Long live Shabana of Swat

Published: January 22, 2011
The writer is communications adviser of the All-Pakistan Muslim League 

The writer is communications adviser of the All-Pakistan Muslim League atiqa.odho@tribune.com.pk

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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Reader Comments (45)

  • Aftab Ahmad
    Jan 23, 2011 - 12:21AM

    I appreciate your thoughts. But the article came out very late. I mean it should have been written at the prime time of post-opperation era. Anyhow, you did good job. Best of luck.Recommend

  • Syed Nadir El-Edroos
    Jan 23, 2011 - 12:32AM

    Are you trying to rewrite history? The Civil Society had been raising its voice against the radical sermons and the illegal radio stations and the beheadings taking place in Swat. It was your present party chairman that first sent the Army in threatening an operation, but then confined them to their units within Swat while the brutality of the Swat Taliban continued across populated areas and Musharaf dithered on an operation. The troubles started well before 2009, and just because your personal experience is from that period doesnt mean that no one was raising voices before.

    The present government in the center and in K-P did the same, offering negotiations, all while Pakistani citizens were being killed and schools being blown up. Finally, enough was enough and something was down about it, yet much of the bloodshed and violence could perhaps have been avoided if the problem was nipped in the bud.

    So please, just because you havnt noted or recorded the voices of the people from Swat and members of the civil society from mid-2006 onwards, doesnt allow you to paint an entire region based on individual experience, and failing to acknowledge those who shouted and pointed towards the spreading militancy yet, the government and the military remained silent until the entire area was overrun. Recommend

  • Q
    Jan 23, 2011 - 1:45AM

    Makes me very sad. However, change can always be brought about. Best wishes.Recommend

  • Sana
    Jan 23, 2011 - 2:11AM

    Atiqa! I really appreciate your efforts. Apart from being a great actress, you are a good human being as well. Keep up the good work!
    I personally can’t wait for the war to end in FATA. Please also consider doing something for the tribal people. They need our help as well.Recommend

  • fahad baloch
    Jan 23, 2011 - 2:36AM

    This is what actually lacking in us. v think according to our individual ethnic backgrounds as sindhi, punjabi, pathan or baloch. But not as Pakistanis. If v just start to think this way and act upon it like u did, v can really turn things right.Recommend

  • Ata ur Rahman
    Jan 23, 2011 - 3:30AM

    Shabana of swat
    Good article.keep up the struggle
    Ata ur RahmanRecommend

  • Arifq
    Jan 23, 2011 - 9:36AM

    Well done, however the state remains in a state of coma ignorant of the parasitic virus eating through its body. Recommend

  • nikkie
    Jan 23, 2011 - 10:37AM

    Men who want to support women in our struggle for freedom = and justice should understand that it is not terrifically important to = us that they learn to cry; it is important to us that they stop the = crimes of violence against us.Recommend

  • Saamia
    Jan 23, 2011 - 11:54AM

    You go girl!! I don’t know you, and we may never meet, but for this I want you to know that I am proud of you. My love and gratitude for this.

  • parvez
    Jan 23, 2011 - 11:55AM

    Amazing that you have not realized that the man who allowed this carnage to start is the man heading the party you are cheering for – sad indeed.
    Having said that I do appreciate the effort you are making to do good. Recommend

  • Farzana Jabbar
    Jan 23, 2011 - 12:25PM

    i wish all pakistani women can stand against injustice……………..an i request all educated women who know what self respect an self esteem is should com out together to fight injustice ……i will always be with those who fight injustice …Recommend

  • Hassan Awan
    Jan 23, 2011 - 12:26PM

    Ms. Odho,
    Its nice to hear that you have raised your voice against the killing of this girl. But you have joined a party whose leader not a very long time ago supported the soldier who raped a doctor in Baluchistan.

    Please write another article on the hypocrisy of your beloved leader tooRecommend

  • Jan 23, 2011 - 12:52PM

    Same sentiments as @Saamia. Wonderful work – so much better than arm-chair punditry.

    The only beef I have with you is your take on Veena Malik. On a group discussion held recently, you said that the Veena Malik problem is nothing but a manifestation of the state not regulating against Indian brand building. You make the Indian brand building sound like some grand conspiracy – when in fact it is the sum total of efforts made by individuals, companies and possibly governments – most of them mediocre or bad and some of it of average quality. In some cases like Big Boss they appeal to the lowest common denominator (and therefore the need to rile or malign the pakistani artists as Nawazish Ali made a reference to) and some efforts are superlative – most so-called India brand building exercises are aimed at local audiences and have no global pretensions.

    On other talk shows you have mentioned that there can be no friendship between India and Pakistan and there will be hatred – I agree. But there is no need to label any collaborative work or the need for Pakistani artists to seek larger audiences as being anti-national. I understand the anger among the audience in the studio – but opinion makers such as yourself need to stop feeding into the Indian-culture-is-taking-over-our-society national psychosis. As far as I know, Punjabi culture has taken over Bollywood – something you should be thrilled about. Permitting the distribution of Bollywood films in Pakistan has allowed for the revival of cinema going and this can only be good news for the actor on the same talk show who wanted Veena to wear a salwar-kameez and do the namaaz on Big Brother. The talk show was almost talibanesque in its tone with one Pakistani television actress saying that the government should monitor who represents Pakistan culture-wise. For heaven’s sake – its Big Brother. Recommend

  • Ali
    Jan 23, 2011 - 12:56PM

    Thats very good sign , Islam has given rights to every body, if there is no man to look after a family then women can go outside and earn money for her children according to described limits in Islam, Or it is the responsibility of Government to look after such families.Recommend

  • Jan 23, 2011 - 1:09PM

    These so called Islamist or not Islamist but simply these are cold blooded murderer who are against Pakistan, opposed woman, against innocent and against childerns. The army and government should do everything to wipe out them from the face of Pakistani earth. I remind every Pakistani not to support these terrorist otherwise our beloved country will be ruined. Everyone of us should stand up and challange them, fight them until all terrorist finished. I also support the drone attacks on these terrorist because our army as well as the in-competent civil government is un-able to handle them. Furthermore these drone attacks are very useful and in absence of these drone attacks, Pakistan will soon dis-appear as our country until now a failed state due to internal in-fighting and internal in-security.Recommend

  • Asif Kemal Pasha
    Jan 23, 2011 - 1:20PM

    Atiqa “BRAVO”…you are doing a great job…go out there and attack the disease to eliminate the symptoms once and for all…can we have some more Atiqas for reinforcement with the will, desire, belive and trust? I am sure they are there.

  • Jan 23, 2011 - 1:21PM

    well done atiqa you r a brave woman.keep it .Recommend

  • prashanth
    Jan 23, 2011 - 2:03PM

    Yeah, you need god in Pakistan. You need to be so bold to live a sane life in Pakistan now. Under such circumstances it is very difficult to live only on rationality alone. I can only give my best wishes – I cant pray for you – being an agnostic. Recommend

  • Amer
    Jan 23, 2011 - 2:24PM

    @Atika, You should also write about the gang rape and naked parade of a 17 year old girl in Vehari recently for refusing the advances of a local landlord.


    The reason you don’t stand up and fight for justice in such cases is that it’s done by the local landlords of areas such as Vehari. When a dictator like Mush comes to power, he needs these landlords to be on his side. These cases are common in the news these days. I can list a case of child rape, gang rape, murder, burning and torture of women everyday in different areas of Pakistan. This has been happening for a long time now and unless you stand up for justice for these people there will be no change, if you really care about grass roots justice and change, that is!!
    The Swat operation by the Pakistan Army was the reason that the people of Swat were liberated from these millitants & barbarians and unless people start standing up against the brutal landlords of Vehari and other places like it, there will be no change for ages to come in Pakistan. These landlords are worse then the millitants that you talk about because they have bought the police, hence they have the “law” on their side. Recommend

  • Jan 23, 2011 - 2:53PM

    Respected Madam , you mentioned the condition of swat and your insecure feeling. Madam We need to understand the root cause and try to understand when it start rising and role of our government to stop this activities.

    As per Political Scenario, Every party just work for its personal interest nor for Pakistan interest. On this situation you just mention your opinion and feeling but nothing can do for a change. So we need to understand Environmental situation to fight with unexpected.

    You have done a good to create awareness in people of Pakistan Recommend

  • Jan 23, 2011 - 3:01PM

    GOOD job and thats u r greatnssRecommend

  • Jan 23, 2011 - 3:23PM

    Congratulations Atiqa for well written article & to the point. The taliban or the millitants, whatever names they go under, including the reigious parties who support them, are the the real enamies of our country. The army is doing a good job, but we as a civil society have to wake up a join the fight before it is too late. Recommend

  • Jan 23, 2011 - 3:45PM

    @parvez and @Hassan Those forces should have been stopped by Civilian Democratic and Political forces when they started to loot plunder and amassing power to terrorize. But people are weak and they tend to throw blame on others.Recommend

  • ishi
    Jan 23, 2011 - 4:15PM

    great work by army……….
    Pak army zindabad.. and listen people we need MUSHARRAF back.. brcz he can make a change. He is the best leader of PAKISTAN…Recommend

  • Usman
    Jan 23, 2011 - 5:41PM

    We people can find many such true stories, it is very important that we should shed some lights on such type of stories, in-order to tell people, what happened in swat at that time.Recommend

  • Jan 23, 2011 - 5:51PM


    We now really have to fight for the injustice being held. And Pak army, being the most successful and the most organized authority must come forward to save the people of PAkistan from being getting into the arms unhuman people. Beacuse Pakistan Army is now the only hope for us.Recommend

    Jan 23, 2011 - 6:00PM

    Great article Madam keep writing on different issues in future also….

    Good LuckRecommend

  • Jan 23, 2011 - 7:02PM

    In 2009 Shabana of Swat was killed. On January 4, 2011, Taseer was assassinated in Islamabad by his own security guard, who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law. The assassin has been showered with rose petals, his home has become a shrine to the faithful, and thousands of supporters have marched in the streets, praising him as a heroic defender of Islam. On January 12, two teachers were killed and seven others were injured when an IED targeted a school van in Shagai Hindkian village on the outskirts of Peshawar.The death toll from the Wednesday 19th January 2011 bomb attack outside a school in Peshawar rose to two, after a critically wounded student ( age six years ) succumbed to his injuries on Thursday.Recommend

  • Muhammad Amjad
    Jan 24, 2011 - 1:24AM

    Good JobRecommend

  • rehan
    Jan 24, 2011 - 3:16AM

    Swat was invaded by ‘terrorists’ because Mush Bhai was asleep..or was too busy that he couldn’t hear the FM Radio of the famous Mullah.I guess that APML can arrange for a monthly stipend for Shabana’s family.How?If its Chairperson doesn’t buy an Armani suit.Recommend

  • Nadeem Ahmed
    Jan 24, 2011 - 4:10AM

    Madam, your thinking and efforts are highly apprectiated. Women of this poor country are already doing their share, these are the men, especially men with power, should come forward and change the mentality of general public, Women alone cannot bring any change.Recommend

  • Jan 24, 2011 - 4:41AM

    It was indeed heart rending when I learned about this incidence. Anyhow Atiqa, well done. I hope we liberals make our motherland a better place by our efforts.Recommend

  • Jan 24, 2011 - 4:51AM

    and to think that a lot of these murdering mullahs alliance is still roaming pakistan unstopped! Recommend

  • fawzia afzal-khan
    Jan 24, 2011 - 5:01AM

    Hi Atiqa, I am grateful to you for providing me the opportunity to accompany the band of concerned citizens you got together for that historic rally in Mingora last March. While such symbolic gestures are definitely important, the fact remains that neither the Army, nor the Civilian government of Pakistan has been able to stem the tide fo extremism in Pakistan to date. The Army has played and continues to play a double-game, going after militants when and to the extent that it suits them and their US paymasters, all the while encouraging the crazies for their purposes in terms of operations in Kashmir and Afghanistan. And indeed, as some others in their responses to your posting have pointed out, the bloodbath started by the TTP has hardly abated—Taseer’s assassination and its aftermath is all-too-terrible proof of how far these elements have infiltrated every institution of the country, police, army, judiciary etc. Indeed, Pakistani society as a whole, and Punjab province is now steeped in the intolerant rhetoric and beliefs of jahilliyya era. While like you I still hope for a turn-around for Pakistan in a positive progressive direction–this hope is fast dwindling.
    Fawzia Afzal-Khan Recommend

  • Syed Umair Arshad
    Jan 24, 2011 - 11:23AM

    Good job Atiqa… and keep talking about problems with solution. We all know very well about the problems …. but no one discuss about the solution. Lets find out more solution. I really appreciate it.Recommend

  • Fasih Ali Khan
    Jan 24, 2011 - 2:24PM

    Well Written Ms. Odho. We, United Can make the difference.Recommend

  • miraj ali shah
    Jan 24, 2011 - 6:00PM

    asalam o alaikum
    we r very happy for your this action.we Apriletted you in showbiz and we will apprciate you at this forum…carry on Ms Atiqa Odho(BEAUTIFUL LADY). Recommend

  • Usman
    Jan 25, 2011 - 1:34AM

    awful piece. i’m generally in agreement with Nadir’s comments. If you’re going to be the mouthpiece (oops – communications director) of a political party, the least you can do is get the party manifesto across effectively. here all you’re doing is essentially rewriting history and denying that the man you now serve was as big a cause for the rise of militancy as any.Recommend

  • rehan
    Jan 25, 2011 - 2:35AM

    @Usman.Couldn’t agree with you more.I wonder why E.Tribune allows such below mediocre writers a space in their otherwise quality newspaper.LOOKS maybe?? Recommend

  • Adil
    Jan 25, 2011 - 4:00AM

    I would like to see a cloumn written by miss atiqa on 97% innocent people killed in drone attacks in south and norh waziristan.but no i am wrongg they are not Pakistanis aren’t they???
    and yes i would also like if she could explain how her leader sold a daughter of his nation???

    If you care that much about Shabana of Swat you should also care for Aafia of Karachi…
    Dont show hypocracy and account your leader for Aafia too…Recommend

  • Jan 25, 2011 - 3:14PM

    The drone attacks should continue otherwise the terrorist will spread all over the Pakistan to kill the innocent peoples. Secondly the drone attacks is helpful to Pakistan defenses as our country is not able to eliminate these anti Pakistan terroris who has harmed Pakistan everywhere in sports in economy and they defame Pakistan as terrorist nation.Recommend

  • Achtung!
    Jan 25, 2011 - 4:20PM

    On first impression its a great article – but – on deeper analysis one can find out that this serves merely a political purpose i.e. to support Musharraf.

    We are such a lost nation that we support good only if it helps us and can never think beyond that. Each day you find news about rapes, murders, dowry-based killings and what not yet no one seems to bother about it? Atiqa should also write some articles on these and mind you writing articles only takes us no where.

    Wise people need to also recommend peaceful solution to the problem – not for fame but to support good without being selfish.

    The only way a change can be brought into Pakistan; is to start making formations at common-man level Recommend

  • Adil
    Jan 26, 2011 - 7:17AM

    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.


  • Jan 26, 2011 - 1:38PM

    Nice Effort, Pak-Army is the only institution who can handle any adventurism by our enemies. Long Live Pak-Army, Long live Pakistan… AmeenRecommend

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