Taliban while planning to assassinate Malala Yousafzai, might held the view that after attack and assassination of this 14-year-old girl, would again create an atmosphere of fear-and-terror in Swat that ended after operation ‘Rah-e-Rast’. However, the incident of attack and attempt to assassinate the icon of courage and distinction Malala Yousafzai brought only bad name to Taliban.
Obviously the unfortunate incident is traumatic for the people of Swat in general and for the family in particular or for all other parents of school-going girls. However, the other aspect of the incident is the mass reaction as well as international condemnation. Even pro-Taliban political parties are finding it hard to take any clear stance either in favour or against the incident. By and large, they are trying to confuse the general opinion with ifs and buts.
In the last three decades, progressive political activists and intelligentsia have been mourning the radicalization of our society. Puritan extremism and theologized violence has apparently become a norm or ‘social value’. A culture of silence imposed through fear-and-terror since the late 1970s got amplified after 9/11. The state sponsored fear- and-terror ruled the society and shaped the Pakistani society into an extremist and fanatic polity. The Pakhtun society in particular has painted as an extremist polity. But the Malala incident casts the entire Pakistan in a different light. From Sindh and Balochistan to Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Seraiki Waseb, this incident has invoked a universal condemnation. Even the state institutions have joined in. This is unlike the recent past.
In the last three decades, the state remained busy playing the moral cop. Young men and women were asked marriage documents at public places, state-sponsored non-state actors started directing women on the dress code, armed processions by religious parties became a common practice while public threats to secular and progressive political activism gained momentum. Women, religious minorities, even minority Muslim sects became targets. The registration of cases on blasphemy charges to settle personal disputes terrified minorities to further submission. With the exception of bodies such as the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, isolated sections of civil society and a few individuals, hardly anybody protested.
The revival of democratic process, like elsewhere, it seems has introduced certain positive measures. Though the present democratic set-up it failing to deliver in many ways yet it is important that parliamentary groups refused to cooperate with the GHQ [ unlike the 1990s]. But beyond the floor of parliament, we have a few developments offering hope. For instance, a case under the blasphemy law was registered against a religious cleric in Rimsha Masih case in Islamabad. Yet another case was registered against ‘unknown’ puritan protestors under the blasphemy law on the charge of attacking, damaging and desecrating a Hindu temple in Karachi. Similarly, the violence on September 21, on Yum-e-Ishq-e-Rasool, was universally flayed.
The purpose of above analysis is to see the aspects that give hope to people for tolerance and peace in Pakistan. There is greater consensus in society to condemn the assassination attempt on Malala’s life. In addition, there are solidarity message from all over world from Ban ki Moon to Madonna. The respect and fame Malala has received is significant. Malala’s interviews aired by TV channels reflect her clarity and confidence. I wish her fast recovery.
|Adam Malik is human rights and peace activist from Pakistan|