created it?Recommend

  • saleem

    @De:Please open your mind you think malala is sending the drone??? be brave and do some thing against drones not against a small girl,don,t be scared of her speech! by the way these drone attacks are also because these cowrds are hiding in our country like mouses. Recommend

  • Apostate

    Unfortunately religion is on the side of barbarians.
    And this country is too religious to allow feminist like you to have any real voiceRecommend

  • Parvez

    You are one hundered percent correct in what you say and suggest.
    I see this incident as another step ‘forwards’ as a test case by the criminal elements operating under the camouflage of religion and using anti-American rhetoric to sway a people who are easy prey, as they are demoralised by a regime that has given then nothing but misery over many, many years. The religious self-righteous talking heads on TV, are already making the right noises but doing nothing practical to address the intollerance spreading, not realising that this fire will consume them as well. Recommend

  • Guest

    “Feminism to most people seems to mean an aggressive, narrow minded, anti-men approach to life that encourages individuals to campaign for female supremacy.”

    Feminism IS an evil, close-minded, bigoted, anti-male approach to the world which encourages women and, ironically, men to lie like alley cats for false female supremacy. Feminists will always be tarred with the reality of the ‘F’ word as long as feminism is an evil anti-male ideology. For that reason, it isn’t wise to bring feminisms into discussions about this young woman’s shooting.

    Murder is a human problem. While no one wants to see young women shot, the reality is that young men are murdered in the thousands for doing what this young woman did. It’s time for violence against men which is 20x that of women get it’s time in the sun before we go all hysterical over the shooting of one admittedly brave young woman.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @De: Why not the same reaction and anger when our kids and their families die in drone attacks?

    Do you see the difference when talibans shoot a girl in the head and when a drone missile is dropped to kill a known terrorist and accidentally kills people in the surrounding area?

    Why don’t you take about Muslims killing other Muslims in mosques, funerals and markets? What about Shias and Ahmadis being killed by Sunnis? Kids also die when suicide bombers attack targets in Pakistan. How many times you have read in a NEWS that why suicide bombers are killing kids,

    What reaction Pakistanis had when Pakistani army killed 3 million people in Bangladesh?

    This poor girl did nothing and was shot by talibans in the name of religion.

    When a terrorist gets hit in drone strike, i bet some Pakistani gets few million dollars bounty money?

    Lot of Pakistanis are making millions of dollars by the presence of US and NATO troops. Even talibans are making good money by providing security to NATO/US supplies.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @salman: Go out on the streets and cause the same havoc as the mobs did a few weeks ago

    Go out on the streets and demonstrate against all militant organizations. Attack militant training centers, A million man non-violent march demonstrating against militants will force government to stop playing a double role and seriously fight terrorism.

    Pakistan created talibans in the name of Islam. Pakistan has been playing taliban in Afghanistan for over 20 years now. Just imagine what Afghanis are going thru during the last 20 or so years.Recommend

  • taboo

    THE attack on MALALA is the attack on peace missionRecommend

  • http://londonersconsultants.co.uk/ frank zujtya

    Murder is a human problem.
    men to lie like alley cats for false female supremacy. Feminists will always be tarred with the reality of the ‘F’ word as long as feminism is an evil anti-male ideology. For that reason, it isn’t wise to bring feminisms into discussions about this young woman’s shooting.
    violent march demonstrating against militants will force government to stop playing a double role and seriously fight terrorism. why suicide bombers are killing kids,
    study in ukRecommend

  • Zalim Singh

    even people who are protesting are totally masked.Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    @Guest:

    Have you really read the blog at all? There are millions of kinds of Feminism; black feminism, islamic feminism, economic feminism, political feminism etc.

    what did i state in the very beginning?

    “a feminist in the sense of the word that one should campaign for the rights of women and children in this sordid world we live in and that one should cease to be indifferent to the atrocities and suffering around us”
    there are numerous other feminists who follow this ideology instead of the strange bigoted one you seem to have experienced.

    you dont seem too found of feminism, but what option is there other than allowing one’s self to be oppressed and degraded in the face of patriarchy? think about it before you start condemning.

    Yes murder is a human problem, but why did the taliban target GIRLS schools? Why did the hunt done school going GIRLS in particular for allegedly spreading “secularism”? This was in part because they WERE GIRLS- hence it is a feminist problem too.

    this is argued extremely well at the following: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/10/malala-yousafzai-taliban-misogynyRecommend

  • Humanity

    @kaalchakra:

    A wolf can hide in a sheep’s skin for only so long. The name “kaalchakra” exposes you in an instance.Recommend

  • Arthur Zobo

    @ Sirat ullah Shah and De: What kind of humans may you be?You compare drone attacks to the shooting of an innocent angelic girl who the whole world is championing.I have come across many heartless beasts that go around in the garb of humans but your temerity beats all.Can’t you see that the WHOLE NATION for once is praying and standing behind Malala_ her courage against those savages called the Talibans has cut across the Religious divide.Only the outrageously demented are silent.Let me tell you this:drone attacks have taken out some of the deadliest terrorists and you as a Pakistani should acknowledge thistrue that there is collateral damage but then if you lend your dwellings to terrorists as hideouts then are the drones to blame?If you do not have the moral fortitude to condemn the talibans because you’re too chicken to do it then at least keep quiet.Malala needs our prayers and Yes,prayers of all Faiths as has been demonstrated.I salute this bravest person of Pakistan and one who has ignited Hope.God! she cannot be allowed to die,it just would not be fair. Recommend

  • Paki Existentialist

    @ Anoop,
    Rightly said. It was equally wrong when afghani women were allowed to be persecuted by these brainless blockheads called Taliban.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @kaalchakra: It would be very sad if our Muslim brothers and sisters bought this unIslamic propaganda over one incident which has not been fully investigated and understood yet.

    What if talibans has shot your 14 year old daughter? Would you want no one to talk about the incidence. People like you are as bad as terrorists who kill. Recommend

  • http://salmanzq.blogspot.com/ Salman

    @Insaan: and Leila Rage – agree with your ideas. I have wondered for a while now that it is the Urdu speaking crowd that we need to reach out to and change their minds. How we’re going to get mass reach is the difficult bit considering none of our urdu papers will publish our opinions. If there are urdu pieces of this translation and other such write-ups, I would be happy to share (you can inbox me!) Recommend

  • Raj Kafir

    @Anoop: Very intellectual assessment. If one percent of the ET readers agree with you, you have made a difference. Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    The violence against Malala is a human tragedy and is neither related to religion nor to the political spectrum of Pakistan. The key factor of destabilisation in the state of Swat and the involvement of external forces as well as Pakistan military are taking tolls of the innocent Swat residence when they get caught between the crossfire of the opposing forces. The yousafzais are the opaque emeralds of swat and Malala shall nevr be forgotten.

    The Govt of pakhtunkhawa should rescind the power of the federal Govt. allowing unrestricted foreign peoples entry into Swat.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    Arthur Zobo,

    Respect and respect is the first order of a civil communication. Violence can under no irumstances be justified !! The killings of children by Obama, the great Satan of all times is illegal, inhuman and extrajudicial murder, and cannot be justified by human or heavely justice.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Rex Minor

    Insaan,

    Do you find it difficult to comprehend Kaalchakra plain english? Prudence is neede at the time of a tragedy such as that what occured to Malala; no one should blame the religion of Islam for the deeds of lunatic muslms and no one should blame christianity for the crimes which the USA is committing in Afghanistan and in the autonomous territory of the Pashtun land.

    Rex Minor Recommend

  • Leila Rage

    Rex Minor: No one is blaming Islam. We are blaming the Taliban, who have nothing to do with Islam as we know it.Recommend

  • Ali

    and it is this pakistan that you want us kashmiris to join

    no way Recommend

  • Riposte

    I applaud you for speaking up Leila. I agree with your view point a hundred percent. Though it saddens me to point out this country and most of its people are too primitive to understand the concept of feminism or even realize that Islam was the first religion to truly give women rights and protection. As far as the issue about drone attacks is concerned and heinous crimes is American or Afghanistan as so many unenlightened people have pointed out before me. I’d like to say its depressing to read your point of views, depressing to think that so many educated people could be so illiterate.
    1. Like Leila said problems or crimes in America are not of our concern, your fellow country men live here n die here, so worry about where you are, if you feel a need to compare then compare the justice system because unless you’ve failed to notice theirs works a lot better than ours.
    2. No one especially the author condoned drone attacks, this article addressed a specific issue so stop referring to things that its not based on. Unless you know the author personally or stalk her you can’t know what she has or hasn’t written about or where it has been published.
    3. Lastly the issues of Afghanistan and the people dying there. Its great to stand up for wrongs being done to people, admirable even, amazing if you can stop it or defend against it. However, if your own house is burning down around you and your own people burning in it, save them first. You are not a hero if you skip over them just because hey they guy next door has a burn too.
    For all those up there who agree with this author, thank you because you give me some hope for this country. And for all you haters out there, I am a Muslim, I believe in the perfection of Islam, I believe it stands for peace and Extremists have never known nor will they ever understand what this religion stands for and they sure as hell don’t represent it.Recommend

  • Insaan

    @kaalchakra: “Islam is the very essence of moderation and rationalism. The greater fanatism is to describe the criminal acts of a handful as ‘religious’ or ‘Islam-inspired’ acts.”

    Islam is a way of life. How Muslims live their lives in MUSLIM MAJORITY countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan is Islam in practice. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Leila Rage:
    In this video talibans try to justify attack on Malala.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu8NyLeMCbcRecommend