Unwarranted hysteria for ‘Pakistan’s Daughter’
“Daughter of Pakistan “
“Sister of Islam”
“Justice for Aafia”
One can only guess how many slogans we have heard over these past two years about an Al Qaeda operative and a disgraced Pakistani American scientist, Dr Aafia Siddiqui. The name “Aafia” has been a coveted logo in Pakistan where the public – including all political parties, conspiracy theorists, religious elements and activists – have exploited it to foster their interests and for political point scoring.
The same logo has created such hysteria that it has not only occupied the electronic media, blogs and newspapers but in fact Aafia has become an important celebrity on Facebook. She has become a subject of foreign diplomatic missions and negotiations all at the expense of the average Pakistani’s taxes.
So why shed tears over a racist who has expressed serious reservations against Jews all along, has married a terrorist Amir Al Balochi (nephew of the 9/11 planner), involved in transferring large sums of money to mysterious accounts of Saudi nationals, bought night goggles, body armour and military manuals and pleaded her uncle Shams ul-Hassan Faruqi to hand her over to the Taliban in Afghanistan?
Why has her case got preference over those of thousands of other women who have been killed by the Taliban, abducted by the Pakistan Army or have been victims of corporal punishments, brutal sexual harassments, domestic violence, arson, torture or kidnappings?
If the mass hysteria for Aafia Siddiqui is justified then why did we not see the same response in the cases of two other Pakistani women?
These women, Zarina Mari and Dr Shazia Khalid, are unknown compared to Aafia Siddique who even has her own tribute video released by Al Qaeda’s official media wing As-Sahab.
Zarina Mari, similar to Aafia Siddiqui, was also allegedly abducted by the army from Balochistan in 2005 and is believed to be held in captivity.
Dr Shazia Khalid, a medical doctor, was allegedly beaten and raped by an army officer at Sui Hospital in 2005. She was then put under house arrest and was denied access to lawyers, doctors and human right officials of her choice. She later left Pakistan with her family after repeated threats to her life.
Why are Zarina and Shazia, like Aafia, not called the “Daughters” of Pakistan by its hyperbolic media, Imran khan, Jamate Islami etc. None have voiced their concerns about these women like they did for Aafia Siddiqui.
The reason is quite simple and it is not that Pakistanis genuinely care about Aafia or any other women for that matter. They don’t give a penny’s worth of worry about oppression and torture of women in extra judicial detentions. Fortunately for Aafia, she was arrested by the United States of America. This is the core reason why we have witnessed the massive difference of reaction among the Pakistani media, political parties and public. Because America is despised by the Pakistani masses, the anti American opinions attached to Aafia’s name render it highly valuable as a tool for instigating and exacerbating these negative sentiments to gain points with the masses.
The elements in Pakistan who choose to stay silent on Zarina Mari’s issue but not on Aafia Siddiqui’s case are not expressing concerns about her detention or abuse by the US. They are exploiting this case to express their political hatred against the US and to score points with the public.
Now Aafia has been sentenced to 86 years imprisonment which I think is harsh. Considering the charges she faced, a 30 years sentence seems more appropriate. But she should be reckoned as a prisoner and the public should have no sympathy for her.
In my opinion it is also wrong to call her the ‘Daughter of Pakistan’ as she has done no good for the country. Instead Angelina Jolie is a more suitable candidate for this title as she has done what most Pakistanis never have – she donated $100,000 in the cause of the floods and diverted the attention of the entire world to Pakistan for their donations and aid by going through the trouble and inconvenience of visiting the affected areas herself.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.