Why They Are Jealous of a Schoolgirl

It seems as though no opportunity which presents itself to the Pakistani nation is good enough. For anything.

'Birds for a Bird I' by Nahid Raza
‘Birds for a Bird I’ by Nahid Raza

It is already a tragedy  that a 14-year old girl was shot in the head for expressing her views. But the greater tragedy is the kind of outpouring, filthy sentiments, which followed this incident. There are several opinions that have been circulating in the country regarding Malala Yousafzai- all as irrational, illogical and cruel as the next one. I came across many blogs that cry shame upon Malala; I saw many columns, which for some abysmal reason compare Abdul Sattar Edhi to this brave, 14 year old girl. Since the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize 2013 were released, it seems that the entire Pakistani nation has been in an uproar because Malala’s name happened to be on the list of nominations. Well, she didn’t win- and maybe that substantially cooled the hearts of many haters. Here, I will try to counter the many criticisms that people are proudly raising against Malala, partly because I am ashamed to have fellow countrymen and women reveal these kind of feelings; and partly because I think I need to make my contribution to the fact that Malala indeed was a brave little girl (And her interview with Jon Stewart was pretty impressive, here’s a link to a clip if anyone’s interested in watching it) Malala on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

The first, and probably the most rehashed of these criticisms against Malala is that she is being ‘used’ by the Western media to ‘downplay’ the plight of the victims of US drone attacks, and to justify these attacks on the Pakistani soil. Pakistanis ask the question that why the victims of drone attacks aren’t publicized in the media- why Malala? Well, the fact is that no one is using Malala to justify drone killings. There was quite a good illustration of  all the Pakistani victims of drone attacks just this year in the Economist. But since most of the people in Pakistan aren’t bound to pick up a copy of the Economist, rather they would just easily regard everything they read on Facebook as newsworthy material- they would, of course, not know that the Economist quite extensively covered the issue of drone killings in Pakistan.

The second question I pose is that okay, let’s assume that the Western media is ‘using’ her. Let’s assume this- then let me ask that what is there in Malala’s message, which doesn’t deserve to be highlighted across the world? Is there something wrong about girls getting proper education? Or is there something shameful and frightening about equal rights for all, men and women? If Malala speaks for such issues, then let her speak, and let the world hear, because it is high time that Pakistanis take their ostrich-necks out of the ground and understand the reality around them- that women in parts of this country are, in fact, being denied these basic rights, which every human being on this planet deserves.

This brings me to my next criticism- I was actually in disbelief when I came across a popular blog post, in which the writer claims that Malala is maligning the image of Pakistan by talking negatively about the country. Excuse me? I don’t know how to express my quite literal frustration here. Negatively representing Pakistan and the status of women within Pakistan? This is the same Pakistan in which Pakistanis cry out in anger because a 14 year old girl is shot in the head- not to mistakenly support that girl, God forbid, no- but to say that she ‘created a drama’, and this tragedy wasn’t worth the hype. Unbelievable! We prove what she says about Pakistan right every time we open our mouths on the Malala issue.

“Nahi jee, Malala ko tou koi Peace Prize nahi milna chahiye tha. Yeh tou sari Amreeka ki saazish hai!”

Witness the common Pakistani mind-set.

According to the latest Human Rights Report by Amnesty International for 2012, and I will quote directly from it,

The Aurat Foundation documented 8,539 cases of violence against women, including 1,575 murders, 827 rapes, 610 incidents of domestic violence, 705 honour killings and 44 acid attacks.

So, obviously, Malala has openly lied about the situation of women in Pakistan. It’s quite good, as you can see from documented statistics I mention above. Only 705 honour killings; it is clearly an improvement from a decade ago when that figure must have been in the thousands. So I guess much has to be said about Malala maligning the image of the great Islamic Republic of Pakistan; a state which, since its creation, has failed to protect its minorities and women. But who criticizes that? Whom, from among us, cries out when he or she hears about Hazaras dying almost daily in bomb blasts, bombs that are planted by the Taliban? Or whom, from among us, went to rescue Malala and the rest of the girls when they were denied their education? Whom, from among us, would support the rest of the women victims from the tyranny of our nation? Mukhtara Mai or Asiyah Bibi are probably all tools used by the West to present that negative image of Pakistan. It’s really quite a good country for women.

And how about that inane comparison of Malala with Abdul Sattar Edhi? How are the two even related? From where does this comparison spring? I don’t even know how to answer this one because there can be no logical answer. It’s a paradox really, that if the Nobel Peace Prize is just Western propaganda, then surely you wouldn’t want Abdul Sattar Edhi to be nominated, because you have already nullified the authenticity of this prize. (Think about it)

There are still so many things I want to write here. So many examples of the way Pakistanis treat their women; Malala spoke against oppression, she spoke for something universal; and never in her speeches has she not considered the rest of the women and children who suffered along with her. I have never seen conceit in her. I have seen an outspoken girl- and that is the heart of the matter. The undeniably misogynist mentality of Pakistanis is what hurts whenever they hear Malala speak. Well, truth is indeed bitter, for when have you respected your women? You judge a woman by her clothes. You drape her, and shroud her in veil upon veil. You relate honour to a piece of clothing. You would rather marry your women for ‘respect’, then respect an educated woman. For an educated Pakistani woman, everyday is a struggle for her dignity and for her rights. So we are indeed all asleep when we say, “What is Malala doing? Why is she misrepresenting our country?” She isn’t. She is telling the truth and it just hurts to hear it from a 14 year old girl, that’s all.