NA adopts resolution to declare #Malala ‘Daughter of Pakistan’


APP9 hrs ago

Malala Yousufzai-2

ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution asking the government to declare Malala Yousufzai the ‘Daughter of Pakistan’. The resolution was moved by Pakistan People’s Party’s Robina Saadat Qaimkhani, who said Malala had become a role model for child education across the world. “This House gives great importance and significance to the sacrifice made by Malala Yousufzai for the sake of education. This House, therefore, recommends that Malala Yousufzai may be declared the Daughter of Pakistan,” the resolution said. Qaimkhani said owing to her struggle for promotion of peace and girls’ education, Malala deserved an applause and a special recognition from parliament. She also lauded the role of President Asif Ali Zardari in promoting child education in the country.

 

Suspect’s sister apologizes for shooting of Malala


Rehana Haleem (left), who has apologised to Malala Yousafzai

Source: Independent | Andrew Buncombe

The sister of a man suspected of being involved in the shooting of the Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai has apologised for the attack, saying her brother has brought shame upon the family.

In an interview with a television channel conducted in the Swat Valley, Rehana Haleem said that the teenager who had fought for the right of young girls to be educated was like a “sister” to her. Her brother, 23-year-old Attah Ullah Khan, is one of three people police have indicated they are looking for in connection with the attack.

“Please convey a message to Malala, that I apologise for what my brother did to her,” Ms Haleem told CNN. “He has brought shame on our family.”

The young woman added: “What he did was intolerable. Malala is just like my sister. I’d like to express my concern for Malala on behalf of my whole family; I hope she recovers soon and returns to a happy and normal life as soon as possible.”

Malala, 15, was shot on 9 October as she and her classmates were on their school bus in the Swat Valley, which was under the control of the Taliban between 2007-09. Gunmen leapt aboard and demanded that the youngsters identify Malala. Three girls were shot – two of her friends who suffered non-lethal injuries and Malala herself who was struck by a bullet that passed through skin on her head and lodged in her shoulder. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility.

Amid the subsequent outcry, the Taliban sought to justify its actions, saying Malala had engaged with Western elements. They also blamed the media for its “negative” coverage of the shooting.

Malala, who first came to public notice when at the age of 11 she wrote an anonymous diary for the BBC during the period the Taliban held control of the Swat Valley, was rushed to hospital where doctors operated to stabilise her and to remove the bullet. Once it became clear she would require extensive rehabilitation she was flown to Britain, where she is undergoing treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

It was reported this week that Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, spoke with officials at the hospital for an update on the teenager’s condition and was told she was gradually improving.

Ms Haleem told CNN that security forces searched the family home a day after the attack and that the family was detained. She was pregnant and was subsequently released but her husband and other relatives remain in custody. Speaking from Warhi Mast Malik Abad, a village on the outskirts of the city of Mingora, where the attack on Malala took place, she said she had little doubt that her brother was involved in the shooting.

“If he was innocent, he would have come back and claimed he was innocent,” she said. “His behaviour is that of a guilty man. How could he abandon us?” Police said last month that they had arrested six men in connection with the shooting but were still searching for Mr Khan.

 

#Pakistan #Taliban: agent or victim?


 

Afiya Shehrbano Zia [1] 24 October 2012, opendemocracy.net

In their attempt to assassinate girl-activist, Malala Yousufzai, has the Taliban inadvertently rescued the narrative of violence against women?

Just as in other patriarchal societies, violence against women (VAW) in Pakistan is endemic and cuts across all classes and ethnicities. Men of all ideological bents instrumentalise the political economy of VAW as a highly lucrative and politically successful strategy of maintaining material supremacy and social power.

Over the last three decades, Pakistan has been at the receiving end of donor-assisted campaigns and gender-empowerment awareness programmes on violence. These projects were sub-contracted to NGOs that had been set up by feminists who themselves, in the 1980s, had been involved in direct action activism on cases of violence. With the sponsorship of international development assistance, “women’s NGOs” have steadily embraced the concept and become advocates of linking VAW to neo-liberal development agendas. This has re-directed analysis and activism from its primary focus on survivors and perpetrators of violence. Instead, increasing attention and funding has led to a change that is more in tune with the UN and donor-preferred approach known as ‘Gender-Based Violence’ (GBV).

The shift has meant more than a replacement of acronyms. The impetus of both, VAW and GBV activism, may be the overlapping theme of violence but for the latter, the emphasis is much more on the context and sites where violence is ‘gendered’ and sustained. The long-term developmental aim of GBV is to change power inequalities between men and women in society. Exacerbating factors such as poverty, injustice, discrimination or lack of awareness or dis-empowerment of women and girls, is the core of the GBV agenda. However, the UN preference for GBV linkages with developmental goals has meant that the politics of VAW has deflected or at least, diluted, the focus from the immediate perpetrators, purpose and benefits of violence. Instead, the GBV approach looks closer at socially constructed masculinity rather than material-based patriarchy, to be the direct motivation or cause of criminal intent behind such violence.

Perversely, this is allowing generations of perpetrators to metaphorically but also literally, get away with murder. This is because GBV projects offer to rehabilitate masculinities, change the broader power structures, and improve the justice-education-health systems or gender relations in communities, rather than simply recognize the criminal and his immediate motivation. Nor do GBV projects sponsor punitive methods to address such violations. The recent attack on a 14 year old girl-activist, Malala Yousufzai, by the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Swat, Pakistan, has pushed the reset button on the momentum [18] that was being gained by Gender-Based Violence (GBV). The Taliban’s attack may have inadvertently rescued the narrative of the VAW approach, which calls for more direct focus on immediate causes and perpetrators and more urgent responses to cases of violence against women.

Responses to the Taliban attack 

The range and multitude of the global response to the attempted assassination of Malala have been far-reaching. They span from Madonna’s puzzling bare-back tribute [19] to the young activist at a concert just days after the attack, to the equally jingoistic decision [20] by the government of Pakistan to name three of its Frontier Corps platoons, ‘Malalai’, ‘Shazia’ and ‘Kainat’, as a ‘tribute’ to all three school girls targeted and injured by the Taliban. While the case has received near-universal condemnation, various interests groups in Pakistan are competing to add to the multiple layers of ascribed motivations, causes and responsibilities. There is also much political mileage to be availed in view of the sweep of outrage and sympathy across the world. A virtual supermarket of ‘Blame’ brands are available for commentators ranging from American hegemony, imperialism, drone attacks and even, anti-Islam blasphemous material produced in the West.

”We demand the end of Extremism and Terrorism” – Protest in Pakistan by
left and women’s groups. Photo: member of WAF.

While GBV approaches link the low rate of literacy and abysmal indices for girls’ education in the country to gender based discrimination, the narrative that has spun around Malala’s case has thrown up a host of deeper, unresolved and critical issues with reference to violence. The Taliban have categorically reclaimed religious patriarchy as a deliberate base for the kind of violence it consciously employs. In several press releases [21], the Taliban spokesman has refuted all the defenses being spun by Islamists and conservatives (such as drone attacks), as the motivation behind the assassination attempt. The statements have impatiently corrected the rationalisations and confirmed that they attacked Malala specifically for her adversarial intent to “secularise society” by educating girls according to a non-Islamic curricula. Her aimed defiance to the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) qualifies her as anti-Islamic and the Taliban claim [22], “We did not attack her for raising voice for education. We targeted her for opposing mujahideen and their war”. The aim to kill her was the natural culmination of their larger campaign of systematically blowing up girls’ schools over the last five years, in northern Pakistan.

For decades, women’s rights activists resisted the monopoly of violence claimed by the state, and unpacked the lease of this to men in communities who then target women with impunity under the guise of cultural practices and patriarchal traditions. Over the last two decades, with donor encouragement, several development practitioners became engaged with the idea of instrumentalising Islam [23] as a tool for women’s empowerment. This premise allowed them to pursue the case for educating women and girls through religious didacticism. It also allowed for the co-option of clergy who resisted contraceptive use to become its promoters. Theoretically, it was thought that this strategy would counter what were labeled ‘anti-Islamic’ traditions that sanctioned violence against women. VAW proved far more resilient. What these activists underestimated was that instrumentalising Islam is not a parochial privilege limited to rights based activists. The Taliban and sympathetic Islamists do not doubt nor resist the need for women’s education as a Quranic prescription– just its nature, purpose and ‘secularising’ ends.

The debate is shifting away and being reframed by all the actors involved and reconfiguring around notions of religious and secular forms of violence. As a result, the symbol of woman as a carrier of both the virus and cure, the seed of destruction and resurrection, war and peace, continues to serve as the barometer of Pakistan’s unresolved issue of Islamic vs secular options and pursuits.

Clarity in the Taliban agenda 

In the post War on Terror (WoT) period, incrementally, Pakistani women have been the direct targets [24] of Islamic militancy. At first, activists struggled to decode the patriarchal impulses and gendered impact of a more generic conflict. By 2007, however, the Swat Taliban came to have virtual control over Swat. Girls’ schools were bombed, barbers and music shop owners were attacked, women warned not to come to the bazaars or hospitals or to leave their houses alone, and were assaulted when in violation of regulations. Women performers, called the ‘dancing girls of Swat’ were assaulted, and at least one, Shabana, was shot dead and her body hung on display at a crossing dubbed Khooni Chowk (Bloody Crossing) as a symbol of the Taliban’s regimen of moral cleansing. The use of women as a signpost is not exclusive to the Taliban but unlike in inter-community or inter-ethnic murders, Islamic militants leave messages to the state, government and citizens by literally pinning post-its to dead bodies routinely and systematically. So too, Shabana’s body was strewn with currency notes as a mocking reminder of the fate of those deemed un-Islamic [25] (in her case, prostitutes) by the Taliban’s sharia rule.

Unlike men of sub-nationalist movements or even mainstream Islamists, the Taliban are overt and unapologetic in their exploitative and symbolic use of the female body. Despite the self-confessed assassination attempt on Malala and repeated explanations of why they will continue such acts, the Islamists and conservatives in Pakistan have launched a counter-campaign to disassociate this crime (against Malala) from the criminal (the Taliban militant). The argument in the media spin that followed the targeted assassination attempt was that Malala had been attacked by an abstraction [26] – American hegemony, imperialism, Islamic freedom, militancy, Westernisation, class aspirations, honour, nationalism, secularism, women’s rights. By not recognizing the self-confessed murderer, Islamists absolve the criminal and dissolve the crime. 

Such unprecedented violence has diverted attention and hindered the struggle of women and human rights activists who were more committed to normative and routine public and private cases of VAW. Activism meant rescuing women under threat, offering legal assistance and providing shelter as well as, pressurizing the state and justice system to deal with the perpetrators. Even as we observed the course of the ‘war on terror’ and its fall-out in Pakistan, the growth of GBV projects continued to divert the emphasis away from direct action and towards developmental and rehabilitative approaches. Islamic militants such as the TTP have directly challenged all apologia that argues that they are victims of some misguided masculinities, brutalized by tribal war and poverty. Neither do they view themselves as jihadi proxies used and discarded by the Pakistani state, or as citizens who are denied justice. They do however agree with some sympathisers who continue to view the Taliban as products and resistance armies of US anti-imperialism. Is it viable to continue viewing the conscious agent as a victim?

Agent as victim

To deflect the direct responsibility of a crime away from the individual and place it on the breadth of society, government, the state, global powers or imperialism, then empties the perpetrator of criminal motivation and refills him with a higher, larger-than-life, mission.

The creation of such noblesse oblige is done by converting the agent into a victim. This laundering opens a new line of defense. It suggests (as several Islamists have done) that, under certain circumstances, a case of justifiable homicide may be made. However, in the views of the same sympathisers, this flexibility is a limited moral commodity.  The defense of a higher moral purpose as the motivation for murder is not a universally available tool for all citizens regardless of class, creed or gender. It is a selective application reserved only for those who are deemed Islamic enough and soaked in the cause of promoting/defending Islam as defined by powerful or political clergymen.

In other words, Malala may be worthy of sympathy due to her status as a minor but does not qualify for justice because of her near-fitna (seductive, luring, chaotic) activities. In the minds of these apologists, her would-be assassins were absolved of their crime even before they were caught, despite their stated motivation (which has not been cited as the drone attacks but due to Malala’s adversarial intent to secularise her society) and even prior to a judicial hearing. In such a world-view, justice must not be blind but dependent on the perceived beliefs or religious weightage of the individuals or parties involved.

One of the complaints made by proponents of the Taliban-as-victim [27] group, is that violations against women by secular landed politicians, do not receive as much media attention or outraged response. This is a completely dishonest proposal. The case that is often quoted as ‘exaggerated’ or ‘sensationalised’ to expose the Taliban’s Islamic justice system following the peace deal with the government in 2009, is that of a woman flogged [28] by Taliban ‘police’ in the streets of Swat. The mobile phone amateur video went viral on national and international channels.  In 2008, soon after the new incumbent civilian government was installed, two high profile cases [29] involving the landed politicians of the ruling party were equally ‘sensationally’ splashed across the media. With reference to one of these cases of the alleged ‘live burial’ of girls who refused their arranged marriages, Pakistani women’s groups lobbied, protested and came on TV channels demanding the removal [30] of the cabinet minister from the said constituency. They did so, in protest of his defense [31] of such ‘traditions’, which he offered as a justification for this crime. To suggest that religious militancy is the only crime that is picked up by the media or liberal groups is an intellectually dishonest claim. The spectacle of the flogging caught on video made the case more visual and hence caused more outrage than the other cases.

Reclaiming agendas

This defensiveness stems from a more common refrain used by the apologists of Islamists’ politics of violence – that secular political forces are no better. Feminists, including myself, have persistently made this critique [32] of not only liberal, secular men, but also of the state, as abusers of the political potential of women’s bodies and also because their acts sanction a regulation of women’s sexuality and all its manifestation. However, the Malala case falls outside of this framework. The concern of the Taliban in this case was not to regulate the girls’ sexualities (although it may be elsewhere), nor to accrue material benefit, nor revenge for drones and nor was the purpose to restore ‘honour’, as some communities employ this motivational excuse in cases of VAW. In these non-theocratic cases, perhaps the GBV framework is a useful one. However, the Taliban are not hiding behind socio-economic or tradition based excuses. It is time for analysts to recognise the self-acclaimed agency of the perpetrators and clearly identify the victim in cases of VAW, rather than defend the criminal as victim and dissolve the crime as an abstraction.

The TTP has reminded us of the simple core of VAW and reiterated what feminists always knew – VAW removes any threat that the liberationist ‘Woman’ may pose to the religio-patriarchal social order. If eliminating girls’ schools does not do the job, then a stronger signal of directly removing all agents (women/girls), should secure the message for those who may be harbouring plans to disrupt the Islamic order they seek to impose. Foreign donors scramble to rebuild schools, and the state attempts to resist militancy by giving symbolic significance to the services and resilience of girls such as Malala, in order to boost their public relations campaign in the fight against militancy in north Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Taliban have recovered the simple lesson of success achieved by direct action, and the symbolic value and immense ideological success available through the act of removing the obstacle. Will we?

 [41]

This article is published under a Creative Commons licence. If you have any queries about republishing please contact us [42]. Please check individual images for licensing details.

 

Pakistani-American Raps For #Malala Yousafzai #spokenword #poetry #vaw #Taliban


A man holds a candle next a picture of Malala Yousufzai at a school in Lahore. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohsin Raza)

A man holds a candle next a picture of Malala Yousufzai at a school in Lahore. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohsin Raza)

By- Suka Kalantari,  at the  theworld.org

The day after 14-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out for women’s education, Zaki Syed, a 24-year-old Pakistani-American rapper from Sacramento, California, started getting a lot of phone calls asking him to write a rap about it.

“I was getting calls from people in Pakistan saying, ‘Hey, you have to do something. You have to write something.’ Even my mom was like, ‘You do a rap for everybody, you should do something for her too.’”

But Syed says he had already began writing a spoken-word poem dedicated to Malala Yousafzai, which he’s now posted on YouTube.

Syed starts the spoken-word poem saying, “All she really wants to do is read. The first verse in the Quran is to read.” He said that an important belief in Islam is to educate ones self.

“Reading and getting an education is an Islamic right,” Syed said. “This was just a way of responding to the Taliban extremists and possibly any future extremists who try to come out and justify what had been done. I wanted to make it very clear that Islam, or God, would not condone what they did. The Quran says that God is telling the prophet to read. It’s like your Muslim duty to go out and be educated and be knowledgeable.”

In both Urdu and English, Syed raps, “You sisters, you mothers, you daughters: the respect of the nation is in your hands.” He explains it’s a very old saying in Pakistan. He sang it in both languages to make sure young women in Pakistan understood the lyrics.

“It says that the nation is in women’s hands. And it’s up to them to lead the way. I was thinking of all Muslims when I wrote this. My attack was towards the Taliban, but also to tell the nation of Pakistan that literacy is something we’re suffering and she was trying to advance it. She is a representation of something that people in Pakistan desperately need, which is education.”

Syed, who is also a sociology student at Sacramento State, produced another rap video last month urging tolerance and understanding of Sikhs in the wake of the Wisconsin shootings. In an interview with The World’s Marco Werman he says he uses rap to break down stereotypes.

“I think that the media has always stereotyped – made a stereotype – that anyone who has a beard, who has a turban, must be a terrorist,” Syed said. “That’s very untrue and, in fact, most Muslims don’t even have turbans.”

Syed has also rapped about Pakistan’s earthquake, the floods in Bangladesh, and the discrimination that sometimes comes with growing up as a Muslim-American after 9-11.

Lyrics to “Malala Yousafzai”
Chorus:

All she really wants to do is Read
The first verse in the Quran is to Read
Because when you read to the people you go out and Lead
When Malala bleeds the whole country bleeds
Because she represents the seed of what we need
So many mouths and minds to feed
So when the Taliban, Yeah when the Taliban shot Malala
They shot a part of Pakistan, The Part of Pakistan
That believed in the first verse of the Quran and that is
and that is to read
All she really wants to do is Read
The first verse in the Quran is to Read
Because when you read to the people you go out and Lead
When Malala bleeds the whole country bleeds
Because she represents the seed of what we need
So many mouths and minds to feed

Lyrics:
Now Swat Valley is a beautiful place
But Swat Valley has turned into a murderous place
Swat Valley is also the same place in which Malala was born in 1998
Who would of thought a gunman would try to decide her fate
But no gunman can decide her fate, only God can
I think God had a plan for her to fight Taliban
Woman’s education was at the top of her goal
So when they banned school
They straight up crushed her soul
So she started to blog and she started to protest, and pretty soon became activists
A symbol for Pakistani people that were starting to feel repressed
Stuck in war between the east and the west
U.S. foreign policy and Taliban causing a mess
So when Malala was shot by an extremist the whole country screamed that shedidn’t deserve this
It sparked of something you wouldn’t believe
People saying the Taliban has hijacked my country
And that it is time for them to leave
Protests in Numerous Pakistani Cities
And I heard 50 Islamic clerics have issued Fatwas condemning the Talibans actions now
Wow like how could a child so young become the voice of inspiration
For everyone, like so many women who go to school and then work at night
Only to come home and prepare meals for their families at night
But one of these women told me she is no longer feeling bad about her life
No she is thinking about Malala’s sacrifice and how she herself is lucky to live in a
place where she can be independent and utilize her education right
An inspiration and Light so I use Malala’s message when I talk to Pakistani Women to Unite
Tum batia, Tum Maaou, Tum baana quam ki izzat aap ki haath main hai
You sisters, you mothers, you daughters the respect of the nation is in your hands
So don’t say we cant only say that we can, to a higher education
To a better Pakistan, my Pakistan, your Pakistan
Mera Pakistan, Tumara Pakistan, Hamara Pakistan
Yee Pyari Zameen aur yee pyara Asman
Broken into little tukra by the U.S. Drone Strikes and Taliban
And somebody better please help the Taliban understand that
The Prophet Muhammad told us that Paradise was at our Mothers feet
And to honor our daughters and to treat them with respect so tell me Tehreeki
Taliban is this how you treat your Muslim Sister with respect, by shooting her in the
head and the neck
What kind of Islam is this, what kind of Islam is this, What kind of Islam is this
Please let me know what your following cause I know its not Islam
How could you hurt a girl for trying to follow the first verse of the Quran
Because all she wanted to do was to read

Chorus:
All she really wants to do is Read
The first verse in the Quran is to Read
Because when you read to the people you go out and Lead
When Malala bleeds the whole country bleeds
Because she represents the seed of what we need
So many mouths and minds to feed
So when the Taliban, Yeah when the Taliban shot Malala
They shot a part of Pakistan, The Part of Pakistan
That believed in the first verse of the Quran and that is
and that is to read
Also if the U.S is get inspired by women rights
And wants to fight the good fight then stop the drop strikes
Because education needs to be at the core of any mission
So stop dropping bombs and start dropping knowledge
You say you are for womens rights then why don’t you build a women’s college
Because Illiteracy and Poverty is disease, and drone strikes are the propaganda
on which the Taliban feeds, people joining them because theyre angry that theyre
families have been wiped out entirely
And revenge could keep us in a mental fortitude of slavery
So I am praying really hard for Malalas recovery
Because she brought the proof to the truth, and the truth to abosolute,
And absolute to the proof, proof to the absolute, and absolute to the truth
That’s what happens when education succeeds
Iqra bismi rabbika, read, read, read

 

The Girl Who Changed Pakistan: #Malala Yousafzai #mustread


by Oct 22, 2012

Shehrbano Taseer takes an insider’s look at the 15-year-old girl who may finally turn the tide on extremism.

The teenage girls chatted to each other and their teachers as the school bus rattled along the country road. Students from a girls’ high school in Swat, they had just finished a term paper, and their joy was evident as they broke into another Pashto song. About a mile outside the city of Mingora, two men flagged down and boarded the bus, one of them pulling out a gun. “Which one of you is Malala Yousafzai?” he demanded. No one spoke—some out of loyalty, others out of fear. But, unconsciously, their eyes turned to Malala. “That’s the one,” the gunman said, looking the 15-year-old girl in the face and pulling the trigger twice, shooting her in the head and neck. He fired twice more, wounding two other girls, and then both men fled the scene.
Over the screams and tears of the girls, a teacher instructed the bus driver to drive to a local hospital a few miles away. She stared in horror at Malala’s body, bleeding profusely and slumped unconscious in her friend’s lap, then closed her eyes and started to pray.

As of this writing, Malala fights for her life at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. Her would-be killers have not yet been caught. But it’s clear who bears responsibility. And in the days since the Oct. 9 assault on her, sadness, fury, and indignation have swept the world.

For months a team of Taliban sharpshooters studied the daily route that Malala took to school, and, once the attack was done, the Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan gleefully claimed responsibility, saying Malala was an American spy who idolized the “black devil Obama.” She had spoken against the Taliban, they falsely said, and vowed to shoot her again, should she survive.

The power of ignorance is frightening. My father, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered last January after he stood up for Aasia Noreen, a voiceless, forgotten Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy. My father, the governor of Punjab province at the time, believed that our country’s blasphemy laws had been misused; that far too frequently, they were taken advantage of to settle scores and personal vendettas.

In the days before my father’s murder, fanatics had called for a fatwa against him and had burned him in effigy at large demonstrations. His confessed shooter, a 26-year-old man named Mumtaz Qadri, said he had been encouraged to kill my father after hearing a sermon by a cleric, who, frothing at the mouth, screeched to 150 swaying men to kill my father, the “blasphemer.” Qadri, a police guard, had been assigned to protect my father. Instead, on the afternoon of Jan. 4, my brother Shehryar’s 25th birthday, he killed my father, firing 27 bullets into his back as he walked home.

My father, one of the first members of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, was frequently imprisoned and tortured for his unwavering belief in freedom and democracy under the harsh dictatorship of Gen. Zia ul Haq.

But in later life, as he spoke against the blasphemy laws, his views were distorted to suggest—wrongly—that he had spoken against Prophet Muhammad—just as Malala’s views were twisted by both her Taliban attackers and opportunistic politicians peddling poisonous falsehoods for their own gain.

One would think the nightmare and brutality of the Zia regime ended when the tyrant’s aircraft fell out of the skies in 1988 and he was killed. We were so wrong.

 

What the attack on Malala makes clear is that this is really a battle over education. A repressive mindset has been allowed to flourish in Pakistan because of the madrassa system set up by power-hungry clerics. It’s a deeply rooted indoctrination, and it sickens me to see ancient religious traditions undermined by a harsher form of religion barely a generation old. These madrassa, or religious schools headed by clerics, are the breeding ground of Islamic radicalism. The clerics don’t teach critical thinking. Instead, they disseminate hate. These clerics are raising merchants of hatred who believe in a very right-wing and radical Islam, to hail people like Osama bin Laden and Mumtaz Qadri as heroes. They train children how to use guns and bombs, and how not to live but to die.

Since my father’s murder, I have often wondered if Qadri would have killed him had he known my father’s actual views and not what they had been twisted into by media anchors and clerics on a hysterical witch hunt. Maybe if he had listened to what my father really said, Pakistan would not have lost its bravest man and I my center of gravity.

After his bloody deed, Qadri was hailed as a hero by right-wingers and fanatics. In a loathsome display in front of the court where he was to be tried, hundreds of lawyers charged with upholding justice instead showered the murderer with rose petals in praise of him taking a sacred life.

But terrorism bears within it the seeds of its own destruction. What schools with a good syllabus can offer is the timeless and universal appeal of critical thinking. This is what the Taliban are most afraid of. Critical thinking has the power to defuse terrorism; it is an internal liberation that jihadism simply cannot offer.

This time, with the attack on Malala, what is different—and encouraging—is the outpouring of support in Pakistan for this young girl. We cannot, and we will not, take any more madness.

Malala was only 11 when she started blogging entries from her diary for the Urdu-language website of the BBC. Her nom de plume was Gul Makai, meaning cornflower in Pashto and the name of the heroine of many local folk stories. A star student with olive skin, bushy eyebrows, and intense brown eyes, Malala wrote about life under Taliban rule: how she hid her schoolbooks under her shawl and how she kept reading even after the Taliban outlawed school for girls. In an entry from January 2009 she wrote: “Today our teacher told us not to wear colorful dress that might make Taliban angry.” She wrote about walking past the headless bodies of those who had defied the radicals, and about a boy named Anis, who, brainwashed by the Taliban, blew himself up at a security checkpoint. He was 16 years old.

Encouraged by her father, Ziauddin, a schoolmaster, Malala quickly became known as she spoke out on the right to an education. Ziauddin had two sons also, but he told friends it was his daughter who had a unique spark. She wanted to study medicine, but he persuaded her that when the time came she should enter politics so she might help create a more progressive society—at the heart of which was education for all. In Pakistan, 25 million children are out of school, and the country has the lowest youth literacy rate in the world.

 

“I hope you won’t laugh at me,” Ziauddin wrote in an email to Adam Ellick, an American filmmaker, after Ellick had stayed with the family in Swat for several months. “Can I dream for her to be the youngest to clench a Nobel award for education?”

In the film that Ellick made for The New York Times in 2009, the bond between Ziauddin and his daughter is evident as is his pride in his young daughter’s accomplishment. “When I saw her for the first time, a very newborn child, and I looked into her eyes, I fell in love with her,” Ziauddin says at one point in the film, beaming. “Believe me, I love her.” (Her mother, a homemaker who speaks only Pashto, is also supportive of Malala’s work; she wasn’t depicted in Ellick’s film for cultural reasons.)

At the time, the Taliban had swept through Swat, banning girls’ education and attacking hundreds of schools in the province. But Ziauddin—who, in addition to running a school, is also a poet, a social activist, and head of the National Peace Council in Swat—defied the Taliban by refusing to cancel classes, despite continued death threats. “They were so violently challenged,” says Ellick, who is still close to the family.

As Ziauddin explained his motivation at one point: “Islam teaches us that getting an education is compulsory for every girl and wife, for every woman and man. This is the teaching of the holy Prophet,” he said. “Education is a light and ignorance is a darkness, and we must go from darkness into light.”

Ziauddin “has given Malala a love, strength, and confidence that’s rare,” agrees Samar Minallah Khan, a Pakistani journalist and filmmaker who knows the family. “She has an incredible spirit and a mind of her own because of the confidence he has given her.”

In three short years, Malala became the chairperson of the District Child Assembly in Swat, was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu, was the runner-up of the International Children’s Peace Prize, and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. More recently she started to organize the Malala Education Foundation, a fund to ensure poor girls from Swat could go to school.

Sharing her father’s eloquent and determined advocacy made Malala a powerful symbol of resistance to Taliban ideology.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown said the attack had given rise to a children’s movement, with children proudly wearing “I am Malala” T-shirts and defiantly asserting their rights. “Young people are seeing through the hypocrisy of … their leaders [who] deny millions of girls and boys the opportunity to rise,” Brown said in an email. “For one Malala shot and silenced, there are now thousands of younger Malalas who cannot be kept quiet.”

Ziauddin is reportedly shattered by the attack on his daughter and unable to speak, yet he plans on returning to Pakistan once her treatment is complete. He wants to return to their work on education with renewed commitment and strength. He told Ellick: “If all of us die fighting, we will still not leave this work.”

In order to operate, the Taliban need the acceptance—or submission—of the population. A Gallup poll conducted two years ago shows that only 4 percent of Pakistan’s 180-plus million population views the Taliban in a positive light. But the TTP, as they are known, have capitalized on the mounting anti-Americanism spurred by civilian casualties of U.S. drone strikes. Keen to cultivate favorable public opinion, Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban, issued a “new code of conduct” in 2010 that banned suicide bombings against civilians, burning down schools, and cutting off ears, lips, and tongues. On the Web, the TTP rallied against drone strikes, condemned attacks on shrines, hospitals, schools, and marketplaces. In practice, however, the code was spottily enforced and did not necessarily mean a gentler insurgency. Critics claim that any changes were cosmetic—a tactical shift in preparation for a long-term fight.

The assault on Malala seemed a departure from Mullah Omar’s “charm offensive”—a desperate but well-known attempt to spread fear. Even among those who had supported the TTP’s ideological goals in the past, there was revulsion at the attack on the little girl. “The shooting could be an attempt to show that they are still active,” says author and analyst Zahid Hussain. “They want to send a message.”

Instead of being chastised by the popular outrage both in Pakistan and in the West, the Taliban has responded by threatening local journalists who have covered the attack on Malala. The TTP has even threatened cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, claiming he is a liberal and therefore an infidel. The threats surprised many since “Taliban Khan”—as many refer to him—is perceived as an apologist for the extremists. In fact, in the days after the attack on Malala, Khan was strongly criticized for not taking a more forceful stance on her shooting. (Khan said he could not speak too openly against the Taliban because that could imperil the lives of his supporters in the north.)

“Pakistan has arrived at its with-us-or-against-us moment,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of the president, told Newsweek by email. The 24-year-old Bhutto Zardari succeeded his mother, Benazir Bhutto, as chairman of Pakistan’s ruling party after her assassination in 2007. (The family believes that the Taliban killed her, though an al Qaeda commander initially claimed responsibility.)

Even as Malala fights for her life, people continue to twist her views and words to suit their own incendiary narrative. Samia Raheel Qazi, herself a mother and a senior figure in Pakistan’s largest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, posted an image of Malala, her father, and the late U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke on Twitter, adding a caption that falsely claimed that Malala had attended “a meeting with American military officers.”

In Pakistan such character assassinations and conspiracy theories are unfortunately not uncommon—and they benefit the Taliban’s odious campaign. “Liberals would like to believe this is a turning point for Pakistan,” says journalist Najam Sethi. “That’s what they thought when a Swati girl was publicly flogged by the Taliban in 2009.” Pakistanis were at first outraged, but the anti-Taliban consensus soon evaporated, he recalls. Sethi believes that upcoming Pakistan elections will further politicize the attack. “The government will make the right noises but fall in line with exigencies of party politics. No general or civilian will risk precipitous action.”

Pakistan’s government is funding Malala’s treatment and will present her with a national award for courage. It has also promised jobs to the family members of the other two girls who were shot. But many fear that—despite the arrest of almost 200 people—the investigation into the attack will conclude as most investigations do: with a failure to prosecute those responsible. Our antiterrorism courts have a shoddy record of convictions. The judiciary and law-enforcement agencies clearly lack both the will and the means to bring perpetrators to justice. “If we do capture the terrorists who attacked Malala, I do hope they are brought to justice,” says the government spokesman, Bhutto Zardari. But sounding less than convinced, he cautions in the same email: “This is a war zone. Just as NATO or the U.S. will not capture every terrorist in Afghanistan we cannot capture every terrorist in Pakistan.”

Malala’s English teacher, who is close to the family, clicks his tongue when asked if he believes the attackers will get caught and punished. “I don’t think so at all,” he says. “When have they ever?”

There is talk now in Pakistan of further military sweeps of militant strongholds. But it is clear that the solution cannot be purely military. The government must address the root causes of terrorism as Malala argued. “If the new generation is not given pens, they will be given guns by the terrorists,” she said before she was shot. “We must raise our voice.”

Attack on Malala Yousafzai strengthens resolve of Pakistani schoolgirls- #VAW #gender #justice #taliban


Students say Taliban are mistaken if they think they can scare girls away from school.

Khabar Wire Service

October 19, 2012

 

Militants who tried to kill Malala Yousafzai have strengthened the resolve of schoolgirls to attend school, her friends said.

  • A young woman holds up a portrait of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai at a candlelight vigil for her in Kathmandu on Monday (October 15th). Militant operatives shot the the 14-year-old pro-education activist October 9th in an assassination attempt. [Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]A young woman holds up a portrait of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai at a candlelight vigil for her in Kathmandu on Monday (October 15th). Militant operatives shot the the 14-year-old pro-education activist October 9th in an assassination attempt. [Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]
  • A girl participating in a rally organised by the National Students Federation in Lahore, Pakistan on Monday (October 15th) holds a hand-made poster next to an image of Malala Yousafzai. [Mohsin Raza/Reuters]A girl participating in a rally organised by the National Students Federation in Lahore, Pakistan on Monday (October 15th) holds a hand-made poster next to an image of Malala Yousafzai. [Mohsin Raza/Reuters]

Even the girls who saw a gunman shoot the 14-year-old pro-education activist and two schoolmates on their bus on October 9th in Mingora, in the Swat District of Pakistan, are not backing down on their hopes and dreams of getting an education.

“The clear proof of our bravery is that – when the attackers asked us, ‘Who among you is Malala?’ – none of us replied seconds before (the shooter) began firing,” said 10th-grader Shazia, one of two other injured girls and recovering from bullet wounds to her shoulder and neck.

The girl said outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan‘s (TTP) claim of responsibility “bears no meaning for us”.

“We know the Taliban militants ‘execute’ their opponents,” Shazia said. “We know that only the Taliban can do this uncivilised act of attacking girls.”

The girls and their families remember atrocities the Taliban committed during the militants’ two-year reign of terror (2007-2009) in Swat. Citing examples, she mentioned the killing of women; bombings of mosques, schools, funeral ceremonies and the Taliban’s displaying of foes’ severed heads.

“I was neither scared the moment when the gunmen approached us nor am I now because we went to school [anyway] when Swat was under the Taliban and thousands of students had opted to stay home,” Shazia recalled.

“This [attack] cannot dent our determination, and the only weapon is to arm girls with education and defeat guns with pens,” said Kanat, the third girl injured in the shooting. “We will continue education to accomplish Malala’s mission.”

Kanat said “there’s no looking back” for Malala, mentioning her own plans to become a doctor.

TTP tactics won’t deter girls

The TTP want to frighten students into abandoning school, but won’t succeed, according to Asma Ali, a physics teacher at Malala’s school. Students showed their defiance when they turned up in droves for the October 12th morning assembly to pray for Malala.

The credit for that attitude belongs to Malala, she said, adding, “Our students aren’t afraid.”

The attempted murder of the Mingora resident who under a pen name blogged in 2009 about Taliban abuses for the BBC Urdu service, aroused widespread debate in Pakistan but has not shaken the resolve of the girls of Mingora.

“If we feared the Taliban, we couldn’t get education; therefore, we are totally oblivious to the Taliban’s attacks,” said Spogmay, a 7th grade girl who was on Malala’s bus. “It was like hell. For a moment, I thought we would not survive, the way (the gunman) fired at us indiscriminately.

“I am sure that the scales of justice would tip in our favour and ever-smiling, brave and intelligent Malala will regain health very soon,” Spogmay said, adding students would rally around Malala to ensure women’s education in the future.

Malala’s best friend Shazia said, “I will give my life in exchange for Malala’s. Losing a friend like her is unbearable.”

She recalled how Malala persuaded the girls to attend schools in the Taliban era.

“Malala used to tell us they should wear veils in compliance with the Taliban’s directives, but shouldn’t remain absent.”

Saeeda, an 8th-grade student at the same school said, “We have promised Malala that we should fight the Taliban with pen and books and I will keep that promise even at the cost of my life.

“Malala told the girls on a daily basis that ‘The Taliban are the enemy of humanity and Islam.’ We should stand up against them to thwart their efforts aiming to bar women from schools,” Saeeda said, adding Malala’s approach kept up the courage of all 500 girls at the school.

Saeeda said though her parents advised her to stay home during the Taliban’s rule, she had promised Malala she would never miss school. “All the people must pray for Malala,” she said. “She is the beacon of hope for millions of girls.”

Parents equally determined

Fathers of Malala’s schoolmates were determined not to let the Taliban chase their daughters from the schools.

“[Shazia] is extremely concerned about education and has been asking different questions,” said her father Muhammad Ramzan. “But I prevailed upon her that everything will be right and they would be in school again.”

Ramzan said he worried over Malala’s condition as if she were his own daughter. “I am a proud father because my daughter has proved that she is not afraid of anyone,” he said.

Jamil Shah, Saeeda’s father, said he would stand by his daughter “through thick and thin” and would spare no effort to ensure that she gets an education

 

#Pakistan Police Name Suspect in #Malala Yousafzai Shooting


by Oct 18, 2012 2:18 PM EDT, Thedailybeast.com

Pakistan authorities announced that a suspected Taliban member named Ataullah—who had been detained and released by the Army in 2009—is thought to be behind the attack on the 14-year-old activist.

It’s been almost two weeks since Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old peace activist from Pakistan’s Swat Valley, was shot in cold blood for daring to defy the Taliban’s archaic beliefs. More than 200 people have been arrested in the case, and subsequently released, but law enforcement has struggled to positively identify the men who attacked the young girl—until now.

Suspect arrested in Malala Yousufzsi shooting
Sherin Zada / AP Photo

Two senior officials announced that a man suspected of attacking Malala—who goes by the name of Ataullah—had been captured by the Army back in 2009 as a suspected Taliban member, but was released due to “lack of evidence.” However, they added, steps are being taken to bring him back into custody—including, one official said, the detention of his mother and two brothers. Two other relatives, who are suspected of having helped Attaullah hide as he fled Swat, have also been arrested, according to the officials.

On Oct. 9, two gunmen stopped Malala’s school bus and asked the girls aboard to identify her. Upon confirmation, they opened fire, hitting her in the head and shoulder and injuring two other girls. Malala is currently undergoing specialized treatment at a London hospital; neither she nor her friends have been able to identify the attackers.

The release of a suspected militant due to lack of evidence is nothing new, according to independent analyst Hasan-Askari Rizvi. “This is a routine problem in Pakistan,” he told The Daily Beast. “We don’t have proper investigations, our prosecutors are ill-equipped to handle terrorism cases, and there is no system to protect witnesses so no one speaks up.” In addition, says Rizvi, militant groups inspired by religion have support across large segments of Pakistani society. “People don’t want to speak out against these people because they agree with their ideology. In those cases, many witnesses prefer to withhold evidence.”

Lack of evidence and flawed prosecutions may not be the only problems when it comes to putting away extremists. One of the senior officials has claimed that Attaullah was not a militant when he was arrested three years ago, but merely a “sympathizer.” According to Rizvi, rather than being discouraged in the years since, extremism has flourished. “Radicalization in Pakistan has never been easier or more widespread,” he says, adding that the intelligence agencies have a policy of ignoring extremist groups until they pose a direct threat. “This policy must stop—we can increase surveillance and stop these people before they attack if we have the will.”

Sadly, the will to act is lacking on the part of the law. Pakistan’s courts have a history of releasing suspected militants due to insufficient evidence. The most prominent among these was Malik Ishaq, the leader of the militant
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who has been implicated in dozens of cases, mostly involving murder. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has even ordered the government to quickly rebuild the Jamia Hafsa madrassa adjoining the Lal Masjid mosque and questioned the status of cases—most of which have already been dropped—pending against chief cleric Abdul Aziz. “It isn’t entirely the courts’ fault,” says Rizvi. “The prosecution is usually so subpar that they have no choice but to drop the cases or release the accused.” It doesn’t help that most terrorism cases are tried in lower district and sessions courts, whose judges are not accorded a full security protocol. “The judges are scared,” says Rizvi, “Who wouldn’t be? Look at the judge who had Mumtaz Qadri [Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s killer] declared guilty. He had to flee the country. They have no choice but to seek quick trials for their own safety.”

The Pakistani Taliban had threatened Malala in March, claiming she was one of two women on their hit list for working “in the interest of the West and supporting the imposition of secular rule in Swat.” Police have told journalists that in light of the threat, Malala had been offered protection earlier this year, but her father Ziauddin had refused. According to Ziauddin, he turned down the protection because he wanted his daughter to lead a normal life. The Taliban has already promised that if Malala survives, they will try to harm her again. For the girl who dared to dream of an education without restrictions, that normalcy may be a thing of the past.

that if Malala survives, they will try to harm her again. For the girl who dared to dream of an education without restrictions, that normalcy may be a thing of the past.

 

Malala and the death of female education in the Swat Valley #Mustwatch


This excellent 32-minute documentary captures some of the reality of the situation that Malala Fousafzai has faced in the Swat Valley, Pakisatan. The video shows Malala and her school master father as they deal with the threat and reality of violence from Taliban forces, and the closure of their school.  I believe that this video is a must-see.

The video is entitled Class Dismissed: The Death of Female Education in the Swat Valley.   The documentary was made in 2009 when Malala was just 11 and 12 years old but, with recent events, it seems even more relevant today.  The documentary was produced and narrated by Adam Ellick.

Warning: Some of the video show acts of violence, executions, beatings and dead bodies.

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