Long live Shabana of Swat

It was a tragedy that her life was stolen but a greater one would have been if we didn’t wake up to fight for...

Atiqa Odho January 22, 2011

There are times when one gets tired of wondering when all the trouble in Pakistan will come to an end. I am hopeful that we shall weather these turbulent times and learn something important from them along the way. To understand our inner strength, we need to study the recent war won in Swat against terrorists who are invading and trying to destroy our country.

Swat was under attack and our army went in to control the situation, eliminate the militants and help bring normalcy to life in the area. While our army was out there doing its job, I couldn't help but wonder why it took the civil society so long to realise how important it was to win the war against terror in the valley.

When militants started shutting girls’ schools down in the region and beheading men who opposed them, I kept thinking about how I would have felt if it were my daughters that were being robbed of an education or, God forbid, life itself. Then the horrific incident of Shabana took place where militants dragged this young woman out of her home and brutally murdered her after she refused to give up her job. Her final request — “don’t slit my throat, just shoot me” — was granted by the militants. It was a tragedy that her life was stolen but a greater one would have been if we didn’t finally wake up to fight for justice.

So on March 8, 2009, International Women's Day, we held a public rally in Karachi where many friends came out in support of our Swati sisters. The rally went well and we made a strong statement, which, I believe, motivated others to eventually come out.

My visit to Mingora in August 2009, left me full of conflicting emotions, as I was both humbled and troubled when the locals came out in hundreds to tell me that I was the first public figure to come visit them since the trouble had started. The smiles on their faces were worth the trip. It seemed that they got strength from knowing that the rest of Pakistan was supporting them.

When I finally visited the girls’ schools that we had fought so hard for, I was overwhelmed by emotion at seeing our children back where they belonged: in the classroom. It didn't matter that we were meeting for the first time, the important thing was that we had shared a war and won.

On March 8, 2010 we finally held a rally in Mingora itself, among our sisters there. Hundreds of women of all ages walked together to show solidarity against injustice. That day I felt as if Shabana’s voice had truly been heard and we had, as a nation, fought back injustice.

It is unfair to think that change can never happen. It can, if we put our mind to it and become united against tyranny and injustice.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 23rd, 2011.

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COMMENTS (45)

Kbaig | 9 years ago | Reply | Recommend Nice Effort, Pak-Army is the only institution who can handle any adventurism by our enemies. Long Live Pak-Army, Long live Pakistan... Ameen
Adil | 9 years ago | Reply | Recommend @Imtiaz: Brother to kill 20 terrorists is it allowed to kill 1000 innocents??if it is allowed then i have a similar question for u.If some one bombs the part of city in which u r living and says that there was a terrorist would you forgive him? the drone attacks are not a solution to this problem.Y all these problems and all this issue of moderate and extremist muslims have been generated??we should just try to solve this question and rest every thing will be solved itself. All these things came into scene since united states came in this region...We all had fights with each other before 911,all the shia sunni fights were there, all these Mullahs & liberal labels and people were there in Pakistan before 911 but i remember Pakistan at that time was a peaceful place as compared to today and u cannot deny it. but after 911 y everything changed so rapidly that by every passing day we are suffering loss of lives of our innocent brothers and sisters?? Dont support US and everything will be fine..All these tribesmen were the frontmen and the leading volunteers for Pakistan in all Pak India wars.and now we are saying that drone attacks on them are justified because there are 2 or 3 percent terrorists which have to be killed along with all the other innocent muslims?? These drone attacks should be stopped and Pakistani govt should stop cooperation with US first. This war was imposed on us it was not our war. And we can all think foolishly that we are going to win it. Because muslims are being killed on both sides.our brothers in army and our brothers in tribal areas and our brothers in lahore karachi and all over our country. Stop US cooperation and after that if some one works against Pakistan's integrity go and do a operation against him by your own force...Because American agencies are using misguided and exploited people of that region for all this mess...y do you think Black water and other mercenaries are there in Pakistan??for embracing Islam???certainly not... this is the way forward and if u think the military operation and drone attacks are going to solve the problem while we keep on giving support to US led forces then brother simply at the end of it all only and only muslims are going to be at the losing end. wasalam
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