It was exactly a year ago today when Malala was shot by the Taliban. Pakistan and the world were shocked that day to see that the Taliban could shoot a 14-year-old girl. This was unacceptable to everyone. The country came out on the roads, protesting and demanding action against the Taliban. We started hearing of a major operation being planned to go after the dreaded Taliban. Finally, the country was waking up. As Malala struggled between life and death in those early days, we were seeing a united Pakistan — one that wanted to punish those responsible.
Fast forward to the present day, nothing has happened on that front. How did we get here? Well, it all started with a narrative that told of this being an incursion from Afghanistan. It wasn’t our good old Taliban ‘brothers’, you see. These were enemies from the other side of the border. And don’t we love conspiracies about the ‘foreign hand’? Suddenly, the news machinery started churning out articles and talks-shows, which pointed fingers towards the Afghan government for giving refuge to the Taliban. Nato and the US were questioned as to why they weren’t taking action against these horrible terrorists operating from the region on the other side of the Durand Line. And very strategically, the debate to take action against the Taliban started to fade away.
But there were still a few out there who were pointing to the fact that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) took responsibility for the attack. Not only that, these voices kept reminding everyone that the TTP went to the extent of saying that they would target her again, if she survived. These few sane voices had to be silenced too. So, another front was opened by the deep state — Malala had to be declared a foreign agent working for the CIA. Different religious lobbies came out on talk shows, questioning Malala, her family and the West for aiding her. And it started to work. Slowly, everyone started to question the way she was ‘used’. Nobody seemed to care about how she was doing. Her health became secondary as the nation started to ‘investigate’ her ties with the West. And even when her photographs were released to the media, in which we could see her in a hospital bed, with frightened eyes, holding a stuffed toy, religious leaders were calling it all a drama.
And how could the anti-drone campaigners stay behind. This lot started to share fake photos of drone victims on the internet. Questions were asked as to why ‘thousands’ of Malalas were being killed by drone attacks and all that the West cared about was a 14-year-old girl, who allegedly did not even write her diary and maybe was not even shot, and was photographed multiple times ‘hanging out with the CIA’.
Today, while Malala is a global icon, in Pakistan, her struggle is seen as a conspiracy, which needs to be investigated as we prepare for talks with the Taliban, who shot her and who continue to bomb schools, kill minorities and spread their terror. Malala is among the favourites to be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded this week, and from the look of things, the world will once again celebrate and learn from those who are worthy of receiving the Nobel Prize, like Dr Abdus Salam, while Pakistan continues to shun them and live in a different world, where the only narrative that prevails is of those who are protecting the twisted ideology of the Taliban.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2013.
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