Should Malala be blamed for Gaza too?

Published: July 21, 2014
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Some may declare this another pro-Malala article but do we really have to blame her for this too now? PHOTO: REUTERS

Consider this:

Pakistan is in the midst of a war on terror. Swat is in control of Maulana Fazlullah, who is now the chief of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Radio is banned, schools have been forced shut and a barbaric (read: Taliban’s) Sharia law has been imposed.

In all this, a brave 12-year-old risks her life to tell the world what girls like her are going through.

Fast forward two years.

Her blogs on BBC and activism for the cause of education infuriates perpetrators of terrorism who attempt to assassinate her. She survives against all odds, and has now won many accolades and awards for her work and bravery; the Sitara-e-Shujaat, National Youth Prize and International Children’s Peace Prize are just a few.

Malala Yousafzai, who started out as a mere voice for the girls in her area, has now met President Barack Obama and voiced opposition against drone attacks. She supported Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram. She furthered the cause of education and stood tall as a peace-loving Pakistani girl in the UN assembly.

In short, Malala epitomised courage like you and I couldn’t.

Now consider this:

I am a 20-something who has lived a comparatively peaceful life. My educational journey was unhindered, even if opportunities were limited. I believe in the unknown and my conspiracy theories start with blaming the US as the root of all evil, every Israeli citizen as a killer of Palestinians and end with the belief that there’s no greater threat to Islam and the Muslim world than from the Jewish lobby.

I rightly support the innocent victims of Gaza (mostly through social media) but refuse to consider Hamas an instigator of attacks that later hides behind the civilian population. I’m an average self-righteous Pakistani who earlier dubbed Malala a CIA agent, called her father a shrewd beghairat, and castigated the duo for tarnishing my country’s image.

I’m the same self-righteous Pakistani who now grudgingly admits how Malala may have done all those laudable things but protest that her being an American puppet has discouraged her from speaking against the atrocities committed in Gaza until recently. In short, I blame the failure of my state and other Muslim countries on a girl who has already furthered enough causes while I act as a social media warrior for Palestine and criticise her through my tweets and status updates.

I realise I might have hit a few raw nerves by bringing this up. Some may declare this another pro-Malala article but do we really have to blame her for this too now?

Israel’s disproportionate use of force can never be justified. More than 300 people have died in 12 days of the attack and our hearts bleed for the loss of innocent lives. But instead of accusing Malala, maybe it is time to re-evaluate our priorities and strategies.

Thirty-two United Nation member states, 18 from the Arab league and 11 Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) members, do not recognise Israel despite it being a reality since May 1948 when the British mandate was terminated and Israel was declared a state. These countries include Pakistan. It is in an era where diplomacy has time and again proved its merit as the only source of conflict resolution, as evidenced by Israel’s Arab neighbours.

Jordan and Israel have had tumultuous relations until the peace treaty signed in July 1994. Syria has gone a step further and both countries have even encouraged limited trade.

Instead of blaming Malala’s delay, have we held our own government accountable for its inaction?

We can’t keep sitting on the fence and expect things to happen just because we want them to happen, neither can we be the pigeon that closes its eyes to the cat and hope it disappears. Perhaps this is exactly why our anger and frustration misdirects on a girl instead of focusing it constructively to hold the government accountable. It is time we remove the ‘this passport is valid for all countries of the world except Israel’ statement from our passports, recognise Israel as a state and do our bit through diplomacy for a long-term sustainable resolution to this years-old conflict that has taken more innocent lives than necessary.

On a side note, Gaza may be red with the blood of innocent but in this entire emotionalism, let’s not forget our own IDPs that need help too.

Sabeer.Lodhi

Sabeer Lodhi

The author is studying at Monash University, Melbourne. He is a student and supporter of human rights with a focus on gender equality, minority rights and feminism. He tweets as @sabeerlodhi (twitter.com/sabeerlodhi)

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