Pakistan: Where Dr Aafia Siddiqui is a hero and Malala, a villain

Published: July 18, 2013

Dr Aafia Siddiqui accomplished nothing for Pakistan but we love her. Malala was shot and continues to fight for our nation but is still disliked by Pakistanis.

He bravely stood up against a confusing blasphemy law that was often misused to target minorities, yet after his assassination, we indulged in the irrelevant details of Salmaan Taseer’s private life, while showering his killer, Mumtaz Qadri, with rose petals. Perhaps learning of Salmaan Taseer’s ‘westernised’ lifestyle helped us vilify him as a puppet of the west, and relieved us of any guilt.

Yes, we are Pakistan – a nation with confused priorities.

We are a nation where Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan is hailed as a hero who singlehandedly brought nuclear capability to the country, yet we barely acknowledge the murky details of his alleged sale of state secrets, and pass off the criticism levelled by his fellow theorists, such as Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, as mere jealousy.

At the same time we completely ignore the astronomical contributions of Mohammad Abdus Salam, the first Nobel Prize winner of Pakistani origin in physics, who was forced to leave the country because he was part of the Ahmadiyya Community. Even in death, we allowed him no peace, where through court orders, the epitaph on his tomb in Pakistan was edited to remove the word ‘Muslim’ from, ‘First Muslim Nobel Laureate’. Somewhat amusingly, this changed the overall meaning of the text on his tomb to first ‘Nobel Laureate ever’, which is obviously incorrect.

Then, there is the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, whom we support without question. Let’s ignore the forensic evidence against her, as well the bomb manufacturing documents found in her possession, because let’s admit it, in the age of Edward Snowden, nothing can be taken at face value.

But what of the testimonial to The News from her own ex-husband? Anesthesiologist Dr Amjad Mohammed Khan, divorced Aafia because he found her to be violent, manipulative, and on the path to terrorism,

“I was aware of Aafia’s violent personality and extremist views and suspected her involvement in Jihadi activities.”

Later, Dr Aafia is said to have married the nephew of alleged al Qaeda leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Ammar al Baluchi, a man said to have conspired in the 9/11 attacks. While her family denies these allegations, the statements of her own husband, a man with whom she had three children, supports views that Dr Aafia Siddiqui was an extremist sympathiser, who lost sight of her own family,

“I feared Aafia might pursue her political ambitions to the detriment of our children’s welfare.”

Yet, whenever there is a rally organised for Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s release, we come out in droves to support her, buying into the sympathetic image our politicians feed us in order to earn votes. Admittedly, my favoured party’s leader, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) head Imran Khan, in whose favour I have written many positive columns, has marketed Dr Aafia Siddiqui’s release for PTI’s political gain.

The irony is that while the Pakistani public doesn’t question the marketing done to create favour for the incarcerated Dr Siddiqui, they level all sorts of accusations at Malala Yousafzai. On the one hand you have Dr Siddiqui, who hasn’t accomplished anything for the nation, and stands accused by her own ex-husband, and on the other hand you have a young lady, who according to her own father, is using the fame with which she is uncomfortable with, to fight for the rights of young women worldwide.

I don’t know about you, but at the age of 16, I had enough worries at school. I am quite sure I didn’t have to, oh I don’t know… take on extremists, or survive a horrific gunshot to the head!

As this comic beautifully illustrates, Malala miraculously overcame several challenges to return to her education. Yes, like any normal teenager, Malala has the right to dread going to school for reasons other than assassination.

On her 16th birthday, with her life already a household tale, Malala delivered a speech at the United Nations at New York with countless watching on their television sets across the world.

And it was marvellous.

At several points I found myself blinking away tears as Malala’s beautifully spoken words expressed defiance, compassion, sorrow, and a great level of maturity. In 20 minutes, Malala helped distance the international image of both Islam and Pakistan from the radical elements, easing the cobwebs from the minds of so many disillusioned with our part of the world.

As it turns out, Malala’s challenges in Pakistan aren’t only limited to the fundamentalists, but she also has to face the hatred of her own public. I realise hatred is a strong word, and it is one I use after careful consideration.

Minutes after her historic speech, Pakistan’s social media platforms were full of comments accusing Malala of being a foreign agent who was using an orchestrated story. Disgustingly, several posts left on The Express Tribune news links on Facebook were full of sexually explicit insults.

Later, like clockwork, propaganda against Malala began spreading on social media in the shape of doctored images with text spreading hatred against Malala.

An immediately noticeable pattern amongst the written negativity against Malala was the atrocious wording of these diatribes, featuring the spelling and grammar skills of a child. Considering that Malala is fighting for education, it is more than a little ironic that her most vocal detractors, the Pakistani keyboard warriors, probably also need to go back to school.

Here is one of the few social media images created in favour of Malala, and something that inspired this blog:

Interestingly enough, Malala’s speech was almost completely ignored by the nation’s politicians, who were perhaps afraid of publicly praising such a contentious figure.

Disappointed by the lack of appreciation for Malala from PTI, I tweeted to Imran Khan in frustration:

Later, silencing the vocal Insafians who were criticising the young activist, Imran Khan became of the few politicians in Pakistan to acknowledge her bravery:

But as to why the Pakistani public dislikes Malala Yousafzai, the answer may lie in the fact that the young girl, who is seemingly more confident, articulate, and literate than so many of us, sparks a level of jealousy, especially with the young and insecure male population. Her support from the mistrusted western governments may create further animosity, satisfying the weak minds of those looking to rely on the crutch of a conspiracy theory, in order to comprehend an extraordinary story that their minds fail to accept.

On the other hand, the west loves her, because her story, as authentic as it is, plays to them. It alleviates their guilt for drone attacks, which they, by publicising Malala, can argue as being a necessary evil. We, on the other hand, support Dr Aafia Siddiqui, because her tale of persecution by the evil western powers plays to our sentiments.

There was a Pakistani lady similar to Malala, who was confident, intelligent, well spoken, had support from Western powers, and was also targeted by the Taliban. Yet, whenever Benazir Bhutto took to the streets, we followed in support. Perhaps our love for Malala will also flow one day.

Whom do you consider a real hero?

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Read more by Noman here or follow him on Twitter @Pugnate

Noman Ansari

Noman Ansari

The author is the editor-in-chief of IGN Pakistan, and has been reviewing films and writing opinion pieces for The Express Tribune as well as Dawn for five years. He tweets as @Pugnate (

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

  • Shah (Berlin)

    Extremely well written….I dont get Pakistani public some times ..we really are one of the most confused nation in the world…..Recommend

  • sars

    So in short, whatever the nation as a whole agrees to is usually wrong.
    Do the exact opposite and we may end up going somewhere.Recommend

  • Sajid

    Nice article. Iqbal Masih is another real-life child star of Pakistan, who was also accussed of being a puppet of the so-called west in his life, mourned at his early assassination (aged 12) and convenienty forgotten.. perhaps because he reminds us of our dark side.

    I can only hope that Malala lives to realize her true potential and that her haters too live long enough to appreciate the positive impact her efforts will have on this country.Recommend

  • Faiza

    ‘Hero’ is a very subjective word. Hero for one can be the villain to another and vice versa. I only know that as a nation we give our hearts to damsels-in-distress which sadly Dr. Aafia is in this case. Malala has come out as a brave young girl who has found international support while Dr. Aafia is still waiting for justice without any influential backing. So naturally people are more inclined towards her.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Dear Author- is your analysing power totally nil?

    People sympathise with Dr Afia because of her immense suffering for over 10 years and its still ongoing! Malala on the other hand has been made a celebrity by the western powers/media and hence people are suspicious of her being a pawn. For your knowledge, thousands of people have been killed and crippled in pakistan in the violence in recent years, but the west has no interest in them but it focuses to promote Malala. so our suspicion is further increased at this disparity. Got this simple logic?

    finally as per the poll 85% of ET readers consider Malala to be a hero, further confirming that ET readers are probably all ‘pakistanis in color but westerners in thinking’ Recommend

  • Mani Khawaja

    Dude great article! I was thinking of writing a blog on the very same topic, but you’ve done it far more eloquently. Spoke my mind exactly!Recommend

  • NA

    We all agree Malala is a hero but I don’t understand wht makes u cast Afia as a villain…Her past seems to be a if we can’t say that she is innocent we can’t also label her as a “villain”!
    And as for her ex-husband testifying abt her violent temper..You seariously thk that her or anyone’s ex for that matter wld have anything nice to say say abt their ex-spouse…?
    Moreover I thk ppl sympathise with Afia because every “villain” has the right to see her/ his family…which Afia has been denied…The evidence against her it’s murky….Declan Walsh in his article about her says he can’t figure out how a woman weighing 40kg cld overpower a solider twice her size….
    I am not in any way supporting Afias but let’s be impartial…Malala is a hero and we are all proud of her but don’t yet cast Afia as a “villain”…Recommend

  • Rizvi

    Benazir was no doubt intelligent.Recommend

  • Water Bottle

    Good one Noman.

    “So in short, whatever the nation as a whole agrees to is usually wrong.
    Do the exact opposite and we may end up going somewhere.”

    Absolutely yes.

    I have mentioned this many a times that everything in Pakistan is backwards. Almost everything.

    So, you should make your policy exactly opposite to your majority beliefs.

    Let’s examine them :

    Snatching of kashmir from India. (do the opposite)

    War with India. (do the opposite)

    Talks with Taliban. (do the opposite)

    Spend more on defence. (do the opposite)

    Spend less on education. (do the opposite)

    Friendfhip with China. (Ahem…ahem!)

    Enmity with USA (do the opposite)

    Bring Taliban back to power in Afghanistan (do the opposite)Recommend

  • Usman

    We are an amazing nation: not embarrassed on the bad name Taliban brings to Pakistan but upset over the treatment Malala r…Recommend

  • Ahmed

    The Blasphemy Law is not outdated. It’s just misused. Please go read about it. It’s not for targeting minorities. It’s for something else. Much bigger than any other crime. Please do read about it .

    Abdus Salam being the smartest Pakistani is highly debateable. No one defaced his grave. They just set things right.

    If you don’t know “really” about Miss Afia Sadiqui then please stop talking about her.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari


    Thank you for reading and your feedback. :) As for Aafia, I didn’t use the word ‘villain’ for her? Recommend

  • Nandita.

    Dear ET,
    The question at the end of the blog – who do you consider a real hero – should ideally be followed by 4 options : a) Malala b)Aafia c) Both d) None

    I think you guys should add option d.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    You have penned many blogs in ET, this is the one I most agree with. Pakistanis are a confused lot, they carry lot of emotional baggage.Recommend

  • saif ali siddiqui

    This is from the letter to mala by adnan rasheed.Read these two paragraphs and try to make an analysis…..u must not make a hero villain category to decide the winner among the two sisters.This is how goras or gora biased ppl make us confused and stupid.
    ”You say Malala Day is not your day, it is the day of every person who has raised voice for their rights, I ask you why such a day in not assigned to Rachel Corrie, only because the bulldozer was Israeli? Why such a day in not assigned to Afia Siddiqa because the buyers are Americans? Why such day is not assigned to Faizan and Faheem because the killer was Raymond Davis? Why such a day in not assigned to those 16 innocent Afghan women and children who were shot dead by an American Robert Bales because he was not a Talib.

    I ask you and be honest in reply, if you were shot but Americans in a drone attack, would world have ever heard updates on your medical status? Would you be called ‘daughter of the nation’? Would the media make a fuss about you? Would General Kayani have come to visit you and would the world media be constantly reporting on you? Would you be called to U.N.? Would a Malala Day be announced? More than 300 innocent women and children have been killed in drones attacks but who cares because attackers are highly educated, non-violent, peaceful Americans.Recommend

  • Effendi

    Excellent piece Noman!Recommend

  • Dr Dang

    @Author Noman Ansari : Great Job Noman
    Just wish nothing happens to writers like you who think straight.Watch your back.Recommend

  • Mj

    So great to finally see a well reasoned blog in quite some time.Recommend

  • LMAO Man


    i I thought the author was trying to draw attention to the fact that popular support in our country seems to be behind people about whom very little is known, yet what seems to attract the masses behind these people is their defiance towards the Western nations in-spite of their shady, and in extreme cases, outright anarchistic behaviour.

    The author hints at the murky issue surrounding Aafia Siddiqui. He never calls her a villain outright because we don’t know enough. However, Malala is being treated as villain by half the people in our country when the fact is, as you said, she stands up for ideals and principles that must be protected in order to preserve our liberty.Recommend

  • Saeed Khan

    Do you guys believe that 9/11 is planned by Muslims?
    You guys must be out of mind those who think that 9/11 is planned by Muslims.Recommend

  • afzaalkhan

    If you are on right side you don’t need lies to support your argument. Reading liberal article I am convinced no difference between TTP/LeJ and liberals and Pak needs to get rid of both of them like this author, Lie as much as you want it won’t change the facts Recommend

  • naveed

    malala earned fame not because of her accomplishments but because of overstating of the facts by her sponsers……and because the bullet which got into her head was from taliban’s gun……what about the children who are hit by bombs from US drones and children who are killed by bullets which american soldiers spray just for fun….
    p.s im not pro taliban or aafiaRecommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Male chauvinism, medieval ideology and hate for the Kafir are the reasons for what you are observing. That the State has been a key player in creating this mindset is very obvious when it decided to spend precious resources in defending Dr Aafia. Is it not obvious where the problem lies and why rooting out this problem will be a herculean task.Recommend

  • afzaalkhan

    Does the author even know US govt didn’t charge Afia with any terrorism related charges? Shouldn’t the author be charged for defamation and inciting violence? Recommend

  • akb


    you based yr assessment of afia on her ‘personal life’ but you hail personal indignity of Taseer. You say Afia did nothing fr her nation..the same is true abt a flop teacher Hoodbhoy who did not even pruduce a single P.HD in his entire sickly career.
    Qadeer sold secrets at the orders of govt……
    Malala is a ‘puppet’ in the hands of vested foreign n local interest …..she proved to be so much before she was shot at by appearing in tv adverts n being patronized by foreign big guns. Read Farzana versi’s recent article on Malala,,, enlightenment.
    As regards ‘personal life’ , you can’t go raping, boozing,bullshitting n eating pork in public most of which is Muslim. The rule is ‘when in Rome do as the Roman’s do!!Recommend

  • Sana

    Pathetic article!!!

    There is no comparison between aafia siddiqui and malala. Aafia siddiqui is someone who has paid the price of being pakistani every second. who has been brutally tortured, sexually abused,raped and beaten with rifle butts through out her life and here we are comparing her with a teenager who was targeted by so called talibans once .. only ‘once’ … how can we, the pakistanis, can be so mean to forget so easily that aafia siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years in prison? I m not here to condemn malala. she is a brave girl but there are thousands of girls like her in Pakistan who deserve much more coverage than malala. why only her? the problem is, we are confused nation, we never use our own brain and start following the trend. ever channel is admiring the courageous acts of malala then why not us? every paper is writing about her then why not us? why cant we highlight those hidden faces who are not fortunate enough like malala to get such respect. ‘MUNNA LAHORI’ the famous charatcer from the play ainak wala jinn is nowadays fighting for the basic needs of his life. our legendary assets, our millitary soldiers are not even getting a single line coverage in any newspaper.. and here we are continuously repating the same character malala malala malala .. enough is enough .. we need to get out of this mythRecommend

  • Rana Usman

    It could have been the best blog on earth if it had a little more details on How many girls were attacked before Malala?

    Why does west makes hero out of people like gang rape victim as Mukhtaran Mai or Sharmin Chinoy, for acid attacks doc or Malala, who was shot for speaking against Taliban while, I say while we have more glorious youth icons, as we had Arifa Kareem once who never was given a chance to present herself at UN.

    Then we have this girl Mehak Gul who is a 12 years old chess Champ.

    Then we had sitara Akbar, all I want to say is, Pakistan has a lot more to show to the world than negativity.Recommend

  • citizen

    The problem is that the west is in the first place responsible for creating the situation we find our selves in where girls like Malala are shot just for wanting to have education. Their imperial adventures into the muslim countries have destroyed the social fabric of our societies. This is a crime from which they can not be absolved. A Malala supported by the same Gordon brown who voted for the Iraq war can not be viewed with the level of admiration she deserves. Unfortunately anything coming from the west, even if it comes in the form of an innocent little girl like Malala will be veiwed with suspicion and which is not without justification.Recommend

  • Ms. Farooqi

    Well written article. However you completely missed the plot as to why Pakistan hates her. i however would like to agree they are directing their hate towards a wrong person. yes her cause is appreciable but the attention she got was undue. there are many firls like her in Pakistan what got her highlight was her remarks and not struggle for education.

    Also I’d like you to be a little less biased towards Aafia Siddiqui. You are willing to take Malala’s father’s remarks as certificate of her struggle. But won’t take Aafia Siddiqui’s mother and sister’s remarks about her?

    Article seemed a bit biased. The issue coud’ve been approached with a bit mature approach.Recommend

  • mokh

    another pertinent article from this blogger-makes a change to hear from a level headed balanced PakistaniRecommend

  • A Pakistani

    A very tolerant comment which normally can’t be seen when anyone is comparing Malala and Afia. I normally don’t give comments on public stuff cuz people don’t behave while commenting but I think I can talk to a person like you. I don’t understand when people talk about Jihad and Afia; why do they forget that her jihad was her kids. She had absolutely no need to go and get herself involved in a war because then war has consequences which she is facing. If we strictly talk about Islam, it doesn’t ask women to go in a battle field and fight for the people. Secondly, she is a US citizen. Her government found her guilty and punished her. She has been denied the right to see her kids by her government. If our govt finds prohibited and dangerous stuff in a woman’s bag, they will punish the woman cuz she should be; for breaking our law.

    Now about the article; it’s very logical, simple, straight forward and crisp. Enjoyed reading it. Recommend

  • RizK

    No its not Malala that people hate, its the force behind Malala, who propelled her from no one to a “super star”. The person who has written the article doesnt know anything about the dignity, respect and honour. There are thousands of innocent people killed or maimed for life in drone strikes operated by US. Irony is that no ones write about them and highlight their plight. How about young school going children who have been deprived of school because they have lost their leg or another limb in drone strike? Who will write about them? When it is said that our media has become westernised it is 100% correct because we love those things which they portray as best. Would Malaka still hailed as hero if she hadnt been blessed with US or UN backing. I think not. Normal people of Pak are not confused. The real confused people are those who live in Pakistan but their hearts love Western ways of demonizing Islam.Recommend

  • haha

    Bhai jaan,

    Afia was abducted in the most un-ethical way. Do you support that?

    Whereas Malala has chosen this way at her will and enjoying every bit of her life abroad leaving all the ppl behind she has been fighting for.

    What a way to raise the voice. At least make sense on the ground reality. Don’t become yet another conspiracy theorist. We already have a lot of them.Recommend

  • Faqir Khan

    I support Malala, I support the right to education for all, I just cannot stand the hypocrisy of West and their puppet ruling elites from Mardan, Peshawar, Ixbd, Pindi, Lhr and Khi and media as they pick and choose, congratulating themselves for something that they have caused. Malala is the good native, she does not criticise the NATO Logistics Contracts, Extension, Western Political Backing and the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, US War $, she is the perfect candidate for the white man and their puppets in Mardan, Peshawar, Islamabad, Pindi, Lhr and Karachi to relieve them burden and save the Waziristan.

    The current main stream media sponsored narrative is to simply demonize Waziristan through Malalas. Painting them as a savage, beyond negotiating with, beyond engaging with, the only way to deal with this kind of savage is complete millitary control, road block for years, bombing, drone attacks, millitray operations, occupy and complete destruction. Pak Army, US Drones and NATO are bombing to save girls like Malala is the message here.

  • Faqir Khan

    There are thousands of other Malalas in Waziristan, victims of the US Drones, NATO, West, Pak Army, Taliban. But some how they are conveniently out of the main stream media Radar because they want to appease/silence their white-middle class guilt also known as the white man’s burden. Recommend

  • unbelievable

    Great blog. Bias seems to trump logic which might explain why real hero’s are ignored and terrorist, assassins, and nuclear proliferators are admired. Of course there is always the chance that Pakistani’s really admired the nefarious activities of these bogus hero’s – lets hope not.Recommend

  • analyst

    Do you even know the definition of a Muslim. Mr Salams contribution to science is great and we all respect that he was a Pakistani to receive a Nobel peace prize but the fact is a fact that he was not Muslim. If you consider Ahmadi’s Muslims who denounce the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) as the last Prophet. My friend you need to set your priorities right. Nothing against Ahmadis they have every right to live any where in this world and in Pakistan as well. But they are not Muslims. Please enlighten?Recommend

  • Doc bugs!

    This is very eloquently written. Well done. It is so depressing to see the hatred and accusations hurled at young malala by almost everyone I know, and those civil enough to not condemn her openly still do not support her in the least. I am actually saddened and angered by all my fb contacts. Not a single one who would support her. This country has seriously no future, because this is the educated middle class living in cities giving in to all sort of conspiracy theories. What would you say of the illeterate masses then!Recommend

  • Mansi

    It seems like your public really loves to pigeon hole themselves to a group rather than think on individual lines. They see people who hold the same political opinon as themselves as friends and others as enemies. Even if they do divide themselves, its a shame if you do not want to see the bad of your friends and the good of your enemies. Everything in this world is grey, you have to chaff the bad and good.

    I would really recommend you read the story of Mahabharath( it was written by your ancestors too afterall ), everything is grey and it is only a fine line of greed and jealousy that really differentiates why Dharma was on one side and not the other.Recommend

  • Commoner

    Pursuit of education should not be restricted to a certain gender.A girl going to school should never fear the fate Malala suffered. Malala ( as per what the media shows ) suffered the specified ordeal due to a group of people who are anti-imperialists.

    How are so sure that it was the same group of people who carried out the event, how are we so sure these people do not want women to educate themselves?.

    How many girls in the same country have suffered a fate that is explicable did we ever hear from them?. did we ever see them on TV, news etc etc.

    As mentioned by the writer Dr afia was divorced by her ex husband as she was turning violent. Is this enough to justify that she was turning Jihadi? even if she had anti-imperialist views which you would call that as having jihadi views?. Food for thought Jihad is a struggle for the faith and has nothing to do with suicide vests. It is difficult for us to come out of the matrix that we find our selves in. So if you find yourself at a junction where you are offered two pills please take the red one and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Recommend

  • Shahzad

    @NA The point is if you cannot even prove her innocence, then why ask the US for her release. Why risk supporting the wrong person?Recommend

  • Priest

    well said NA…well said…! thats all i gotta say about that.Recommend

  • Angel

    Amazing piece of writing and content! agree with every word. I dont think there is any hope for this confused nationRecommend

  • Shahid Ijaz

    You have pessimistically analyses collective behavior of people of Pakistan. They are not confused in their priorities, “simply priority of people of Pakistan is Religion.” The priority of “think tanks” like you is just “en-lighted moderation and education in which religion must not play any role.” They have make Mumtaz a hero, because they all were agreed with his ideology, near them he had kill culprit who was definitely not a culprit near you, but near them he was. They make abdusalam a villein because they considered him “more fool than clever.” Near people of Pakistan criteria of “judgment” is not Noble prize but the faith on which they are living !
    You were biased in making statement regarding “Aafia” you in very first comment had said, “no one knows who she is and what she did”—absolutely wrong ! we know who she is, she is Aafia. secondly as you said what she did! then definitely no one knows, and if no one knows what she did then we must not interpret her as a culprit. But you are not highlighting the “cruel” torture which is being raided against her. People of Pakistan are not raising the voice for her, they are raising the voice against the inhumane behavior which is being happened in terrorist jails of America ! which enlighten people like you are not highlighting.
    Thirdly is malala a villein ? we will deduce this from your own statement. You said, “taliban support Aafia so it is obvious she is important to them” Deductively “westerns support Malala it is obvious she is important to them” If UN is really unbiased in matter of education then why they ignored a lady who was shot with her, and the hundred of innocent child being killed by drone ! Why UN is silent on death of those innocent child, and not raising voice for their education, and even not released single statement ? Because they are not important to UN and westerns oriented… you !Recommend

  • Hamza

    I never knew (allegedly) marrying nephew of a terrorist is a crime..
    Taking quotes of “EX”-husband to prove your point. pity..Recommend

  • Still_Confused

    am i confused or you?
    Are you THE judge or blogger?
    I am still confused. We Pakistani are like a football for religions and liberal minds like youRecommend

  • Parvez

    Very well thought out and written, only a warped mind will find fault with what you have said.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Those who consider Dr. Aafia innocent and justify to fight for the daughter of the nation, then what about the countless Pakistanis suffering in jails across the globe, those stuck as emigrant labourers in the Middle Eastern countries, or young women and children who are trafficked from Pakistan to the rest of the world on a yearly basis, what about the Pakistanis imprisoned in Afghanistan, for that matter? Why doesn’t the Pakistani government or the political parties spend millions of tax payer’s money to help them come home? Sorry to say, but she is just a mere addition to the list of people who have maligned the ‘religion of peace’.
    Also, if we are to hold comparisons between Malala and the kids dying in drones (we all ought to condemn the indiscriminate killing that take place due to drones. All civilians being killed due to drones as a result of the US WoT is a blatant violation of human rights, as well as Pakistan’s sovereignty) But how can we hold comparisons between a mass butchery to the courage of one kid who dared to campaign for girls’ education, alone?
    Even if assume that the west is using her for propaganda, what message is she sending to the world? What good would the West derive out of female education in Pakistan? Would education liberate women from religion? If that is the case, then why did Aafia Siddiqui (the so-called, Islam’s warrior) went to pursue a degree at Brandeis University in the most Kaafir of all countries, the US?
    Then there are those who compare the Lal Masjid girls with Malala. I wholeheartedly condemn the way they were exterminated as it was not the solution, but come to think of it that though those girls stood up for a religious cause, their way of executing it was totally wrong. It incited more hatred for them than sympathy because no one likes to be compelled to conform to a certain version of religion. I am sure no one can term the Lal Masjid cause a humanitarian effort at all.
    All in all, it boils down to the point that Pakistani men cannot bear to see educated women because educated women are a threat to their male dominance. If women start speaking for, or start fighting for their rights, the males (and their supportive females) would not be able to exercise their power over the weak (i.e. women and children). Hence, be it Malala (who fought for education) or Veena Malik (who exposed her body to earn fame and give an ‘in your face’ response to the ghairat of all the Pakistanis), emancipated females would always be considered a threat to this fundamentally chauvinistic society, that disguises all its personal interests under the garb of religion or nationalism.

    P.S. I am totally against Veena Malik’s cheap publicity stunt.Recommend

  • Asif

    The point isn’t whether Aafia is a villain, but facts are that she is shrouded in far more nefarious series of events than Malala. Aafia may, after stretching our naivete to the limit, be considered a victim of a travesty of justice. But she can never in any sense of the word be considered a hero like Malala; getting involved in shady-spook business does not make you one.

    YET, despite all of that, we demonize Malala. But worship Aafia??Recommend

  • Ahmad

    We approve of malala but you cant run away from the country whenever you life is under threat.

    Plus she should come back to her homeland. If the government of Pakistan cant protect its own citizens then we should address it instead of running away to another foreign country and become a poster child.

    Comparing two different women in two different scenarios isn’t sage. What dr Afia went through is something no human being should. As far as an ex-husband’s statement is concerned there is a reason why he is an ex and really not authentic. Recommend

  • pakistani muslim

    Since she left pakistan there is no news of bombing any school or kids stoped going to school. But there is always news these many kids killed in drone attack. Why? Well my sister go to school every day. No body stop her…What do you want to project really? I can’t stop laughing…..lolzzzzz

    U seems to me …… sorry to say….Recommend

  • huma iftkhar

    Its just a supporting blog to malala nothing else Recommend

  • Saira


    Why are u promoting urself by including your tweets in the blog. Recommend

  • Hasan

    Last Friday was the day when I was flying high with pride of being Pakistani and then came crashing to the ground, after reading the scandalous remarks on FB. Malala at the age of 16 delivered a speech that I would find difficult to deliver now at 25 yrs old. She has immense leadership qualities and should be our future prime minister.

    Whenever people here in the West, specially women comment that women in Pakistan are suppressed and that we, men, are chauvinists, all I have to do is point to Benazir and Malala to show them that our women are tigresses! Head high Malala!Recommend

  • Qureshi

    Great article, well written. But you and every person who seems to write on Malala forget to mention that there was another girl who was also with her, what about her she was also injured there was no news on here !Recommend

  • Researcher

    Noman ,
    why do you think most Pakistanis don’t see the issues you have highlighted from the same angle as you see them?

    It is understandable that the rural uneducated masses may be swayed by local religious leaders and the local language press.

    But for the Urban elite :
    – Do most educated urban cosmopolitan Pakistanis share your viewpoint?
    – If not, are they also swayed by what they see in the media?
    – Or is it part of the general education process which always makes them think in terms of conspiracies and mistrust of outsiders?

    thanks for a well put article!Recommend

  • safeer ahmad

    Noman Ansari sb, why have you yourself assumed that ONE or BOTH might be heroes. For me one is minor who has been sabotaged by her own state and handed over to others for heroism, but has nothing valid to say IN FAVOUR of Pakistan; the other thinks men are too incompetent to look after the county’s interests across the border, so she decided to enter Pathan Territory, and Pathan’s are the most rigid in upholding their honour for their ladies, in the process got to face brute men.

    For me both are misconceived. Recommend

  • Salman Asghar

    very well elaborated article regarding Malal Yousafzai…although i ll not agree with the complete content of the article specially from Dr AQ khan portion and some what from Dr Afia’s portion as well. Dr AQ khan is no doubt a hero…please don’t spread such news…our nation is full of dumb sheep and ignorant with very good capabilities to follow mob. we start following any news without knowing the basic facts!Recommend

  • unbelievable


    We all agree Malala is a hero but I
    don’t understand wht makes u cast Afia
    as a villain…

    Why not – she had a public trial where Pakistan spent $2 million on her defense and she was found guilty. By all accounts the prosecutor shredded her testimony proving she was both a bigot and a bald face liar. This person deserves no sympathy and should be held as an example of someone who was granted extraordinary gifts which she wasted. She was an intelligent minority qualifying her for an American taxpayer funded scholarship to MIT where she obtained a PHD – in hindsight that scholarship might have gone to a more deserving Pakistani who would have returned home and used that degree to help her family and Pakistan.Recommend

  • Jawad Khan

    what a stupid article written by a pseudo liberal. Get out of Pakistan!Recommend

  • Mushtaq Jan

    Malala stood in her determination for the education of women in the face of threat against her life. They destroyed her school but she continued the lessons on the debris with her friends , while under threat, promoting education for all children, especially girls. She is real hero.
    Dr. Aafia Siddiqui? On what basis? Because many Al Qaeda and Taliban militants want Dr. Aafia Siddiqui back against the ransome of kidnapped foreigners. Should we hail her as a hero because she was an instrument in the hands of Taliban or that she is in US jail Or that she took the path of killing people while setting aside her noble profession of saving people.??? Malala is our real hero and because of the gilrs like her that this nation is breathing some air.Recommend

  • AniS

    Excellent piece of writing. True and well expressed. Kudos to the writer!Recommend

  • Muhammad Ateeq Ur Rehman Malik Advocate

    Extremely well written….I dont get Pakistani public
    some times ..we really are one of the most confused
    nation in the world…..Recommend

  • Umer

    Well done for writing this highly articulate and intellectual piece. You are very modern, open minded and educated. – nowadays you get all of this by insulting and shaming your country, which you have just done. Recommend

  • jagjit sidhoo

    Logical as usual Noman Recommend

  • Omer

    Well written I have exactly the same perception in mind and wanted to write something on it for a long time one tiny detail that you forgot to mention is that Afia’s mamoo mr. farooqui has stated in one of his articles that he met afia in 2006 and she wanted money to arrangement for her to go back to afghanistan with her children. God help our nation a confused and extreamist trend is now a part and parcel of our society thanks to Tsunami Khan and his merry men Recommend

  • Adil Uddin

    Actually haters of Imran Khan want to use Malala Yousafzai in every possible way against the leader. They desperately want Malala to say something negative against IK so that the future of PTI gets damaged. I am also an admirer of IK and would like to tell that despite the appreciation showed by him towards Malala even PTI supporters are divided between critics and fans of the teenager.

    The reason why many people resorted to abusive language against Malala is the following case from the past.

    Now hardly anyone knows where Nayirah lives these days but if she’s alive then I wonder how she feels about the fate of Iraqi people for past two decades. The way US invaded the land and murdered millions of people is the reason why there’s so much hatred, suspicion and agitation. Saddam Hussain was shown as the ultimate evil but he was definitely a way better administrator than Bush family and rest of Americans. Now you can see the present law and order situation in Iraq all thanks to US invasion.

    Even many Indians were trying to show their prejudice against Pakistan saying look how they treat women over there. Recommend

  • S Haider

    Repeated references to Afia’s husband’s views about her. A bit below the belt.Recommend

  • Tamur

    Dr. A.Q Khan did not singlehandedly bring nuclear technology to Pakistan. There were a number of people from PAEC including Mr. Munir Ahmed Khan and his team and other govt organisations who actually brought the technology to Pakistan. Please correct your information. ET please check your stories before publishing them on your site.Recommend

  • Insaan

    Malala has reached this point with the help of British government. She just came into lime light when some one known to her father asked to right a diary about her every day life in Pakistan. She was not fighting for anything. Talibans made her a hero.

    A few people including her father probably helped her write the speech.

    It is hard to know when Pakistanis tell the truth.

    I just saw a video on youtube about Kargil which gives details about what happened in Kargil. According to Journalist Najam Sethi, there was not even a single Mujhahideen or tribal in Kargil. All people dressed as tribal were Pakistani army soldiers.

    Pakistan played the same game at the time of partition when it sent army dressed as tribals

    Paki government supports Afia because see may know some secrets of ISI and terrorists connection.

    Why would US government pick an innocent Paki woman and put her prison? Why no Pakistan has tried to find about where Afia and her kids lived after she left USA,

    Her husband has no reason to lie..Recommend

  • Rizwan Javaid

    For God sake there is no any comparison between Dr Afia Saddique and Malala, Everyone knows Malala is being used as a tool to defame Taliban in whole world. USA has LOST the war in Afghanistan miserably, and now they are using these Sick and Rubbish tactic to use MEDIA to defame Taliban (their enemies).. she is being used by USA Recommend

  • john

    dont know about Pakistan, but ET bloggers are definitely confused.Recommend

  • Syed Owais Mukhtar

    Pakistan people are not confused they are clear about their heroes, if you are confused about Dr. Afia, same here, we do not trust Malala, if you think Dr. Afia have threads to Al Qaeda, we believe that Malala have clear threads to CIA. Salman Taseer is not our hero, please dont mention him as innocent, he said abusive words about Islam and Islamic law as Black law, yes Mumtaz Qadri is our hero, because he took revenge from the said person, if such so-called-innocents like Salman Taseer will be given immunity then someone has to take law in their hands.
    No one is jealous of Malala, what she did for Pakistan? Nothing, there are more women who are working for education why you never see women like Ayesha Syed from Sawat, who have many schools in Swat and the region names Baithak School Network. On the other hand when Malala got the chance to speak in front of world she talked about the Talibans as terrorist, but thinks Barak Obama the real big terrorist who killed thousands in drones in Pakistan as her hero.

    Pakistani nation is not confused we are clear about hero, who will do good for nation and Islam, they will be our hero, but if someone blame Islam and Pakistan, we hate them too.Recommend

  • http://gilgit SJ

    Thank you for bringing the hypocritical ideologies of Pakistanis we are really manipulative and confused nation, and follow wrong people blindly without reasoning. Recommend

  • Tamur

    @Syed Owais Mukhtar: you are clearly lost. Afia Siddiqui has proven to be an extremist time and time again but only lost people like you see her as a hero. Blasphemy law is not an Islamic law, it is man made propagated by mullahs and misused against minorities. Mumtaz Qadri should be hanged as a criminal as no one has the right to kill anyone even a Non-Muslim. No body blames Islam or Pakistan but we do blame people like you who have misinterpreted Islam and are promoting it as a religion of terror and violence.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari


    All of those girls were treated and released. I remember reading some had also been flown overseas for treatment. Here is an article stating they were back to school:

    I also saw on CNN one of the classmates who had been shot was sent overseas to visit Malala. I am guessing they are all OK. Recommend

  • Noman Ansari


    I didn’t use the word villain for Aaafia. The image in the center of the blog is an image I saw on Facebook, not something I, or someone from the ET staff created for this blog. It was created and shared on social media, and I found it interesting. Recommend

  • HS

    disgusted Recommend

  • Realist.

    Stop being extreme about your ideas. You can’t be completely sure that Afia is evil and Malala is innocent OR that Afia is innocent and Malala is evil. So much happens in this world everyday. People blow themselves up. What we as a nation need to stop doing is being naive and completely gullible about what the media tells us. Malala stands for something probably everyone in the world respects and desires for-education. But don’t be surprised if this 16 year old girl takes her mask off. We have become like goats and believe what suits our senses. This is politics- not a blame game!
    Get over it Pakistan. If everyone was so sure of themselves like you think you are- we’d have solved mysteries by now! Stop being so closed minded and don’t corner yourselves!

    Lastly, The evidence that you talk about, about Afia being a terrorist and Malala being some spy- ask yourselves- who finds this evidence? Recommend

  • Farhan Haq

    HAHA.. A totally confused and biased article my brother. Your basic idea for combining Abul Salam, MALALA, AFIA, QADRI is itself a failed argument. If you want to say we are confused then this article does not make sense. According to your article we should divide our people into two groups; 1) pro-islamists or extremist and 2) people who do not want to drag islam into everythings. Then your article will make sense. Secondly, there is no comparison of afia and malala. two different stories. Two different objectives. two different consequences. There no confusion regarding the people’s response. Its crystal clear. !! We have a religious divide. We have to solve it. ! we need unity.
    For malala I donot agree with you. Her speech in UN.. wearing shawl of Benazir.. Making obama her ideal and portraying infront of the whole world that every other girl in pakistan is targeted by taliban if she goes to school are rubbish… Still I donot know why there are people trying to pat her !!Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    @pakistani muslim:

    I must acutally laugh at you. Do you think 60% of Pakistanis can go to school…if yes than laugh at your self and advice ..please go to interior sindh or Balochisten etc etc….Pakistan is not Karachi Lahore and IslamabadRecommend

  • Yuri Kondratyuk

    @Shah (Berlin):

    I dont get Pakistani public some times
    ..we really are one of the most
    confused nation in the world…..

    Pakistani aren’t confused. They have a lot of clarity. It’s intelligence that they lack for the most part.
    It’s similar to sheep having a lot of clarity that they need to jump off a cliff one after another!Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    @Farhan Haq:

    I dont think tht the author is confused: I think you are more confused. The author gave his Idea pretty straight forward…
    We Pakistanis proclaim tht we are not terrorists and peace loving. This is our demand to the world. At the same time drain all the possible chances to show the world….
    We have defamed Malala to tht extend tht it shows how animal our thoughts are. Dont you think the enemy has proven the point to the world. That we Pakistanis are even against a young girl who likes education…..Even if she is an agent for argument sake, we displayed the world tht she has no importance for her. Thus strenghtening the point tht Pakistanis are in support of Taliban. If we would have made her a hero at home, we had a chance to display the world tht we are against extremism and pressurize the US not to use drone as its a terrorist factory. We could have showed the world tht we are with them in fighteingin extremism.
    You dont win battles by showing any thing without a prove and tht the problem. Most of the people in west consider Pakistan as extremists. US has used video games and etc etc to strengthen the idea. And we on the other hand have given them more chances to bite us.
    We really need schools to have politics in our study course so tht our media and our general awaam knows how to deal with simple hatches and how to use them for our profit….The biggest example is Treaty of Hudaybiyyah for us muslims to go through and see how our Prophet SAW used the terms from Kafir thought for the victory. Start thinking out of the box. Start making your pirorities. Wht does Pakistan need now. Pakistan has been hit by war against terroist the most but sadly we could not show the world the pain which we went throughRecommend

  • ezanius

    Well written. I went through some of the comments and would like to add mine. People need to know that Dr. Aafia didn’t ever fight for Pakistan or any cause of Pakistan. She actually studied and worked in west and fought for an Arab cause, as her husband, being an Arab, did. Another thing I observed in the above comments that people stated while comparing Aafia and Malala is that people have soft corner for Aafia just because she is still in a state of torture and Malala is enjoying her life in the west. Is this an indicator of being a hero or villain?! I think all of us need to realize that we live in a global world where a single country can’t survive in isolation, countries make allies on the basis of common interests. If people criticize drones, they should also criticize the aid we get from these countries. If people criticize west for being against Islam, they should ask all the Muslim countries for the absence of an alliance. We can’t criticize west for having accomplished a grand alliance among themselves and achieved an economic stability. And at personal level, we need to ask our own contribution!Recommend

  • Farhan Haq


    Thats another debate. My point is we should not compare apples with oranges. we should compare apples with apples. Just to prove your own argument one should not combine Malala, afia, abdul salam, qadri etc. these all are totally different entities. It is evident from the column that the writer is biased. Recommend

  • Farah Khan

    I am surprised about what he wrote for Dr Abdus Salam, i did not know this, if true its really sad. Recommend

  • Butterfly fly away

    Nice piece. Thank you for voicing my exact thoughts. Recommend

  • Shahab Ahmed

    The achievement of Dr Salam is admirable but after all he is not a muslim.

    There are thousands iof other girls and woman who have died because of US drone attacks in Waziristan. Why dont you mention that ? Is killing those innocent people right ?
    In fact you yourself are biased. Why the name of other girls killed with Malala not mentioned ? Why dont you mention that Malala’s grandfather forced her father to leave home because of his so called secular mindset ?

    Three of the Aafia’s family member confirmed that she did not marry the nephew of so called Al Qaeda leader…why do u ignore that ?Recommend

  • Sana Ejaz

    A Well Written Article,,, tThank you so much Ansari for your good analysis.yes we pakistani are confused nation.When the US and Microsoft declares Punjabi kids as youngest IT experts, Punjab takes it as a pride. They are awarded with laurels and are considered the assets of the “nation”. Those children of the Punjab are neither a threat to Islam nor Pakistan. But when a Pashtun daughter challenges the might of Darkness with her blood, and the world recognizes her bravery and sacrifice, she is labeled as an agent. Yes, an agent she is, but the agent of Change and Revolution.

    Malala as symbol of resistance and change is sending such a strong message internationally. People know who we are. The world realizes that we are people with self destructive instincts. So Malala’s character and resilience inspired them. Her role inspired them. Her little act inspired them. She is becoming a ray of hope for millions of girls across the world. Pakistan is nothing as compared to the whole world. She is not supported for Paksitan. She is supported to help the world in achieving millennium development goals.Recommend

  • Muslim

    So a victim of the US is in no doubt either a jihadist or terrorist even the young children of the drone attacks.can anyone justify that fact.if they are droning innocent children because of the so called baseless war on terror which should rather be war on Muslims, then the word terror is globally misunderstood & misinterpreted.malala here is on the know because she talked about Taliban terrorism.had she included the US drone attacks, certainity is that she would face the consequences of Dr aafia.if justice considered, your article should be where malala gets praised by her allies for revealing half the truth and aafia accused if being a Pakistani Muslim.truth is sooner or later truth wouldRecommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    @Shahab Ahmed:


    you must be kidding me…In simple words…you are trying to say tht you know the names of all the soldiers who gave life for Pakistan..the answer is no…
    Yes other girls and children have died due to drone attack but Malala is a representing the class..wht is so difficult to understand..
    The only Problem here is tht west has given her importance and we are unable to digest it……Like I have mentioned atleast 100 times…even if a small girl is a US agent than atleast use the scheme of the enemy against it and not for it…Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    @Farhan Haq:

    Sorry will not agree with you..the writer wants to convey a simple message..

    All violence associated people are heroes in Pakistan and all people who fought for education or freedom are labelled as agents…The question is wht are we conveying to the world…Recommend

  • Faqir Khan

    Here it’s worth noting that the education, reconstruction and peace restoration of Waziristan, which is as beautiful as Swat however in far far worse condition than Swat, does not merited the same evangelical media enthusiasm that Swat has.

    It seems there are no Malalas in Waziristan due to Drone attacks and Malalas are born only Swat and among Yousafzais (The traitors among Pashtuns for last 300 years.)

    Even the money (US Blood $) that was so many times and publicly promised to Waziristan by Mush/Zardari has not been handed over. Rather consumed in thin Air in FATA Sectt Peshawar, Islamabad by corrupt, inefficient and ineffective Politicians, Generals, Bureaucrats, Businessmen, Police and Media.

    Could it be because Waziristan is far away from Peshawar, therefore not feasible for those chosen contractor and well connected in Peshawar, Pindi and Islamabad ? So there isn’t much money to be extracted from the vanquished Waziristan.

    On the other hand, we were told that next military operation, next jet bombing, next road blocks, next IDPs wave would result in peace and then miracle jump-start of the Waziristan economy. It’s funny how the interests of those ruling (and ruining) us from Peshawar, Pindi, Islamabad and Lahore are so often, so successfully, and so deliberately confused with the interests of the masses in Pakistan by incident like Malala, Swat Video.Recommend

  • Faqir Khan

    The media hype, talk shows about OBL, Terrorism, Al-Qaeda, Baitullah Mahsood, owning responsibility of every bomb blasts by Taliban, their mysterious letters/calls (to Hamid Mir, Rahimullah Yousafzai, Salim Safi etc.) and event like Malala Attack, Swat Flogging Video, BB Murder, Marriot Blast and countless many had its time and place. It had its uses. But things have changed now…

    Having escorted a thousands-year-old society into anarchy, those ruling (rather ruining) from Peshawar, Islamabad, Pindi, Lahore and Karachi will rape “indefinitely.” They, in effect, means that Wazir will not be slaves only if the interests of those ruling from Peshawar, Islamabad, Pindi, Lahore and Karachi is ensured and guaranteed.

    In other words, you can have free speech as long as you say what I want you to say.

    Punching Note :-

    Development, Hospitals, Motorways, Universities, Posh Housing Societies in Peshawar, Islamabad, Pindi, Lahore and Karachi are not meant for Wazirs/Mehsud. Rather these are just like Development, Hospitals, Motorways, Universities, Posh Housing Societies of Dubai, London, New York etc.Recommend

  • Saeed Ahmed Khan

    Dear Author,

    Please brush up your knowledge a little bit, before writing such articles.
    First you have to tell us about your thoughts who is hero and who is not ? Recommend

  • http://Peshawar Tulla

    I am inspired by Malala’s courage and dedication and also think Afia should get all her due rights to a fair trial and procedure. The deployment of Afia’s ex-husband statements to prove Afia’s guilt is redundant. This type of reasoning will allow room to people who are shedding doubts over Malala’s intentions to keep on indulging in conspiracy theories.

    By presenting such false dichotomies, we are further forcing people to become more divided. Each case has to be rated on its merit and rights of people defended even when we disagree with them like the author’s disagreement with Afia. Recommend

  • Sridhar

    Pakistan is a tribal society with tribal laws still in place. The thinking is also “feudal”. As someone here said, it seems Pakistanis are ill at ease when a woman is “educated” and tries to have a voice of her own. In extreme situations, this manifests as violence as in the case of Malala.
    The only cure is more education. West is projecting Malala as a role model to every; girl child in Pakistan (and is South Asia) who have to go thr’ a lot to get educated. Drop out rates for girls in India is high too. Poverty is a big factor but in Pakistan’s case, there are other issues like tribal laws, women’s rights etc. Recommend

  • LOL

    The only good ET Blog post I have read in over a year.

    “An immediately noticeable pattern amongst the written negativity against Malala was the atrocious wording of these diatribes, featuring the spelling and grammar skills of a child. Considering that Malala is fighting for education, it is more than a little ironic that her most vocal detractors, the Pakistani keyboard warriors, probably also need to go back to school.”

    Hah! Kudos to you man.Recommend

  • Lateef

    @Shah (Berlin):
    Please check

  • Lateef

    Please check