And just when one’s defence mechanism had kicked in and one could hear about (other) people dying in terror attacks without losing one’s sleep, Malala decided to shake us to the core of our beings. Malala is the mirror in which we can all see our faces and what ugly faces we have!
Take a good look – here are the Taliban, here are the Taliban supporters, here are the politicians and here are we, the common men and women of Pakistan. The Taliban are gleeful, the Taliban supporters, bearded or clean-shaven, are cautious; the politicians are alert, wondering how to manipulate the situation; and we, the common men and women of Pakistan are shocked, as if what has happened is a bolt from the blue.
As if innocent men, women and children are not being killed and maimed day in and day out in this land of the pure for the last 11 years. All of us are guilty. Malala is a mirror and this is what she reminds us of.
The army chief was vocal in his condemnation. Malala is the mirror in which General Kayani can see the faces of those who bargained the lives and future of generations of Pakistanis by creating a monster that continues to devour us.
None of these men had the foresight to look beyond their immediate interests and none of them has ever been held responsible for devastating Pakistan in the name of national security.
Shamelessly using religion to further their India-centric foreign policy objectives, these men have made us more insecure than we have ever been in the last 65 years. Determined to attain a nuclear arsenal, to outdo an external enemy, these men failed to protect the people of this country from the internal enemy.
An enemy that they themselves created, fattened, and nurtured. These men who played with our lives are still around, still living in their dream world where the good Taliban from Afghanistan will prove to be their assets and the local militants will win Kashmir for them.
These men are responsible for the deaths of 40,000 innocent Pakistanis at the hands of the militants, both local and foreign and therefore these men are accountable to the people of this country. Will anyone ever have the guts to take them to task? Malala is a mirror and this is what she is asking General Kayani to do.
The conservatives, with and without beards, are groping for words as if the scenario in which a 14-year-old child is fighting for her life needs some kind of clarification.
Is Imran Khan going to stand up, address the TTP leaders by name, look them in the eye and clearly tell them in as many words that they and their ilk, and not the US, are Pakistan’s enemy number one? He is an upright man; he is not corrupt and dishonest like most other politicians.
Therefore, can he admit that if the US drones obliterate the likes of Malala’s killers from the face of this earth then Allah be thanked for this mercy? Does he honestly think that all terrorists are terrorists because US drones have killed their families?
Is Maulana Fazl-ur-Rahman going to stand up and be counted? After his love for diesel, military plots and Saudi riyals, is there room left for integrity? And where’s the amir of Jamaat-i-Islami, Munawwar Hasan?
Does he have the guts to say that Malala is as important as Aafia Siddiqi? Or that the killing of Muslims by the TTP is as heinous an act as the killing of the Burmese Muslims?
Can Mufti Naeem take out rallies from Jamia Binoria in defence of Malala and the right of all females to education? None of them can do that for none of them has the courage to speak the whole truth. Malala is a mirror and this is what she reminds them of.
Can the government do more than issue inane ‘condemnation’ calling terrorists “non-Muslim”? (They are Muslims, alright whether we like it or not.) Can it admit that it is impotent and has failed to rise above its fear of the uniformed elite?
That all it has done is fill its own coffers at the cost of this poor nation’s blood and sweat? Can they admit that they have failed to ensure law and order because their own ranks are full of cowards and greedy self-interested thieves — criminals who in civilised countries would be put behind bars to ensure safety of the neighbourhood?
Can the opposition in all honesty claim they are better than the incumbent rulers in terms of integrity and uprightness? How many of them together can claim that they believe in democracy and the rule of law and have lived their lives accordingly? Can any of them guarantee that Malala will be safe in the future? Malala is a mirror and she reflects their true faces.
And what about us, dear reader... what about you and me and other faceless millions like us? What does Malala remind us of? Does she not ask us, “what if I was your child? Your daughter? Your sister? Your grand-child? How soon would you then forget me and move on with life?
Would I become a festering wound in your heart just the way your own child’s pain would? Would you stand up for me and not forget ever again that my future and the future of all the Pakistani children is in your hands? Will you pledge this to be the turning point in the history of this grief-stricken nation?
Please will you not forget tomorrow what you remember with such passion today? Will your efforts go beyond Youm-e-Duaa?” Malala is a mirror and this is what she is asking us.
So then, do we have it in us to stand firm and change our destiny? Can we not look to the military or the politicians or the mullahs to resolve our problems but make them do it simply by taking responsibility for our own lives? Do we have the guts to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves?
I think we do. Despite all our shortcomings I don’t think we can let down a beautiful, brave, young child fighting for her life today because yesterday we could not find the courage to jump into the fray and protect her. Tomorrow we must.
The writer is a PhD student at Leicester, UK. Email: email@example.com